I keep marveling at how much my blog’s traffic has increased in the past year and thinking about the posts that made this happen. On the surface, the best advice I might give for driving more traffic to your blog could be: write about technology. My techie posts, which weren’t part of the original concept for the blog, have garnered far more hits than my poetry or teaching posts. But I don’t think that writing about tech is the only solution. Some of my food posts have been fairly popular, and there’s even a post where I was trying to define Nonfiction that regularly gets a hit — welcome students from Full Sail University (wherever you are) who must be assigned to find a page like mine. I see you in my stats now and then.
No, rather than taking the easy solution, to write about tech issues, I want to suggest that you write about whatever is on your mind, but make it useful. That said, I know it’s hard to predict what will be useful for others. So my rule of thumb has become to write about things that are useful to me. Then if others think so, too, I may have a hit, and if not, at least I can use it.
Case in point: when I was having problems with my DSL modem last year, I started a series of posts chronicling my problems and eventual solution. I tried to be very detailed about what my symptoms were and how I fixed them. I described every step as accurately as I could remember (without giving away personal details). I did this at the time, so I wouldn’t forget what I’d done if I ever had the problem again. People (and then search engines) started to notice. It was a rant, and that felt good, but it was a useful rant because it also provided information, and I’m convinced that’s what drove the traffic to my site.
I’ve done the same with a rare blood disease that our dog came down with a year ago. I recounted what I had learned about it, but I also recounted the experience of caring for and ultimately losing our beloved pet. I don’t think it’s the emotional content that draws viewers, but instead they want to know what someone else has experienced and what they might expect. I don’t know that our experience will be similar to theirs — and I sincerely hope theirs will be one of the cases where the dog responds to treatment and goes into remission — but knowing our experience must be useful.
Of course, I’ll continue to write about poetry, teaching, cooking, and the occasional odd-ball topic like the Motorette my mother eventually sold (thanks to someone who found out about it on my blog). You can’t always predict what will be of use to others, after all. So don’t let this advice stop you from writing about your passion even if that seems like the most useless topic in the world. As long as you approach it with the goal in mind to make it useful, at least to yourself, then my bet is there will be others who find it useful, too, and they will find you.