Over the past few weeks, I have been inundated with enquiries on how to grow a blog. As a blogger, I have made lots of mistakes, learned tons of lessons from them, and worked my little tail feathers off the whole time. While I’ve found plenty of things that didn’t work, I’ve also discovered some strategies that are lit-rally the bomb.dot.com.
This blog will mark its fifth year anniversary on May 28, 2018. Today, I’m sharing some of the ways that I’ve been able to grow my blog over the years. I hope they help you, too!
1. Respond to comments.
This is one of the most important things you should be doing. Acknowledge your readers. Don’t just say “thanks.” Be thoughtful. Try to build a conversation and a friendship. If you always see a similar name in your comment section, try visiting their own blog and leaving a comment. If you can build a community in your comments section, people will continue to come back and say hello. And the only way to build that community is to engage with your readers.
Also, I understand that once you reach a certain point, it’s not possible to stay sane and respond to every comment. But until then, I think it should be a priority. Plus, it’s one of my favorite parts about blogging!
2. Get your butt on Twitter.
I used to never really understand the point of Twitter. Like, really, really didn’t get it. When I first started my blog, I would read articles that told me that if I wanted to grow my readership, I needed to use Twitter. That’s nice, I thought, but how in the hell do I use it effectively? It took me awhile to figure that out. I’d promote my posts once a day to my scant 14 or so followers and constantly feel like I must be doing something wrong because Twitter is just not the business.
But then I started following some of my favorite bloggers. And if they posted something on Twitter that resonated with me, I’d respond, even if I’d never spoken to them before. Eventually, I started getting into the groove. I posted things besides just links to my posts. I began having conversations with other bloggers and turned them into friends. And voila. The wonderful world of Twitter was born.
How to use it effectively:
Start by following your favorite bloggers (their Twitter username should be on their blog). If they tweet something you like, respond! Get the conversation started. And if you come across a blog post that you really like, share it and tag that blogger’s username. Not only are you doing them a favor that they will remember, you’re also giving your followers something new to read.
Remember, in order to create a successful blog, you pretty much need to create friendships and connections with other bloggers. If you don’t have any blog friends, take the first step and make those friendships yourself. Lastly, you should definitely use Twitter to promote your posts. Find out how below.
3. Schedule your social media posts.
Someone once asked me if I ever sleep because it appears that I’m always on social media. Yep, I sleep, though not plenty. My secret weapon? I schedule some of my posts. There are tons of free and paid programs that can help you do this, such as Buffer, Hootsuite, and CoSchedule. Therefore, I can schedule shout outs to be sent to Facebook and Twitter when I’d otherwise be sleeping or at work.
How to use it effectively:
Schedule your posts so that they are sent through your social media outlets at varying times, several times a day. Why? Because your readers are all very different. Perhaps they live in different time zones or work at night as opposed to in the morning. You want to make sure that you have enough tweets spread out throughout the day so that no matter who your readers are, they won’t miss the fact that you just posted something new.
When doing this, I recommend changing up your tweets. Don’t copy and paste the same thing over and over because it will bore and irritate your followers. Remember, you are marketing your blog posts. Try to keep your tweets interesting and pull people in so they’ll want to click through to your blog post.
4. Looks aren’t everything, but they’re definitely something.
Your blog design is important. It’s like the cover of your book. If it’s boring, an obvious template, or cluttered, it will drive some people away even if your content is great. You could either hire a blog designer to create something customized for you, or you could purchase a premium theme to help you stand out online.
5. How are you writing your posts?
When I first started my blog, I honestly didn’t know what direction I wanted it to go in or what my “blogging voice” was. I wrote a few posts and asked a good friend, who works in marketing, for feedback. Something he told me that stayed with me is that if I want to grow my blog, I need to think about my writing from a marketing perspective. The posts I had written would probably be appreciated by friends from home or people who knew me, but for anyone else on the internet? They were probably a little boring, wordy, and hard to relate to.
You might have great things you’re saying on your blog, but also consider the way you say them. Do you talk as if you’re having a conversation and try to keep people interested and engaged? Or do you basically write a diary that’s not very personable? I’m not saying the latter is a bad thing to do as a hobby, but it will be hard to grow your blog if people cannot relate to your posts.
6. Be consistent.
I recommend using the same picture for your social media profiles. People may not remember you or put two and two together if they see 5 different pictures of you around the internet. But if you use a similar design all over the place, people WILL notice and eventually they’ll be curious about who the hell you are.
Additionally, keep the pages on your blog and your social media profiles up to date. It just looks unprofessional when things are incorrect or out of date. For example, if it’s October, edit your “about” page so it doesn’t still say, “I’m looking forward to getting married in August!” Leaving overdue details will just show your readers that you’re unorganized.
7. Comment on other blogs.
I’m not going to go in depth on this since you’ve probably already heard it before. But you should definitely be doing this. And for the love of God please be sincere. And if you’re going to include your blog’s URL, write more than a sentence. And guess what? If you’re really sweet and motivating, OTHER readers from that person’s blog will click over to view your blog, too. I’ve gotten plenty of traffic from people who clicked over to my blog simply because I left a long, engaging comment on someone else’s post. Being kind and encouraging will get you far. Don’t forget that.
8. Join linkups and leave comments on the other linked up blogs.
Remember, successful blogging is about building relationships. You could certainly just link up your blog and be done, but you’re missing out on the community building aspect of link-ups. If you comment on other people’s blogs, they’re bound to come say hi on yours, too. Also, don’t underestimate smaller linkups. Those are often the best because it’s much easier to meet real people who will stick around.
9. Put effort into SEO.
Almost 40% of Iheanyi Igboko Blog’s visitors arrive here from a search engine. If you’re not properly SEO-ing the crap out of your posts, you’re missing out on tons of potential readers.
How to use it effectively: Name your photos something that pertains to your post instead of using a name like “J2596.JPG.” Also, add a keyword to your post and try using it in your post’s title, content, meta description, etc. Use relevant tags, and add a meta description (the description that shows up under your post title in a search engine). I use a plug-in called Yoast WordPress SEO that is easy to use and extremely helpful.
Also, if there are certain articles that consistently get hits from search engines, then consider revamping or updating those pages. Some of my popular search engine posts are from when I first started my blog. This is the first impression a random person on the internet has of you, so make sure it’s a good one. It may take a month or so to really see progress from your SEO, but trust me, it’s worth the effort!
I hope these tips gave you some solid ideas for how to grow your blog! I honestly think that if you do all of these things well, you will definitely grow your readership. Also, keep in mind that blogging takes a LOT of time. You will need to spend several hours a week updating posts, staying active on social media, and replying to comments in order to really grow your blog and readership.