I am not claiming that my blog is the most popular thing in the planet, in fact, it's a relatively small fish in a big pond. However, my blog has grown from 100 followers to over 1000 in around 6 months. This isn't something that I expected, and I definitely thought it would take a lot longer to hit quadruple figures. I am very proud of my blog and although there has been some, lets say, 'critics', it's something I really enjoy. I've always loved to write, I just never liked being told what to write about and how it would be deemed as successful (aka, school grading).
This post is based on what I did to get to this point in my blog. You may have a lot more followers than me, or a lot less, numbers aren't everything. However, this may just spark a, 'oh I might try that', moment for you. I suppose this is also for me, a way to remind myself of what to keep on top of and how to help grow this platform further.
ENGAGE / SOCIAL MEDIA
Using a mixture of different social media can really help engage with other like-minded people. First of all Twitter. I didn't use twitter very much when I first started blogging. I used it occasionally to tweet some University pals, but other than that, it was pretty forgotten about. This last month or so, I have massively upped my Twitter game. I have come across so many great, creative people who have the same interest and goals as myself. Even if they don't follow my blog etc. it's nice just to talk to people who are similar to yourself and bare no judgement.
Secondly, Pinterest. I think Pinterest is one that quite often gets neglected. However, one single post that I also pinned, has gotten over 2000 views in a month... directed from Pinterest. It may not directly increase followers, not everyone who uses it may have an account to follow blogs, however, it can massively increase your traffic. You only need one pin to take off and BAM, hello readers.
Instagram. This bad boy is awesome for engaging with other creative, like-minded people. There are loads of blogger hashtags that you can search to find more content that you love. Follow, comment and like pictures and profiles that you think suit you and your platform. I do not mean spam. But let someone know what you think of their photo, or their day (read the caption). Don't just throw the same comment and emoji on every photo. It stands out like a sore thumb, what your game is. Don't be that guy.
Finally, BlogLovin'. I bloody love this website. I follow so many great blogs. I 'love' and 'save' posts that interest me and leave comments interacting with the writers. This in particular has really helped with building my blog. It's important to put yourself out there. It's a lot harder to people to find you if you're not out there to be seen. I do not mean leave, pointless, 'follow me' comments. That is annoying and does not work. It's also a little rude. But, if you've read a post and you think it was awesome, or have something you want to say, comment! Say hello, or say well done. You are making someone realise that their words are appreciated and you yourself are exposing yourself to potential readers.
It's also a good idea to have all your social media linked to or from your blog. I made a new twitter for my blog, as to not annoy the people who were already following my old account. I didn't bother with Instagram, as by that point, my attitude was 'don't like it, then unfollow'.
It's also great to share your new posts and content on social media. Don't bombard people or become annoying, but if people are following you, they probably want to know if you've posted something new. So why not do a quick tweet or Instagram post just to let people know.
HAVE A THEME
When you are first starting a blog, it can be tempting to write about anything and everything. This is awesome, don't get me wrong. I love people who have a billion different interests. However, it can be a bit confusing as a reader. For example, the main blogs I follow are lifestyle, beauty and food based. I know what kind of posts each writer is doing, so, when I fancy reading up on beauty products, I know which blogs to head to. Once again, I wouldn't say don't write about something you want to. It's your blog, if you want to have a rant about something or post something completely random, do it! But quite often people have a certain 'type' of content that they read, and if your blog seems to not really have one, it can be confusing and people may not bother to click follow. But saying this, if your blog is just a place to ramble and you're not bothered about numbers etc, then it really doesn't matter! It may just take more time to get returning readers. Basically, it is better to have a larger audience and readership in mind.
I have always really enjoyed photography. I took it as a subject in A Level (all those years ago) and I am always the one snapping photos on days out and parties. This is another reason I wanted to start a blog, it was a place to combine my love of photography and writing. Often when I am reading other people's blog, the first thing I see, is the imagery. This might be unfair as someone may be an incredible writer, but not confident with photography, but being a visual person, it's how I work. I have found that having better quality images or more 'interesting' images has really helped my blog. I do not mean you have to be a photography wizard or know Photoshop inside out. I don't even use photoshop. But try and take photos that you are proud of, either by using natural lighting to help with brightness or by using free options like picmonkey.com or facetune to do some basic edits. It has meant I can post on Instagram and Pinterest, and the images get more traffic than the lesser quality photos I used to post. This in turn means that the traffic to my blog is also increased.
DOMAIN & LAYOUT
Owning your own domain can sound very daunting and confusing. However, it does make your website look a lot more 'professional' at a quick glance. This in turn, will increase the likelihood of someone clicking on it. I purchased mine from 1&1, which also came with an email address which I could have especially for the blog. Don't get me wrong, I was a 'domain dummy', so I have no clue what I was doing. But, after a lot of googling and guessing, I managed to do it. You do have to pay to have your own domain, so it's not worth doing if you're not too bothered about blogging. However, if you're this far into the post, I'm guessing you are. I'd tell you step by step what I did, but to be honest, I don't have a clue. It took a lot of attempts and confusion and then just suddenly worked. I'd suggest searching around for different companies as a lot have guidance and support to help you get started. Secondly, Layout. I attempted to do my own layout, and although it was okay, it wasn't what I wanted. So, after googling, I came across Pipdig. I use blogger and found that Pipdig had a lot of awesome layouts to chose from. Again, you pay for this, but they will even load the layout on for you if you don't feel confident enough to do it yourself. I'd definitely recommend checking them out, the customer service was great!
POST FREQUENTLY AND AT PRIME TIMES
This was something I really had to work on, and still don't have perfectly. I noticed a dramatic increase in followers the more often I posted. In a perfect world, I would like to post 3x a day, but working full time means that isn't always possible. However, having consistency is key. People are going to be a lot less likely to follow you if you most 5x in one week but then have nothing for a month. If you have loads of great ideas, then awesome! But try to write and schedule them in a more staggered manner, rather than just bashing them all out at once. Try and contain the excitement! It can be tempting to write something and want to publish it straight away. But if you're aiming for a UK audience, there's no point posting it at 3am at night as you will miss a lot of people. I've started to post mine at around 7/8pm. If I want to do it earlier, then I will aim for 7am. This is to try and get those people reading before and after work. This is obviously very generalised, everyone works different hours. But I noticed a complete difference in the amount of visitors from if I posted at 2 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, than when I posted at 8pm on a Wednesday. This is the same for Instagram and Twitter. Have a google and see when your prime time for your target audience will be. There is a lot of information available out there, you just have to actively look for it!
This is something that I'm definitely not perfect at. However, it is an area I am working on. Google Analytics is a great way to monitor your audience and track where they are coming from. This is how I know that Pinterest can drive a lot of traffic. You don't need to be a wizard in this area, it can look a little daunting at first. But all I look at is where my traffic is coming from and the times/days that it is most popular. This allows me to target these more and therefore increase interaction.
CREATE HIGH QUALITY CONTENT PEOPLE WANT TO READ
Creating high quality content is always going to be the number one thing to do to drive traffic. You may be a SEO wizard, but if someone gets to your website and thinks 'this looks like it has taken them 5 minutes', they will probably just leave again. You have to keep in mind why you have a blog. Whether it be a love of writing, or a love of photography. There are going to be times where you spent a shit ton of time and effort on a post, and there's not really much engagement from it. However, just enjoy writing and putting it together. Don't get down because nobody commented or read it. Just enjoy the creative process and it will become obvious over time to others and they will look forward to your posts. Don't just write because you feel you have to or because you want a freebie.
Another tip is to see what posts are popular at the time. For example, 2017 goals at the beginning of this year, were SUPER popular. Therefore, writing your own version of this is likely to get a lot of traffic. Obviously, don't write a post purely because everyone else is... that will be obvious to the readers. But write things that you want to read yourself and that you think your readers will appreciate. Oh and do not copy. It's fine to get inspiration, but straight up copying someone is not going to go down well. It's also useful to link back to old posts you have done, so people have a look around your blog, not just the one post. For example, 'if you find this post useful, check out my apps I use for blogging post' for more tips and tricks. It's not ramming anything down people's throats, it's linking to a similar topic that they might find useful. It's also more 'SEO friendly' to link the words as I did in that example instead of 'click here'.
Things I want to work on:
These above points are what I have been actively doing over the past 6 months, and therefore, I'm guessing helped get me to this point. I am by no means an expert, just someone who googled a lot, and worked their ass off. In the future, I want to work on SEO (it gives me such a headache), but it great for search engines and upping your traffic. I also really want to try some guest hosting/collabs with other bloggers. This not only a way to increase traffic, but also a way to make pals! Finally, I want to start attending events and blogger meets. This is something that is a little out of my comfort zone, but I want to push myself to do regardless. I will obviously be continuing with all of the things discussed in this post too just to help grow and promote my writing. But, at the end of the day, if you're enjoying what you're doing, then that is what really matters!
What have you found useful in regards to blogging? Any tips or websites that have helped you out? Leave any comments or links below :)