Every once in a while, you’ll write a post that is a surefire winner, but quite often, our most popular posts come as a relative surprise. You’ll post something and out of nowhere will come comments and people linking to the posts. How did that happen?
The simple truth is that it’s luck. Finding that certain thing that gets other people engaged is an inexact science at best and a complete roll of the dice at worst. But, unquestionably, it is these “lucky” moments that cause your readership to really take off.
But luck at blogging is much like luck at many other games: it exists, but the winners are the ones who are able to leverage that luck so that it works for them rather than against them. They create situations where luck is more likely to work in their favor.
Here are several ideas for making luck exist for you – and how you can take advantage of it.
Expose yourself. Try to establish relationships with other bloggers and with your readers. Respond to comments and don’t be insular. Don’t be afraid to just send an email to a blogger about something that interests you on their site – you’ll open the door to a relationship that will likely make you both fans of each other’s blogs and will help highlight the things you do that are exceptional.
Expose your good work. If you think something you’ve written is potentially interesting, don’t be afraid to ask for the thoughts of others on it. In most cases, it’s highly tacky to ask for a link; instead, just send the link out to people you know or post it on a messageboard and just ask for their thoughts on the topic. Don’t overdo this, though; save it for things that you think have a strong potential to break out. If nothing else, it might help you to get a better feel for your audience.
Write potentially interesting stuff. This seems hard, especially if you’re trying to come up with enough to write about already, but it provides a great filter for you to not spend your time on boring ideas. If you come up with an idea, simply ask yourself whether or not you’d have an interest in reading this post if it was on another blog. If the answer’s no, then you should probably toss that idea and look for another one.
Focus on your feed readers. I often read The Simple Dollar through a feed reader because it strips my site down to the bare content. What stands out? What’s interesting? What’s boring? Quite often, posts that seem great on the regular site seem less interesting here, and posts that made me yawn as I was creating them pop to life once the constraints of the site are removed.
Look at what’s hot elsewhere. If you see a news story and have an immediate interesting response, you might be onto something worthwhile. The same thing goes for new fads as they’re breaking; if you see something really interesting elsewhere, mention it and link to it. This way, if you have an interesting thought on a topic that’s becoming prominent, others will likely find you organically.
Building a Better Blog for 2007 is a month-long series at The Simple Dollar, outlining steps you can take to build a long-term healthy blog that will attract readers. Jump ahead to the next essay, Guide Your Users, or back to the previous one, Don’t Give Up.