PART ONE: This post is intended to give ideas to book bloggers who want to increase their readership using methods of marketing. I will be writing from my personal experience. Although I am not an expert, I figure I can pass along some things I wish I had known a while back. Much will be obvious but some maybe not so much. Use what helps you, forget what doesn’t! This post is part one of three. For "the gist" of a paragraph read the bold and italicized portion.
Understanding Your Visitors: If you haven’t already, begin using Google Analytics as soon as possible. There are other free analytic applications (that a Google search will bring up) but I will focus on Google’s since I use it and am happy with it. A key to successful marketing is understanding your audience. Using Analytics is a good step towards gaining that knowledge.
What does Google Analytics Do? It tracks daily visits, visitors, average time spent on your site, unique (new) visitors, bounce rate and more. And it puts this info in a snazzy chart that is easy to read at a glance. Google Analytics also tells you, percentage wise, the type of web browsers your readers use, the country/state/city they are reading from and the pages/posts getting the most hits. It tells you key words used to find your blog as well as how many hits are generated by referrals, search engines and direct traffic. There’s more but for the sake of time, I’ll move on. This application is free and easy to copy and paste into the html of your blog. Don’t worry. There are lots of instructions on how to do this! Here's a guy's homemade video I found very helpful should you need more help.
Why bother with an analytic application? The numbers generated give you a precise understanding of how many people are reading your blog. It also tells you which days have more hits. This is invaluable info. With this knowledge you can infer what posts are popular and when a good time to publish your content is. For instance, my highest hit day is Saturday. So, if I’ve worked really hard on a post that I want the most readers to see, my best day to publish is Saturday. Ever make a change on your blog and wonder if it’s helping? Google Analytics can help answer this question. For instance, I just changed the layout of my blog. I will check my analytics’ stats to see if this change makes any difference in hits in the coming weeks. Also, if you plan to solicit ARC’s, publishers often like to know your blog’s number of absolute unique visitors. So, you will want to get this number counting up ASAP by implementing an analytic program.
Google Friend Connect (Followers) is an easy way for readers to “bookmark” you and get highlights about your posts. Even if you are not using Blogger, I know the application works for Wordpress and likely works for others. You can get to know your public followers by clicking on them, visiting their blogs, and saying hello. Having Friend Connect is a great way to build community. I don’t revisit many blogs which don’t offer Google Friend Connect. I’m sure there are others like me so take advantage of this free widget.
Taking Aim: Targeting Your Audience – People like to compartmentalize and put things into categories. It’s just the way most of us are wired to think. If your blog is all over the place in terms of content, your readership may falter. If you want to blog mostly about books, keep a blog just for that. If you like to blog about your daily life quite a bit, too, keep a separate blog for that. Getting the drift? You can advertise your posts on your different blogs, no problem. But I highly recommend specializing each blog so it has a distinct feel. You can go further by choosing a particular genre to review. Highly specialized blogs, say ones that focus just on historical fiction or predominately YA, tend to do very well in terms of followers. Personally, I want to target readers with vast interests which is why I post on several genres. But my readership remains small as a result. I understand I may not get many readers right away because of this decision but I’m OK with that. Take a moment to decide who your audience is and what you’re willing to do to get their attention.
Speaking of attention getting, tomorrow’s post, Part II, will be about Making Your Blog Visible. Stay tuned for more tips on marketing your blog! This post is part of the Armchair BEA Book Blogger Convention Roundtable.