Welcome to another week of Blogging 101. (If you missed last Wednesday’s post, you can find it here.) Today’s topic is how to grow your blog, which is the big mystery question when it comes to blogging as a business.
It’s different for everyone, so I’ll just tell you what I perceive to have worked for me. For starters, I wouldn’t say I’ve ever really had an “explosion” in blog growth. My readership has just slowly crept up over the years, with plateaus from time to time. You’ll gain readers and lose readers along the way. There just seems to be a natural ebb and flow.
I do think there are a few key things that will help any blog grow. And, at the same time, I believe there a few things that are just general time wasters for most bloggers.
Being featured on larger, more popular blogs. Blog readers usually find blogs through other blogs, so this is a big one. I paid for advertising one time during my earlier blogging days, and it was for a design board giveaway on The Nesting Place. Best money I could’ve spent. I instantly gained followers and filled up my design board calendar for the rest of the year. She had a huge following, which just happened to be most of the same readers who would identify with my blog and ideas.
Pinterest. I think most bloggers will tell you that Pinterest is one of their best traffic referral sources. Use it regularly, and make sure that (most of) the images you’re including in your posts are pinnable and pin-worthy.
Our 2012 feature in Better Homes & Gardens. It didn’t break the servers or anything like that, but I definitely saw an increase in traffic once our article came out. I still receive emails to this day telling me that’s how a reader found my site. (Love that!) I might also credit the generosity of other bloggers under the umbrella of this one. It was due to the thoughtfulness of Sherry Hart that they found my home in the first place.
Providing value to my readers. I once heard a really successful blogger say that every post should either be informative, educational or entertaining. In other words, give your readers something. I know this is true because the “give & take” series, “working with what you have” posts, etc., are the ones on which I get the most positive feedback.
Consistent, quality content. This outweighs everything else, in my opinion. Ultimately, readers want information, helpful tips, something they can take away and apply to their own homes and lives. Even if they really, really like you, there are only so many posts they will endure about how many wonderful things you get to do, how much free stuff you get and how cute you or your kids are. . .
Too many balls in the air. With blog growth will come opportunity. At one point, I was trying to blog full time (as in 4-6 times per week), juggle multiple local design clients and complete a new design plan for an online client every week. (Oh, and I was raising three small kids.) Can you say nervous breakdown? I was close. And, it was my fault. I said yes to everything, and it just about killed me. The decision to give up design work and focus on what I really love (blogging) was the best decision I’ve made in this little career of mine yet.
Providing content for company blogs. At some point, a well-known company may approach you about providing blog posts on their site in exchange for exposure. I’m not saying it’s never worth it, but in general, I’d be wary. In my experience, I’ve seen little benefit to providing content for big brands’ sites. I have, however, seen traffic come from their social media channels if they post a link directly to one of my blog posts.
Link parties. I know these work well for some, but I really think it has to fit within your content, and for me, it just didn’t work.
Changing from Blogger to WordPress platforms late in the game. This could be a totally separate post, but one that I’m too tired to write. I changed over to WordPress a little less than two years ago, and took me a good six months to build my readership back up to where it was. The process wasn’t as seamless as it should’ve been, and I lost readers along the way who had been following me through a blog roll, etc. (If none of this makes sense to you, don’t worry. I’m just glad you’re here now.)
PS—I would also like to add that I think my blog has grown because I have some of the nicest and most loyal readers around. Thank you :)
Keep reading. These four bloggers are also sharing their advice: