“Stick to your niche”
You will hear people shout from the rooftops that “content is king” in regards to blogging, but I beg to differ. Consistency and staying on topic are on an even playing field when it comes to readership. I hate to get completely philosophical on you but we need consistency in our lives; we gravitate to it. Whether it’s in our day-to-day or on the web a degree of consistency keeps us sane… so when it comes to your blog topics? “Stick to your niche.”
I’m going to use Mashable as an example. If you’re here you know the website well… probably like the back of your hand. Mashable.com recently reached 20 million page views and they’re not stopping there. Why? Because Mashable has developed itself into the destination for all things new media/tech/startups. In addition to solid content and contributors the media blog stays consistent and on topic. If in their start up days they posted on social media and then began throwing in electronic reviews they would’ve lost readership; that isn’t what you’re going to their site to find. I am visiting the site for updates on new software; tools to make my working life easier, case studies, things others are using to grow their businesses. Although I may adore gadget reviews that’s not what I expect to receive at Mashable, and if I don’t know what to expect chances are I won’t return on a regular basis.
Change is good… In moderation.
As a writer’s interests evolve so will their posts. You may start writing software reviews and evolve to API and SmartPhone application review, or write on runway fashion and begin interviewing independent designers, either way you are still providing your readers what they are looking for to keep them coming back. The goal is to turn visitors into readers. That being said, if you are just trying to build numbers by all means plug your link into every book marking site and related forum you can imagine. You will definitely pick up your traffic and boost your page views, but I can almost guarantee you won’t turn those hits into avid readers UNLESS you post consistent content. Not to mention Google also indexes your content as a whole so the less related the subjects the lower the Page Rank.
Every link in your blog becomes a reflection of you. If you are going to direct your reader away from your site keep the quality consistent. You want your the reader to appreciate the link elsewhere and grow to trust your opinions! When The Huffington Post or TechCrunch redirect you somewhere you know you are getting the real dirt, the skinny, the deets because you trust them, ya dig?
Contests are a great way to drive traffic and gain readers interest BUT you need to:
A: Keep it simple
People love getting things for free but don’t make this guy’s mistake, “Participation is Not Always Easy to Come By”. People don’t want to work too hard for it. Either way you are gaining the exposure but you won’t yield very good results if your readers have to say… explain why they deserve it.
B. Stay consistent
If you’re going to hold contests make them consistent of course! Having a contest once a week or even once a month will make those readers check back to see what they can win next and creates a sense of urgency. This tactic is great for both personal and professional blogs… who doesn’t want a deal? And lastly, when someone does win something, send it right away! From a business owners perspective I can not tell you how ecstatic people become when they receive that snail mail at a horses pace (think Zappos). Not only will they be excited they received it they will let you know how surprised they were that it arrived so quickly. Make a happy reader!