There’s nothing wrong with wanting more readers for your blog. (For the record, “Alas” gets 900-1000 visits a day – which makes us fairly respectable as smallish blogs go, but chump change compared to folks like Atrios and Calpundit). Blogging can take a lot of effort, and it’s natural to want more people to read and appreciate what you’re doing.
So how do you get people to link to you?
- The best way to get people to link to you is to write interesting posts and update frequently. I know, “duh,” but it’s still the best advice. I hate to say it, but unless you write as well as D-Squared (and almost no one apart from Billmon or Jeanne D’arc does), frequent updates are probably the best thing you can do to increase your traffic.
- DON’T send people “hey, want to exchange links” emails. I receive several “reciprocal link request” emails a week, and I almost always ignore them (especially when they’re obviously form letters sent to a gazillion bloggers). It sounds harsh, but I don’t have time to add a new blog to my blogroll every time someone emails me. Neither will you, once your blog has grown a bit.
- Link to other people! Nearly all bloggers check to see where their hits are coming from; you’re far more likely to get a blogger to check you out by linking to them than by emailing them. Link to bloggers you find interesting, whether or not they’ve ever linked you.
For instance, I just checked out “Alas, a Blog’s” stats. (Hey, I got 1500 visitors on the 17th! I wonder what that was about?) Looking at referrals, I see several blogs that I haven’t looked at lately (or ever): Keywords, which seems like a very smart lefty blog that I’ll definitely be checking in the future, the beautifully-written Across, Beyond, Through, where I read that “joy is a force of nature,” and My So-Called Lesbian Life, a blog that I’ve linked to frequently in the past but have forgotten to check lately, which was my mistake because she’s got a lot of great stuff on same-sex marriage (including a photo of her best friend’s wedding).
- If there’s a blog you’d particularly like a link from, try linking to and discussing their posts. If you can bounce off one of their posts and add new thoughts, that’s more likely to generate a reciprocal link than a post saying “go read this post, it’s great” is.
- If you’re a political blogger, and there are opposition blogs you respect, go ahead and start up inter-blog debates with them (but be polite!). A nice, long blog war can do wonders for your stats.
- If you do a post responding to someone else, it’s okay to email them to make sure they see it. Just say “FYI, I’ve responded to you on my blog, and here’s the URL.” It’s also perfectly acceptable to post a link to your response in their comments (if they have comments).
- Proofread. Spell-check. Use an easy-to-read blog design (no white print on black backgrounds!). It may seem unfair, but being “professional” in your approach will attract more readers.
- If you must send out a “please check out my blog” email, wait until you’ve written a particularly great post, and send out a “check out this great post” email.
- Stick with it. Unless you luck out, it can take a long time to build an audience.
- Have fun and don’t obsess on your stats. A blog with twelve readers is just as valid as a blog with twelve thousand readers. Do material that pleases you, and trust that your audience will find you.
I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what occurs to me offhand. Anyone else have any suggestions?