Your Blog Traffic Includes Three Audiences

Audiences

Target Audience

It’s important to identify your target audience and prepare content for that audience.

It’s also important to realize that your blog has three different audiences:

  • Active bloggers who frequently read your posts and contribute to the comments section.
  • Fans who stop by to check out your blog, who may find helpful content and continue to visit.
  • Potential customers who discover your blog through search engines, links to your website, etc.

Each audience is important in its own way:

  • Fellow bloggers who frequently like your posts and interact in the comments section give your blog life and personality. This activity makes you feel better and creates a great vibe when your other audiences discover your posts. Much of your following consists of other WordPress bloggers, Facebook followers, and Twitter followers.
  • Fans of your current books may discover your blog from the About the Author section of your books. They may be hoping to learn more about you, find additional content on your website, or receive updates about your works in progress.
  • People in your target audience who discover your blog through search engines are prospective customers. They didn’t already know about your book before discovering your blog. If the search terms they used are highly relevant for both the content on your website and in your books, your blog is working to help customers find you (rather than you trying to find customers).

Blog Traffic

It’s easy to get caught up in views, likes, follows, and immediate sales.

When you start out, these numbers can seem quite frustrating, since blogging tends to be very slow in the beginning.

Most of your likes, follows, and initial views are coming from other WordPress bloggers. Most of these bloggers aren’t in your target audience.

Fellow bloggers can provide amazing support, offer helpful advice, help to spread the word about you in the social media world, add to your following, and make your posts look engaging. You can also find wonderful friends among other bloggers.

But remember, most of these—totally awesome—bloggers aren’t in your target audience. Yes, some of your blog pals will support you with sales and word-of-mouth recommendations. But most of your potential customers aren’t to be found in your likes, follows, and initial views.

Your following will consist of some fans once you begin to attract readers. However, fans may represent a very thin slice of your total following. Much of your following may consist of ghosts, i.e. people who clicked the Follow button, but will almost never read your posts. But if you have readers and you direct them to your blog, some of them will show up as fans.

Tip: Don’t just include a link to your blog. Also add a reason to visit your blog. What will they find there that will make the trip worthwhile?

When you do a cover reveal, your fans will help you build buzz for the new release. When you release a new book, fans will help you with early sales and reviews. The larger your fan base, the better the potential of your next book launch.

Fans are people in your target audience who already know about your book. Bloggers mostly already know about your book, but aren’t likely to be in your target audience.

(Exceptions are fantastic, but they are still exceptions. Most of the books I’m reading now were written by WordPress authors that I met here. There are many WordPress bloggers who read books by fellow bloggers. This is all wonderful, but remember that most bloggers are outside of your target audience.)

Your website will be most successful in generating sales when it reaches people in your target audience who don’t already know about your book.

(Sales may not be the best measure of success, nor the best motivation for having a blog. Blog and write to share your passion. But in the interest of helping to share your passion through sales, the question of how to generate more sales may have some importance to you.)

That’s where the search engine can be a valuable tool. Prepare content that is likely to attract people in your target audience to your blog. The material has to be highly relevant both to your audience and to your books. Even if you write fiction, you can make some nonfiction posts that relate to the content of your books.

Test out keywords on Google. The keyword should be relevant to your post, relevant to your audience, searched for with some frequency, but not so popular that your post will be drowned out by many other articles.

When you see views of old posts every day, when your WordPress stats show that you have a large percentage of search engine traffic, and when the keywords searched for are highly relevant for your books, then you know that you’re doing some things right to attract people through a content-rich website.

This can start out very slow. If you write a post hoping to attract people through search engines, you might see dismal results in the beginning. It takes quality content and even then you must persevere through a long slow period.

After six months, if you have dozens of views every day coming from search engines, your blog traffic consists of hundreds of people per month who didn’t previously know about your books. There is incredible potential here, well worth the effort and the patience required to see it through.

Variety

On the one hand, you’re trying to establish your own brand, and this comes about from consistency and unity.

But on the other hand, variety helps to attract different parts of your target audience because even people who share some common interests do think much differently. Variety also gives you some flavor for your blogging.

It is possible to show variety while also being unified toward the same brand.

You want to prepare material for all three audiences, and to mix it up. This helps you engage everybody, such that when people stop by, on any given day one of your recent posts is likely to appeal to them.

  • Engage your fellow bloggers and interact with them.
  • Have content that will interest your fans and encourage them to visit your blog periodically.
  • Post content that will attract your target audience through search engines.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

What Can Authors Learn about WordPress Stats?

Stats Search

WordPress Stats

WordPress provides a variety of statistics for your blog, individual posts and pages, views, likes, followers, comments, geographic data, and more.

Authors can learn something valuable from these stats.

The challenge is to extract useful information from the numbers without becoming a stat junkie.

Look Beyond Views, Likes, and Follows

When you post an article, you’re hoping for a positive response. Those early likes feel redeeming. A few follows create the perception that you blog is growing.

Although views, likes, and follows are important—that’s where your support and active following are—there is more to be found beyond these numbers.

Views, likes, and follows tend to grow very slowly when a blog is starting out. If you blog as an author and hope for your blog to be a valuable part of your marketing strategy, these stats can seem very discouraging. As slowly as the numbers grow, it’s even more discouraging to realize that much of your active following doesn’t consist of readers from your target audience and only a small percentage of your total following actively reads your posts.

However, a blog has much marketing potential beyond the likes and follows. Look at the search engine stats for signs of hope.

Search Engines

Your active followers probably already know about your book—they probably know too well about it. Do they see your book with every post? And how many posts do they read each month? A couple of new bloggers do visit your blog periodically, but for the most part, all your posts are being read by pretty much the same group of (totally awesome!) people.

The support that your active following shows is invaluable, but you already know that. Let’s look beyond your following.

WordPress’s search engine stats can help you gauge your blog’s potential to reach members of your target audience who don’t already know about your book.

Check the WordPress stats for your blog. Monitor the traffic that your blog receives courtesy of search engines. Look at the search engine terms—even though most will be encrypted, those that aren’t reveal valuable information.

Next, study the list of posts viewed each day. Look for posts that aren’t recent posts, which likely correspond to views generated by search terms.

If the search terms are highly relevant for the target audience of your book and your website is getting regular traffic through search engines, your blog is on the right track—it may grow into a potentially effective marketing tool known as a content-rich website.

Content-Rich Website

Suppose that you write a dozen nonfiction articles for which you have expertise and which will highly interest your target audience. This is the basis for developing a content-rich website. The idea is for the content to attract your audience to your website.

If you start out trying to do this, you could get discouraged very quickly. You know what will happen: Starting out, you get just a few views, likes, and follows with each post. You think about the effort you put into preparing the content versus the lack of turnout, and quickly lose the motivation to continue.

Let’s imagine that you keep up the effort regardless… the result might be better than the initial numbers suggest.

You might write dozens of content-rich articles over the course of a few months. Your views, likes, and follows will grow so that you do have some activity with each post, though even after a few months the likes and follows may still seem insignificant compared to your hopes and dreams.

Something nice may actually be brewing after a few months of preparing a content-rich website. The activity might just be visible in your WordPress stats.

You could have a dozen or more views each day of older posts, with the traffic coming from search engines. At first, you’re thinking, “Another mere dozen—a dozen views, a dozen likes, a dozen follows, now a dozen people coming from search engines. What’s another dozen?”

The difference is that if you have a dozen people liking each post, it’s usually the same dozen people who already know about your book. If you have a dozen people coming to your older posts via search engines, it’s probably a dozen different people each day.

This means you get to multiply that dozen by 365—that’s 4,380 people visiting your blog each year. If the search terms and content are highly relevant to your target audience, that’s 4000 people who may actually have interest in your book.

And what starts out as a dozen a day can grow. When you get 50 visitors from beyond your active following to visit your website each day, that’s 18,250 people per year. You see where this is headed..?

If you can prepare content that attracts your target audience and is relevant to your book, a content-rich website can be a highly effective marketing tool.

Don’t worry about the initial results. Look at:

  • whether you’re getting any traffic from search engines
  • whether the search terms are relevant to your target audience
  • how many older posts are getting regular visitors
  • whether, on average, the number of search engine views is increasing

If your search engine traffic is rising, on average, things are headed in the right direction. Time is on your side.

Of course, there will be some visitors who click on your page in the search results, then immediately click the back button because that wasn’t quite what they wanted. Plus, you shouldn’t think about instant sales, but should also consider the long-term process of branding—someone who learns about your book today but doesn’t buy it today might still buy your book several months from now. You’ve planted the seed.

Dust Your Attic!

Don’t ignore your older posts, especially those with content relevant to your target audience. These may be the most valuable marketing assets on your blog.

Look at your older posts. Make sure that your most viewed posts provide a link to your book at Amazon at the end of the post. If not, go back and add this. Don’t turn your post into an advertisement. Just offer a simple mention of and path to your book to any kind strangers who might happen to visit the post.

If you see traffic dwindling to a previously popular post (not day-to-day, which can fluctuate highly, but over a couple of weeks) or if you have a helpful post that seems to be neglected, try updating the post. You can add an image, change an image, add an introduction, strengthen the conclusion, add some content, revise the keywords, etc.

Once you have several content-rich articles on your blog, you need to create an index or table of contents or some means of making it easy for people to find your posts. Someone who finds one post through a search engine might want to check out your other posts, for example. Make this easy to do.

Nice Example

Check out One Cool Site: http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com.

This website (pretty cool, just like its name) is very content-rich; the articles serve as excellent examples for how to provide valuable content through a blog.

I didn’t cite this as an example of a website that’s effectively marketing a product or service, but as an example of a content-rich website that can pull an audience effectively. In this case, the audience is bloggers, so you might be interested in the content. There many excellent articles on One Cool Site regarding how to improve your blogging. I’ve been following this blog for some time now and highly recommend the content there (I discovered it from the WordPress help forums).

Some sites come across as businesses. I see business sites and instantly think sales or advertising.

Some blogs are highly personal. That’s not as likely to draw in readers from your target audience.

One Cool Site looks professional, yet when you look at the comments, you see it also receives personal attention and when you read the articles, you see the personal element and style.

As opposed to just making a content-rich website, what you really want is a content-rich blog with that personal element. The personal touches show that you’re human; plus, you’re branding your image as an author and demonstrating your character, not just branding the image for your book. The content is what can attract external readers, but the personal element is important, too.

My Website

This blog started out just as a humble blog (and it still is!), just like everyone else. I didn’t set out to create a content-rich website. I started blogging actively with the hope that I could help other authors on their publishing journeys, to share my interest and experiments with marketing, and to provide an example of how authors might use their blogs as a marketing tool.

My blog started out very slowly, with just a handful of views, likes, and follows here and there, but after more than a year of active blogging I get more than 100 views most days even if I don’t post any new content. Most of this is coming from search engines. I have one post from almost a year ago that usually gets 10-20 views per day (even though it wasn’t nearly so popular when it first came out) and several posts that usually get some daily activity.

Every blogger has this potential, and more. There are other bloggers getting much more traffic than my blog gets.

Don’t be discouraged by early results. Think about what content you can write that’s likely to attract your target audience. Focus on creating valuable content. If indeed the content is valuable, in the long run you should generate traffic. Look for signs of search engine activity and continual growth of these numbers. If you see it, this is very encouraging (focus on this, and not immediate likes and follows from recent posts). If you don’t see it, you may need to reevaluate your content, website, keyword choices, images, post titles, etc.; some feedback might be handy.

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Marketing with a Blog

blog

Milestones

This blog is relatively new: I’ve been blogging actively here only for a little over a year.

Things started out very slowly. In the beginning, the numbers could easily have discouraged me, but I didn’t let them. We see many new bloggers show up, write a few posts, and vanish, which shows that many do get discouraged. But there is hope.

In my case, I just passed 20,000 views and 2,000 followers recently. Over the course of the first month or even the first few months, there was no reason to expect that I’d reach these numbers in a little over a year. Things can improve. There are reasons to expect improvement, which I will describe later in this post.

About Marketing

I don’t blog to market. I blog because I love writing, I’m thrilled to be part of a revolutionary time in the publishing industry that offers much more freedom, and I see thousands of authors taking the indie approach.

At first I strongly loathed the concept of marketing. But I became increasingly curious about it as I realized that it’s not really about advertising or salesmanship. I discovered that this crazy concept we call marketing can be a means of sharing your passion with others.

I’ve become passionate about this perspective of marketing. I enjoy studying ways that marketing can help you share ideas that you have a passion for without seeming like advertising or sales. Traditional textbooks approach marketing like a business. Many people in the marketing world who are most qualified to discuss the underlying principles also view marketing with regard to business.

But I’m a writer who, like thousands of indie authors, doesn’t view writing as a business, but as an art. Sometimes it’s handy to think about the business side, but when I write, I want to feel like an artist. I can motivate myself to write when I feel this way. Similarly, I can’t motivate myself to market thinking of it in a business sense. But I can put time, effort, and thought into marketing when I view it as an art.

Marketing can be viewed as an art. You can be creative with it. You can market to share ideas that you’re passionate about, rather than market to stimulate sales. The end goal might be the same, but how you feel about what you’re doing is different in each case, and the distinction matters. It affects your motivation, your confidence, the passion you show in interactions, how easily you give up, and more.

Again, I don’t blog to market my books. I blog because I love to write and blogging lets me do that. I blog to connect with other writers, and have made some good blogging friends and connections this way. I blog because I see thousands of other indie authors who I feel might benefit from my perspective on marketing. It’s easy to get discouraged in the publishing world. I hope a few of my posts provide a little encouragement.

In the Beginning

My first trip to WordPress was somewhat embarrassing. I actually joined WordPress in May of 2011. I signed up, did one quick post called “A New Kind of Word Puzzle,” and vanished into thin air. The post consists of one paragraph describing puzzle books that I coauthored. It’s nothing more than self-promotion and doesn’t read well.

It had 3 views the entire month of May, zero likes, and zero comments.

I could delete this post, but I leave it there as a reminder. That’s my experience with trying this the wrong way.

From May, 2011 thru November, 2012 (that’s 1.5 years), I didn’t make a single new post.

In December, 2012, I tried a second time. I posted “Customer Book Reviews – Can’t Live With ’em, Can’t Live Without ’em.” As of this morning, this post still has only 5 likes and zero comments. If you’re one of the 5 and reading this post over a year later… wow, you deserve an award. 🙂 There were 6 views of this post in December, 2012, and it’s now been viewed a whopping 7 times.

This post was, I felt, a huge improvement over my Hello, World post on word puzzles. It relates to writing and publishing, the same theme as I adopt today.

My next two posts didn’t fair much better, but I finally received a couple of comments. I started to get a few followers. It was very slow: a few views, a few likes, a few follows. By few, I mean like 3 to 5. Few. It can be really tough starting out. I felt like my posts were helpful.

I felt, as many writers can relate, that it was easier to sell a book on Amazon than it was to get discovered on WordPress. In fact, it took several months of active blogging before my average daily views finally exceeded my average daily sales. The author who starts blogging with the intention of marketing a book could get really discouraged by this observation. Fortunately, I wasn’t blogging to market my books, so this never concerned me.

On January 5, 2013, I had the inspiration for one of my favorite posts of mine, “Reading & Writing with Passion.” Some other bloggers apparently liked this post, too, as it received some comments, a reblog, and a couple of pingbacks. This post had 39 views that month. That was huge for one of my first handful of posts.

Meanwhile, you check out your Reader or Freshly Pressed and discover blogs with hundreds of thousands of views and posts with hundreds of likes and dozens of comments. The grass isn’t just greener on the other side—it’s made out of 24-karat gold.

It Should Start Slowly

Wouldn’t it be great to achieve instant success? (Nope. It would be easy, but not great. You wouldn’t appreciate it at all. You wouldn’t feel like you earned it.)

Whether you would like it to take off instantly or not, a blog is a seed that you plant, nurture, and grow. It starts out buried in the mud. After several weeks, you might see a tendril poke through the surface. If you watch closely for several days, it might seem to get a fraction of an inch taller. Months later, when you see the first sign of a leaf, you jump for joy. Many blogs get planted, watered for a short while, and abandoned.

And that’s the way it should be, to an extent.

Your blog is new. You don’t have a preexisting fan base to find your blog in the Reader or get your post by email. You’re struggling to get discovered.

You’re discovering other blogs. You’re interacting with other bloggers. You’re hoping to get discovered. But many of those bloggers have hundreds of followers. Some are waiting to see if you’ll be a regular, or just one of the many passing followers hoping for nothing more than a reciprocal follow. Those who do visit your blog see that you’re brand spanking new: They’re waiting to see more content, to see if you’ll be here for the long-haul, and to see if you have enough posts that will interest them. They already have a very full Reader, so they’re selective about adding new followers.

The numbers game doesn’t help. You start thinking things like… I’m posting 3 times per week… Blogging 1 hour per day… Typing 3000 words per week in addition to my book… Getting 2 new followers per week… Getting 6 views per day… Getting 4 likes per post. At 2 followers per week, it will take a year to reach a mere 100 followers. At 6 views per day, active blogging for a whole year will give you a mere 2000 views.

But while blogging starts out slowly, there is much potential for improvement. I started out with very slow numbers.  Yet I just passed 20,000 views and 2,000 followers after about 14 months of active blogging.

Blogging Potential

Everyone is different, but for most bloggers stats do improve significantly over long periods of time.

Your numbers probably won’t be identical to mine, but if you’re starting out, the growth of my numbers and those of many other bloggers may offer hope.

In January, 2013, I was getting just a handful of views and likes per post and follows per week. Slowly, over the course of months, this turned into dozens and then dozens more. Now, I have more than 100 views on my blog almost every day, even if I don’t post anything new. I usually get a couple dozen or more likes of my posts within the first couple of days. I get several new followers each week. Let me take a moment to shout THANK YOU to everyone who has been even a small part of this.

That’s a huge improvement, but I’ve only been actively blogging for a year and I’m still a small fish in a big pool. There are many bloggers getting hundreds of views per day, hundreds of likes per post, and who have over a hundred thousand followers. No matter how well you do, you can always find someone else who seems to be doing much better.

But I don’t blog for the numbers. If I did, I probably would have been one of the many bloggers who give up quickly and never return. I’m just sharing my numbers to possibly give some newbies a little hope.

One of the coolest things that happened to me was receiving an email from WordPress that one of my posts, “Once Upon a Time,” a poem made exclusively out of clichés, was being Freshly Pressed. Wow, they picked little ol’ me. They said I would be getting a lot more traffic at my blog, and they weren’t kidding. As of now, this single post has been viewed 1659 times. It has 167 comments (mostly clichés; these are among my favorite comments to read), 342 likes, and dozens of reblogs. I had my record number of views for a single day, 432, and received hundreds of followers during this period.

A blog can grow significantly over a long period of time, even if it might seem to do so very slowly. Several factors may help your blog grow:

  • A gradual increase in your following means a few more people reading your blog in the Reader or by email. Some followers are just hoping for a follow-back, and some followers are outside of your target audience. But as your following grows, your real following grows with it.
  • Discovery takes time. As you regularly interact with fellow bloggers and establish new connections, your blog will get discovered more. Not everyone will like your blog. Some will offer support, but won’t be in your target audience. But as your blog gets discovered more, your blog will grow. If you post a link to your blog from your books and other parts of your online platform, this will aid in discoverability.
  • It takes time to build relevant content and for the content to get discovered. If you post content that interests your target audience, it may eventually start to attract your target audience. Some posts get discovered through keyword searches through search engines. If you succeed in writing a few posts that get discovered a few times externally every day, this brings new people from your target audience outside of your blog-world to your blog. This is the idea behind a content-rich website. What starts out as a simple blog can grow into a content-rich website with material that will interest your target audience. This helps you share your passion with others. Your “target audience” is a wonderful group of people who share your passion.
  • The more you read other blogs and interact with other bloggers, the more you learn. You get ideas for how you might make your effective use of your blog. Your posts tend to improve over time. The appearance of your blog changes. You start to explore new features on WordPress. You have more content (i.e. all those posts you’ve written) to attract interest when your blog is discovered. Your most recent posts may be better than your old posts, helping you attract more interest.
  • You may expand, feeding your WordPress posts into Facebook and Twitter (but don’t cross-feed between Facebook and Twitter or you’ll get double or triple posts). Even if you don’t plan to make much use of Twitter or Facebook, this offers potential followers another way of following you. Some people prefer other forms of social media to WordPress. Let them follow you via their favorite platforms. If you do make use of other forms of social media, some of the people you reach over there will discover your blog that way.
  • The more posts you write, the better your chances of writing a magical post that goes viral. It can happen to you.

More than Just a Blog

Blogging isn’t about marketing.

There is so much here at WordPress:

  • There are many wonderful bloggers to interact with. Many of us feel that the interactions are the best part of the blogging experience.
  • There is so much wonderful material to read. Browsing through your Reader or Freshly Pressed is better than any magazine, in my opinion, and it’s free.
  • The WordPress community can be very supportive. This can be part of your support network.
  • WordPress abounds in creativity. It’s fun and inspiring.

In addition, your blog can be more than just a blog. It can also function as a content-rich website. This is the latest trend in marketing. The hope is to attract people from your target audience beyond your blog by posting relevant content. But I don’t think of this in a business sense. I see it as a means to share your passion with others. I see designing and growing your website as an art form. I don’t think of it as marketing in the usual sense of the word.

Visualize what your blog can be and work toward that. Enjoy it. Don’t focus on the stats, which can deceive and discourage you. Think positively.

Publishing Resources

I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles on publishing and marketing by clicking one of the following links:

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.