When I began blogging way back in 2006, it was a hobby, a way to encourage myself to write and to share what I wrote with my family and friends. Since then, as I’ve seen the potential of blogs as a writer, especially with the explosion of mommy blogs in recent years, my blog has become much more than a hobby. It is now part of my business and career plan. Here’s what I’ve learned (from fellow bloggers and personal experience) about building your blog.
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1. Use Social Media to Build Your Blog
I think it goes without saying these days that if you want to build your blog, you must be on Twitter and/or Facebook and/or Pinterest and/or Instagram and/or other social networks. I only joined Twitter this year, but it’s been a great way to meet more people online and to spread the word about my blog. The best advice I’ve seen on social media is Clair Diaz Ortiz’s social media manifesto How to Be Social. I also appreciated the Blog Clarity Pinning Perfect course for understanding Pinterest and using it well as a blogger.
2. Put Pictures in Your Posts
Again, this is something I only started doing in the last year or so, but pictures add so much to a post, particularly if they are pinworthy. Pinterest is currently generating more referral traffic than any other social media site. A good picture catches a reader’s attention and encourages people to click on your link, whether they see that picture on Pinterest or Facebook or elsewhere. Pictures also make it easy for readers to skim your post quickly and, as the old saying goes… a picture is worth a thousand words.
3. Participate in Contests and Giveaways
Contests are very popular across the blogosphere these days. Many blogs are teaming together to bring big prizes to their readers. Readers follow the participating blogs to enter the contest. This is a great way to build your blog by gaining huge numbers of followers (after that, it’s up to you to connect with those followers and keep them around).
My tip: find contests that fit your blog and will attract the sort of readers you want.
Not every giveaway has to be worth hundreds of dollars or provide a huge, drool-worthy prize. You can also give away the last book you reviewed or a gift card for a free coffee or smaller prizes. Many companies will offer you a product discount for your readers; your readers may come back knowing that they can find coupons and freebies on your site. Test out different types of giveaways and contests and see what your readers respond best to.
4. Join Blog Groups or Communities
There are a variety of blog groups and communities where bloggers can support and promote each other. Find one that fits you (and your blog niche) and start participating. Here you can gain advice from a wide group of bloggers, ask questions about specific hurdles you face in building your blog, and share your experience as well. I’ve learned so much lately from the Canucks Bloggers Network. I also participate in a couple other Facebook groups for bloggers.
Tailwind’s Tribes is another place to find bloggers who are supporting each other. While there’s less chitchat here, other bloggers will repin your posts (and you’ll see what they are creating) so it’s a win-win for everyone.
5. Blog Regularly
For me, blogging regularly means a schedule and having a schedule has actually made me more productive on my blog. If the idea of a schedule scares you, just make sure you are posting on a roughly regular basis—don’t post every day for a week and then post nothing for the next week. I’ve gone from blogging when I feel like it to blogging on MWF to blogging daily and back to MWF.
Since I know when I want to publish a post, I now plan posts about a month in advance and write them about one or two weeks in advance. If I have a great idea, I write it and schedule it to post on a suitable date—whether that’s tomorrow or two weeks away. This also helps me schedule sponsored posts, as I can write them in my schedule and make sure that I publish them on time.
6. Guest Blog to Build Your Blog
Both guest blogging for other bloggers and hosting guest bloggers on your own site are a great way to increase traffic to your blog and to build relationships with other bloggers. By writing posts for other bloggers, you create links back to your own blog from theirs and get seen by new readers. By hosting guest bloggers, you offer new content to your own readers and get traffic from your guest blogger, who’ll spread the word that they are blogging at your blog. Win win for everyone.
7. Promote Yourself!
As an introverted writer type, I find it very hard to promote myself and my blog. If you talk to me in person, I might never mention my blog unless you asked me directly, “What do you do?” However, promoting your blog is a big part of building your blog. Don’t just promote your blog online; promote it in your real life circles as well.
Always keep business cards in your purse to hand out to anyone who asks you about your blog—acquaintances at church, the store clerk at the grocery store, that mom at the playground who asks you about homeschooling, etc.
Another great way to promote your blog is through customized stickers. Everyone loves stickers and they are easy to create. You can use your logo and blog name to create stickers to give away to readers (especially if you are mailing out lots of giveaways or other products). Or you could create stickers based on your blog niche. If you’re a food blogger, create some stickers with food tips or measurement hacks. If you’re a mom blogger, create some stickers with inspiration quotes or encouragements.
8. Optimize Your Posts for Search Engines
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is vitally important to your blog. This is not my strong point. I’m a writer; I’m great at writing posts and telling stories. Having to make sure that my posts will be discovered by search engines (such as Google and Pinterest) is a bit harder for me, but it’s worth taking the extra time to go back through your posts and do the SEO.
I highly recommend buying the Yoast Premium Plugin and using it. They have tons of great tutorials on their website for you to read and follow as you figure out SEO. The plugin is basically a checklist that goes through your post to make sure you’ve used a keyword, included it in your titles and alt text, etc. It’s a great start for SEO, but for the plugin to work, you need to make sure you are choosing good keywords.
This is where keyword research comes in. Again, I like to pick a topic and just write, not spend a bunch of time deciding exactly what to call my topic or how to write about it. You can do keyword research before or after writing your post. I found the Sticky SEO course very helpful for figuring out how to do keyword research and then implementing that into my posts. I don’t follow every step in every post that I write, but her process is definitely worth it for rocking SEO.
And just a note… SEO is way more important than social media because on social media, the algorithm is constantly changing. Most of my traffic comes to me from Google or Pinterest, not from social media. If you have a choice between putting your time into building your social media channel and researching SEO, go with the SEO. It’s a better long-term strategy for building your blog.
9. Content is King
You’ve probably heard this piece of advice before. It’s true. If you want readers, you must give them good content. This means writing well (good spelling and grammar) as well as writing about interesting topics. I’ve been surprised at times by what posts on my blog are popular. At the same time, I can learn from those posts and create more content on that topic for my readers.
As a newer blogger, one of your biggest hurdles will be creating new content for your blog. I was on my way to BlogHer14 when I ran into another blogger in the airport. As we chatted in line at the coffee shop, blog traffic came up. I mentioned how often I blogged (a couple times per week). She said if I wanted to increase my traffic, I needed to increase how often I posted. Soon after that, I participated in a daily writing challenge for October and saw my traffic grow. More posts means more reasons for readers to come to your blog, as well as more chances to be found by search engines, which means more traffic.
10. Be Yourself in Building Your Blog
Yes, you can do everything else I’ve suggested—things that have worked for me and for other bloggers—but you must still be yourself. While there are times when I am jealous of other bloggers for their followers or their ability to write with great humour or the experiences they can share with their readers, I also recognize that each of the bloggers I follow is unique. I keep going back to their blogs because I like their voice, their perspective, their opinions. So learn from the bloggers you admire, but be yourself.
Want MORE? Check out my Recommended Resources for Bloggers!
If you are a blogger, what has been the best piece of advice you’ve received for building your blog? If you are a blog reader, what do you like to see in a blog?
Great tips! btw, I found your post through Pinterest, so the ‘adding images to your posts’ tip is definitely good 🙂
great post. I’m a new blogger so I’m soaking up as much info as possible. I’m excited to put them into action
ALL great tips!! Only thing I have not done is participate in memes or link ups.
These tips were so useful…I’ve bookmarked them for regular review.
Thanks from a hungry (relatively) new blogger.
Peace and good to you.
These are all great tips. Thanks for sharing!
Great tips, Bonnie. As a new blogger myself these are helpful. I like the idea of a blog community and actually found your post through SITS Girls.
I found you through SITS and I’m now following you with GFC, Twitter, Google+ and liked your page on FB!
I really liked your top 10. It was well thought out and gave more information than other blogs that I recently read on this same topic.
I love writing and communicating and that is why I blog.
Have a great week!
Tina – mom of 4, author and blogger of 5 blogs
Thank you for this list 🙂 I have a blog that is only about 3 months old and I wanna see it grow big and strong!
How did you get the set up with the tabs on top of your blog to organize it?
Hi there – I have a WordPress blog, and the tabs at the top is a big reason why I switched from Blogger to WordPress. WordPress allows better organization of your blog, which makes it easier for people to browse your site. The tabs at the top are simply part of my WordPress theme, though I can customize where the tabs link to and how many tabs are there. 🙂
I’m certainly no expert, but I decided several things early on: 1) lots of pictures, especially pertinent to the post; 2)stick with my general niche so I’m not all over the place…then ppl will know what you do & whether you ought to fit their expectations; 3)be both selective & honest. I do product reviews and I will not take just anything and review it. It needs to fit with my niche. I am honest, even painfully honest, about what I review. Why would someone care to follow you as a reviewer if they know you are a sell-out who gives pansy reviews just to get freebies!?!
Those are great tips! Sounds like you’re going in the right direction with your blog. 🙂
thanks! Still new at all of this! trying to balance reading and learning from others without neglecting my own writing! thanks for the links, will be checking them out! Blessings!
great Links…truly helpful points…still very new at this and easily overwhelmed by the amount of time I can spend just reading others blogs that I fail to keep up with my own writing!
Thanks again, very helpful!
Great tips. One of the things that brings the most traffic to my blog is interacting with other blogs and with my own followers.
All such great tips!
Thank you so much for this very helpful advice! 🙂
Great tips to keep in mind for a new blogger (like Me). Thanks – visiting from SITS.
This was great! You have good tips that we should remember. I have a hard time doing all of those things, but if we can hit 5 or more, I think we’re doing pretty good!
I would say that the best tip I’ve heard is to not get frustrated when your blog doesn’t have a million followers in 3 days. It takes time. If you look at the big blogs, like ProBlogger, you will see that these people have at least a few years into their blog. The entire thing is a learning process. The longer you do it, the better you get. Just keep working at it and everything will fall into place!
Great advice. Thank you.
Found this through SITS Girls. Fabulous advice. I use social media multiple blogger communities and they have sent many, many, MANY wonderful “readers” my way. I use “readers” because they actually read, comment, and enjoy!! Find a community that you love and be active!!!
This really is a wonderful post!
I’m bad about blogging irregularly… really should work on that!
This is some great advice. Thanks for sharing. I’m still working on promoting my blog. It certainly won’t promote itself!
Thank you so much so these tips! Hopefully they will help me out a lot, as I’m a new blogger myself.
Great post! I’m glad to see that I’ve used just about all of these tips in growing my blog and do you know what? It’s working!
The best tip I headr was to include a little byline under your blog title so people know what to expect. That seems so obvious to me now but at the time I was just so stunned I had never thought of it!!
Great tips, thanks for sharing.
This has been so great to read. I think giving comments on a post you really like is important. Bloggers, I believe, love to from other bloggers. I have made some wonderful friends, because of this.
This post was so great, because I recently decided that I want to be a better blogger and build my blog. I closed down my family blog and am focusing on my passion, design.
I have found a wonderful group of friends blogging. My numbers are slowly rising and that’s ok. The friends I have been making are priceless and they make my day! Have a wonderful Sunday and thank you for sharing your tips :)Love to learn from others!
I think another great tip is deciding your niche….I’m still struggling with this one and probably will forever.
My favourite is definitely being yourself. It’s the only you can stay consistent.
The best advice I ever received is to simply surrender to the experience and enjoy it.
Have a great day.
Iris – read other bloggers. I found out about one contest through another blogger whom I regularly read. Others I’ve found out about through my blog group. As for blog groups… look on Facebook or talk to other bloggers you know. Good luck! 🙂
I would love to participate in contest but do not find any and where can I find Blog groups and communities to join?
Came from Top Ten Linkup
This is an incredibly helpful and inspirational article. Thank you for generously sharing hints and tips which I’m going to try to incorporate in my own blogging attempts.
Great tips!! Joining blogging groups has been a great help for me!
Christine – definitely. I’ve done a lot of that throughout my blogging years. 🙂 I know I always appreciate comments on my blog, so I try to give that back when I visit other blogs.
Rachel – yes, readers are savvy. They know when you are telling the truth. 🙂
Jennifer – awww! It’s definitely easier to learn from others’ mistakes than from our own. 🙂
I wish I would have had this a couple of months ago, still stuff I need to learn here, but surly would have had a lot less headaches had I seen this earlier!
Love pictures in a blog and your comment about being yourself. I think readers can see through those unnatural posts and it makes your blog seem disjointed.
Such great tips. I think also leaving genuine comments on other people’s posts is a great way to build relationships with other bloggers. A small, regular, loyal following turns into something bigger down the road. 🙂
Quality over quantity. A long time over a one night stand 🙂
I would agree with Angie. Having a network of other bloggers to encourage you and cross promote your writing is key. Great thoughts!
Insane Mamacita – this is why I take my own pictures. I’ve started using my camera way more since becoming aware of how much a picture adds to a blog post. Be creative. 🙂
Mama vs. the boys – I agree that a unique voice for a blog is a necessity in all the voices out there today. 🙂
Sheri – excellent tips. I use giveaways sparingly on my blog. I think the content is more important than the contest, but I do think that contests can sometimes be a great way to put your content in front of a new audience.
Great tips! I would add that giveaways are great if that’s the direction you want your blog to go. I started my blog doing lots of them, and when I grew tired of them and backed off I lost a lot of readers, which was discouraging. I wish I would have focused more on content and gaining “readers” rather than “contestors” right from the beginning so I didn’t see a drop in readership.
Over the top 10 linky. Thanks for the great tips!
I have always treating blogging as a business, from day 1. Having that mindset and taking myself and what I do seriously has helped me to have some great blogging success. Great post!
Such a great post for newbies and for those of us veterans – Sometimes we need reminding!
great post, especially ‘Be Yourself’ so often we have the pressure to do what every one else is doing but it’s more important to do what feels right to you and it gives your blog a unique voice
I need to start using more pictures in my posts but I am scared of the whole copyright issue. It is so difficult to find the original source sometimes. And yes, the royalty-free sites are quite annoying. There are usually so few choices available on them (or at least the ones I have found).
Take your own pictures and use picMonkey to add words or banners. It’s a great free site.
@Angie – great advice. I recently found the Canucks Blogger Network and that has made a huge difference in my blogging.
@Michy – I take most of my own pictures or don’t use them (see my recent Sirach post). On very rare occasions, when I do use a picture from online, I leave a link below the picture to the source (https://thekoalamom.com/2012/04/ereaders-vs-print-books.html). For a post like this one, I use Picmonkey to create the image I want. There are also some site that offer royalty-free photos, but I find them annoying. Thanks for visiting!
Popping over from top ten linky.
Great post well written.
I’m a fairly new blogger (just did a top ten a few weeks ago on my tips http://www.lovingourjourney.com/2012/06/05/top-ten-new-blogger-tips/)…but this was wonderful! I learned sooo much and visited almost every link you left. A question–where do you get your images from? I’ve used Microsoft Word Online (or my own photos)…but not sure what is “legit”? Any advice??
I like your idea of posting on odd days. I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle my blogging time and get more time to write than read. (However I’ve spent a lot of time on your site this a.m. being worth it!!)
The best thing I ever did for my blogging life was to start a small, private group of bloggers to network with, get support from, etc. It was really online life changing for all of us.