So, you’ve started a blog to share your insights, poems, dreams or rants. Now what? Blogging is easy — just a few clicks and publish! — but building a widely read blog takes planning, hard work, and (often) some luck. Here are ten steps that will help you grow your blog’s readership:
1. Find your niche
Write about what you know best, and be sure it’s something that you find interesting– if your blog doesn’t interest you, how will it interest your readers?
2. Be unique
You may not be the only blog about sports, or food, or fashion, but your presentation can set you apart from the others. Alex Balcerski of Ride The Pine focused on using a unique format to differentiate from similar sports humor blogs:
The most unique thing about Ride The Pine is our video show (creatively called) Ride The Pine. I originally started the website to feature this 3-5 minute show that would focus on the lighter side of sports, the best videos of the week, and my (poorly crafted) jokes. After just a few weeks, it was featured in iTunes as a ‘New and Noteworthy’ podcast. There is not another sports blog out there that does a video show like ours.
3. Become an expert
Expertise can also set you apart, and give your blog value- particularly if you get in on the ground floor on a new craze or movement. Yes, there will always be someone better, smarter, or more skilled than you, but you don’t have to be the best to be an authority. The simplest way to be an authority? Teaching, says Copyblogger, “…taking something hard and making it easy” for your readers.
4. Be consistent
Update your blog regularly, even daily. Blogads’ bloggers spend anywhere from 3 hours a week to 3 hours a day working on their blogs. Start by focusing on the quantity of your posts, and build on the quality of your posts later (don’t forget spell check in the meantime). Your hard work will pay off in the long run, says Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra Cooks:
It brings me such joy to read an email from someone who has had success with a recipe and who has brought joy to his/her family or friends or significant other or just for his/herself in the process. Nothing makes me happier, truly. The pains I have experienced are pretty trivial overall.
5. Find an audience
Share your ideas and posts on the proper channels. Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ are multifaceted and ready for any type of content, but other networks can be specific to your content. Blogging about food or fashion? Some bloggers have had success with Pinterest. The benefit of participating in these networks is that they have a built-in user base ready to consume and share your content. Just be warned: creating an interesting fan page is a good step, but not as important as using it to drive traffic to your blog.
6. Join a community
Interact with new readers by liking their comments on other blogs and leaving comments of your own; just remember to be specific and don’t choke your target audience with blatant self-promotion.
7. Befriend other bloggers
Share the love with other bloggers by linking to their posts and guest blogging (also an effective way to find new readers), a little teamwork goes a long way.
8. Found (or support) a cause
Blogging for a cause isn’t just good for publicity, it’s a tangible way for you to give your support to something you believe in and for readers to “…connect with the blogger behind the blog,” says Nikki Parkinson of Styling You.
9. Forget about #7 and get in a fight
It may be controversial, but if you follow the rules, getting in a “blogfight” can be a great way to grab some attention for your blog (and some readers while you’re at it). The key, says The Blog Herald, is to stick to your guns and make your argument worthwhile:
…[I]f you have something really worthwhile to say, there is a chance you’d be taken seriously and provoke a healthy discussion…good blogfights can be made by fueling intelligent discussions, even among parties with opposing arguments… some of the world’s biggest problems are better solved by throwing bright minds into the mix and get them to bash their own ideas until the best ones stand out.
As in diplomacy, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” And inevitably when there’s a blogfight, the people to dislike the person you’re fighting with will often wade in on your side and sometimes become long-term allies.
10. One last thing- keep at it!
The best blogs weren’t a success overnight. Geraldine DeRuiter of The Everywhereist took more than 2 years 500 posts to get where she is today- one of Time’s Best Blogs of 2011. With a little bit of patience and these ten steps as your guide, you’ll soon accomplish your goal of creating a great blog.
See the Blogads blog for more helpful advice and insight into blogging, including interviews with successful bloggers like Sonja Foust of Pintester and Jim Romenesko of JimRomenesko.com.
Photo by Flickr user Christopher Stephen