You know, I get emails now and then about how I got so many followers so quickly. I admit I'm sorta shocked anyone really wants to read what's going on over here, but the questions do give me pause....
It's funny 'cause there's several gals who started the same time I did who have oodles and oodles more followers/subscribers than I do, but when I stop to really think about what makes their blogs popular I realize they blog as a job. They're posting consistently excellent material multiple times a week, if not everyday.
That's why many have sponsors and/or advertising on their sites. I absolutely don't begrudge them this because producing a decent blog with interesting posts, pertinent information, fabulous photography, and decent writing is HARD WORK. I'm ashamed to tell you how many hours I spend doing projects, taking pictures, editing pictures, writing posts, editing posts, planning posts, fiddling with the blog itself, etc. And I honestly ask myself if it's worth it, the time away from my family's needs especially, when I don't get paid to do this and have no shop or business to promote. I love it, don't get me wrong.....it's a fantabulous creative outlet for me, but I have a hard time balancing the time I spend on blogging (and reading blogs) with the rest of my responsibilities. I'm sure I'm the only one who struggles with this. *rolling eyes*
Something else along this line.....just because I have 1500+ followers doesn't mean they're all hanging on every post I write. Nay. In fact, I read several blogs with much fewer followers who get lots MORE comments on each post....comments from regular readers. Like a little tribe. I love that and wish I had more of that kind of dialogue here. I do have plans to help that along.....
Finally, this thought. I've seen gals hit rock stardom overnight because one of the ginmormous bloggers did a feature on them. Everyone dutifully ooooooos and ahhhhhhs over their pictures and clicks that follower button only to discover they either can't write, don't post very often, or just post inspiration pictures any of us can easily find doing a google search. Un-follow. Can't tell ya the number of times I've done that (and have had it done to me).
What am I trying to say here? That that number over yonder is not a true representation of the quality of a blog. I had moved that gadget to the bottom of my page because it taunted me everytime I opened my blog. I moved it back to the sidebar because I decided it's a motivator to do my best work. It helps me remember I do have interesting things to share sometimes because those little faces at one time or other felt clicking to follow was worthwhile. It affirms my hard work, and I don't think it's wrong to seek validation for the time and energy spent in blogging. It's when the numbers become your task master that problems arise. It's a constant battle, and anyone that says differently is nutty. Most days I could care less, other days I feel like a second-class blogger in the face of some of the others with 5 digit followings. Eh. That's when I go paint something.
Anyway, when I started blogging, I had a couple gals ahead of me in the follower arena do some features on me (Thank you especially Donna of Funky Junk Interiors....a professional blogger of supreme talent, kindness and humor who I think has one of the best blogs out there), and that started a small following (and helped me find so many of your wonderful blogs!). I have been meaning to do regular features on the hidden talent out there to return the favor so I will soon be creating full posts on bloggers who I think aren't getting their due. :) And I won't just pick someone with nice pictures or a keen ability to post inspiration shots...nor will I feature those only blogging to promote their business (not that I think that's wrong, just that I want to draw attention to those who blog for bliss amidst a regular busy life of parenting, working, and living.)
So. How does one go about growing a blog? First you need to decide WHY you're wanting more readers. Possible reasons:
~You want to be a rock star.
~You have a business to promote.
~You want to make some money recruiting sponsors/advertisers for your blog.
~It's more fun to blog knowing someone will read and appreciate it.
I mostly blog for the first and last reasons. There's not a darn thing wrong with blogging for the other reasons, but I can't help you much if that's what you're after. Anyway, here's my top 10 tips for us regular blogging folk looking to build a readership just for the fun of it:
1. Write consistently interesting and informative posts with really good photography and humor. Tutorials, before and afters, and all things furniture or crafts are popular. Make it easy for folks to see what you're about....for instance I created tabs under my header that include my mission statement ("why the robin's nest") and my very best post ("an exercise in creating your style"), both of which give my readers a sense of who I am, how I decorate, and why I blog. I also have this post about blogging up thar and the ever popular list of cottage style with links to blogs representing them. Others have a link or tab to their tutorials. Give readers a reason to hang around and discover what your blog has to offer.
2. Something I'm not good at remembering to do is asking a question at the end of my posts to engage readers, but I appreciate when a blogger asks for my experience or opinion in their postings...it tells me they read and appreciate my comments. Which leads to....
3. Respond to comments on your blog via email, within the comments themselves, or in a post, and spend time commenting on others blogs you enjoy. Appreciate your followers with highlights or giveaways (but don't use giveaways to troll for followers....a pet peeve of mine). Also, make time to at least visit your commenter's and new follower's blogs. It can be hard to answer every comment that comes in (and pretty please with Little Debbie's on top, CHANGE your settings so bloggers can respond to your comments via email when they do have time), but I try to always answer questions that come in. I don't expect every comment I leave on a blog will get a response, but if I ask something, I always appreciate a prompt response. I've noticed the more comments I leave, the more comments I receive. That's rocket science right there, free of charge.
4. Join blog parties to highlight your work. I would say host a party, but honestly, I think the blogsphere is too saturated with them right now unless you find a particular niche. I used to host a party on Mondays, but it got really difficult to manage it every week. I know the kind of behind the scenes work it takes to host one, so I appreciate those who continue to host. See my ::link parties:: tab for a list of where I par-tay most often. If you do join up, please respect the hostess' policies and play fair.
5. Consider featuring a blogger whose work you really admire, but has more followers than you. Ask them first! When they mention on their blog about the feature, their foot traffic will find it's way back to you and perhaps like what they see/read....which is why you must do #1 really well. This kind of networking is appropriate because it's a win for everyone...you, the blogger you feature, and readers looking for more fabulous blogs to read.
6. Contact the DIY Showoff, Better After or join a challenge over at CSI some week. There are many others out there. If your work gets featured, you'll get many folks clicking over. Offer lots to entice them into reading and participating at your place in the future, again by paying attention to #1.
7. Make a button for others to put on their blogs. Have a section where you've listed all the blogs where you've been featured. Put an 'about me' link somewhere to introduce yourself and your blog that goes beyond the teensy picture and microscopic text allowed by the blogger gadget.
8. Be real. 'Nuff said.
9. Have a stunning header. If you're not confident in making one, get someone who can. It's the first impression and the thesis statement of your blog.
10. Enjoy what you do, do it your way and don't apologize for it. Remember, it's better to have folks read your blog who share your style or enjoy your writing regularly than hundreds of followers who only click over now and then and never comment. Ask me how I know.....
11. Join the social network revolution. Some bloggers have had lots of success connecting with their readership via facebook and twitter. The other biggie is Pinterest. Not sure how I feel about Pinterest yet, as I see it as an easy way to avoid the work building relationships between bloggers. And copyright is flying out the window. I love it for the tool it is, but I don't like that it's slowly replacing the written word and real realationships. That said, I have an account with all three (don't use twitter, though).
That's all I can think of right now. Basically, blogging is at it's best when it allows for community. The quantity of followers should always play second fiddle to the quality of followers. I get more thrill from comments then from my numbers going up. Numbers mean zilch if folks aren't talking to you. (nicely) I suspect The Lettered Cottages and Nesting Places and Thrifty Decor Chicks would say the same....it's all about the comments, not the numbers. Ok, for those guys it might be about the numbers, as they're blogs are their businesses. But it wouldn't be half the fun if folks didn't read and comment, *that* I know they'd say!