Timothy Dalrymple wrote an excellent post about blogging and controversy this week that I mostly agree with...except this part:
"Rachel Held Evans is an excellent blogger, yet the posts that have made her reputation (and have expanded her following) have mostly been responses to sexism controversies."
I appreciate the shout-out, but the fact of the matter is, I didn’t increase my blog traffic by writing about sexism controversies. I increased by blog traffic by posting every day.
It all started back in February of 2011 when, after three years of blogging, I decided I wanted to really focus on growing the blog. I began by taking notes on what some of my favorite successful bloggers were doing. I kept a notebook full of ideas, but two major things jumped out at me:
1) Popular bloggers posted regularly – every single day (or at least five days a week)
2) Popular bloggers served as RESOURCES for their readers, which meant that they didn’t always have to generate a post themselves, but regularly included interviews, links, guest posts, videos, news, etc. that would be of interest to their readers.
And so, in February of 2011, I started doing these two things. It only took a month for me to double my traffic, and it’s continued growing ever since. In fact, these two principles inspired me to launch our interview series, our Bible series, and our Sunday Superlatives—all of which are reliable traffic boosters. (And, for the record, my most popular post of all time had nothing to do with sexism.)
Sure, posts about John Piper and Mark Driscoll always get a lot of hits—I’m guessing that’s true for most bloggers—but to say writing controversial posts is all it takes to garner a following is simply not true.
I’m not writing this because I feel defensive...(well, maybe I feel a little defensive)...but because I want to demystify this notion of “successful” blogging a bit. If you want to increase your blog traffic, 1) post regularly, and 2) know your readers well enough to serve as a reliable resource for them.
Then your controversial posts will get the attention they deserve, not simply because they are controversial, but because you’ve put in the hard work it takes to earn the right to be heard.