One thing I learned from previous blogs (there were several, some more successful than others) is that gaining followers takes time. I started Adventures of a Bibliophile knowing that it might be a long time before anyone even discovered my blog. I don’t typically share my blog with people I know in real life, so word of mouth marketing isn’t an option. Plus, I liked the challenge of finding followers who knew me just from my blog. I started from nothing, and it was a few months before this blog got a single hit. Three years later, and I’m getting questions about how I’ve grown my blog. Here’s my answer:
Interact with Other Blogs
This is the most important thing you can do, especially in the beginning. Not only can you learn things from other bloggers, you can gain friends (and followers), too. Unless I’m in a hurry, I check out almost every blog that leaves a comment on one of my posts. I’ve found a lot of really great new blogs that way. Leaving comments gets you noticed, and it might even get you a new follower who definitely shares your interest.
A few tips: When leaving a comment, try to write something genuine. “Great post!” and “Thanks for the info!” might be encouraging and nice to read, but they don’t particularly catch my attention. Also, don’t just comment a link to your blog on everything. Make your post relevant. If I enjoy your comment, I’m probably going to check out your blog. You don’t need to ask me, it sometimes feels like you’re trying too hard. (Note: asking me to look at your blog to give suggestions on how you can improve, or sharing relevant posts is totally okay – it’s much more personal than “hey, look, I have a blog, too!”)
Interact with People on Your Own Blog
Once you start getting readers, chances are you’ll also start getting comments. My philosophy in the beginning was to like each comment and move on, unless I was asked a specific question. Which is fine, but once I started taking the time to respond to every single comment, even if it was just a quick “Thanks!”, my readership grew exponentially. Giving your readers individual attention, if only for a few seconds, makes them feel great. Just think about the little boost you get when a stranger smiles at you; it’s kind of the same thing. Now, I don’t even check my comments until I know I will have time to sit down and respond to each one. It’s something I make a priority, and now I really love doing it.
Make Blog-Specific Social Media Accounts
It is so easy for readers to follow you on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook. It’s a great way to promote your blog, because people check social media more often than blogs (at least in my experience). Plus, it’s a great way to share more about yourself on a daily basis. Allowing readers to few like they know you, like you are a friend, is really important.
Post Good Content Regularly
I have another post planned about the actual writing part of blogging, so I won’t go into too much detail, but it is important to post regularly. Over the years, I’ve developed a schedule, and I think it’s really useful. I’m not sure if any of you notice – which is totally fine – but having a schedule makes things easier on me, and also ensures that I’m planning good posts ahead of time. I know I need to have reviews to put up on Mondays and Fridays, so I make sure those get done. Whether you post once a week or every day, it is helpful for readers to know that you’ll have a new post up on Wednesdays, for example. It reminds them to come back. One of the bigger blogs I frequent has a schedule, and I know my favorite post will always go up on Thursdays, so I usually go read the posts for that week on Thursdays. It keeps me coming back, and it’s nice to have that weekly ritual as a reader.
A note: do not commit to a posting schedule that is going to stress you out. It’s not worth it. It is totally acceptable to post just once or twice a month, if that’s what works for you. But it’s helpful for both you and your readers to know that maybe you publish a post every other Friday, or just on Mondays. Pick something that works, and try to stick to it. (And if it’s not working, change it to something that does.)
Take Part in Challenges, Memes, and Tags
When I first started this blog, I participated in a lot of tags and memes. While I’ve since made the decision to limit those posts in favor of more original ones and a more personalized schedule, I do think they were instrumental in increasing my readership. (Top Ten Tuesday in particular – that was the most popular day on my blog for a couple of years.) A lot of these posts are linked to other blogs, or easily searchable, so they get more hits. And those hits can lead to readers that are going to return. I cannot tell you how many blogs I’ve found though Top Ten Tuesday, or because I was tagged in a post by a reader I wasn’t aware of, and I’m sure at least of few of you discovered this blog in the same way. They’re also fun to write, and a great way to get started while you’re learning to come up with creative post ideas.
Do you have any tips to add to this list? Share them in the comments!
I’m curious to hear from those of you who do share your blog with family and friends. Do you think that has benefited you? Would you have done anything differently?