With all the work that goes into content marketing (i.e. writing, designing and distributing an online publication), it can be disappointing when your readership numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be. However, amid the one-off readers and accidental web stumbles, there’s a huge amount of potential to create dedicated readers, and dare we say… fans. It’s all about keeping them interested. And while that’s no easy feat, there are definitely a number of guidelines that will keep them coming back for more.

Find your voice
There should be a distinct voice that translates across the publication. But what exactly is a voice? A voice consists of a point of view, attitude and personality that comes across through the content. If you have multiple writers creating content, there’s no need to strip them of their individualism however, it is important that their writing does align with the overarching theme and point of view of the publication. This can consist of wider themes like “tech” or “health” or “fashion.”

Maintain a variety of relevant content
While this may seem like a given, it’s easy to forget how important it is to prioritize creating different ways to digest content for readers. Having a healthy mix of longer features, Q&As, service-driven pieces and image-driven content will make your content platform feel substantial and driven by passion rather than conversion.

Stick to the topic at hand
It’s key to not underestimate your audience. Your readers are ideally someone like yourself. They’re savvy and are not easily victim to selling tropes. That being said, your content platform is not the place for promotional materials. Readers know a corporate brochure when they see one.

Judge your book by its cover
Speaking of savvy readers, website design shouldn’t be neglected. Within the first seconds of clicking on to a page, readers are assessing the site. Does this look legitimate? Is it a scam? Does it look like there could be quality content on this page? Will just being here give my computer a virus? These are questions we all ask ourselves. It’s safe to assume that your readers will do the same. Do some recon and see what elements of page design make you feel secure in a site’s legitimacy and work with a website designer to enact those features in your own site.

Add a social element
As with any brand, keeping your readers tied in to your content takes a constant reminder. If they have liked your content in the past, it’s important to be active in locking them as a devoted reader. Grab social handles and start updating with new posts, upcoming collaborations or interviews. Be sure to translate the voice of your content over to your social media captions. Think of social media as your platform’s sound piece.

Incentivize them to buddy up
Or, in other words, dangle the carrot. We live in an age where personal referrals are actual currency. It’s a huge part of why companies like Yelp and TripAdvisor have risen to power. Utilize the power of referral and offer a gracious gift for sharing. Whether it’s a physical prize or a discount code, developing a referral program is a worthwhile endeavor that promises to build a readership based on similar interests.

It’s simple: write good content
It’s true, great content is a luxury. But if a digital media platform has any chance of gaining a readership, it’s certainly one worth investing in. With the onslaught of constant content—be it through social media, texts or publications—there is more of a need to make your content stand out. If it’s a pithy sentence or a clever joke that keeps them on the page, it’s worth the time to come up with it. Remember, all it takes is a click of a mouse for them to leave.