Wednesday 16 March 2016

Blogging tips for beginners (part II) - how to grow your audience?

Hey, lovelies! It's time for part two of the series dedicated to blogging tips (make sure you check out part one here!). Again, I don't consider myself to be an expert when it comes to blogging, but I thought it might be helpful to share a few things I've learned over the past few months. Today's post will focus on growing your audience through connecting with other blogs. Hope you enjoy!

Before I started Shoes and Glitter, I had a blog dedicated to perfume reviews called Aromantics (pic below). The content itself wasn't too terrible, but it only ever got a couple of pageviews per day, and zero comments. After about three months of running it, I was too disappointed with the lack of traffic and decided to disable the blog. It took me a while to figure out where I went wrong - I tried to make my reviews as good as possible, and even invested money in a premium blog template. Eventually, I realised that I completely neglected what's probably the most important part of blogging - the social aspect. I did nothing to help my blog gain exposure, and didn't make any effort to connect with other people and encourage them to visit my blog. I thought that posting on its own was enough, but the truth is, getting any recognition at all requires a lot of effort and patience.

With the amount of new blogs being created every day, you have to be prepared to go that extra mile and really put yourself out there to build your traffic. You could write the best, most engaging posts; but if no one knows about your blog, your reader base will be limited, and your blog will be unable to reach its full potential. It's unlikely that new readers will just come and find your blog. Exposure is key to growing your audience, and you can achieve it through connecting with fellow bloggers and readers.

Commenting on other blogs is probably the easiest way to engage with other bloggers and gain exposure. My usual routine is to re-visit every blogger that's commented on my two most recent posts, catch up with their site and leave a comment. It's a relatively time-consuming process, which typically takes me about five to six hours. I like to dedicate an entire day to it, but that's because I genuinely enjoy visiting other blogs, and don't see it as a chore. You don't need to spend hours each day leaving comments, but I'd suggest trying to visit at least five to ten blogs a day. You will find that most people will return the favour and comment back, but don't be disappointed if that doesn't happen. I see commenting as a way of connecting and keeping in touch with my favourite bloggers, rather than something I do just to increase my own traffic. The blogging community is absolutely wonderful  - if you open yourself up to it, you will be surprised by how naturally it will help you grow your audience.

Another thing to note - I think it's important to always engage with others in a meaningful way. Don't go around leaving generic comments such as 'Great post!', or shameless self-promotion like 'I wrote this review and I'd love your opinion on it'. Honestly, nobody likes those. They add no value to anything, are counter-productive and make the blogger appear desperate and uninterested. If you don't have the time, or simply find the blog boring (which is totally okay, by the way), it's best to just skip commenting overall. I'm not saying that every single one of your comments needs to be an essay, but at least forming a full sentence will go a long way. If you want to build meaningful relationships with your potential readers, you need to make the effort and engage in an honest, friendly way.

Reaching out to your readers and getting involved in the online community is important (and fun!), especially if you're just getting started with your site. On my previous blog, Aromantics, I did nothing but post one review after another, pretending that the rest of the blogging world didn't exist. I was always a little too shy to reach out to anyone, but when I finally found the courage to try, I was surprised by how friendly the blogging community turned out to be. Don't be afraid to reach out to other bloggers and make yourself known - you will find that most people are incredibly friendly and happy to connect!

♥ Tags. Tags are a fun and easy way of getting involved in the blogging community. Personal tags such 50 Facts About Me are a good way of letting the readers get to know you, especially if you are just getting started with your blog. You may also enjoy doing a few 'nomination' tags, such as The Liebster Award and The Versatile Blogger Award - the aim of these is to help new blogs get more recognition, and connect with fellow bloggers. 
♥ Guest posts. Guest posts are a great way of building new relationships and increasing your blog exposure. Earlier in this post I mentioned the importance of 'putting yourself out there'. From a technical perspective, the more your name features on other blogs, the more exposure you'll get (which in turn, will help you grow your audience). If you're not interested in doing guest posts, you could always reach out to another blogger and offer a collab, where you both write a post about the same topic. 
♥ Mentions and shout-outs. If you are writing a post that's inspired by something you saw on another blog, or if you found an article that's helped you, don't be afraid to share it! Random shout-outs are a lovely gesture, and can really make someone's day. You could even write a post dedicated to some of your favourite bloggers to show your support. Being friendly goes a long way, but it's not about expecting anything in return. Being genuine, connecting with other bloggers and establishing new relationships will help you grow your blog in a very natural, effortless way. 

What are your favourite ways of engaging with fellow bloggers? Do you think it's important for a blogger to be sociable and connect with their readers? 


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