Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Keep Your Readers to Yourself!

Ha ha. I'm still giggling over the title. :-)

The topic of this post is something I've stewed over for a very, very long time, and is somewhat of a pet-peeve of mine. Today, I finally hit my "endurance threshold."

We blog for a reason--we want to reach out to people. We want to be read, for the most part. We want to share our thoughts and desires and feelings. We hope there are people actually reading what we're publishing.

And we get and keep readers by doing a few things:
  • Posting frequently (I know, I know. I'm really bad at this. Shame on me. :-))
  • Talking about things others want to read about
  • Being intelligent (like, totally, youll like, lose a lot of readers if your like, not on the same level with them. You know? :-)) (*Andrea shudders.... Must.... fix.... grammar....           She resists.)
  • Quoting/mentioning others
  • Using fun and interesting articles as reference
  • Bringing the readers back
A lot of people have the above down pat. But one thing they forget all the time, is to make sure their readers come back after checking any external sites listed or quoted.

Here's an example.

I really like reading Amanda Hocking's blog. She's upfront, honest, and obviously doing something right. She started out small - one book up on Kindle/Nook, and five months later, five books published and thousands and thousands and thousands of eBooks purchased by readers.

One of my favorite posts on her blog, found here, talks about what she did to become successful. She calls it "The Epic Tale of How it All Happened." Another favorite post is here, titled "Pretty Much Everything I Have to Say About How to Do What I Do." There's a TON of excellent information in this post. I think I've read it a gazillion times.

For this example to work, go back and read the two posts I mention above. Then explore around her blog a bit--familiarize yourself with her. Go. Now. :-)

You should be back after having read the above information. How long did it take you? Ten minutes? Twenty? Thirty? Did you forget where you'd started; what had referred you there? Did you close your Amanda Hocking Blog window and find mine still open?

If you followed the instructions above perfectly--acting as a curious reader would--you didn't return for a while. If I hadn't altered the html, you might not have returned at all.

How can people return to your blog if they don't even remember they were there at one point, or that it was the starting spot? And why would they want to click "back" a gazillion times to return, if they do remember?

This is why I like to add a very small, simple bit of code into the html of my posts. I call it the Keep Your Readers to Yourself code. Here it is:


Many of you are familiar with it already, but perhaps aren't sure how to use it, or forget what it is or how to use it correctly, etc.

Here's how you do it:
  • In your post (if using blogger), click on "Edit HTML"
  • Find your link. It'll look something like this:
    • < a href="http://www.kilenyaseries.com/">The Kilenya Series Website < /a>
  • Then, insert target="_blank" here:
    • < a href="http://www.kilenyaseries.com/" target="_blank">The Kilenya Series Website< /a>
What this does is open a new window when someone clicks on links in your post. This makes it much, much easier for readers to return once they've finished perusing the external links you've provided. You should be doing this every time you point someone away from your blog/website, since one of the best ways to retain readers is to help them find their way back.


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Awesome! I've love having things automatically open in new windows/tabs, but I've not yet figured out html to do it in blogs. Thanks!