It’s the question that plagues anyone who has ever published anything online: If a blogger has no followers, do they really make a sound?
Okay, so that’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, but you get the idea. Everyone who has a blog wants people to see it. Not only do you want people to recognize your brilliance, but the more people who read and follow your blog, the better your search engine rankings, the more money you make, and the higher your profile gets.
How Do You Get Those Followers?
Because you and your blog aren’t already household names, getting people to pay attention can be challenging. Fortunately, you no longer have to fret about how to get blog followers; here are some proven ways to build your audience.
You can’t just create brilliance, post it on your blog, and expect the audience to come to you — the internet is not a meritocracy. You have to promote your work, and social media offers plenty of opportunities to do that. Link to your post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Don’t stop with just telling people that you have a new post, though — engage with them. When people comment, respond. When they share, thank them. Build a relationship with your followers, and they will be more willing to come back for more.
Additionally, there are several small tips and tricks to making the most of your social posting. For example:
- Different audiences visit social sites during different times of day. Traffic is high from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., but it spikes in the late afternoon. If you know when your audience is most active online, you know when to share your content. You can research activity with Google Analytics, which tells you the number of hits for your entire site or an individual blog post per time and day of the week.
- Images and video grab attention on social sites. This should be a no-brainer, but big chunks of text aren’t appealing in online spaces — especially not Facebook, Twitter, and the like. When you are posting links to your blog on social media, you should upload appropriate images separately, so they appear larger and more often. The same is true of video, which is even more eye catching.
- Your audience expects you to engage in under one hour. It isn’t enough to respond to comments or offer thanks for shares; you must be snappy about it. One study found that a lack of response within the hour resulted in negative comments later, while a quick response increased positive word-of-mouth by 43 percent, shares with friends by 42 percent, and openness to advertisements by 38 percent.
Finally, being social in real life is also advantageous for growing your blogging brand. You can and should bug your friends and family about reading your posts and interacting with the site. First, they should provide honest feedback about the quality of your content (more on that later) and your site. However, it is also exceedingly valuable to start with a seed of a reliable audience; few strangers want to lead the charge in making your blog popular.
Open the Comments
Opening your blog to comments can be frightening. Not only is there some work involved with filtering spam — although there are tools to help with that — but the comments can quickly get out of control if they aren’t moderated. However, allowing comments not only gives you a chance to engage with your readers, it also helps build a community. Your followers will interact with each other to build relationships and keep returning to your blog to see what others have to say and for your latest content.
Nothing is more frustrating to your audience than visiting your page, only to find that it hasn’t been updated in weeks — or longer. If that happens several times, they will probably move on and forget about you. To get blog followers, you need to publish great content on a consistent basis. If you need to take a break, let your readers know when you plan to be back. Stay on track by developing an editorial calendar and planning your posts a few weeks in advance. That way, you aren’t scrambling for content when you need it most.
Offer Great Content
This might be the most difficult part of growing an audience, but it’s also the most important. When your content is good, people will come back repeatedly — and tell others about it, too. Do your homework to find out what type of content your audience needs and wants so that you stay relevant and attract a faithful following.
Eventually, you will get in the mindset of your audience and offer exactly the content they crave. Still, it is sometimes difficult to get your creative juices flowing in the channels your audience expects. Here are a few ways to follow on how to get blog followers with your content:
- Controversial topics get more interaction. By playing it safe, you are limiting yourself to people who comment and share boring content. You don’t have to be political in your blogs, but you should say something relatively dangerous. For example, if you are a mommy blogger, you might bring up reusable diapers. If you are a travel blogger, you might post about visiting unsafe destinations.
- Truth is as important as catchiness. If you post inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise unreliable content, what few followers you have will fade away, and it will be nearly impossible to build up your audience. In your sourcing of information, you should be hard-nosed and diligent, so you can avoid false information at all costs. If you publish a lie by mistake, you should tell your audience about it ASAP.
- Online idea generators are free to use. If ever you get stuck without even a hint of an idea, you can always turn to online idea generators. Most are little more than random title generators, but they can direct you toward brilliant ideas you might never have considered. Plus, because headlines are so important for attracting followers, it doesn’t hurt to start with a great title.
Become a Guest Blogger
One of the best ways to get more blog followers is to publish somewhere other than your own site. It might seem counter-intuitive, but when you contribute great content to another blog with a large following, you’ll attract readers to your site. Identify some of the top blogs in your industry or those that are related to your product, and reach out to the site owner to offer content; even just one guest post to a blog with a substantial following can give you exposure to tens of thousands of potential readers.
On the flip side, you should also be generous with your outbound linking. By linking out to other blogs, you are likely to attract the attention of bloggers in your field. Then, they are likely to reach out to you on social media, ask for guest posts, mention you positively on their site, and perform other actions that could throw some followers your way. At its core, the internet is a network; you have to give as much as you take to be seen and successful.
Growing a blog following won’t happen overnight, but if you focus on quality content, promotion, and relationship building, you’ll see your numbers grow — and eventually, you may be the one helping other bloggers grow their audiences.