Growing Your Blog
Posted by Dianna Gunn
Once you’ve launched your blog comes the long term task of maintaining it and nourishing it so it grows. Hopefully you’ve already got a few weeks worth of posts drafted–not that this means you should stop writing new ones, in fact you should try to write one every day or every other day so that you’ll have lots of back up posts if there’s a crisis. So today I’d like to give you some strategies for finding more followers, and a couple to help you find ideas for your blog posts.
Let’s start with how to get more followers…
Pay attention to and utilize social media. For most of my blogging career, throughout my various old blogs, I’ve been awful at this. I’ll admit that even now I’m not a social media genius, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it. You should have already identified which social media sites you’re going to focus on and made a plan for promoting each post. But social media isn’t just about promotions–it’s about community. So it’s a good idea to log into your social media accounts every day and check in with your followers. Let them know what you’re up to, and comment on what they’re up to. People like feeling valued, and you can do that by also visiting their blogs and communicating with them honestly through social media.
It’s also important to stay up to date with social media news. New social media sites are created all the time, and if you can figure out which ones are gaining popularity and worth your effort, it will help you find more followers.
Be consistent. Provide your readers with consistency: post according to schedule whenever you’ve agreed to post, keep the quality consistent, and keep going back to your social media. Prove to your readers that you’re reliable and eager to communicate with them, and they’ll keep coming back–and they’ll be a lot more likely to share your site with their friends. I’m terrible at consistency–mental health problems combined with the pressures of school, my internship and my friendships and relationship tend to get in the way from time to time–but I’ve worked really hard to get better at it.
Part of this is making your schedule something you can actually keep up with. Not everyone has the time to write a post every day–or even every other day. I used to blog every weekday, but I couldn’t keep up with it and kept missing posts. Instead of continuing trying to post like a madwoman all the time and disappointing myself and my readers by not living up to that expectation, I cut back to three posts a week. I still miss posts sometimes, but I miss a lot fewer than before and I think that’s a big part of why my subscriber list keeps growing.
Add your URL to your signatures. You probably belong to at least a couple forums and have an email address you use regularly. Most of these places allow you to create a signature which will be posted after every comment made or email sent. You might even already have signatures set up in a lot of places with your name and anything else you consider important, but have you put your blog URL in those signatures? If not, I suggest you do–not only will you make it easier for people you’re communicating with to find your blog, but links on high-ranking forums will also help your Google Page Rank go up.
As to Ideas…
So where can you get ideas for more blog posts? When the well runs dry, try reading other blogs in your niche. You might decide to write a response post to something someone else has written, linking to their post and then adding your commentary on the issue on your blog. I’d suggest also checking Twitter–I often find great stuff there, including all kinds of quotes that can be used to start blog posts.
Brainstorming also works, using your topic as the centre bubble of a mind map and then creating different sections on the page for different sections of your blog. I’ve also asked people who read blogs in my niche what topics they think don’t get enough attention–this is something you can also do via Twitter or other social media. If you’re planning on going to any events related to your topic, you can also review those to create more blog posts.
Finally, sometimes what your brain really needs to restart is a walk through the park, a good movie or a nice massage. A change is as good as a rest. Don’t feel guilty if you have to walk away from the computer for a couple hours to recharge your creative mind.
All of these tips will help you maintain your blog and grow your following, but there’s a lot more to learn. There are dozens of blogs devoted specifically to helping you with this stuff. Not all of them are good, but several are. I personally am subscribed to Social Media Examiner(http://sodialmediaexaminer.com) and Problogger(http://problogger.net). Find a couple blogs/websites relating to social media news and advice that you like and follow them, but don’t follow too many–eventually they become a big time suck. Besides, there’s only so many ways you can spin each tip.
How do you find ideas?