I’ve been blogging for almost nine months now and during that time I’ve come to a few conclusions about readership.
Number 1: Publishing daily will not help you increase your readership.
After months of trying to drive up my views with frequent posts, I realized that I received the same number of views per week by publishing a few high-quality posts as I did by posting every weekday. So I cut back in order to reduce my stress levels and give myself more time to edit my thoughts before putting them on the web. Basically: publish regularly, but not frequently. Find a schedule that works for your audience and stick to it.
Number 2: Blog writers rarely read other blogs.
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to expand your readership by commenting on and linking to other blogs, but based on my own personal experience I’ve come to the conclusion that most people who write blogs, rarely read them. We write because we have things to say that we want other people to hear, but that egocentricity leaves us with very little headspace for appreciating someone else’s’ work (unless they’re professional media whom we evaluate for our own content). And if we’re honest that’s because in the back of our minds most bloggers think that their content is more read-worthy than the millions of others out there on the Internet. It’s not necessarily true, there’s a lot of great content out there, but we all kind of think it nonetheless because we want to believe that our blog is special. Spoiler alert: it’s not.
Number 3: Your “subscriber” count means nothing.
Just because someone hits subscribe, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to read every article you post. That’s especially true if, like me, you tend to vary your content. Maybe they’re too busy to read blog posts that day or maybe they’re not interested in the subject matter, but whatever the reason you should learn to expect a smaller view to subscriber ratio. This will be true whether you’re a beginner or a professional. It also might mean that some of the posts you’re most proud of are your least popular. Just because you write it, doesn’t mean all your subscribers will want to read it. Trust me, I’ve experienced this firsthand.
Number 4: Guest blogging helps…within reason.
I’ve written a guest post or two in other parts of the internet and those posts have received a decent amount of traffic and kickback to my own blog. But even if a post goes viral, you shouldn’t expect your blog to become a permanent overnight success just because of a little outsourced publicity. Sure, you’re going to get some traffic from the shares, retweets, or links, but in most scenarios you won’t get a lot of long-term visitors or routine readers out it.
So what do I have to say about all this? Well, firstly let me acknowledge how discouraging these conclusions can be. It’s hard to know that something you put a lot of thought, time, and effort into won’t be successful. But the simple truth of the matter is that there are millions of writers in the blogosphere. So whether or not an article gets seen has less to do with the quality or frequency of the content than it does with chance.
At this point my advice to future bloggers is this: understand why you want to start a blog before you launch one.
If you’re doing it because you have something to say then, like me, the number of readers you have won’t really matter. I’m documenting a time in my life that I would be documenting anyway; this blog is just an opportunity for me to help a few other lost souls in the process. Is it frustrating sometimes to write for an audience of two? Yes, of course it is. But at the end of the day I do this for me as much as I do it for them.
Conversely, if your main objective is to gain fame and/or monetary profits, then you should know at the outset that your success is going to depend largely on chance and marketing strategy. Getting the word out about your content, and getting it into the right hands, will be your biggest challenge. Oh, and I wish you luck with it.