Monday, February 28, 2011

How to Grow Your Blog

When you start a brand new blog, it can be tricky trying to figure out how to get more traffic coming your way.  You may sit there and think, "I'm sharing great ideas here, but my mom and husband are the only ones who see them!"  It's hard to want so much to share, but not have an audience. 

So today I'm going to spread the love a little and give you a few ideas for ways to grow your blog without feeling like a nuisance.  The ideas I'm sharing today are in no particular order and definitely are not a comprehensive list, so if you have additional blog-growing ideas, feel free to share them in the comments.  

Oh, and I guess I should also say that the things I'm about to share mostly apply to creative blogs, but some of the ideas below (like linking up your e-mail) can be applied to any style of blog.

Submit your tutorials to a round-up style blog
Some of my favorite roundup or "searchable" blogs are One Pretty Thing and UCreate.  Both of these blogs are sites that feature multiple tutorials each day.  They do a lot of work searching out great tutorials, but both sites also welcome reader submissions via e-mail.

I've had quite a bit of personal experience e-mailing Rachel of One Pretty Thing and I can tell you that she is nothing if not super nice.  I haven't yet had any personal experience with Kari on UCreate, but I hear she's super awesome and nice too.  While neither of these sites share every single tutorial sent their way, they do feature a lot of them.  Yours might be next!

Promote yourself through Flickr groups
Most of the blogs you read every day probably have Flickr groups.  Flickr is a photosharing site where multiple users can upload photos to their own profile or into groups they join.  If there's a blog you've made something from using one of their tutorials (or even if it's just something you've made that was inspired by something you saw there) upload pictures of your finished project and post one or two pictures to their Flickr group.

And if you're hoping that this will increase traffic to your blog, go ahead and give a brief description of what's in your photo and then write something like, "Blogged about it here..." with a link to your blog post talking more about what you did.  Many bloggers will do round-ups of photos from their Flickr groups and share the things you've made.  Give it a try!

And even if you're not featured in a round up, sharing pictures in the Flickr groups of your favorite blogs is a great way to say "Thank you" for all the work they did in sharing the tutorial with you in the first place.  Bloggers love nothing more than seeing that what they've shared is useful to and loved by somebody else.

Link your e-mail to your Blogger profile
You're a nice person.  You leave happy, encouraging comments on the blog posts you enjoy.  So why don't you ever get a nice reply back from the authors of those blogs?

Chances are, the people who write those blogs would love to reply to the nice comments you leave... but they can't!  If you haven't linked up your e-mail address to your Blogger profile, there may not be an easy way to get in contact with you.  If you'd like to change that, do the following:

  • Go to your blog and sign in.
  • Click on "customize" up at the top.
  • Click on "Dashboard" up at the top.
  • Click on "Edit Profile" (second option down next to your profile picture).
  • Check the box (third line down) that says "Show my email address."
  • Scroll down a little.
  • Make sure your e-mail address is entered in in the "Identity" section.
  • Scroll all the way down to the bottom.
  • Click "Save Profile."

Most bloggers use e-mail reply to respond to questions you may ask in a comment or simply to say "Thanks!" for the kind words you leave.

But being accessable to other bloggers can also be a fun way to network and get to know others in the blogging world.  And having bloggy friends can open up a lot of doors to you that you didn't even know existed.

Also, I'll just add this since I know a lot of you are thinking it.  If you're worried about your e-mail suddenly getting clogged with spam, you're probably worrying about something that isn't going to happen.  While I do have a few friends (although most of them have smaller blogs--go figure) who have problems with spam comments and other possibly blog-related spam, I've never had a problem with it and I've been blogging since 2008.  So if that's the only thing holding you back from making these fun connections, I'd say give it a try and see how it goes.  Chances are, you won't have any problems.

Edited to add: As per popular request in the comments (okay, so maybe it was just my mom) , you can see the link to my feelings on the good karma of leaving comments HERE.

Be a guest
Okay, we all see people "guest blogging" on another blog all the time, right?  But how do they get asked to guest blog in the first place?  Well, chances are, a lot of those opportunties to guest blog are coming from people they've made friends with over time.  And likely that's because they're open for e-mails and leave lots of nice comments themselves.  But every now and then you may see people open up their blog for reader-submitted blog posts/tutorials.  When you see an opportunity like this--jump on it!  Even if you don't think you're cool enough (I think we all think that--haha) just give it a try.  Read their directions carefully and do what's required to submit your post/idea/tutorial and see what happens!  The worst that can happen is that they'll say no.  But they might jut say yes!

One open invitation opportunity that I know is going on right now is on Helping Little Hands.  Polly (my big sister) who runs Helping Little Hands is having Reading Month in March and has invited any who wish to participate to submit their idea for a reading activity via e-mail.  Guest posts included in Reading Month will get a quick blurb on Polly's blog, but the actual post/tutorial will go up on your own blog.  This kind of guest post is the best for getting some new traffic to your blog.  If that's something you'd like to participate in, you can read more about it on Polly's blog HERE.  And, depending on how things fill up, she may even accept submissions during the month of March.  So give it a try!

Be yourself
 The very best thing you can do to promote your blog is to be yourself.  The best blogs around are the ones written by people who love what they do and love to share it.  You don't have to do what's trendy or follow a regular format in order to have a successful, growing blog.  Just be yourself and those who share your style--the kind of readers you really want--will come and stay.

 Best wishes in all you're working for!  Having a blog and sharing with others can be so rewarding.  You'll do great!


Polly @ Pieces by Polly said...

Hey Katie...thanks for the shout out about the Read-Along. And I have to laugh a little...because my husband rarely reads my blog...but my mom does.

Julie Rosenhan said...

Thanks for the good ideas Katie. I'm going to put some of these into practice and see what happens.

Kathy Haynie said...

One idea you didn't mention is leaving comments on other people's blogs when you enjoy their posts. You wrote a very thoughtful post about that not too long ago, and it was a great idea. What a nice way to share blog friendship and support, and also to let other people know who you are.

Carol said...

Giveaways get you out there too! I've been raving about your lovely button giveaway over at my space

Happy Monday!

Sarah said...

Oh how I love that last picture of you Katie friend... good times!

Rebecca Scott (aka Otter) said...

Thank you for all the advice. I JUST set up a blog for the first time and I feel as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking-chairs. I know getting followers takes a long time to build and I'm willing to be patient (I haven't got much up yet anyway though I have a TON of new ideas to try) but it's nice to know these little tips and tricks. I shall mark this spot and come back to it once I've got more in my blog worth sharing. :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this post! Great ideas, haven't heard of these tips before and glad to try a new approach. I hope you don't mind but I pinned this article on Pinterest since it's so handy and a great resource. Thanks again for sharing! :))