I was recently asked by a fellow Catholic blogger for some pointers in getting people to come to his blog. Anyone who has ever run a blog understands the desire to have people read what you write. It can become spiritually dangerous to focus too much on getting traffic, but on the other hand, if you truly believe that what you write can help others in their walk with Christ, then you want as many people as possible to read it.
I make no claim to be an expert on the topic, but I do have a few ideas that might help other bloggers to drive traffic to their site.
1) Content, Content, Content
If you don’t have interesting (and well-written!) content, people will not be interested in your blog. Sometimes blogs get popular because they espouse “controversial” views, but I think the better way to increase visitors is to have content that people want to read on a regular basis. Note, however, that this takes a lot of hard work. Emphasis on “lot” and “hard” and “work.”
2) Be yourself
Don’t try to imitate other popular Catholic blogs – write about what you care about and what is interesting to you. The only way to produce good content (see above) is to write about what you are passionate about. If you just try to pick topics that you think are popular, your writing will suffer and you won’t stand out in the crowded blogosphere. Find your niche and stick to it.
3) Promote your blog
For most of us, promoting ourselves is difficult, as we are afraid that we are putting ourselves in front, instead of Christ. And it can be a danger for bloggers. But if you have written something that you think will help people, then by all means tell others about it. Write to other bloggers and tell them about interesting posts you have written (but don’t overwhelm them with every post you ever write: only pick ones that you think that particular blogger might find interesting). No one will magically show up at your blog – they need to be told by someone they trust to go there.
The best way to help your search engine ranking, which will allow people to more easily find you, is to have many inbound links to your blog. To do this, you have to ask people to add you to your blogroll or otherwise link to you. Some people will do so and others won’t (I don’t link to very many blogs on my blogroll, for example), but any link will help.
5) Be Patient
If you look at the most popular Catholic blogs out there, you will notice that they all have been around for years. Building an audience on the internet takes time; people usually have to visit your site a number of times before deciding to make it a regular destination and to recommend it to others. Do not expect a quick jump in traffic and be prepared to blog for years before you have any substantial audience.
And finally, don’t take your blog too seriously. Yes, blogs can address serious subjects but we have to remember that they are just blogs, after all. Ultimately, how you interact with those around you – your family, your friends, your co-workers – is more important to your spiritual life than how well-trafficked your blog is.