When I asked last month on the MMD facebook page what you all wanted to know about blogging, I got a lot of questions about growing your blog. Getting comments. Increasing pageviews.
I understand. When I began blogging, these questions were at the top of my list, too.
And it wasn’t because I cared a lot about numbers, or because I cared (much) what people thought. But I have found that the most satisfying aspect of blogging–for me and countless other bloggers-is the relationships formed online. And it’s hard to find relationships online if no one’s reading your blog. Personally, I’ve found blogging to be worthwhile for its own sake: I love the process of taking the thoughts out of my head and putting them down on paper (or a computer screen). But it’s the engagement that makes the whole thing sing.
So how do you get there?
I am not an expert. I’ve only been at this thing for a little over a year. But I can tell you what’s worked for me–and I’m confident that you can do it, too. In my experience, the key has been to…
Make friends online.
I’ve racked up 18 months or so of blogging wisdom–which isn’t a lot. But it’s long enough for me to know that the key to my personal blogging happiness has been the relationships I’ve built online. And I’ve made those relationships in 3 ways:
An easy way to make some friends online is to comment on other blogs. I know the common recommendation is to make friends with bloggers “in your niche,” but I didn’t think the niche I was aiming for was well-established when I started blogging. I wasn’t sure it even existed. So instead, I just committed to regularly reading–and commenting on–blogs I liked.
I didn’t really read blogs before I started blogging myself. Some of my first internet finds were Moxie Wife (f/k/a Betty Beguiles), Already Pretty, and Simple Mom’s network. I hung out on those established blogs as I was figuring out how this whole blogging thing worked, and I commented on them–regularly. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was thrilled when they all linked to me at about the same time. I remember how excited I was on those days! Those links–and the readers they sent over–gave me the traction I needed to establish a regular readership and consistent engagement: the things that make blogging worthwhile.
When I started blogging, I relied heavily on carnivals to drive traffic to my blog and build a readership. My favorites were the Works For Me Wednesday carnival hosted at We Are That Family and 7 Quick Takes hosted at Conversion Diary, because the readers were smart, literary-minded, and likely to enjoy my blog. I got tons of visitors from those carnivals, and many of them stuck around.
I’ve learned a few lessons about carnivals: a catchy title is important. Early linkers get more traffic. And blog-hoppers won’t come back unless the content is interesting. If you play by these rules, a good carnival can drive a lot of traffic to your blog–for the long-term.
Social media can also drive lots of traffic to your blog. In my experience, facebook helps you connect with your readers, Pinterest brings in lots of browsers, and twitter helps you form new–and often lasting–relationships. I was a latecomer to Twitter: I only connected late last summer, and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. If you want to form new relationships, don’t wait: get yourself on twitter.
I know twitter can be overwhelming to new users, but it doesn’t need to be. Just set up an account and wade in slowly. Becky at Weaving Influence has created a 31 days of Twitter Tips Ebook, and she’s offering it for free during the month of August. I highly recommend you go pick up your free copy now, and work through it at your leisure.
Now that I’ve shared how I got started online, would you share how you got your start in comments?