Blogging has become this thing everyone does. Some people make money doing it. Some people have gotten book deals and launched successful careers from it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to start a blog. I did it once, obviously. But a lot of the advice experts give about growing an audience misses the point, and steers many people in the wrong direction.
Do you ever wonder why you struggle to keep a blog going, or why it seems like no one is reading what you have to say? You might be doing everything you’ve heard you’re supposed to do – follow other blogs, leave comments, guest post, whatever else it is they’re saying to do. I’m not here to tell you any of that is wrong. But you’re forgetting the most important pieces of a solid blogging foundation … and that worries me.
So if you’re really that hung up about not having enough followers, here’s what you can do to change that.
Have a good reason for starting/maintaining a blog. You shouldn’t be asking, “Should I start a blog?” You should always say to yourself, “I want to start a blog about ___ because …” The reality is, everyone has a blog. Hundreds if not thousands of people are already blogging about what you want to blog about. So starting a blog “just because” won’t get you very many followers – right away, or ever. You have to do it for the right reasons – because there is something you want to write about. You have something important to say. You want to help people in some way.
Write about what matters to you. People who say you can’t make a living off of passion don’t know what they’re talking about. Passion is your starting point, and also what keeps you going even when you hit a creativity wall. Yes, there are plenty of other things you need to have in addition to that – but without it, it’s over even before it begins. If you’re going to start a blog, make it about a subject you could talk/write about for years without getting sick of it. Because that’s what you’re going to end up doing – if you stick with it, that is.
Commit. People crave consistency. If they see you haven’t posted in awhile, or that there are large, inconsistent gaps between postings, they’re going to get skeptical. You don’t have to post every day. But pick a schedule. Twice a week, twice a month – it doesn’t matter. Choose and commit. Stick to it, or your audience will stop coming back when you disappear.
Beware of clickbait. Clickbait, contrary to what most people believe, is NOT just anything – a headline, a photo, a social media lead – that misleads or gives false information. I titled this post very specifically – it is a clickbait headline. However, I have not misled or lied to you. You’re getting exactly what you came for. Maybe not what you wanted, but that’s on you. You clicked. Not all clickbait is bad. Clickbait haters usually don’t know the difference between an organization trying to draw in an audience (for all the right reasons) and deliberately tricking people to get views. There’s a big difference. Don’t mislead. Don’t lie. Mistreating people is a good way to LOSE followers.
Have a point. Don’t just have a blog because everyone else has a blog. Good blogs have objectives or key messages they’re trying to get across. Yes, you should write about what’s important or interesting to you – but create a “mission” and make sure everything you publish aligns with that mission. Randomness is sketchy. People like to have an idea of what they’re going to find when they visit you, and they’re much more likely to follow if you have a consistent message/them/point.
Introduce yourself. Credibility is everything. Who are you? Why are you writing about whatever you’re writing about? People don’t trust blogs with posts written by “Admin.” I suppose in some cases a person might want to blog anonymously, I get that, but even if you don’t use your name and stick with a username, have a bio. This is who I am and this is why I’m here. You know me. I stick a bio at the bottom of every post. This is why you can trust me and my advice. I am a real person. I’m not trying to sell you anything. I care about you, and the things I write about.
Be patient. You’re here because you want more blog followers. The only way to get more followers is to follow all the advice above, and stop checking your stats every five minutes. I’ve been blogging for eight years, and last year, year 7, was my biggest year of growth. These things take time. There is nothing you can do to “get more people” to follow you other than maintaining a consistent, purposeful flow of content.
All the advice about leaving comments on other blogs, guest posting, etc. – yes, that’s all important. But that only gets people, maybe, to get to your blog. What will they find when they get there? If it’s worthy, they’ll stick around. If not, they won’t. It’s really that simple.
Building up your content comes first. It has to be good and it has to be what you want it to be. It takes months – years – to get better. You have to keep writing. That is the best advice I can give you. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but you have to. Write, gosh darn it! Go! Do it! Now! There is no “easy” way to grow followers. Fast growth is more often than not low-quality growth in the world of blogging. Every follower I have is here because they want to be. I didn’t beg. I just kept publishing, because I like it. That shows in the way I present my content. I write – a lot. That is a strategy that works. Expect growth to be slow. But expect it to be worthwhile.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.