We write blogs, first and foremost, for ourselves. But it’s no fun to talk to yourself all the time. Eventually, you’ll want to find likeminded readers who are actually getting something out of what you’re putting out there.
In four years, I’ve grown Otaku Journalist from a blog that only my husband ever commented on to a blog that gets at least 400 unique views every day. Along the ways I’ve made friends, met colleagues and co-panelists, and felt like I was contributing to our community.
Here are the solutions I’ve been most successful with for generating more traffic:
My traffic isn’t very good on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday. But I can expect lots more hits on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. Why? Because those have been my update days for years, and people know those are the days they’ll see something new here.
Here’s what Otaku Journalist’s traffic looked like last week. For reference, I updated on the 13th, 15th, and 17th. My plan didn’t work perfectly, but just look at that Wednesday!Regular updates train your audience to repeatedly visit your site on specific days. You don’t have to update EVERY day, but frequency is key. Because if I know your blog updates on the first of every month or something, I’ll probably eventually forget about it.
Cultivate your personality
One thing I’ve never liked about the anime blogosphere is the way everyone posts a cute anime girl as their profile icon for blogs and networks. I get so bewildered meeting my Twitter friends in person and realizing, “You’re not a cute girl with cat ears!”
When readers are making a decision whether or not to stick around with your blog, they’ll want to try and figure out who you are. You don’t have to post a photo of yourself if you don’t want to; it’s just one immediate way to introduce yourself. You can express yourself through your writing by showing off a your sense of humor or even discussing personal tie-ins to blog topics (I did this last month with a post about how a show got me through a career slump).
Basically, remind readers that they’re not reading Generic Anime Blog, they’re reading your blog. I know you’ve got a unique point of view to share with the world. Do your readers know?
You have opinions. Stand by them. Nobody wants to read a review of Evangelion titled “Evangelion Was OK, I Guess.” They want to read “Evangelion Was Better Than Acid.”
Sure, not everyone is going to agree with you. Expect that! Which would you rather have—a few readers that have strong feelings of love and/or hate toward you, or to not ever be noticed by anyone? As long as you’re sincere and respectful about your feelings, there’s no problem in riling up the blogosphere every now and then. Some of my most popular posts have been controversial, like Maybe you’re the reason anime is dying.
Experiment with other mediums
Sure, you’ve tried blogging with text. But have you tried photo blogging your way through a fandom convention? Or keeping a video blog of your impressions of the latest anime season? If not, then how about a podcast? Heck, what about live tweeting the US premiere of the new Madoka movie? Writing is only one way to reach your audience.
This is an especially good way to get out of a blogging slump. Trying something entirely different will mix up your routine, and rev up your audience, too. You might find out you have a knack for audio/video/photos too, and make it a regular thing.
At least since Google Reader dropped off the face of the Earth, you can’t count on readers to come to your blog on their own. Instead, you need to bring your blog to the places they hang out and remind them of your existence.
For me, that’s the Otaku Journalist Facebook page, my personal Twitter, and my personal Tumblr. Out of all of them, Twitter brings in the most readers, perhaps because I often promote the same post twice (with space between and different pitches)! I don’t think you need to have a special account just for your blog. I used to have @otakujournalist but when my WordPress app broke I never bothered to fix it. Who wants robot tweets, anyway?
And finally, don’t get hung up on traffic numbers. It’s no fun to spend your day visiting Google Analytics every morning only to notice numbers aren’t up (I know, I’ve been there). Blogging to yourself isn’t fun, but neither is running a blog purely for the hits. Write about what you love, and like-minded fans, and perhaps even friends, will follow.
(Screenshot via Saint Young Men OVA, in which Jesus and Buddha live together as roommates. And yes, Jesus has a blog!)