The Craft of Blogging – (7) Finding Readers

Is anyone out there? Is anyone reading my blog? I sometimes wondered, especially when I started, but even after nearly two years I check my blog readership most days. One reason to blog, for me, is because it is a kind of ‘citizen publishing’. So there’s no point unless I find readers.

138 google logoThanks to Google Analytics I know quite a bit about how many people read my blog each day, what they are reading and whether they are new readers or returners. I know that if I write about books, the physical objects, I get many comments. Acquiring books, arranging books, decluttering books, art made from books and books for prisoners – these have always provoked responses. My most recent post on this theme is Abandoning Books, which is still attracting interest.

Last SeptemberAnd I also know, thanks to Google Analytics, that some of my book reviews are ‘stayers’, that is that they are read steadily – every week they appear in my top 10 most-read posts. Occasionally another review will join the standards: recently my comments on The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen became even more popular than the evergreen review of Mrs Palfrey in the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor. Other reviews rise and then fall away again, like Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys.

mrspalfrey greenThis feedback is very helpful to me to understand the blog’s readership. The statistics are useful, especially as I am not interested in simply maximising the number of readers, for this is not a commercial blog. Rather I want to know which posts are being read.

Getting readers

Here are six things I have learned about building readership in two years of blogging.

  1. Quality matters

138 Oblique bookshelfThe advice from successful bloggers is to post quality items at regular intervals. One reason I am a slow blogger is that I want to be sure of the quality of my writing, after all writing is the subject of my blog. Not only do the books I write about deserve good attention but so do the readers of the blog. Sloppy writing on a post can easily put readers off. I have not returned to blogs where I have suffered this.

And good quality posts include interesting pictures and links.

  1. Post at regular intervals

Regular intervals? Well, I am not sure about this. Do they mean frequent? I’ve said I am a slow blogger. I vary posts irregularly between five and six days. I don’t have any evidence that the variation affects my readership. Some people say that there are good days for posting. Certainly I know that the day fewest readers visit my blog is Saturday. But I doubt whether the day of posting makes much difference to bibliophiles.

  1. Have a subscription button

138 subscribeI encourage readers to subscribe at the end of every post. [Have you signed up?] This means that a steady group of people receive notifications of new posts.

  1. Use twitter to promote the blog

I follow and am followed by many more people on twitter than on my blog. Many of them declare bookish interests. I use hashtags to promote blog-related tweets including about my posts and often they pass them on … hooray for social media. The bookish ones I use are described by blogger Paula Read Nancarrow. I also use #readwomen2014 because I like to promote women writers. I blogged about that here.

  1. Use other connections

When I started blogging two years ago I sent all my friends the link via email. I now have an http link in my e-mail ‘signature’ which I rarely remove. Sometimes I send a friend a link to a post I think will interest them. And I do the same with my reading and writing groups. I try to comment frequently on other blogs. After all I can’t expect comments on my blog from readers unless I do.

  1. Other suggestions – websites, wider social media eg Facebook,

You will read advice to get yourself listed on bookish websites that list blogs, and to use other social media (especially Facebook). I am sure these can be useful. Anyway, I think they may be beyond my current technical capacity!

The young Jean Rhys

The young Jean Rhys

Bloggers with large followings: what have you done to promote your blog? What advice do you have to give bloggers who want to reach more readers? What am I missing?


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Filed under Books, Reviews, The Craft of Blogging

13 Responses to The Craft of Blogging – (7) Finding Readers

  1. Eileen

    Hello Caroline – yes I am here as usual and I am a regular and frequent reader of your blogs. I like reading your work as it is of such high quality, I like the illustrations and I like the wit and humour. Your blogs also give me ideas about what books I might be interested in reading and ones to avoid. I also like to read other readers’ comments – none today but I’ll come back again to this post as I am interested to see what people will say about this topic. Love as always, Eileen.

    • Caroline

      Great to get more feedback! Just what iu want readers to get from my blog.
      I hope you see what other readers have written now.
      C xx

  2. Like Eileen I too am a frequent reader of your posts because I enjoy your topics, your passion for all things literacy and the quality of your work. Beyond those initial things I also appreciate that you do not bombard me with a new post to read every day. I like to spread my readership around and have other things to do, so the timing of your posts is well suited to my interest. I also appreciate that you drop by my blog to share ideas and join in discussions when something there interests you. Our Twitter chats are also enjoyable and, like you I have more followers on Twitter than my blog. I am yet to figure out Facebook. Still learning. Everything else you have said makes wonderful sense. Thanks for sharing.

    • Caroline

      Thanks Norah, very helpful feedback.
      When you figure out facebook let me know. Actually, my nephew sent me detailed instructions over 12 months ago. Nustr do it!±
      Love your blog – great lerning topics.

  3. I am led by the writing and tend to keep away from too many ‘blogger’ associations because too many blogs are mere vehicles for ‘free stuff’- the blogger is sent freebies which they then gush about. I don’t want that association.

    I write about books a lot and because I enjoy the round ups of books in print media (Guardian Review do good ones) I often create my own. These have high traffic on my site. One of my most popular posts was on diversity in children’s books which was Rted by Guardian children’s books, the Siobhan O’Dowd Trust and various authors. I like collating good examples of a genre- anything to save readers the time of having to endlessly google what they are looking for.

    I like book reviews but I prefer to read about a book in a wider sense- the author, the inspiration and when a writer picks up on a quirky or less obvious aspect of a book- great. These days so many reviews contain spoilers so I am cautious about reading them.

    I also find interviews about authors bring a lot of traffic- Michael Rosen and Emma Healey did very well for me. The authors themselves tend to RT your links so that helps too.

    I really like your blog.

    • Caroline

      Very helpful comments here. I have only done one author interview. I enjoyed writing it!
      I’m going to review Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing for the older women in fiction series for February. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ll certainly look at your interview when I do. These are the connections I like as a blogger.
      I hope you enjoy my look at Mrs Moore from A Passage to India which is coming up next week. Not the main character, but an interesting older woman.

  4. Poppy Peacock (@poppypeacockpen)

    Yay! So pleased to find this! Returning to creative writing after studying, I’m busy researching blogging before launching my own; your Craft of Blogging posts are very appreciated.

    • Caroline

      Welcome back to creative writing! Glad you found the posts on blogging useful. I look foward to the launch of your blog. Let us know about it.
      Best wishes Caroline

  5. Eileen

    Yes, Caroline I came back to have a look – all very interesting. I love Facebook and I hate Facebook. I’ll talk to you about it when I see you. So many posts are a waste of time other delightful, witty and informative.

  6. Jennifer Rolfe

    Hi Caroline,
    I’m here in Canberra, Australia and whenever I sit down with cup of tea and open your blog I have pen and paper (actually a notebook) and on the top of the page is Caroline’s tips and I make notes of what to read. You have opened the pages of many books that I would not have known about, or if I had known had not been motivated to read.
    Thank you

    • Caroline

      Hi Jennifer, I ghope you have tips from all the other great blogs about books and writing in you notebook!
      Great to be told that people pick up books as a result of the blog. Thank you.

  7. What are Google analytics? Readership for Canadian Writers Abroad has stalled. I created a niche book site that is maybe too niche? I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and comment on other blogger sites — the build up of community is very slow. Further hints welcome.

    • Caroline

      Sorry to hear that the build up of the community is very slow for Canadian Writers Abroad. I’m surprised as there are so many good Canadian writers. I reviewed The Bear by Claire Cameron on this blog this year, and pleased to see it out in paperback. Well deserved longlisting for Baileys Prize.
      Google Analytics tells you about the statistics for your blog. Go to Google and follow links. I cant remember how you make the blog connect with the Analytics programme but it can’t be too difficult if I did it.
      Warning, it is very seductive. Some writers say they have had to turn it off because they kept checking!
      Best wishes for your blog and please visit Bookword again.

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