Please welcome Shannon Lawrence!
When you first sign up to blog, you may think that readers will find you, that the precious words you slave over and put out there with a flourish will find an audience immediately. You might expect some instant comments, some prompt followers. Oh man, you’re going to blow up Google Friend Connect! Heck, your post could go viral, right? Re-posted on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, you name it.
What you get instead? Crickets.
Chirp, chirp, chirp.
The hardest part about blogging, at least in the beginning, isn’t writing those posts or setting up your blog. No, it’s reaching an audience. And what are most of us in this blogging business for? Speaking to people. Meeting other people. Networking. Platform. Whatever the reason, it will usually have something to do with an expectation of someone, somewhere, reading your blog.
The truth of the matter is that it takes time to build up a blog readership. To do so, you have to be reaching out to others, reading and commenting, in addition to maintaining your own blog. Blogging is a form of social media, and the most important part of that title is “social,” at least in this instance.
The keys to building your readership are patience, perseverance and networking. Patience, because it will take time. You can’t expect to pick up one hundred followers in your first week. Or month, even. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged as you wait to see those numbers going up.
Perseverance goes hand in hand with patience, but it also means you need to keep putting out quality content, whether you’re getting zero comments or thirty. It may feel like you’re talking to yourself sometimes (or all the time), but pretend you’re talking to a crowd of thousands. Don’t lower the quality of your work because you’re not getting anything back on it.
Instead, get to networking. Seek out those readers. Get out there and let people know you’re here, and that you’ve got something to say. Something they want to hear.
First, put blog links out on your various other forms of social media. When you post a blog, put a link out on your Facebook page, your Twitter, your Google+, and wherever else you may have a social presence. Even better, set your blog up on Networked Blogs and have it automatically link to your new posts on Facebook and Twitter. You want to make it as easy as possible for others to find you.
Next, visit blogs you enjoy reading and comment. Follow them, if you’re so inclined. Chances are, they will come check out your blog in response to your comment. Make sure that you’re leaving real, quality comments, though. Actual discourse on what was posted about. Try to say something of value. If you consistently leave lackluster comments, there is a good chance you won’t get that visit from the other blogger.
Be friendly and reach out. That is what is going to earn you readers and, ultimately, followers. Even better, you’ll find that it becomes all about the relationships you forge, not trying to get followers, and that is when you’ll see the numbers going up. Only, it won’t matter quite so much anymore when that happens, because you’ll be too busy making friends in the blogging community.
An extension of reaching out is to be sure to participate in memes and blog hops. There is no better way to meet a bunch of people all at once, and there is a good chance you’ll gain some followers from it. Even better, you’ll be given a theme. I don’t know about you, but I work better under deadlines and I love prompts. A blog hop will provide these for you, as well as increased traffic for a day. Do be sure to only sign up for those you have time for, and that you are interested in.
Finally, maintain the relationships you’ve made. Respond to comments made on your own blog then visit them back at theirs. You can respond via email or directly on your blog; it doesn’t matter which you choose, as everyone will have their own preference for it anyway. Just be sure that you’re letting people know you’re paying attention to them, too, and that you value the relationship forged.
Everyone wants to make connections, to hear and be heard. You’ll find that people want to enjoy your content, that they’re happy to discover a new blog, and that they want to get to know you. Give them that opportunity.
Thank you Shannon!
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See you all on Friday for the Oh, How I Miss You blogfest!