When you first start blogging, it’s so easy to get discouraged if your blog doesn’t immediately take off. When I first started, no one, including people in my personal life, even knew my blog existed. Nearly two years later, I’m still working to grow my community and spread all the happiness I can!
One question that everyone has when they’re trying to gain a following on their blog is “how?” I’ve learned that, unfortunately, there isn’t one surefire way to grow your blog. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and a combination of several strategies to get your following to where you’d like it to be. These are a few methods that have worked for me, and I hope they work for you too!
REPLY TO ALL COMMENTS
This is key! If someone takes the time to comment your blog, then you should take the time to thank them by replying to it. Sometimes, this may even lead to a dialogue, and maybe even a new friend!
Additional tip: Note that if you use Blogger as a platform, if you reply directly on your blog, the person who commented won’t know that you commented back unless they keep checking back. It’s usually the same on WordPress too. As a commenter, I would recommend either installing Disqus (if someone replies to your comment, you will get it in your email. A Disqus account has to be created to comment on a blog with Disqus, but many people have it now, and it’s pretty convenient) or you can check the box below the comment area that says “Notify me of follow-up comments,” and you’ll be able to see when someone replies to your comment.
ENGAGE WITH OTHER BLOGGERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Bloggers love keeping up with other bloggers on social media. Show your blog pals some love with a retweet or a favorite. Like their post on Facebook or repin their image. Spread the love to other bloggers, and hopefully that love will be reciprocated.
UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA
Because there are so many different blogging platforms, just allowing people to subscribe to your blog only through GFC or WordPress probably isn’t going to cut it. Even if you have a Bloglovin account, most non-bloggers don’t even have Bloglovin. And sometimes, even those that do may not use it as their primary way to keep up with their favorite blogs. The best thing to do is to give your readers options. Some people are obsessed with Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest. Create social media accounts associated with your blog to give your readers options on how to keep up with your posts.
SPONSOR OTHER BLOGGERS
Sponsoring other bloggers is a great way to get your name out there. Before choosing which blogs you want to dish money out on, check out their blog perks, and make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Opt for sponsorships that include features or spotlights, social media shout outs or guest posts. Sidebar ads are great, but it doesn’t always lead to exposure if there are no perks attached. If you’re on a budget, swap buttons with other bloggers and brainstorm ways to grow your blogs together, such as a collaboration.
HOST GOOD SPONSORSHIPS
If people are paying for an ad spot on your sidebar, you want to make sure that people think it’s worth the money. Make sure you have great perks included with your sponsorships. Here are a few ideas:
— Sponsor feature or spotlight (in a blog post, newsletter, etc.)
— Social media shout-outs (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
— Social media engagement (pins, +1’s, retweets, regrams, etc.)
— Offer for them to guest post
— Free entry in a giveaway
— Comments on all their posts
Hosting a good sponsorship is a great way to create loyal followers. They’ll tell their friends what a great sponsorship they had, and that may lead to even more people in your blog community.
PARTICIPATE IN LINK-UPS
Link-ups are a fun way to engage with other bloggers. Most link-ups are themed, and in order to participate, you have to blog about a certain thing, such as a recipe, music, an outfit or even your weekend. Rules of link-ups include visiting other blogs in the link-up and leaving some love. You can expect people to come and visit your blog, and you may even create some loyal readers out of the experience.
COMMENT ON OTHER BLOGS
I’ve found a lot of great blogs through people that have commented on my blog. If you use Disqus, most people have their blog link on their profile. Also, some people leave their blog links on their comments. If people do this, it’s a great way for you to visit other blogs and return the favor by commenting on a few of their blog posts too. Just like responding to comments on your own blog, this could create a dialogue between you and another blogger, which could create a loyal reader.
A good chunk of my followers came from blogger networks that I’m a part of. Networks are a great way to meet other bloggers, especially if they’re specialized networks. These are a few blog networks that I am a part of:
The Blogging Elite: This is a blog community that I created with Nina from The Grand Adventures of Me. We created a place for bloggers to mingle and meet each other. There are daily threads, but there’s no minimum number of comments that you have to make in order to share your content. There are also other fun ways to interact with other bloggers, such as quarterly box swaps, giveaways, weekly discussion questions, blog tribes and so much more.
Southern Girl Blog Community: From the name you can tell that this is a network for female bloggers living in the south.
Blog Love: I actually just joined this network recently, and I’ve found a lot of great bloggers through it. It’s also based on Facebook, and it’s a fun group to engage with other bloggers and spread the blog love.
HerCampus Blogger Network: I’ve met so many great bloggers through this network. One of my favorite things about HerCampus is that the members are all around my age, so a lot of them are going through the same struggles as me. #thestruggleisreal
If you’re looking for a way to gain followers fast, participating in a giveaway is probably the easiest way. There’s no guarantee that these people will stick around after the giveaway is over, but some of them may turn into loyal followers.
THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE
What will your audience gain by coming back to your blog? Give people a reason to keep visiting. Analyze what your most popular posts are (I like to use Google Analytics), and try to create posts similar to that one. Everyone knows something about something that other people know less about. Don’t be selfish with it. Share it!
Additional tip: Make it easier for your audience to keep up with your posts by sticking to a blog schedule. When I first started blogging, I used to publish my posts whenever I felt like it. Later, I learned that it’s better to post at the same time every day that you intend to publish a post. Personally, my posts go up at 8 am central time, even though I usually write my blog posts at night. It’s super easy for you to schedule your posts for the same time each day. Consistency is key! If you blog consistently for a month and then disappear for a few weeks, post a couple times then disappear again, it’s unlikely that your followers are going to stick around. If you want to create a blog community, try to be consistent with both the timing of your posts and the frequency. I try to post every day Monday through Friday, but even if I can’t I usually post at least 2-3 times every week.
Help get exposure for your blog by guest posting on other blogs. Make sure that anything your write for someone else’s blog is something that you would want to put on your blog. Be authentic, so that when people visit your blog from that other person’s blog, they’ll know exactly what they’re getting. Ask the other blogger to include clickable links to your blog and other social media.
SUBMIT ARTICLES TO OTHER WEBSITES
There are tons of other websites looking for contributors that already have a huge following, such as Thought Catalog, BuzzFeed, and Hello Giggles. In order to post on these sites, you usually have to create a short bio where you can include a link to your personal website. Take advantage of these sites by submitting your articles.
Even those these methods have all worked for me, every blog is different, and it’s important to note that things that work for my blog may not work for every single blog out there. Like I said before, there isn’t one surefire way to grow your blog. If you want to grow a loyal community, try out a few different methods, and see what works for you! Remember, what you give is what you get.
What methods have you used to grow your blog community?