How to Build a Readership for Your Blog and Books
Guest blogger: Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
Let’s be honest. We all want readers. Whether for our blogs or books, we crave the validation of having others read and enjoy what we write.
But with all the blogs and books competing for the limited attention of readers, we face an uphill battle in building our readerships. In fact in the crowded marketplace, sometimes it can feel next-to-impossible to glean readers.
I’ve been blogging for the past three years and now have three published books. And one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that there is no quick path to success (at least for most authors). Whether with blogging or with our books, the growth in our readerships happens gradually over time.
If I were to graph my blog readership statistics during the past several years, the line would slope slowly upward. There have been no spikes. And the same is true of my book readership. With each new book that comes out, I steadily gain more readers.
Even though we’d like an escalator to whisk us to the top, the truth is that we have to take the stairs, one step at a time.
The first step in building a readership is to accept the fact that there is no magic formula for success. If we go into blogging or publishing with realistic expectations about the gradual nature of gaining readers, we’ll be much less likely to get discouraged and give up. We’ll be able to gear ourselves up for the long haul.
But other than staying grounded in the realities of the climb and cultivating patience, what else can we do–if anything—to gain a readership?
Here are several things I’ve done:
1. Be consistent.
I post on my blog twice a week, the same two days, at the same time, every week, year round. Readers can count on me. They know I’m consistent which in turn facilitates their consistency. A blog reader recently wrote this: I don’t always comment, but I always, always read (and learn from) your posts.
When we’re not consistent with our postings or books, then readers don’t know what to expect from us. And thus we’re less likely to stay on their radars. But when we’re regular, timely, and reliable, we have a much better chance of retaining our readers.
2. Provide quality content.
Content truly is king in this industry. One well-written, thoughtful post will go much further than a bunch of fluffy posts that we throw out there just for the sake of posting.
And the same is true of our books. I recently did an informal poll on my Facebook Page and asked readers if they’d like to see more books from their favorite authors. Overwhelmingly, readers indicated that they’d rather have one well-told story a year versus several books that lacked luster or editing. When we give readers quality content every time, then we become a name they’ll recognize and trust.
3. Engage our audience.
Our readers don’t just want information or stories. They want it presented in a way that engages them. Thus, as writers, we have to look for creative ways to draw in our readers. We want our readers to relate to what we’re saying, be encouraged, or be touched on an emotional level.
Over time, we want to develop a unique voice among the many clamoring to be heard–a unique voice that speaks into the hearts of our readers.
What about you? Do you have realistic expectations about building your readership? Have you been disappointed in the length of time it takes to build a readership? Or is it what you expected?
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher’s Bride. Publishers Weekly called her newest book Unending Devotion, ” a meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end.”
Jody received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Jody shares more advice for writers on her blog: http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/