For more on how to make the most of your blogging experience, check out the articles below.
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So You Started a Blog (Part Two)
5 Steps to Increase Your Blog's Visibility and Have Fun Doing It
When we last met in “So You Started a Blog… (Part One),” I talked through the basics of setting up your blog and getting started. Today, let’s walk through five simple steps to build the presence of your blog and make blogging a treat rather than a chore.
Step One: Give the People What They Want, When They Want It
This may seem a bit obvious, but if you’re writing a blog, you should be writing with your end audience in mind. For example, my blog, Editor Says, promises “answers to your writing and publishing questions.” I know folks would rather read publishing information there than the latest escapades of my two very cute and charming kittens. If they wanted a blog about kittens, they would visit the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee (seriously, check it out).
Beyond the basic genre of your blog, some research paired with trial and error can point out the specific content your readers are interested in. WordPress has an awesome “Stats” feature in which you can see how each post performs, which in turn can help you provide the right kind of material. One of my posts about the acquisitions process earned me nearly four times as many views and shares as a post that was essentially a rant about the importance of grammar (IT IS IMPORTANT!). So I learned a little bit about what content readers connected with most.
In addition to the what of your post is the when. Traditional blogging wisdom says mornings are often the best time to post. Some people swear by a certain day of the week as well, citing weekends as lower traffic and the Monday–Wednesday range as best. Through a little testing, I found that the rules held up—I get most of my views on Tuesday between 6 a.m. and noon. Figuring out when posting works for you is as much a science as an art, so check out this cool infographic for more details.
Step Two: Post, Post, Post!
Before I launched my blog, I made sure I had several posts lined up and ready to go. I didn’t want users coming to the site and seeing just one measly blurb on the screen. So when you get started, plan to have content from available from day one so you are stepping out with your best foot forward.
From there, establish a regular posting schedule, whether that’s once a day, once a week, or once a month. Most folks will say that once or twice a week is a sweet spot for many bloggers. The frequency with which you post depends on your type of blog, but be cautious that you aren’t posting so often that you’re overwhelming your readers or so seldom that you go unnoticed.
If you can help it, avoid any lengthy gaps in delivery of your content, such as going MIA for three months. We all know life can sometimes get in the way, but we also know that our society moves so quickly that blogs and sites can get lost if they aren’t updated.
Step Three: Share Your Words with the World
If you are just starting out and don’t have a ton of followers (more on that below), your best bet for getting traffic to your blog is by sharing your posts on social media.
Facebook is a great avenue, especially because the site offers that handy “preview” of the blog with an image and the little blurb of text. Twitter can be even better since you can hashtag your way onto your potential readers’ feeds. Each day of the week has its own special name on Twitter (e.g. #MondayBlog, #TuesdayBookBlog, etc.), and you can narrow down further with tags like #forwriters, supposing your blog is intended for writers, of course.
*A note: update your social media profiles to include a link to your blog. You can also add it to email signatures and other digital locations.
*A second note: make sure you have your social links readily available on your blog so folks can connect with you there too!
Step Four: Gain Followers the Old-Fashioned Way
In addition to sharing your posts with the hope of converting social readers into followers, you can also go about getting followers the way people did before the Twitter takeover.
The easiest way to do this is to read, interact with, and follow other blogs in your genre. That way you become a visible presence to the online community you want to reach, and if you are a contributing and clever member of other sites, people will want to hear more of what you have to say. Don’t expect to go follow-for-follow on blogs, or that each time you comment on someone else’s post you’ll gain a new reader, but know that you’re working toward building a solid and committed following.
*A third note: also make sure your blog is easy to follow on your site. A lot of folks won’t want to go through a ten-step email sign-up process, so if you can make following a one-click function, you’ll be more likely to get folks engaged.
Step Five: Set Goals and Milestones
Alas, we can’t all become world-famous, book-deal-getting bloggers overnight. So set goals for each stage of your blog: first month, first six months, first year, etc. How many followers do you want to have? How many views? How many comments? When you reach your milestones, look back at what worked and what didn’t, and put that knowledge into reaching your next goal.
Be realistic and manage expectations, but also push yourself to reach whatever objectives are in your path. There are so many useful articles and sites out there to help make your blog better, so keep on reading and trying new things! For a few helpful resources, check out the links in the sidebar.
Not sure what you want to accomplish just yet? Check out this extensive list of targets you can reach with your own blogging: 101 Different Blogging Goals to Help Grow Your Blog.
BONUS! Step Six: Have Fun
Write what you are passionate about, and blogging will be something you always enjoy doing. Thinking about audience and metrics is important, but so is creating content you are proud of and that matters to you. Don’t judge your work against that of others, but instead keep putting yourself out there and giving the world your voice. Never in history have we been in such a renaissance of writing and reading and sharing words, so if there was ever a good time to blog, it’s now.
I’ll say it again: write what you love. It’s that simple.
Jillian Bergsma Manning is a contributing editor for Independent Publisher. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English. She welcomes any questions or comments on her articles at jbergsma (at) bookpublishing.com. Follow her at @LillianJaine.