How to write a blog that gets people rushing to your site

write a blogI get around 70-100 hits a day on my blog, mostly through Twitter. And to be honest, if I didn’t have my magic iPhone then I probably wouldn’t Twitter half as much as I do.

I wrote a blog yesterday on the character traits of authors. I then sent out a message on twitter. By the end of the day there had been 323 hits on the page. It shook me out of my normal slumber and begs the question, why that blog entry?

Why was it so popular? How do you write a blog that gets people rushing to your site?

Within a couple of hours of it going up there were 10 comments posted. So the entry obviously struck a chord. It was intended to be slightly contentious, humorous, nothing really special (or so I thought). I didn’t really put much thought into it, I just needed to get something up on the site re: the first rule of blogging – put up regular posts.

Had I unwittingly stumbled on the right formula for a successful blog?

Of course, the main reason for the success was not that I had written a brilliant article or put up some ideas that would change the face of writing forever. It was that certain key twitter users liked it enough to recommend it to their followers.

And that’s the point.

I had a gander at the people who had retweeted me and there were a couple of key ones with around 3,000 to 4,000 followers. The truth was that my blog had unwittingly fallen into their category of the kind of thing they recommend to other users.

And that’s why my hit count shot up so much.

Which got me thinking about why people retweet. It’s that word of mouth thing – what spreads and what doesn’t depends on the kind of people you’re talking to, or twittering to. And people will retweet for a variety of reasons:

  • Because you’re a friend of theirs or part of a community
  • Because you’ve retweeted them in the past
  • Because they like what you’re saying and think their followers will like it too
  • Because it’s funny/interesting/new/contentious

Part of the reason why I run this blog is to experiment – find out what works so I can use it in the future to sell my novels. I’ve concentrated so far on Twitter to help me build up a following that feeds into my blog because, at first glance, it ticks all the boxes for me. It seems more interactive and more user friendly than, say, Facebook. You get more of a sense of community and, more importantly, you can pick and choose the people that you want to have a deeper interaction with. It’s a valuable tool.

The question is this: How do you use social networking intelligently?

I think the bedrock of any social networking device is to use it with a sense of community. I’m a writer and I want to communicate with other writers – it helps me remain focussed on the job at hand and gives me positive feedback that feeds my writer’s ego. I hope that, in return, I can provide that same service for those within my community (despite what I said in the last blog).

But there is also the need to use the blog and twitter to sell my wares. At several points, this desire conflicts with that idea of being part of a community, mainly because it’s a selfish thing. I want to sell. I want you to buy. But I also want you to be my friend.

As writers I think this is the balancing act we have to be most aware of. I should not be selling myself at the expense of my bedrock notion that I am part of a valuable community who deserve good and useful content.

That means I would never dream of signing up to affiliate programs that DM horoscopes or the latest iPod bargain. First of all, I wouldn’t earn any money out of it, and secondly, I think it would annoy the hell out of my followers. Besides, you can bet your house that if I turn into a demon salesman then people will start pressing that old unfollow button pretty quickly.

So here’s my plan for good blogging and networking for writers:

  • Support writers in their struggle, take the time to read their stuff and comment on it (positively). In other words, take part in your community.
  • Write interesting and regular blogs that get people involved – it’s no surprise that my most successful blogs are the 5 minute writing challenges and the one’s where I offer a “contentious” opinion. They invite readers to take part.
  • Retweet the good stuff and find out what the top retweeters are passing on to their followers – then put some of that in your blog.

So, as usual, now it’s your turn.

What methods have you used that have proved more successful than others and how do you find the balance between what you want to achieve and what your readers want to read? Let me know in the comments section below.

10 thoughts on “How to write a blog that gets people rushing to your site

  1. *stands and applauds* I agree completely… I’ve unfollowed people because of TMT – too many tweets about what music they’re listening to (don’t really care that much), or the great deals on shoes (OK, this I might care about, if it wasn’t 10 in a row). What I’m finding to be the best thing about twitter is what I call a the instant writer’s conference effect. It puts me in direct contact with writers at all phases in their careers, whether that’s just starting out or on the best seller list. Not all tweet back and that’s fine. But what they do tweet helps me at the phase of my own writing career. Like your post!:)Best of luck!

  2. My best (in the sense of most reads) posts are either shout outs – where a feature an unpublished writer I enjoy and the links to their works OR excerpts – people seem to like a short reading break. The fails are definitely when I talk about myself (unless it’s to say there’s a new serial chapter posted, of course;)).

  3. I’ve been mostly following either celebs that interest me or other members of the web fiction and web creative community, and on a few occasions it’s been interesting to have immediate contact and discussing with other community members and get feedback.I’m not sure yet that I’m at a stage where Twitter is getting me a huge amount of advertising exposure. I’ve actually gotten more hits from my review blog which I restarted the other day, than directly from Twitter. Although right now, I’m slowly becoming more active in the community, so I’m hoping that helps change things.It’s very interesting the hear about the experiences and insights of other web writers. All the best, keep feeding us info! 😀

  4. Even though I found your blog through Twitter, I prefer to form my critical mass through Facebook for the same reason you prefer Twitter. I’m able to get farther through to people on Facebook (and say a lot more than on Twitter,) I’m able to learn more about people and cultivate deeper relationships with them on Facebook. Finally, Facebook allows me to share my blog with friends who I know will read it and be honest about it, as opposed to the random people who find me on Twitter (even though I appreciate just as much their input in the rare instances that I get it.)

  5. I found your blog b/c someone retweeted yesterday’s post. :)I recently helped spread the word about the Do the Write Thing for Nashville auction (in support of the recent floods, if you haven’t heard about it) and discovered something really key: if you ask a celebrity, nicely, to do something very easy (retweet) for a good cause, they’ll tend to do it. I got RL Stine and Scott Westerfeld, among others, to retweet the blog (which went on to raise over $74K). This obviously won’t work without the “good cause” element, but the one thing I’m going to carry forward: be nice. NICE NICE NICE. As boring as that might sound, hahaha. 🙂

  6. I retweet as a sort of reply, sometimes. Like, if I find something funny, instead of replying, “haha”, I’ll retweet it. More interesting for my followers than a “haha”, plus a bonus for the person who posted it in the first place.Same with things I find interesting. Twitter is all about sharing information.I do tend to Tweet a lot, but I try to mix up the babble with valuable information and interesting sites.Like you, many of my new readers come from Twitter… either through RTs or a hashtag like #amwriting or #vss

  7. All of your posts on both your blog and twitter have been entertaining and informative. I think that is how it should be in our little corner of the universe. By nature we are all self-absorbed creatures. If you can write a piece that makes us step outside of that, then you have accomplished something. I suppose our challenge is to write in a way that feeds our own hungry ego while simultaneously sparking interest and feeding the egos of those around us. Fantastic article!

  8. When I signed up for Twitter, I hardly used it. Then I discovered the other writers on it and have to at least sent one tweet out a-day (during the work week) and read through a few of my favorite peoples tweets.I have the celebs I follow because they interest me. For different reasons, some like to Twitter a lot (Zakk Black loves to tweet about his recording or weight lifting), some twitter very little, but when they do it’s profound.I have made a lot of contacts, and a few friends. Now if I could just get more people to find me, and not just the ones selling something.

  9. My most successful day since I set up my new site on May 11th was the day I featured guest blogger, Patrick Pillars. After that, the more popular posts seem to be the ones that discuss other creative types, i.e. authors/musicians. Posts about writing, in general, seem to attract readers, as well.As far as retweeting goes, I firmly believe in supporting fellow creative types, so I view their links and retweet them in hopes that it brings them more success. And in turn, they do the same for me. (I do the same on Facebook.)

  10. Jean | DelightfulRepast.com May 4, 2014 — 1:38 pm

    Twitter I can handle. Facebook? No. Looks like way too much trouble. PS I found you through a retweet on Twitter.

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