10 Ways to Grow a Blog

You get up at the crack of dawn every morning to write your blog post, eagerly come back at the end of the day to check your stats, and only three people have read your post: Mom, Aunt Marlene, and your best friend, Mike. The same thing happened yesterday and dismayed, you close the laptop and wonder if blogging is even worth the effort.

 

It  is.

Here are some tips to help you grow your blog into something readers will want to follow. I got several of these ideas from a workshop presented by Jane Friedman at the MWW11.

If you are a beginner blogger and need to learn some basics, Try We Are Not Alone by Kristen Lamb.

1. Consider your blog title and tagline. Your blog topic and intended audience should be obvious within the first few seconds. Sometimes this results in no visits if readers do not know what the blog is about or the wrong kind of visitors such as happened to me with a former blog. Just like the title of a book, a good title can make the difference between a book in the cart and one left on the shelf collecting dust. This rule also pertains to your post headlines.

2. Do not overly promote yourself on your About Page. Yes, explain who you are and how to link to you in other forums, but spend more time explaining the purpose of your blog. Is it to help other writers? Promote your book? Or is it just a candid look into the life of a writer? What can readers expect?

3. Allow readers to find old posts. If you have good things to say, others will want to see what else you have written. Without an archive, you lose the chance for someone to click on that post at the specific time they need it. One example of this is a post that I wrote about the dangers of social media.  I wrote it, moved on to other topics, and then Nathan Bransford found it and linked to it in his post which quadrupled my readers in 24 hours. You never know when a post will be timely. (Thanks again, Nathan!)

4. Allow Comments. Some people are afraid of comments or rather the lack thereof.  Opening yourself up to comments shows the reader that you are confident in what you have written. It also gives you the opportunity to interact with your readers. Be careful though. It is wise to moderate your comments to avoid spam, but allow negative comments as well as positive comments. Allow your readers to express themselves. Also, avoid getting into an online argument with your readers/reviewers. It will only make you look bad.

5. Make your content meaningful. Aunt Marlene might be interested in what you made for dinner, but unless your blog is about cooking, leave it out. Find your niche, be predictable, and provide thought-provoking information that your readers will want to stop in regularly to see.

6.Use categories. If you do not create categories, all of your posts will be jumbled together. If a reader is looking for tips on marketing, help them find it by creating a category with that title.

7. Add visual elements. Pre-Millenials readers grew up learning to read top to bottom and left to write. Millenials and Generation Z readers are learning to read digitally. This means that they zero in on the graphic immediately, scan the document within a few seconds, and determine if the content is for them. They no longer jump to the top left corner to start reading. Make sure that your post is attractive, easily readable, and easy to navigate.

8. Update  your posts on a regular schedule. You do not have to post everyday, but be consistent enough to allow readers to know when you will post next. I have deleted bloggers from my reader who have not posted in a month and I have also deleted bloggers who post multiple times a day. Find a balance that works for you.

9. Comment on other blogs. Do not be a “drive-by shooter” as Jane Friedman explains. Generic comments like “I agree” or “I disagree” will not do much for  either of you. Read other people’s blogs who have similar interests to you. One of my favorite blog readers is Google Reader, but there are many more. Put your comment into context by relating your comment to past experience. Help other readers (and the blog writer) find good resources. In other words, be active in the discussion.

10. Be a professional. You are presenting your message to the world and setting yourself apart as someone who is an expert or at least knowledgeable in the subject. Check your facts. Check your spelling and grammar. Check your tone. Give back to your professional community. Blogging is not just about promoting yourself.