Blogkeeping // Growing Your Readership

Blogkeeping // Growing your readership //

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:

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Meet the author

Hello! I’m Lisa M. Butler, and I help people build better websites. As a WordPress developer, I’ve built more than 100 websites on WordPress. I help my clients take their websites to the next level and teach them how to take control of their online presence. Through my blog, weekly emails, and club, I share that same advice with online creative entrepreneurs and publishers just like you.