Every time someone asks me about my blog, I'm quick to explain how much I just really love writing, sharing information and building a community. When they begin to ask about the technical bits of blogging, my mood change becomes almost visible. And that's because I quite dislike the latter. I really look forward to days when all I have to do is write, while other people worry about technicalities. From editing, to photograph sourcing, to SEO & plugins, design and functionality of the blog etc. Oh and of course, the toughest of them all - growing your blog and building an audience.
I recently unsubscribed to a couple of email lists that constantly claim to have the tips on growing your blog - multiplying your email list from 1 to 1000 in a week, building your Pinterest and using that platform to grow your blog, offering services, freebies & products to incentivise people. While it's all good advice - and absolutely a great way to build your following, it's really not up my alley. And for many bloggers who just start up and are looking to gain some following, it's unlikely to work for them as well.
First, there's a difference between traffic and a community. You could have just one post which ranks absolutely top on Google such that it drives people to your blog regularly. But then after reading it, they bounce away. This applies to offering freebies in exchange for a subscription to a mailing list. Many times, once I receive the freebie, I'd likely unsubscribe, except there's something else keeping me back.
Building a community however is different! And that's what l (and I assume many bloggers want). A true community is such that even if you had to take a break for a while, these people will hopefully notice, and be right there when you get back! I want to attract a group of people that genuinely love hanging out on this cyber space - for what they gain from it: Inspiration, information or just good ol' laughter. A group of people who inspire each other through their comments and interactions. A group of people I can perhaps get to know as individuals and share in their stories. I probably say it too often, but connecting with people here has been one of the best parts of this journey. I love how at the moment, I can spot new commenters on the blog and I genuinely have an idea of the personalities behind many of my readers (who leave comments!)
All of this however, stems from organic growth, and as even the biggest bloggers will tell you, these things often take time and it's a process. Very few people really start a blog and get to 100,000 subscribers the next day. To be honest, you're likely to grow such a community through referrals from your readers and putting yourself out there.
So these are some ways I (in my little experience) think we can increase our exposure and readership.
1. Post on larger platforms
I know a lot of bloggers and creatives who have gained traction and created their own following by posting frequently on many large platforms. Just recently, I got a message asking if I'd be willing to share original articles on a certain platform. They have quite a large outreach and I know that if I do go ahead to accept that proposal, I'm likely to get a few new readers. I was tempted to ask if this was a paid opportunity. But should the answer come back in the affirmative (which I doubt) I didn't want to be swayed to accept, because I honestly don't think my personal brand vibes with that platform in particular. And so, when posting on larger blogs or platforms, there are a few things to bear in mind.
First is the kind of brand you want to build and the kind of people you're hoping to attract. Not all large platforms will be a good fit for you. It's okay to be selective. Also, consider the content you put out there. Remember that unlike your personal space, you have little or no control over what you put out and any subsequent comments. So be careful, and perhaps develop a bit of tough skin for criticism. Finally, just because you posted a blog post on a platform with 10 million daily views doesn't mean you'd get a whole lot of readers. So manage your expectations and know that a few loyal people who will find you and stick around are extremely valuable!
2. Allow Guest Posts / Interview Features
Guests posts are a great way to reach out to a larger audience. By allowing other bloggers or authors guest post on your blog, you're indirectly reaching out to their own network, as in many cases, they will seek to share with their followers. It's often a two-way relationship that works. Just make sure the post is relevant to your platform and of course, one your followers will like to read.
In addition, I personally love getting into peoples heads and knowing what they think. And so it didn't take long to incorporate fun interviews on a wide range of topics on my blog. These have come to be many reader's favourite. Although I had no hidden intentions, I've realised that interviewees, just like guest posters often re-share their features - again spreading it to a larger crowd. But don't go into this hoping everyone will share - you just might be disappointed!
3. Connect with other bloggers / blogging networks
In the blogging world, connecting with other bloggers is very useful. And as a growing blogger one of the easier ways to get yourself out there is to regularly leave useful comments on other blogs and your web link as well. As long as you're not leaving spam comments, those bloggers (and ultimately their readers) are likely to connect with you. Think of it as dropping your e-business card. But - and this is a huge but, do not feel that you have to connect with every single blogger just to gain exposure. Or even leave 'nice' comments that you really don't agree with or believe.
Also, there are quite a number of blogging networks/ groups which help connect with other bloggers, share tips and resources and promote content. Whether on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, it's helpful to pick a couple of these and participate.
4. Consider giveaways / social media ads
Giveaways are a good way as well to attract people, as it leads them to you in the first instance. But then again, there needs to be more to retain them after they've participated or won. You may also have noticed more sponsored ads on your Instagram timeline. These are now pretty easy to pull off (and affordable). So you can choose to boost an Instagram or Facebook post in a bid to reach more people.
Finally, consistency they say is the key. But, only second to great content of course. So be sure your content adds some sort of value, and strive to keep improving at it. Then be consistent. If people know you post often, it'd register in their heads and they're likely to return. In all of this though, we need to decide why we really want a million followers. Because as I've realised, you can still make an impact, start a business or create value with the few hundreds that you have. So don't wait for that massive following. Be bold enough to take little steps, and leverage on your existing networks - your Facebook friends, Twitter following, BBM & Whatsapp contacts and so on. These are the first set of people likely to read and share your content, so don’t ignore them!
Let's talk. Are you a blogger? What are your favourite and most effective ways to increase your following? What are your challenges?And what blogging network do you associate with and belong to?
pS: I took my own advice and initially published a similar version of post on a larger platform here
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