by Dorie Clark
Why write a blog if no one reads it? On Career Authors today, I’ll talk about two secrets to building a large blog following: how to create great headlines and leverage the power of syndication. Then click to Jungle Red, where I’ll discuss two other crucial areas: consistency and focus.
No writer wants to toil in oblivion, but attracting new readers in a noisy and competitive landscape isn’t easy. That’s why, in my new book Entrepreneurial You, I discuss how entrepreneurs – including writers! – can develop their audience and earn more money from their work.
Two crucial strategies for this are creating great headlines, and syndication.
Great headlines from Cosmo
When it comes to building your email list, it’s impossible to underestimate the importance of blog post headlines, which attract readers in the first place.
It’s worth spending a disproportionate amount of time identifying a compelling title.
Ask yourself if the title is intriguing enough that you’d want to read it. Does it promise a clear benefit (like creating a large blog following)? Does it address a topic you’re exceptionally drawn to? Take the time to put your article in the best light by giving it a title people will want to know more about.
Brian Clark (no relation) of Copyblogger has a great strategy, which is lifting headline inspiration from Cosmopolitan magazine, which has perfected the art over many years. For instance, you can transform their “22 Best Relationship Tips Ever” into “My 22 Best Design Tips Ever” and capture the power of intrigue.
Conquer obscurity with syndication
Popular blogger James Clear, whom I profile in Entrepreneurial You, always posts his articles on his own site first. But he doesn’t stop there. He currently has syndication agreements with sites including Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Business Insider, and Forbes; if they think their audience would be interested in the article, they’re allowed to repost it. His bio at the bottom drives readers back to his home page and encourages them to sign up for his newsletter. It might sound impossible for you to lure the attention of top-ranked publications in your field, and indeed, it’s not something to worry about at first.
But early on, you can repost your articles on sites like LinkedIn and Medium, which are open to anyone.
As you progress, you may develop connections with other bloggers, who would welcome the chance to share your material with their readers.
And over time, as you gain more readers and experience, you’re likely to find that editors from increasingly prominent outlets seek you out. Indeed, I started writing for Entrepreneur when an editor there, who had been following my writing for other publications, messaged me on Twitter to see if I’d consider writing for them. This can help turbocharge your exposure and list growth after you gain more experience.
The power of the list
Building your email list and a large blog following is incredibly powerful. It enables you to develop a close connection to your readers, so you can understand what they’re interested in, and notify them easily when you have new work coming out. That can mean the difference between launching your next book to bestseller lists – or to crickets.
Because as every author knows, the real work of book marketing isn’t done during launch week – it’s done well before, in the connection you build with readers over time.
Dorie Clark is the author of the new book Entrepreneurial You, and this article is adapted from it. Her past books include Reinventing You and Stand Out, which was named the #1 Leadership Book of 2015 by Inc. magazine. She teaches for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and you can download her free 88-question Entrepreneurial You self-assessment workbook.