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!
Keep up with new posts: RSS // Bloglovin // Twitter