Thursday, January 5, 2012

How to Get Me (And Probably Some Other People) to Follow Your Blog

I don't claim to be an expert on growing a successful blog, but I do read a lot of them, so I think I can bring something to the discussion. The tips below will tell you how to get people like me to visit your blog and to keep on visiting. Clearly, this is not the end-all-be-all of anything, but I hope it might be helpful to at least a few people. So here goes nothing.



Reel Them In

The first step in building a following is obviously by getting people to visit your blog for the first time. This is not (in my opinion) THE most important part, because if you have a bunch of people who just visit your blog once, that's not much of a following. However, people have to find your blog first before they can become a regular guest, so it is pretty important. So how to take that first step? Participate. Twitter, Facebook, follow other blogs, comment on other blogs, join in on link parties. All of these are ways to get people to click that first link. I've found so many great blogs through all of the avenues I've mentioned. I've also found some really forgettable ones though, which I promptly clicked away from, and that's why the other steps are so important.


Everything in Moderation

So now you've got a few people (myself included) to visit your blog. Now you need to not force them to immediately click that 'x' in the corner. There are a few turn-offs to avoid. Again, these are my own opinions so if you run a blog that you love and you have music playing when you click on the page, more power to you - you just probably won't have me as a follower because that happens to be one of my pet peeves, and it is for a lot of other people too. I usually listen to my own music on my computer so yours meshing with it 1. startles me and 2. annoys me. That's all I'll say about that. Another thing I've noticed quite a bit of is people who focus way too much on the above step. I can usually spot a blog that is trying too hard. If every single thing you post is a linky party and they're all basically the same post (etsy faves, pinterest pictures, etc.), you won't hold my attention for very long. That said, I do love a good pinterest post, I just like a little variety. I usually try to stick to one, maybe two, linky posts per week, and I keep the link at the bottom of the post preferably in text form. A bunch of buttons everywhere is kind of distracting, though it is important to link back to your "host." Everyone is different, of course, and depending on the blog I might not care if every single post is a link party, but a basic rule of thumb is to just blog about stuff you like and have fun with it. Don't do it for the followers. We can usually tell which blogs are which. (though I think many of us at one point or another have gotten a little too tied up in the numbers and tried too hard. I include myself in this group)


Find Your Style

An instant way to gain my attention upon entering your blog is to have a defined style. This isn't just about the design of your blog, though that is part of it. Sometimes I can't even define what this means, but you probably know of these types of blogs. You could see a picture somewhere else on the internet and just know that it probably originated from said blog, or that said blog would post said image at some point. I'm working on this with my own blog at the moment. My best advice would be to try to think of three words to define your style, then come up with a blog design that fits with those descriptions and keep them in mind when you post. Each time you're brainstorming a new post or choosing a photo, ask yourself if it fits with those three words. If it doesn't, maybe it isn't something that really fits. This does not mean, however, that I think everyone has to have a specific type of blog. You can totally post about crafts and fashion and your summer vacation all in the same blog. It depends on what you want your blog to be, but style and cross over to different topics, so it's just something to keep in mind. I think it is also something that just grows organically over time, so if you (like me) just don't feel like you're there yet, just keep at it. You should be doing it because you love it, right? (remember, we can tell...)


Make It Easy

There are very few blogs that I just remember to go to every day. I'm really scatterbrained and I know I'm not alone in that. When I find a blog I really like, or one that I kind of like but don't have a lot of time to explore at the moment, the first thing I do is look for a way to follow. I'm a little out-of-the-ordinary in that I use a lot of different platforms for keeping up with blogs. I have a google reader, bloglovin, email subscriptions, and I keep up with my favorites via twitter. Many people stick to one of those, so it's usually a good idea to give people a lot of options so they can find the one that suits them. If you don't have any of these available, then you can't really expect people to keep coming back to your blog. You need to make it as easy as possible for people to remember you once they've found you.


Those are my tips, as simply as I can put them. Of course there are other things to consider, like content (duh), but the type of content you write really goes along with writing about what you love. If you care about your blog and what you write about, it will show. And there truly is an audience for any type of blog out there, so the bottom line is just to be true to yourself and your voice. Visitors will come and go, but people stay when they can tell you care and know a lot about your subject. I speak from experience!

Next week I'll share my opinions about twitter, and then I'll be looking for someone to write a similar guest post about Facebook (where I'm totally clueless). If you have a fan page or "like" a lot of them and would like to contribute, please send me an email at wattlebirddesigns at gmail dot com. Thanks!

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21 comments :

  1. Great advice! The music thing drives me CRAZY! It actually freaks out my 5-yr-old because we are usually listening to music and when I go to a blog with music and it mixes with what I have on it's not good. Thanks for sharing these tips.

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  2. Music on websites just remind me of old Geocities pages. Ah, Geocities and neon, blinking graphics. This is such helpful advice - especially to hear not from an "expert" but just from an honestly active blogger - thank you!

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  3. ugh... music. pet peeve of mine too! and i love music :D

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  4. great post! i don't like music either. especially if i have numerous tabs open and i have no idea which one it's coming from. it sucks and i have to hit the mute button until i can x out. its cool tho if you set it up to where the reader can click the play button when they are ready.

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  5. Love this post and I think I go through the same thoughts when finding a new blog too. I think this falls in the style category, but I think centered text in every post is my biggest pet peeve and will keep me from following a blog. I just find it so hard to read!

    And FYI yours is one I always make sure to read! :)

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  6. So helpful! I'm with you on the music thing!

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  8. Fantastic tips Annie!!
    I 100% agree with you about the music!!! I would like the option to listen to your music, not the surprise blaring of it!!
    xo

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  9. great tips!! i've been working on my style lately and i know what you mean, it's kind of hard to explain :) love the idea of choosing three words to define the style of it.

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  10. Love this! Thanks for sharing...I'm working on posting things that I like instead of posting things that will be commented on... =\

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  11. Thank you Wattlebird! I just started blogging three months ago and it the most fun I have had in a long time... I love to read posts about how to gain readership. I am still working out my theme but I have way too many ideas right now that I write about them all. :). PS. I generally don't like music on blogs either but there is one which I think does it well and I never mind, in fact, I find it inspiring for my own writing...Www.thewiegands.com
    Thanks!
    Smallmombigcity.com

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  12. Really interesting! Thank you for sharing all of these, very helpful!!

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  13. Really helpful! I used to have music on my blog, but then realized how much other blog's music annoyed me!

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  14. Love your advice-- I started my photography blog about a year ago and still get giddy when I get a comment that isn't spam. :) Thanks for the advice! And I'm glad to know that going with no music (which I don't even know how to do) was a good choice!

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  15. thanks for this post. I am looking forward to the twitter post because I seriously am so clueless about that still!

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  16. ah, i'm glad you mentioned the music thing, it drives me crazy when i go to a blog and music starts blaring. D:

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  17. those are great tips! i'm so with you on the music one (like most people up there).
    i used to get wrapped up in numbers, too, and it really burned me out on blogging for awhile. writing for me is much more refreshing and so much more interesting for other people to read. :)

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  18. This post alone made me fall hook, line and sinker for this blog! <3 Love it!

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  19. Amen about the music. I about jump out of my skin and look around to see if anyone saw it if I'm in a public place. Leave me a link for your music, don't blast it upon me visiting your blog!

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  20. Just found out about this post from my friend Manda Jane from Elf House Chronicles.

    I just wanted to let you know this is great advice & thank you so much for sharing it. I'm still trying to get the blog design that is 100% me, but like you said it's a process.

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