Blog Readership: What I Learned From My Dad
We all learn valuable lessons from our fathers. My dad owned a set of local newspapers. As such, he was the head of editorial, sales and a variety of other less glamorous media jobs.
I learned a lot of about publishing just by watching how my dad ran his integrated local newspaper business.
Here are nine blogging lessons I learned from my dad about building your blog following.
- Offer content people want. People continue to buy newspapers, especially local ones to keep up with what’s going on in their neighborhood. They get broader coverage from national newspapers and offline media, namely television. People wanted local news they couldn’t get elsewhere. Actionable Blogging Tip: For blogs this translates to defining your niche. What do you cover better than your competitors and what’s your positioning? Assess how you stand out from your peers and competitors.
- Cover regular features. Like many newspapers, my dad’s newspaper provided information across a variety of topics of interest to readers. The most popular were about the local schools and their sports teams. Actionable Blogging Tip: Determine what topics your readership is interested in seeing on your blog. Decide how frequently and when each one will be covered. Based on this information create an editorial calendar.
- Include a photograph whenever you have one. In a local newspaper, this was particularly important for local sports and other community events. When space was limited, my dad skipped the text in favor of the photograph because people cared about seeing other people. Actionable Blogging Tip: Always incorporate photographs into your articles, preferably with people. Also, consider creating articles consisting only of photographs. Include thumbnail photographs of your contributors.
- Always spell people’s names right. The bottom line is people like to see their name in print. Spelling their names correctly shows respect for the people about whom you’re writing as well as your readers. Actionable Blogging Tip: Make sure that you check the spelling of the people and blogs you reference in your articles. Also, verify the links to their blogs and websites.
- Make your presentation easy-to-read. (Here are 31 design mistakes and how to fix them.) If it’s too hard to read, no one will pay attention! My dad’s newspapers served small, local businesses who weren’t marketing savvy. They crammed as much information as they could into an ad. The result was almost black with ink and unreadable. Actionable Blogging Tip: Less is more when it comes to layout and presentation. White space is your friend. It helps readers digest your information. On a blog, this means bold headings and bulleted lists.
- Have a consistent publishing schedule. My dad’s newspaper had a sixty-five year history of publishing local news that appeared every Friday. As a result, readers looked forward to receiving the publication. (Here’s help with blog post frequency.) Actionable Blogging Tip: As a blogger, set a regular publishing schedule so readers know when to expect your content. You’re better off publishing less frequently than you are publishing every day for two weeks and then disappearing for two months. Having a consistent publishing schedule allows readers to expect your articles and build your readership.
- Engage in community activities. My dad believed in knowing the members of the community where his newspaper was distributed. In addition to meeting the local merchants in the area, my dad was active in the local Rotary and was on the board of the Boys and Girls Club. He worked with offline groups to get to know people and influencers in the community. Actionable Blogging Tip: Today, bloggers can use a variety of different social media options to connect with like-minded individuals. Further, you can engage with these readers through various forums including your comment section. There’s also a broad array of options offline. For example BlogWorld Expo allows bloggers to get together in real life.
- Keep your current customers. My father taught me that keeping current customers was less expensive than acquiring new ones. This holds true for most businesses, including blogging. The reason’s clear—your current customers know who you are and are familiar with your content. You don’t need to spend time and money convincing them that your content is worth reading. Actionable Blogging Tip: Offer readers a variety of ways to receive your content. For the newspaper, this was via mail or per copy at the newsstand. With your blog, you’ve got many more options including email, RSS, social sharing and others.
- Use the best printer you can afford. I used to accompany my father to the printer to ensure that the newspaper was printed correctly. In the offline world, an error in an ad couldn’t be corrected on the fly like a blog and would cost the newspaper lost revenues. Good printers were neater and make sure the newspaper was printed correctly, saving money. Actionable Blogging Tip: Use the best publishing platform you can afford. Personally, I use WordPress and a self-hosted website.
While it was great to learn about traditional publishing first hand from my dad, with today’s expanded publishing options, namely blogs and microblogs, you’ve got more options to build your following and engage your audience. Half of the trick is showing up and providing useful content your prospects want.
What other suggestions would you add to this list to help build your social media audience?
Happy father’s day to my dad and the rest of you who are dads.
Here are some related articles you may find of interest:
- Blog tips to build your blog from scratch.
- 3 Secrets to Being an A-List Blogger [Infographic included]
- 31 Ways to Make Your Blog Stand Out
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stylianosm/3989939286/