“How do I get more people to follow my blog?”
“Why don’t I have as many followers as that writer?”
“How many followers do you have to have before you are successful?”
You have all either seen others ask these questions or have pondered them yourself. Because today, subscriber counts are everything. YouTube rewards their creators with plaques for reaching milestones. WordPress sends you congratulatory notifications.
As if having more automatically means you’re doing your best.
Of course, it might be a sign you’re doing something right. But what happens when you don’t know what that “right” thing is?
I think I have an answer.
I want you to ask yourself two questions:
- How much content are you creating?
- Is it “good”?
“Good” blog content always serves the reader. It provides them with information, or motivates them to do or consider something.
And the reason I asked you to consider how much stuff you’re making is because I believe the key to successful blogging involves creating consistently, and doing a really good job at it.
Notice I did not ask you how many followers you have.
I want you to stop thinking about that. Because once I stopped caring about how many people read my blog every day, more people started following my posts.
Here’s how it worked for me.
I started out writing what I wanted, when I wanted. This meant there were months I would only publish a few sentences — or nothing at all. I eventually started focusing my content on “the writing life,” but even then, it was more like a diary and less like a “helpful” blog. For the first five years or so, I think I had about five followers.
I just kept blogging anyway. Because I had nothing to lose.
Then I learned how content creation on the internet really works. Meaning I understood, perhaps for the first time, that what people wanted from a stranger and barely-published author wasn’t summaries of my daily life, but relatable, informative, and entertaining content.
The blog was still mine and I still talked about my experiences — but through the lens of an educator of sorts, instead of just, well … whatever I was doing before that.
I made sure everything I posted would resonate with at least one reader. Whether it was a lesson I’d learned or a tip I wanted to share, I wanted everything to come off as though it could go into some kind of self-help writing book (eh, sort of).
Blogging ceased being a daily memoir and became a host of content that contained something for everyone who visited it.
And that was when my subscriber base started growing.
People started sharing my content because they thought it was worth sharing. They didn’t do it because I begged them to or because they saw I had a lot of followers and figured it’d be worth it (I didn’t, and really don’t). And the more people that shared it, the more chances other people had to review the content I’d been producing for so long.
Creating good work over a long period of time paid off. In my opinion, it always will, if you are patient and consistent (and persistent).
But having more followers did not make my content better. I am still the only one responsible for making sure I am publishing things that my audience wants or needs. If I had only five followers or five thousand, it wouldn’t make a difference. I’d still strive to create better things because that is why I started blogging in the first place.
How many followers you do or do not have DOES NOT MATTER.
I never worried about or obsessed over it. I still don’t. Because, to be honest, most of your followers are just numbers. While you do have to treat each one of those numbers with care and respect, people don’t come to your blog (or avoid it) because you do (or don’t) have a lot of followers.
They come for consistent, quality content. And just might happen to stick around because of that content, and/or the previous followers that have stayed with you because of it.
Your content is what matters. The quality of your work. How consistently you can deliver things to your audience that make their lives better.
So if you’re doing that, then you’re doing a good job. Try not to worry so much about how many people are or aren’t reading.
And when creating good content does work out in your favor, just keep doing what you’ve been doing all this time. That is why these people found you. Because they saw the amazing things that you were doing, and could not resist being a part of your world.
Make them proud.
Want to get better at blogging? These posts will get you on track. The Unwritten Rules of Blogging My Biggest Blogging Mistakes (and How You Can Avoid Making Them) 21 Reasons You're Producing a Boring Blog
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
15 thoughts on “The Key to Maintaining a Successful Blog Isn’t Gaining More Followers”
You make some great points, here. Thanks!
So true. Everything you said here is just spot-on. I started my blog thinking I would post about writing and people would comment and it would be like an on-line writing course where I would learn as well as share. The blog went along okay, but when I started posting personal stories, there was way more interaction with people. And that’s what I wanted. Not high numbers, but socializing, or connection, so to speak. I wanted to tell, and hear, stories. That’s also when I got the Freshly Pressed and Discover buttons. Then I paid attention to numbers only to figure out how often to post. We all hate having our email flooded with people who post multiple times a day. So I paid attention to how comments changed based on how often I posted. Once a month and comments dropped off as if I was forgotten. Twice a week and numbers dropped off as if I was annoying people. So I used numbers only as a way to find balance that didn’t offend people and matched what I was able to do. For me, one post every one or two weeks seems to work best. But the main thing is that I enjoy these chatty stories way more than the older posts where I was trying to talk only about the writing craft. And it’s amazing how the craft of writing still works its way into our life-stories anyway.
Thanks for sharing your experience! It’s actually very interesting how you went about learning the right post schedule that works for your specific blog. So many people worry about this, and I’m always like, “You have to figure it out by experimenting!” :)
Great blog! I have to admit, I am a numbers person to a certain extent and get excited when someone new follows my blog. But that number doesn’t affect the quality or consistency of my posts.
New followers are always exciting — and motivating. :) But I agree completely. It’s fun to watch a blog grow, but your level of effort shouldn’t change because you have fewer or more members in your audience. Give the same performance whether the room is empty or so full people are standing in the back. ;)
Reblogged this on Ann Writes Inspiration and commented:
I think that’s why my blog has gained followers over the past few months. It’s not only because of what I write on the blog, but because of what I share. When I find a good post, like this one, I either reblog it or if I can, I press the post, which not only brings readers to my site, but the original poster’s site as well. Thanks for sharing these tips.
I just started my blog and this is possibly the best thing I could have read right at the beginning. -L
Congrats on the new blog! How are things going so far? :)
They’re going well, thank you! I’m sticking to just posting on Mondays and Thursdays at the minute so it’s a slow builder but your tips were so helpful!
This is so great to hear! Starting slow, in my opinion, is always the best way to go until you get the hang of it. :)
this was a great read and a needed one. everyone is looking for more subscribers. it’s unfortunately the thing to do in the race for social media stardom. unfortunate really. youtube, twitter, instagram, ugh. too much. life was better without social media.
It can definitely get overwhelming. But I personally would rather have 100 loyal followers that add something to my and others’ blogging experience than have 1 million followers who couldn’t care less!
Thanks for another excellent post, Meg. I tell myself things like this, but it’s soooooo easy to start mixing up actual value with the externals (like numbers!) I needed this reminder from someone else. :)
I totally get that. Honestly, sometimes when I write these posts for all of you out there reading, they help me too. :)