I remember when I first started my blog, writing a post, publishing it, only to get about 30 or so views. In those early days there was hardly any interaction and I am not sure if anyone ever shared any of my posts. I had a few people following me on social media, but there was a definite tumbleweed about my accounts. That was o.k, as I started my blog for my family, as a record of our lives and I didn’t really think people I didn’t know would ever read my blog.
Fast forward almost 2 years (a couple of weeks short!) and I have a social media following of almost 20k, I am ranked #42 in Tots100, #2 in the Teads Lifestyle rankings, have a retweet reach on average of over 1 million and I am lucky enough to be the beneficiary of lots of lovely comments on my posts; posts which are shared a lot by quite a few people. Bragging? No, just giving you some background into how the landscape of my blog has changed during this time.
So how did I grow the community around my blog? What worked for me to encourage people to return to my blog and support me? Here are my tips.
Just Be You
I think the most important advice I can give is to just be yourself. People will identify with you, if you show your real self, so show it. Last week I wrote about finding your blogging voice so this post might help you in this area. No-one wants to feel like they are reading a textbook, so let your personality shine through!
How do you stand out among the sea of blogs? Do you take wonderful pictures? Offer useful tutorials or simply share your family life in a beautiful way that captures your reader’s imagination and draws them in? Find your thing, your USP.
How often do you post? Consistently is so important. Whether you post daily or weekly, regularity is key. Disappearing for weeks on end with no updates will make it difficult to build a relationship with your readers.
Run a linky
Hosting a linky gives you a wonderful opportunity to create a community around the linky, but also around your blog. I run four linkys and each has its own community with lovely groups of regulars, some of which have spilled over into being regulars on my own blog outside the linky.
Include a question at the end of your posts
Asking a question at the end of the post, gives readers an ideal opportunity to contribute and add their thoughts or experiences. This communication is vital for developing your community.
Shout about others
Have you read a post recently that you loved? Discovered a wonderful new blog? Then share them. Share them on social media and maybeeven mention them in a new post. Be genuine and share them because you want to, not for any strategic reasons. These people will appreciate it and they deserve it. Full stop. This is how relationships are made. Tag them though so they know you loved the post or their blog.
Respond to comments
If someone takes the time to respond to your post and leave a comment, I feel it is only good manners to respond to them. In reality responding to every comment, especially if you are simply saying thank you, is not always possible or particularly beneficial to anyone. Striking a balance is important. If someone asks you a question or leaves a thoughtful comment then respond to them. No-one wants to feel as if no-one’s listening to them. Responding to comments is very important in building your blog community.
Make sure it is easy for people to leave comments
If it is too difficult and people have to log in to various systems, then you may find that they just don’t bother.
This one can take a lot of time, but it is so important to hang up regularly on social media. Start conversations, respond to questions, share the work of others. Just get involved. Yes it is time-consuming, but it is worth it. You don’t have to be super active on all platforms, just use your favourite ones to have interactions on. I use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook actively. The other platforms are much more in the background.
Write sharable posts
Your post should have a good headline that sums up the post. Is it something that will be useful to others or that they will identify with? Also make sure you have some easy means of social sharing set up on your blog. I use Shareaholic, which is a WP plugin.
Help people out. If someone has a problem and you know someone who could help, then fix them up, send a tweet and introduce them. They will both remember it AND it is a nice thing to do. Good karma should never be underestimated.
Think of ways to get your readers involved. Set up a challenge, an Instagram #, a regular feature showcasing others. Whatever you feel passionate about, do it and your community will grow.
Posting on someone else’s blog can be a great way to bring new people into your own blog’s community.
Attend a blogging event
Going to a blogging event is a great way to make new blogging friendships and strengthen existing ones. I met one of my best friends, Em, at a blogging conference.
Give yourself time
These things don’t happen overnight. Allow yourself time to grow your blog, become more confident in your style and the community will follow.
Do you feel as if your blog has a community? What factors were most important in this development for you?