A Beginner's Guide to Getting More Blog Followers
Simple ways to increase your blog's readership and its followers.
Let's Start at The Very Beginning
There's no magic formula and it'll take some elbow grease
There are many bloggers who make a healthy living from their daily musings, weekly reviews or monthly tips. A quick peruse of some of these blogs will show you that they all have one thing in common: A large following.
And, typically, a large following means a reasonably healthy readership.
Now, you may think that these bloggers have a secret formula, which allowed them to gain so many followers, but you'd be wrong.
There is no secret nor is there a hard-and-fast formula. However, there are a number of things that you can do to increase traffic to your blog and create a greater following. Bear in mind, though, that none of these options are 'quick fixes'; the not-so-secret secret to a successful blog is hard work.
Tip #1: Write About What You Know
It's a cliché, but it's true...
This is the first and most important rule of successful blogging. Don’t choose a topic based purely on what you think will be popular. Almost invariably, these kind of blogs will flounder. Why? Because a reader can tell if a writer has no enthusiasm for his or her subject.
Also, in theory, if you’re writing about a something that you have a great interest in, you’re probably more knowledgeable about that topic than the average person. Therefore, you’ll be able to create posts that are not just pleasant to read, but informative for your audience.
People read blogs for two reasons: to get information or to be entertained (you’re on to a real winner if you can combine the two). So, just churning out stuff with the appropriate density of keywords, isn’t enough. Yes, search engines may send a few people your way, but if they’re not impressed by what they find, you haven’t gained anything.
So, choose a subject that interests you, something you’re passionate about - a topic you can imagine yourself writing reams on. If you want to write an educational blog, for example; the proper care of red devil cichlid, it’s also helpful if you’re fairly knowledgeable on that breed of fish before you begin.
However, having said, "write about what you know", there is an exception to the rule. You might choose to write a blog about something you don’t yet know, but are learning about. For instance, if you wanted to write about your experience training your first puppy, that would be an equally valid and, potentially, very interesting blog topic.
Tip #2: There's No Such Thing as Too Small
You've got to find your niche...
If you want to create a blog that has lots of readers and followers, the logical thing would seem to be write about something that is popular. Actually, the reverse can sometimes be true.
On the face of it, it seems counterintuitive, but think about it for a second. If you have a love of films, and decide to write reviews of all the latest releases, how many blogs that are doing exactly the same thing will you have to compete with? That’s right, lots!
So, although millions of people will be searching for the newest superhero flick or romantic comedy, your blog is one drop in a very large ocean of similar sites. Now, that’s not to say it can’t be done. But, if you’re going to write on a topic that thousands of others are also writing about, you have to make sure you stand out from the crowd.
Alternatively, though, you should think about finding your niche - something that the world and his wife aren’t already talking about. That isn’t necessarily as hard as it seems and is, often, a simple case of narrowing your subject.
Let’s use the film example again. If you have a love of movies, don’t just write about all the latest blockbusters. Instead, consider specialising. Now, that may be one actor, one director, one style of film or country of film-makers. Whatever it is, you’ll be the go-to guy or gal for that specific topic.
Therefore, not only will search engines send readers your way, but you'll create a dedicated following of like-minded folks.
Tip #3: Find Your Voice
No, you don’t have to sing…
All writers have a ‘voice’ (it's not exclusive to authors of fiction) that is unique, or at least they should have. Think of it as talking; each and every one of us has a very individual way of speaking, with our own timing, inflections and odd speech habits.
When you first start writing, you’ll probably find that you’re mimicking the style of another author. And that’s fine, while you find your feet.
However, once you’ve established what you’re going to write, you really need to be thinking about your own unique voice. Remember, I mentioned above, people read blogs to be entertained, not just informed.
Now, you may want to be humorous, sarcastic, angry or serious in the way you tackle your subject. All of those are fine stances to take, but what you don’t want to do is be a carbon copy of any other blogger.
As far as I’m concerned, one of the best ways to find your voice as a writer, is quite simply to write. The more comfortable you begin to feel, the more loosely your writing will begin to flow. Essentially, the more relaxed you are, the more your voice will come to the fore.
And, once you’ve found your writer’s voice, you’ve added another aspect of your posts that sets you apart from all the others. In turn, this enhances your chances of gaining a regular readership and will increase your blog's followers.
Tip #4: Make The Most of Social Media
Although, it's not necessary it can come in very handy...
Okay, you’ve got some quality writing going on now, you’ve found your voice and your niche. So, it’s time to get some readers.
I know many writers who do not use any form of social media to socialise, let alone plug their work. So, it’s not a necessary part of being a blogger. However, it can be tremendously helpful.
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Stumbleupon, Digg, YouTube, and any other platform you can think of, can be utilised to spread the word about your blog. That said, you should be careful when self-promoting on sites like Digg and Stumbleupon, because if all of your links are to your own site, it will not be looked upon fondly.
So, be sure to find other sites you like and give them a nudge, too. And, when you do, If you can contact the site owner and tell him or her that you've given their blog a plug, they may well return the favour.
It’s a simple fact that the more people visit your site, the more likely it is for you to find readers who are interested and entertained by what you’re writing and will subscribe to future posts.
Tip #5: Be Courteous to Commenters
Be sure to reply to all comments you receive...
Unless they’re spammers, people don’t readily leave comments on websites. So, if someone has taken the time to comment on one of your posts, be sure to reply. If possible, address the reader by name and respond to their comment with a relevant response.
Bear in mind, they may disagree with the stance you have taken on a particular subject, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be a return reader. If they feel you’ve handled the topic thoughtfully, the fact that they disagree may not deter them from subscribing to your blog.
Similarly, it is a good idea to visit blogs that are handling the same (or connected) subjects to yours. And if you read something that interests you, be sure to leave a comment telling the author. Again, you don’t have to agree and it’s perfectly acceptable to say so, as long as you’re constructing your comments in a non-confrontational and mature manner.
By making friends of fellow bloggers, you’ll increase the chances that they’ll give you a ‘shout out’. And being courteous to all your readers may inspire them to follow your posts.
Blogging Ain't Always Easy
There are no shortcuts...
If you take nothing else away from this article, take this: Blogging isn’t an exact science, it’s a craft. As such, it takes time to become gifted at it. You may not strike it lucky with your first blog and, chances are, you’ll grapple with a few topics before you find ‘the one’.
You should also bear in mind that no site is a smash success overnight. If you want to get more readers and blog followers, you have to be persistent, as well as following the tips above.
In the case of most bloggers, they find that their sites really start to come into their own when they hit fifty posts. Nobody has been able to tell me why this is the ‘magic’ number, but it seems to be the case.
Of course, You may start seeing positive results before you make the fifty-post mark, but if you’re serious about making money from blogging, you have to be committed for the long haul. From an online writing point of view, there is no such thing as a maintenance-free source of income.
Good luck with your blogging ventures!