As a pro blogger I’m often asked how to generate an audience and increase interaction on a new, or not-so-new, blog. Getting more people to visit, comment and return again and again to your blog is difficult, and it took me a long time to find out the best ways to do it.
Here are some of the tips I’ve written and emailed to other bloggers who’ve asked me for help in the past, all summarised in one post for you. This is definitely not an exhaustive list so please add any great tips of your own in the comments. I’d love to hear ideas that are new to me – I certainly don’t know everything (far from it!) and am always looking for great tips that I can implement myself.
Learning in blogging never ends, and neither does the potential for improvement…!
1. Make friends with other bloggers
Most bloggers start wondering how on earth to get their blog noticed (I certainly did back in July 2011). Think of it this way: in real life you don’t make friends by sitting at home waiting for someone to knock on your door and invite themselves to tea. You have to get out there and find new people, be friendly, start a conversation. By getting out the house and reaching out to others, after a short while they’re bound to say yes if you invite them round for a cuppa. Or if you tell them to drop by whenever they’re passing they’ll almost certainly pop in one day.
Blogging is no different. You have to start conversations. Make yourself someone that others want to talk to. Find a community you’d like to be a part of and invite yourself to join – in the right way, of course*.
If you’re wondering where to find bloggers, look at blogrolls. Read blog post comments and click through to the commenters’ blogs and make friends with them directly. If you want to be a part of the 40+ community, for example, read these posts I did about 40+ bloggers for some great blogs in that niche:
– if you’re not already, make friends with the bloggers themselves and the commenters by saying hello on their blog. Say that, for example, Catherine from Not Dressed As Lamb said you should visit – bloggers like to know how you found them. Becoming a major player and being known by everyone in your chosen community is a great way to increase your audience.
*Please note inviting yourself does not mean spamming people with “follow for follow” requests. Never, ever go down that route… you will do exactly the opposite and get blocked, marked as spam or simply just ignored.
2. Share the love
Sharing the love sounds a bit soppy, I know, but the quickest way to be recognised as a great blogger is not by constantly (and only) tooting your own horn, but by tooting the horn of others.
I firmly believe in the Paradox of Generosity – that is, you enrich your own life by giving to others (often in a way that’s worth far more than the value of what you gave originally). If, like me, you get more excited about giving the presents you’ve bought for your loved ones at Christmas than you do about opening your own, then you’ll know what I mean.
Talk about other bloggers. Tweet about other bloggers. Post your favourite links from that day/week/month. Share other bloggers’ Facebook posts. Do a round up of your favourite bloggers. It will all come back to you not just in an increase in visitor numbers, but in the great feeling you get from making someone’s day.
3. Become an inquisitive sponge
By this I mean become very aware of what everyone else is doing and react accordingly. If a blogger mentions something you’re not familiar with, Google it. Question things you don’t understand and soak up information. Whether that be directly through posts like this one giving you blog improvement tips or indirectly by making note of what other bloggers are doing, become a sponge for information.
- What tweets is this blogger sending out that seem to get a lot of interaction? Can I do something similar?
- Why did that post get so many comments? What did the blogger do that I could emulate? [note: emulate, not copy.]
- Why is this blog so easy to navigate? What makes it so aesthetically pleasing? Is mine as easy-to-use and as easy-on-the-eye?
- What blogger outreach programmes have they featured in their sidebar? Can I join up to those too?
- What link parties (if you’re wondering what they are – see below) have they mentioned in their post? Can I link up to them?
Make use of all the resources available to you, whether that be on a plate in a blogging tips post or hidden somewhere amongst the blog itself.
4. Link up parties
In a nutshell, link parties are the best way to a) promote your blog, and b) find new bloggers to connect with. They are regular ‘gatherings’ hosted by a blogger (usually weekly and on the same day) where you can add a little hyperlinked thumbnail and a caption from one of your posts that will go through to your blog. So you’re sharing your posts on the host’s blog in a thumbnail gallery, in other words. Link parties are more than just a showcase for your work, however: in the process you will also find loads of great posts from other bloggers who link up.
So for example I’m linking this post up to Let It Shine, Brilliant Blog Posts, Friday’s Fab Favourites and Sunday Funday. I always mention this at the end of my posts, so if you see this on other blogs click through and find out what the link party is all about.
Due to the generosity of the host, it’s important to keep it in the spirit of fairness and that you don’t just link and run. Make sure you’re doing the following:
- Read the rules and adhere to them regarding commenting, follows, etc.
- Add a link or their button to the end of your post. Even if they don’t specify this do it anyway.
- Follow the theme of the link party – don’t publish your all-black outfit on a fashion link party when the theme is pink. It may also infuriate others who came by to see pink.
- Choose which image you select for your thumbnail carefully and always go for the “crop yourself” option (the thumbnails are always square).
- Write a compelling caption so that others simply have to click through. You may be restricted by character numbers so make it sound strong.
- Leave a comment for the host to thank them – sometimes I tweet it with a link instead to share it with my Twitter followers. More exposure for the host this way!
If you’ve just started out as a blogger or you’re stuck in a rut and want to increase interaction, this is one of the very best and most direct ways to get people to visit your blog.
5. Reply to comments. All of them, everywhere.
I will admit that a year or so ago I was getting overwhelmed by spam and found replying to comments very hard indeed. Replying to all blog comments was absolutely impossible. I therefore made a conscious effort to sort out the spam (as much as I could) and made a promise to myself to reply to every single comment on my blog. I’m not saying you should do this as it does take up a huge amount of time (it’s easier for me now I’m a full time blogger), but if a post has many comments and the blogger never replies to any of them ever, it does give the impression they’re not being read.
By replying to at least the main ones it shows that you’re interested in what people have to say – you’re then more likely to get more people to comment further. Your replies to others are confirmation that you’ll read what the current reader is about to write. They might change their mind if they see that you never reply.
I think it’s even more important to reply to comments on social media. Bloggers should never leave a tweet or Facebook comment unacknowledged, even if it’s just a smiley face back or a quick “thank you”. When you’re trying to build relationships it’s very, very important to do this to build trust and engagement.
If I tweet about how much I love something by another blogger and they don’t reply, I may only do it once more without an acknowledgement before I never mention them again.
Pin for later!
6. Use Google+
I’ve written before about how to create eye-catching Google Plus posts, but many bloggers don’t like it because they don’t understand it. I didn’t like Twitter before I used it, and that was because I didn’t understand it. I don’t know how I’d get by without Twitter now.
The main thing to remember is that Google run Google Plus, so of course you will become more visible in Google searches if you’re a regular user of G+. If you’re ever given a chance to boost your SEO, this is one of the best to take.
This rewardStyle article 7 Reasons to Join Google Plus (pinned to my Blogging Tips board because rS only make it available for their members to access) about the benefits of Google Plus is very insightful. It’s growing massively, and I always seem to get several new followers on Bloglovin after I’ve posted on G+.
Note: If you’re still displaying GFC followers on your sidebar it’s time to get rid of them. It won’t affect those who are already following you that way, but it does look old-fashioned now. In 2014 my GFC followers went up by just 2, but my Google+ followers went up by over 1,500. I’ve even read comments from new bloggers asking what GFC is(!)
7. Make blog post titles useful
Blog post titles are often something that stumps bloggers, but there is a simple trick that makes naming each and every post quick and simple. Think: If I were searching for this information on Google, what would I type in the search box to find it?
There’s no need to be witty or super clever with post titles – if they’re informative and describe exactly what the reader is going to get then that’s what matters.
My post “What To Wear To A Wedding Evening Reception (Party Dress & an Updo)” is the second most viewed post on my blog ever. It was written in 2013, and from spring to autumn it always goes back into the top three most-read posts each month because I can see from my stats the title is almost word-for-word what people are searching for on Google.
Likewise, my post “Why It’s Great Being a Fashion Blogger Over 40” is also a highly-viewed post because the keywords are “over 40 fashion blogger” – something that’s being typed into Google a lot.it seems, if my Google Analytics are anything to go by.
So naming posts like this make a massive difference – I always try to think what people would type into Google to search for the information I’m offering.
8. Leave comments, tweet comments
It’s important to nurture relationships by leaving comments on others’ blogs – it’s a no-brainer for getting people to visit your blog and commenting regularly. I’m convinced it’s the readers that come to my blog for every single one of my posts that are the ones that keep the numbers up (you know who you are).
I also tweet comments a lot, including a link and always tagging in the blogger so they know you’ve tweeted it. It means all your followers will see that you loved that post and it will send more traffic to that blog – a great way to spread love around the blogosphere. They’re more likely to reply to a tweet and may also visit your blog and do the same back to you. The sort of tweets I leave say things like:
“Stop WHATEVER you’re doing right now & drool over @XXXX’s new outfit post on her blog [link]” and…
“You simply HAVE to check @XXXX’s amazing new dress! [link]”.
Tweet at least a couple of links to other bloggers’ posts every day if you can and the same for comments. If you can do more – do more.
9. Sort out a good blogroll
The more links you have to other sites – blogs is an easy one – the more you’ll improve your SEO. If you tweet people to say they’ve been added to your blogroll, they’re almost certainly going to check it out and and maybe even retweet your tweet. Post a link on your Facebook page to tell your followers to check out your new/updated blogroll and tag in the relevant bloggers.
Don’t, however, expect them to add your blog to theirs. Doing it for this reason is not the way to build relationships.
10. Plug your own posts all the time
There are so many opportunities you may be missing to plug things you wrote about in the past. Your readers don’t have time to trawl through your entire blog archive, so give it to them in small doses like a drip feed. For example you can:
- Add a P.S. at the bottom of every post: “P.S. If you liked this post I’m sure you’ll love this one about XXXX too!”
- Schedule daily tweets linking back to great posts you wrote in the past. I tweet every post from “a year ago today…”
- Mention and link to relevant past posts in your copy. Never miss an opportunity to give your readers further information about something that’s relevant to what you’re talking about, which is what 3 years of blogging have taught me (see what I did there…?!)
11. Read the Blogging Tips posts you pin
Don’t just pin them, in other words. Read the post when you pin it and act on it straight away if you can. What you’re doing is streamlining your blog and your blogging activity and making the whole experience better for your readers – thus increasing your audience.
I pin all the articles that have peaked my interest on my Blogging Tips board and read them there and then. If I see anything I can implement quickly I’ll do it immediately, otherwise I set aside a time to act on all of them as soon as possible. Most of the stuff I’ve done that I’ve listed above has been as a result of taking notice of blogging tips posts and taking action.
12. Be enthusiastic
Enthusiasm gets you everywhere because it’s infectious. Nothing gets you noticed more quickly than enthusiasm in your writing; your love for photography through posting beautiful images; an enthusiastic comment or tweet about others. Blogs don’t always have to be about gorgeousness / fluffy stuff/positivity, but even if you’re going to have a mini rant about something, rant constructively and enthusiastically.
No one wants to read a lacklustre post where no effort has been made, and you don’t want to put people off visiting again by coming across as indifferent or lazy.
13. Add a question
Last but not least… Adding a question at the end of your post really works. None of us can help answering a question we’ve been asked in the posts we read, especially if it’s super-relevant to us on a personal level. If you look at my posts I always try to do this. It’s a bit awkward at first, but you soon come up with them quite easily after a while. So with that in mind…
What are YOUR number one tips for generating an audience? Can you remember what were the first things you did to get people to visit your blog – and comment? Or if you’re wanting to get more people visiting your blog let me know if you think these points are going to be helpful to you…!
P.S. Like this? You might also enjoy other posts in my Blogging Tips series!
Image credit: Espen Sundve (modified)