One of the most difficult aspects of starting a new blog is attracting readers.  For the first few months after Peter and I started our blog on obesity research, we averaged 5-10 hits per day, at least half of which were due to the two of us refreshing the site on different computers! This can be incredibly frustrating, since you are putting a lot of time and effort into creating valuable content that few people are able to enjoy.  Luckily there are a number of tools that you can use to attract new readers right from the start, with one of the most important being

Research Blogging is a website that aggregates blog posts that discuss peer-reviewed research.  The blog post must discuss the research in a relatively in-depth fashion (e.g. the post must do more than simply summarize the abstract), but this is something that many science blogs do on a fairly regular basis.  If you discuss peer-reviewed studies on your blog, then you simply need to register your blog with Research Blogging, and then insert the Research Blogging citation code into each blog post which discusses a peer-reviewed journal article.  For example, on our obesity blog roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of our posts discuss the results of a peer-reviewed paper, and so we include the Research Blogging code on each of those articles.  These posts then get advertised on the Research Blogging main page, as well as the sidebar of the Scienceblogs network (Scienceblogs and Research Blogging are both owned by SEED media group).  This is huge, as Scienceblogs is one of the most popular science websites in the world.  So by signing up for Research Blogging, you are basically getting your work advertised for free, on a tremendously popular website that caters to people who like to read about science

That’s a pretty great deal!

We have been using Research Blogging on Obesity Panacea for 1.5 years, and in that time we inserted the Research Blogging code into 122 posts, resulting in more than 45,000 views.  And we are by no means an anomaly – of the other health blogs that I looked at today (Healthskills, Cancer Research UK,and Child Psych), all have more views from Research Blogging than we do.  Further, Research Blogging has become such an important tool for the science blogging community that PLoS actually uses the site to assess the impact of its articles!  This is obviously a valuable tool for anyone, but especially for researchers or funding organizations who are trying to use a blog to bring their research to a larger audience.

So, how do you go about getting started?  First, I would suggest you check out the Research Blogging Editor’s Selections,  which highlight some of the best posts from the past week in a number of research areas (Full disclosure: Peter is currently Health Editor at Research Blogging, and I have served the same role in the past).  The Editor’s Selections will give you a good idea of what is currently being done on the site, as well as providing some excellent blogs to learn from.  Then, start writing blog posts on peer-reviewed research!  Once you have 5-10 posts under your belt, register your blog and you’re good to go!

I obviously am a pretty big fan of Research Blogging.  What have other people’s experiences been with the site?  Are there any other similar blog aggregators or directories that people really need to know about?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!