So you’ve started a blog, you’ve given some thought to your blog design and creating a brand image, you’ve set up your RSS feed so that people can follow you and keep up to date on your blogging; now you need readers. You need people who will pop by your little piece of cyberspace and read what your write. In an ideal world, you’d like a few of them to stick around long enough to maybe comment on what you’ve written, or even subscribe to your content so that they can continue to read more of what you do.
Developing and growing a readership is a funny thing. Different things work for different kinds of blogs.
Family and Friends
If you are happy for family and friends to read your blog then they can be a good place to start. Tell them you blog, tell them the address. Friend and family are likely to be invested in your blog right from the start because they already know you.
If you chose to be anonymous, or simply to not share your blog with your real life friends and family, then you are starting from scratch in finding ‘friends’ for your blog. Social media is going to be a good place to start.
Open a Twitter account for your blog, find other bloggers who blog about similar things and follow them. Get involved in conversations, ask questions and on the most part you’ll find that they will follow you back, help where they can and welcome you with open arms to the blogging community. Tweet links to your new posts telling people a bit about what you’ve written.
Have a Facebook page for your blog. Twitter is fast moving and links get quickly lost in a busy timeline, Facebook on the other hand is slower. If you post a link to a new piece on your blog then people are more likely to see it.
There is also instagram, blog lovin and networked blogs plus a multitude of networks and online blogging communities which you can join to meet other bloggers; all of these things will help you broadcast your content. Make sure you have a link to your different social media accounts on your blog, and make it obvious and easy to find. These are all ways for interested parties to make contact with you and learn more about you, which is what may turn them into regular readers.
Reading and Commenting
But how do you find interested parties? By showing an interest in them first. The most effective way of finding really fans and readers for your blog, is to be interested in their first. Comment, comment, COMMENT on blogs you like. Make sure you leave thoughtful responses to their posts and not a simple “Loved this.” If you comment frequently and with sincerity then they will notice and will more than likely come and see what you are about.
Linky parties are a great way of finding bloggers with similar interests to you. Linkys are basically a collection of different bloggers links all in one place. Take the I Heart My Snap linky for example. Every Friday it opens up and you visit any time in the week to link up a picture that you love. If you pop round to the other people who have joined in and pop a comment on their post, then they will more than likely return the favour. The I Heart My Snap linky obviously brings together bloggers who like to share pictures, but there are linkys for all sorts of bloggers with all sorts of themes and topics. They are a great way of finding bloggers that share your interests and therefore may like your blog.
Make Life Easy
In reality the majority of people visiting your blog will be passing through. They won’t all stay. But some will. Some will like what they see, be interested in what you’re talking about and want to stick around. Make it easy for people to connect with you, by having your social media links clearly available, by offering your RSS feed in an obvious place. If I have to search too long for a way to connect or subscribe then I don’t.
The same goes for commenting on blogs. Make it easy for your readers and they are more likely to do it. Remove unnecessary hoops for commenters to jump through. Do you really need them to fill in a code in a box if you are going to moderate all comments anyway? Most readers don’t like too many security measures when they want to comment. It takes ages and they get bored and don’t comment.
Find YOUR Voice
Lots of people are fans of finding a specific niche for their blogs, but all to often a niche will restrict what you feel you can write about. Think carefully before you set yourself up as a food blogger if you also like to do arts and crafts and talk about music. Once you become established and have a regular band of readers and commenters it can be trickier to branch out and change your direction too much. So think about what it is that you love and what you want to blog about; what makes you interesting or different?
But most importantly, be yourself when you write. Don’t try and copy someone’s else’s style because people will see right through it. And don’t try too hard to be funny or cute or clever, just be yourself and you’ll seem more approachable and more authentic, plus your blog is more likely to be something which really makes your proud if you have been true to yourself. Try to think of your blog as your time capsule or diary and the sort of things you might want to see in 10 or 20 years time are the sort of things that your readers will like to read now.