In the past 4 months I have managed to literally quadruple my blog's following ... twice over. I've seen more growth in the past 4 months than I'd seen in FIVE YEARS!
Yeah, I totally just tooted my own horn. Tooooot tooooot!
I share this information not to sound like an obnoxious, horn-tooting braggy pants, but to let you know that if I managed to greatly increase my blog's readership, then you can too! My growth in readership didn't happen by accident or luck though, it happened with intention. I have intentionally been doing things to grow my blog. So, my dear buttercups ... (yeah, THAT just happened), allow me to share with you the tips I have implemented to cause my blog's readership to grow like a mint plant on steroids!
1. Come up with a lovely business plan for your blog.
I blogged for 5 years without a business plan for my blog and guess what? I saw pretty much ZERO growth during those five years. Pretty sad right?! :::sniffle::: My focus was muddied, I didn't know where I was headed or who I was writing for and I was ALL over the place.
Then at the beginning of 2015 I decided that I was finally going to start treating my blog like a business. I decided to follow the wisdom of, "treat your blog like a business, and it will become one." And guess what? IT'S TOTALLY WORKING!!! And it all started with me writing a business plan for my blog at the beginning of this year. Here's a meaty post I wrote on how to write a business plan, including a FREE editable template!
When coming up with your blog's business plan, I'd suggest creating your business plan in something like Google Docs that way you can modify it throughout the year, or if you'd like something tangible write it in pencil so that you can make adjustments as you come up with new goals and plans.
2. Define your blog's purpose + your ideal reader.
Yessss you guys, THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!! (Actually, all of these tips are important so just DO THEM ALL!!!) Yes I'm bossy. And Passionate. But that's because I've done these things and have seen massive growth in my readership! So. You should check out this post on how to define your blog's purpose, and this post on how to figure out and attract your ideal reader.
3. Create an editorial calendar.
Again, super important! (Am I sounding like a broken record yet?) Go to your favorite coffee shop, grab a tasty treat and a delicious beverage, (because those two things make EVERYTHING more enjoyable), and then sit down and create your editorial calendar for the upcoming month. I tell you how to create an editorial calendar in step 12 of this post right here!
4. Create quality, original, butt-kicking content.
Yep, there's no way around this one! If your content is crap, then your blog will smell like poop and no one will stick around very long to read it. (Sorry, some times I talk like an 8-year-old. I just said "butt," "crap" and "poop" in the first 2 sentences!) But it's TRUE. You can have the prettiest blog ever, but if your content is weak, unfocused, not catered to your ideal reader or just a copy of some one else's content then you're not going to make it very far.
So fill that editorial calendar that you created in the step above with lots of quality content! I wrote this post right here on how to never run out of ideas for awesome content so you should ... ya know ... check it out.
Consistently coming up with quality content can seem overwhelming, especially when your to-do list is overflowing like a backwashing toilet! (Sorry more potty talk, I promise I'll stop!) Life happens. Things get busy. And crazy. And stressful. So here's some handy tips that you can use to keep cranking out quality content even in your busiest of weeks!
- Use a to-do list. Never work without one! I swear, to-do lists are responsible for everything I have achieved in my whole life ever. (Okay that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much!) Without a to-do list you are probably wasting precious time. A to-do list will keep you on track, will allow you to accomplish things in the most effective sequence possible and help to keep your brain free of clutter.
- Build easy to find archives. If you don't have an easy to view archive of past posts that you've written available then you are basically throwing all the posts you've written out the window and into the dumpster! And that isn't cool, because your posts will feel stinky and dejected, plus no one wants to search through a dumpster for blog posts to read, ya know?
But in all seriousness, having an archive makes all the posts you've written readily available for viewing, easy to find PLUS it will help you figure out which categories you might need to focus on. For example, once you have archives for your different categories you will quickly be able to see which categories might be in need of a little building up. Maybe your "crafts" category has 50 posts but your "recipes" category only has 3. Which category do you think you need to create more content for?
- Deliver a sweet surprise. In order to keep things fresh, deliver a surprise post to your readers every now and then! What's something that's a little off-topic that you're really good at? Perhaps it's something that would also challenge you as a blogger? Think of a post that you could create pretty easily that wouldn't take too much time. While it's super important to have consistent, focused content- a little surprise here and there will create a nice mix!
5. Share your quality content on social media (and up your Pinterest game!)
Alright, you're creating quality content on the regular so don't forget to share it! Share it on Facebook, pin it on Pinterest, (psssst, you should check out the post I wrote on the 28 Pinterest tips I used to massively grow my blog because Pinterest is HUGELY responsible for giving me tons of traffic!!!), let your followers on Instagram know, tweet it on Twitter and post it to every other social media account that you have.
6. Re-share your quality content on social media.
Yes, re-share it. Not right away obviously because that would be repetitive and annoying! But a few weeks or even months later? Yes. This is especially great for times when you're feeling extra swamped and overwhelmed. No new posts to share? Share an old one!
7. Network, baby!
This one here is something that I tooootally neglected for years. I was like the kid in high school who was too afraid to find people to sit with in the cafeteria so I would eat in my car. (Who am I kidding, I actually DID do that! A little sad? Why yes, yes it was.) But for real- networking matters. Making friends online might be a little weird at first, but it is absolutely crucial for cross-promotion and growth! PLUS, you will hopefully make some new friends to boot.
So what are some ways that you can network?
- Comment on other people's blogs. If you want people to show you some comment love, why not show them some first? Don't be shy! Plus, more people will see you when you comment. I love seeing who else is commenting on posts and enjoy clicking on them to check out their blogs!
- Join and participate in relevant Facebook groups. This is a great way to connect with both potential readers and fellow bloggers! (Psssst, feel free to join my free Creative Superheroes Facebook group for ladypreneurs! I come into the group live every single week to chat, answer questions and help people build profitable blogs! Plus it's super fun.) :P
- Do a trade. Perhaps you could trade ad spaces with a fellow blogger that will benefit you both? Or maybe trade services or products? If there's something that would be a fair trade to benefit both parties then it's something worth doing! Just be super clear in what you are asking for and what you have to offer when contacting some one. Oh and don't forget to be super nice too! And savvy.
8. Give back to your readers.
When it comes to readers, it's quality over quantity! A small group of loyal, engaged readers is way better than a large group that doesn't really care about your content. You want your readers to connect with you, and it's important to show them that you are thankful for them and appreciate them checking out your blog! Giving back is a great way to show your appreciation. So what are a few things that you can do to give back to your readers? Well let's see ...
- Offer free stuff. I mean ... who doesn't like free stuff?! Digital downloads and fun tips are excellent. Create something for your readers that would be super helpful for them, or that they would really enjoy!
- Respond to comments. This is a great way to show that you care and to interact with your readers! Try to be as helpful and kind as you can.
- Comment on their sites. It feels good to get a comment or two, right? Show your support by leaving comments for others!
- Do a giveaway. Whether it's a sponsored post, a collaboration with another creative or you giving something away from your personal stash, everyone loves the chance to receive free loot!
9. Check your analytics and study what works.
I ignored this one for way too long ... ehem. If you are currently ignoring this like I did, STOP IT NOW!!! (Sorry I'm getting bossy again!) Set up your account on Google Analytics and get started. Not only will you be able to see how many people are visiting your site each month to track your growth, but you will also be able to check which of your blog posts are the most popular! This is a great way to see what is working and what is not.
10. Slow and steady wins the race!
It might be easy to feel discouraged when you see other blogs around you seemingly explode overnight. Right? It makes you just want to curl up on the couch and binge on Netflix and chocolate!!! But it's true; some blogs grow fast, some grow slow. However, slow growth is great for your blog. It gives you the time and mental space to evaluate, try new things, improve and really fine tune everything to kick some major butt!
In addition to checking your analytics like I mentioned above, you should also check for growth in these areas:
- Your content. Look through the archives that I mentioned in step 4 and take notice of the quality. Are there too many fluffy "filler" posts? Not enough of something? What area could use more growth?
- Your social media following. Are you making an effort to grow your following on the social media sites that are important to your blog?
- Your reader engagement. Are you starting to receive more comments? Less? If less, try to engage your readers more! I wrote an entire post on 10 ways to engage your readers.
11. Take the From Side Hustle to Success e-mail mini course (for free!)
And if you're feeling ultra super serious about turning your blog into a business, then you can enroll for free by clicking right here! Or you can click on the image below. Whatever floats your boat. :P
Not to sound like some sketchy infomercial that's riddled with false promises, but I can almost guarantee you that if you do all of the above things with passion, honesty and genuine care for your readers that you WILL see growth.
What about you? Is there anything that you are struggling with? Or is there anything from this list of tips that you've tried with great success?
And now, it's time for coffee #2.