Let me start by saying this… blogging takes time, and building a readership that keeps returning takes time and hard work. Just because you have a blog and write, it does not mean that people will read it and let alone come back for more. When I first started blogging in 2007, I didn’t do it with any strategy or business focus in mind. I just started writing and sharing things I did and loved. At first I didn’t really have many readers but they slowly started to follow and I started getting comments.
My first blog wasn’t started as part of a business, instead it was my space to write about my creative endeavors that eventually turned into a business. I wrote about anything and everything, which I believe attracted people to it… because it was raw and honest. If you’re really curious, here’s my first ever blog post (cringe). On a side note, the other lesson here is that things don’t have to be perfect before you launch a business, my first blog is a perfect example I reckon.
Anyway, blogging takes time and most successful bloggers have been doing it for a very long time. Most of them have been doing it for years, they’ve written, they have learned, they have honed their skills and most of all they have taken the time to grow a following. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do the same, I just want you to know that it doesn’t happen overnight and that you should give it time.
To build a loyal following of returning readers it’s wise to learn from others who have walked the path before you. Have a look at some blogs that you admire and go back to their beginnings. Look at what they do that speaks to you.
I would also like to share some of my life lessons in blogging with you by sharing my 10 tips for building a blog that gets results.
Don’t start a blog and then leave it sitting there with one post for 3 months. If you decide to to this, then do it properly. Show up at the same time, the same place every week/fortnight/month, but do it. Also, make sure that you set yourself some goals for your blog so that you can hold yourself accountable and you have something to work towards. I highly recommend making a blogging schedule in which you pre-plan what you are going to post in the next week/fortnight/month. This helps you create content ahead of your publishing date and I find it less stressful than ‘doing it on the fly’.
These days blogging is slightly different from when I first started blogging. There is so much information out there, so people tend to be more selective about what they read. It’s important to offer value in your blog posts if you are doing it for business purposes. Most people will read blog posts because there’s something there for them, something they need or want. That said, most people will still want some personality behind it and this is great because you can show who you are and really build that connection. I always love ‘getting to know’ the person behind the brand and the way they write is often a sneak peek into their personality.
Give, give more and you will receive. Be generous with your content, give answers, help your readers so that they can see that you’re an expert in your field and that you have some thing to say and to give.
Include your readers in the journey
People love seeing into other people’s lives and businesses, so share your behind-the-scenes, your wins, your losses, your life learnings. When I started screen printing boutique Ink & Spindle with Lara & Teegs, we documented everything and shared this with our readers. They were included in our journey from the minute we picked our building, to putting together our table, to painting our walls all the way up til all the lovely fabrics we printed. If you create products, make sure you share your process or a work-in-progress shot, if you run a health care practice, share how you set up your room for relaxation etc.
Another part of inclusion is to be active and have conversations. If you have comments enabled on your blog, make sure you encourage conversation and respond to each comment by saying thank you or actively answering questions.
Add internal links
Link back to old posts and cross reference as much as possible. Don’t create you post where you say ‘I wrote about this here and here’, but actually refer to the post properly and explain what it was about. I usually don’t click on ‘here’ because the word holds no interest for me. If you are cross referencing and linking back, make sure that your link is relevant and explain to your reader why it is relevant so that you create interest and raise curiosity.
Be active on other blogs and on social media by commenting on other people’s posts. Have conversations. It’s amazing how many people you ‘meet’ and become friends with. If I hadn’t started blogging, I would have never met Lara and we would have never started Ink & Spindle. Blogging is a wonderful way to connect.
Design & functionality
This kind of speaks for itself, but make sure that your blog design is visually appealing, easy to navigate and that it loads quickly. It’s also highly recommended to have a responsive blog, which means that it converts well to mobile applications. Most WordPress and Blogger platforms do these days, but check anyway.
Make sure that your content is easy to share by adding share plugins like ShareAholic or Digg Digg. I would also look at plugins or functionalities within your blog that share related content so that your readers can find your other posts once they get to the bottom of the one they’re reading (just like on this blog).
Try guest blogging
Writing posts on other people’s blogs (aka guest blogging) helps you lift your profile and puts you in front of another audience. It also helps you with establishing yourself as an expert in your field. So have a look at other blogs that attract a similar type of reader to yours and ask if you could write a post for them. Some blogs have specific rules and guidelines for guest blog posts, so make sure you search around on their website first. One other tip, when approaching someone to offer guest blogging, make sure you find out a bit more about them so you can write to the person rather than a generic ‘hi there’. Personalising helps heaps with actually getting a response.
Encourage conversation and interaction
Whether it’s on your blog or on your social media platforms, try to encourage conversation. Everyone has an opinion or something to say, so offer people the option. We learn from each other so having conversations is a great way to learn, share and connect. As a blogger, it’s up to you to pose the questions and stimulate conversation. At the start it might be slow with not many comments, but be persistent and you will see changes.