Blogkeeping // Growing Your Readership

Blogkeeping // Growing your readership // Elembee.com

In the last couple of weeks we’ve discussed original content and collaborations for growing your blog, which is what keeps readers coming back. But what can you do to get them to visit in the first place?

Leave thoughtful comments

I think this probably goes without saying, but the blogging community is built on comments. I started growing my blog with the comment section, and some of my best blogging friendships started there — and not just with the bloggers, with fellow readers as well! In some cases, I left a comment on a blog I liked, the blogger returned the favor, and we just kept chatting from there. In other cases, I’ve made friends through a blog instead, with fellow readers — I started visiting their blogs because I kept noticing their comments on another blog I was reading.

This is not to say you should plaster the internet with comments — keep them thoughtful and personable. I mean, who gets warm and fuzzies from “Great post, enter my Brand X giveaway!”? If I’m being honest, I avoid a blog if I see that. But when I see a well-thought-out comment, I want to read more of what that person has to say! Blogging is meant to be a conversation, so keep the conversation going, and people will take notice. And keep in mind, this isn’t a quick way to gain readers — I really think it’s more about building relationships so you can support each other.

(A little side note on making it easy to comment: I don’t pretend to know anything about Blogger, so feel free to disagree below, but I would really love it if everyone would allow comments by Name/URL since I’m not on Blogger and OpenID is annoying/doesn’t work half the time, especially on mobile devices (even worse if you add CAPTCHA). Or, switch to Disqus! For WordPress users, use FV Antispam and Akismet, and you won’t have to worry about those pesky CAPTCHA plugins. I think it requires some special skill set I don’t have to get a successful CAPTCHA in less than 5 tries!)

Reach out on social media

Social media is where you can have an ongoing conversation — I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met through Twitter and how many blogs I’ve discovered (and follow) that way. I would say the key to social media is to find the one you enjoy spending time on, and spend most of your time interacting there — you’ll get more out of it than if you just spend a little time in each one. I’m on Twitter all the time, so Twitter is one of my top sources of referral traffic, and people who enjoy Twitter as much as I do respond to and share my posts there, which introduces new readers to my blog (and me to new blog reads!). You may enjoy Facebook more, and that’s totally fine — Facebook is a great way to connect with readers who aren’t necessarily into blogging or social media, since pretty much everyone has a profile these days.

Look for link-ups and other ways to share your posts

Have you heard of Friday’s Fancies on Long Distance Loving? It’s a weekly link-up for fashion-related posts, and the community there is incredible. I don’t participate regularly, but the times that I have, I’ve always received comments from new readers.* Something Charming also hosts a weekly link-up if post about weddings — just look around, if there’s something that interests you, someone has probably created a link-up for it. Link-ups are a great way to connect with like-minded bloggers and form new relationships, and in turn, you can introduce your readers to each other.

Also look for other communities where you can share your posts, like DailyBuzzStyle or IFB’s Links a la Mode. For some communities, you will need to apply for membership or regularly submit links, but if you feel your content is a good fit, it’s worth a try.

Participate in Twitter chats

This goes with the idea of finding communities that will be interested in your content. Twitter chats are usually set for a certain time with a special hashtag so you can follow what everyone is saying, and many will post questions ahead of time somewhere, through their website, newsletter, or Facebook. All you have to do to participate is jump in using the hashtag (I recommend TweetDeck for keeping up!) and answer the questions and respond to others. My favorite is BlogBrunch — I’m always connecting with new readers, finding new blogs to follow, and learning something new!

Focus on one or two things

I have actually posted less frequently in the past two months, but I’ve seen more growth than ever, and I think part of it is due to my focus on Blogkeeping and Across the USA. With more and more new blogs every day, I think it’s easier for people to remember one special thing you do rather than your blog in general, but if you can get them to remember that special thing, they’re more likely to come back for more. Plus, it’s so much easier to focus on promoting a couple of things, so you can spend more time on it, and in turn get more out of it. I don’t think that necessarily means you have to turn into a niche blog (let’s be honest, I have way too many varied interests for that), but if there’s something you particularly enjoy talking about, make it a regular thing and spend extra time promoting it, and see what happens.

There are so many more ways to grow your readership, but I think what it really comes down to is community. Very few people have huge growth overnight, so I think it’s important to look for people who will support you, and you can help each other grow. What are some ways you have grown your readership?

*{av} made a point in the comments I think is super important and bears repeating in an update to this post — not being an ACTIVE participant in a link-up isn’t going to get you anywhere. Like everything in blogging, you get out of it what you put into it. I think the fact that I do receive new comments even though I don’t participate regularly speaks volumes for the kind of community there, but I should have mentioned that the only way to truly benefit from those relationships is to build them over time by participating regularly. And I think that’s true with anything mentioned here — it will take time, and you have to be consistent in your efforts if you want to see results.

A list of link-ups

Update: I’ve been asking around about link-ups, and here are some I found:

Discussion

  1. Allyssa says

    Great tips! No one knows your blog is there unless you show them. Commenting gets your name out there. And unfortunately, people go about this in the wrong way. If you tell me to visit your blog, I won’t lol.

  2. I’ve asked the question about readership growth so many times. I really appreciate this post, Lisa. Many people answer this question, but few people do it so thoughtfully. Thank you! Thanks, also, for this series.

  3. Really well said! Commenting on other blogs, the “right way” like you pointed out, was the number one traffic source for me when I first started out. Unfortunately, I don’t have the same time anymore to do this, and I think my blog has sort of “plateaued” for now…LOVING this series and Elembee in general, found you via Meg Biram. PS: EVERYONE please get rid of those captchas and make it EASY for your readers to comment. amen.

  4. These are great tips, as always, LIsa. I totally agree on commenting- I feel like if you don’t comment, you’re just another pageview in google analytics.

    And I hate captcha…it makes me feel like a failure at life, ha!

  5. Betsy says

    “I’ve made friends through a blog instead, with fellow readers — I started visiting their blogs because I kept noticing their comments on another blog I was reading.”

    Most of the blogs I’ve started following in the past few months – and most of those that I visit most regularly – came to my attention this way. I’m so much more excited about regularly reading a blog when I know that they’re invested in the community and have left thoughtful comments elsewhere. It’s a great way to find new friends who don’t just want to make it a numbers game but who want to build relationships.

    I get totally overwhelmed by Twitter chats though – any advice you might have on how to keep your head above water at BlogBrunch and similar things would be received with much punctuation and many emoticons!

    1. Kate says

      I thought I’d share my two-cents on Blog Brunch- I think you have to try to go with the flow rather than fighting it and accept that you’re drowning if we’re going with the water metaphor :) There is NO WAY to really follow the whole thing, so I just try to scan the conversation and jump in when something resonates with me or someone asks a question that I feel I can answer. I think having columns in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite really helps there too- I have a friends list which makes it easier to interact with friends who are also participating in the chat.

  6. I feel weird saying this because it has been around for awhile (and I have had an account for awhile too), but i’m a twitter newbie. How do you use twitter to find other bloggers? Is there a hash tag people use? And, does anybody else know about other twitter chats (on top of blog brunch)? I really want to become a better twitter user!

  7. Sandra says

    Yes to the thoughtful comments. For me one of the big reasons for blogging IS to build community and make some friends and share some common interests.

    I’d rather have a smaller group of engaged readers. I like to have a sense of who is going to read what I am writing. Otherwise, it feels like I am bleating into the wilderness!

    Funnily enough, on the business side of blogging, advertisers and sponsors are going this way too. Before it used to be just about numbers – now it’s also about having an engaged following too.

  8. Kate says

    I love this post, Lisa! I think when a lot of people are trying to grow their readership they’re hoping for a quick fix, but really it’s a combination of many things, and mostly it’s about getting your name out there and making friends! You’ve really touched on a lot of the many ways to go about it in a very clear way.

  9. Lori says

    Lisa, this post is incredibly helpful, especially since I’m somewhat new to the blogging world. When I think about the blogs that I faithfully follow and want to share with my friends, the thing that stands out to me the most is that the author is consistent on when they post new content. Whether it’s everyday or every other day, I love when a blog is consistent in their posting! I believe this is another helpful way to grow readership.

  10. These are fantastic tips, thank you so much! I’ve been blogging since July 2011 and I’m finally starting to make strides on expanding my readership and my social media presence. All of your points reinforce exactly what’s been told to me before so thank you! Keep up with the great posts – they’re so helpful :)

  11. Alice says

    Thank you for this! I’m still learning how to grow my community, so I don’t have any tips. I just read blogs on a regular basis, which I have done even before I started blogging, and when I have something to say I leave a comment. :)

    I think Twitter is great for sharing, it’s how I find good blogs, besides the links bloggers like you share.

    And I have to agree with your first point – leaving a Name/URL option for commenting is so important in my opinion! I hate CAPTCHA and I do admit I am quite annoyed when there is no name/url/(email) option.

    xx
    Alice

  12. Great ideas all. I’ve been considering the change to DISQUIS, but have also been wondering about the ease of being able to get to commenters’ blogs if they have them via that. Whether they have to include the link themselves, or if it is automatic like with blogger. But your post is inspiring me to find out!

  13. I’ve never been able to participate in Twitter chats – I find it impossible to keep up and keep it under 140 characters – so I usually follow along silently. I defeats the purpose somewhat but what I lose in new followers, I gain in knowledge/insight.

    re Disqus: I appreciate its ease of use but as someone who guards her ‘cookies’ closely, you have to allow them in order to be able to comment on Disqus. I think Akismet is the best all around comment plugin.

  14. Gloria says

    I’ve never done the whole Twitter chat thing, but BlogBrunch looks interesting!

  15. Jadyn says

    Great post Lisa! I love your emphasis on being thoughtful and building relationships. I originally started blogging to connect with others and it’s a good reminder to keep that front and center because that’s what makes it fun and meaningful (to me anyway). I noticed a couple of other commenters also talked about Twitter. I’ve had an account for a few years, but just don’t really know how to use it. I think maybe I follow too many people and the tweets of the people I’m actually interested in get lost between all the other ones. Any tips on how to use Twitter would be awesome – although, maybe you’ve already done a post on it and I’ve missed it.

  16. I assume everyone who isn’t commenting on your blog is doing so because they can’t read the light grey font. And anyone who isn’t commenting on mine is intimidated by how worldly yet humble I am.

    j/k, except about the font. THE FONT.

    I don’t waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanna Twitter. But you did make me realize that I spend a whole lotta time reading blogs written by people who probably don’t care about what I’m doing. Maybe I should actually spend some time participating in the photography blog community, since that’s basically what my blog is boiling down to these days. Brilliant post, as always.

  17. Hi Lisa,
    I am SO glad I found Elembree and your blog and I have already subscribed to your newsletter. While I’m a licensed artist by trade, I just started blogging to share projects but now I am interested in growing my audience. I think I need to start finding and participating in Link Ups. Thanks so much for the valuable information and I look forward to additional newsletters!

  18. Lisa, you always have such great and thoughtful advice! The blogkeeping posts are definitely why I always come back for more.

  19. Corinne says

    I thought this was an interesting post, especially in that you’ve had experience with growing readership with comments, social media, etc. I’ve been trying a little of each and was starting to get skeptical that anyone actually saw any success with it. But I’ll definitely approach it differently after reading your article.

  20. Lisa–thank you so so much for including Friday’s Fancies in this round-up. Like you said, link-ups help you find like-minded bloggers…and in the case of FF, the ladies are ridiculously amazing. The creativity blows my mind and their support of one another makes me grin like a proud mama. All of this to say, participating in a link-up but not being an active participant isn’t going to get you anywhere. The people who invest the time to visit other blogs through link-ups make much better connections with one another.

    You rock, Lisa. Thank you for putting this all out there. I truly can’t thank you enough for the shout-out…and as always with you, this series is spot-on. GENUINE COMMENTS, people. If you don’t have anything better than “cool post” to say, don’t say anything at all ;) xoxo {av}

    P.S. If you’re hesitant to do a link-up, don’t be. It may be scary at first, but taking the plunge is totally worth it.

  21. Kat says

    I love twitterchats and facebook groups for connecting – I think it is the real time conversation that I enjoy so much. I was always a loyal lurker – reading but never commenting – before I started my own blog, then I understood how much people really do like to connect in the comments.
    Really great advice, <3 your Blogkeeping series.

  22. kaley says

    Thank you so much for these posts! I found your blog because of the blogkeeping series, and it has helped me so much. One question – what comment plugin do you use here? I love how clean it is and super easy to use.

  23. These are awesome tips! Thanks so much!

  24. alicia says

    Thanks for the tips. Do you have any suggestions for finding link-ups? I’m sure there are great ones out there that I just don’t know about, but I have no idea how to find them!

  25. A very, very smart and true post Lisa! It’s all about community. networking, being active in the community and supporting each other. Some of the best connections I’ve made in the b logging community have been through commenting, connecting on social media, etc. One thing I have learned is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Many of today’s most popular bloggers worked hard over time to get there. I’ve also learned and truly believe that its not about being the most popular, but growing and nurturing a true and authentic readership and community. :)

  26. Joelle says

    Fantastic tips, as always Lisa! I completely agree that leaving thoughtful comments is the way to go. It’s so important that you just be yourself on your blog too! It’s so obvious when people are just trying to buy readers inauthentically.

    Thank you so much for the shout out! I really appreciate it :) xoxo

  27. Nicole says

    Thank you so much for doing this post! I have had many questions about growth with in my blog and found your post to be very helpful. I have found with having a fashion focused blog that community is huge. I cant wait to keep following!

    XoXo,
    NIcole

  28. These are really great tips! Thank you! I’ve found that the first tip works REALLY well. It’s how I started slowly growing out of just a friends/family readership. I never knew about Twitter chats – that sounds so interesting and fun – would definitely love to check it out! :)

  29. I’ve made it my mission to respond to every single comment on my blog (as it appears you have, as well). I just figure if someone took the time to leave me a note, the LEAST I can do is respond with a thank you. And then, if I’ve got time, I love to hop over to their blog and leave a comment there. Some of my best bloggy buddies have been built that way. And I have SUCH faithful commenters. There’s a group of a dozen or so bloggers that will consistently comment on ALL of my posts…and I am so thankful for that. I feel the love from my community, and hopefully, I show that love back.

    I think today might be the day I join Twitter. I’ve been holding off, mostly because I didn’t think I had the time or even desire to open up a new account on a new form of social media. However, you and my friend Katie from Sew Woodsy, have both spoken about the connections you can form through Twitter…and that’s what has me intrigued. I’ll be sure to follow you if I do!

    And I like the idea of focusing your content toward one or two areas that you do really well. Like you, I’m not a niche blogger…but I’m thinking of focusing more on blogging tips as well as Silhouette projects in these next couple of months, and that might help me grow readership.

    Excellent and well-thought out post!

  30. Lauren says

    Lisa, I love your blogkeeping posts! They are so helpful and incredibly insightful. I look forward to reading them!

  31. I absolutely love your Blogkeeping posts, so informative. Good point, I need to slow down and comment on the posts I enjoy…to my knowledge people can’t read my mind. Great post!

  32. Bethany says

    I always make sure that when I leave comments they are thoughtful and keeping the conversation going, but sometimes I totally underestimate how thoughtful my comments might be and instead of just commenting, I think “Not deep enough. I just won’t say anything.” I definitely need to work on that. I love your blog-keeping posts! Always so helpful!

  33. becky says

    I really love your comment about making it easy for readers to leave comments. I am on blogger and after reading your post, I checked to make sure my settings were set to make it easier for people to comment. There was no option for leave comment by “URL/name” and I have it set to “Registered Users/Including Open ID”. I wonder if this is best? I’m a little scared to set it to “Anonymous users”.
    Also want to comment on Av’s FRiday Fancies Link Up- I love this link up and also have seen more traffic and met amazing bloggers through this link up. I would recommend it to anyone looking to get out there more. This post is SO helpful.
    -Becky

  34. Really loved your tips :) definitely commenting to your readers is important. Thanks also for including Happies and Crappies! We really appreciate it.

  35. My blog is very young, only a few months, and I’ve definitely noticed that the returning visitors are bloggers who I’ve formed a relationship with. Still my blog is growing so slowly and I’ve heard it can take years to really grow significantly.

  36. Kim says

    Thank you so much for this post, I can’t tell you how helpful it is. We have wonderful readers on our blog and have redesigned to hopefully allow our readers to feel more comfortable to “participate and comment,” something that hasn’t been as active as we would like! I’m going to follow your tips as well and see if we can do some community building. Thanks so much!!

  37. Amy says

    Your Blogkeeping posts are so helpful to me! I just started a blog on Blogger a couple of weeks ago, and I am so overwhelmed with how much I don’t know. Right now, I am trying to focus on the whole Comment thing. This post, as well as many of the comments by your followers, made me realize that I have to go back and change some of my settings for comments (captcha, for one). I will be coming back to your Blogkeeping tips again and again for reference. I am in awe of all of the bloggers out there who make this look so easy! Thank you!

  38. Holly says

    Thanks for the tips! I just found this series via dailybuzz and I am LOVING it. As a new blogger who has been blog-obsessed for so long, it’s great to find a comprehensive guide for us newbies — especially when “big time” blogs are on the rise. It’s often intimidating to comment on a blog that is super popular/has hit the big time in the blog world, but this post is packed with encouragement. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Wow, thank you for such awesome advice! I just added Disqus to my blog :) Next, I need to work on focusing on 1 or 2 things :P It’s hard! I love posting about everything I come across haha. #lifeofablogger

  40. Kristen says

    I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog! I’m trying to be more social and outreaching and have considered a link-up. But sometimes I feel too new and awkward in comparison to the “advanced” bloggers out there. I guess I should just bite the bullet and do it anyway! Thanks for posting this!

  41. Melissa says

    Great post! I’m so glad you mentioned the fact that not everyone is on Blogger. There are blogs that I follow and love and would love to leave comments however I’m not on Blogger and leaving a comment is pretty impossible.
    I’ve never heard of BlogBrunch, I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for all the great info!

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