We’ve heard your requests for more informative blog posts, so we’re starting a series called Blogging 101. In this series, you’ll find how-to guides, information, and tips from other 20sb members who might call themselves experts on these subjects. If there’s a topic you’d like to see covered, please send a suggestion to email@example.com!
1. How did you establish your blog’s audience?
Lorraine: Above all else, I became an audience. I read other blogs. I started conversations. I found blogs that interested me and invested time in them, without expecting anything in return. Even if people hadn’t discovered my blog yet, they grew to learn my name, my avatar, my sense of humor. Those are things that will draw readers into a blog.
And yes it did work. People found their way over to my Internet space.
Jenn: I agree with Lorraine’s answer about becoming an audience. I’d also attribute a lot of my early audience to 20SB. The network was much smaller back then and everyone was eager to find and start reading new bloggers. There seemed to be an unspoken reciprocity where new commenters always received a return visit/comment.
Erini: A lot of it was through 20SB, like Jenn. There was such a tight-knit group back then and we all just seemed to click right away. I think that still happens on the site, small groups of people connect and you make some great friends as well as readers. I also have people who have found and stayed with my blog and I have no idea how this happened. I’m grateful for it though. You’ve got to be active in the blogging community if you want an audience.
Lacey: I used to literally open up blogs similar to mine that had a lot of comments, and would open each of those blogs individually to see if I wanted to follow them, and then would comment! A very convoluted way to gain new readers! But it worked, and I met new readers that way. And of course, 20SB!
2. What tools do you use to get your blog and posts out there?
Jenn: Currently I don’t do much promotion outside of tweeting new posts and occasionally sharing on Facebook.
Erini: My blog/brand has its own page on Facebook, and things automatically post there. Occasionally I’ll post something to my personal FB page. And I tend to tweet things out (and only once). That’s about it.
Lisa: I’d also add that it’s really important to make sure that people can easily find your RSS feed so that they can subscribe to your updates.
3. What has been the most beneficial experience or tool that has helped your blog?
Lorraine: I say this in the least self-promotional way, as I was a member of 20sb for a year before I was ever on the team, but: 20sb. Here you get to recommend yourself to strangers. You get to start conversations, find people with similar interests or senses of humor. People are less likely to click an impersonal link than they are to try to learn more about you if you made a particularly well thought-out argument or a witty statement on a forum.
Renee: I wrote very opinionated posts during the last US Presidential election (and still do regularly). I think being honest with who I am and what I’m passionate about, and being able to back my shit up, was really beneficial.
Jenn: Guest blogging. Branching outside of my blog and discussing a variety of topics not only gave me a chance to tackle ideas that I don’t share on my blog and hone my writing skills, but it also led to some paid writing gigs — which eventually turned into full-time jobs.
Lisa: I also thinking that reading lots of other blogs is important to developing your own writing style as well, just like many novelists are big readers. I definitely agree with Renee, though, that you need to find your own voice and your own style.
Lacey: The best tool is just to be yourself. I get a lot of compliments on my writing style, and that I “write like I speak”. Readers can relate to me because I don’t have a different writing voice than my usual banter.
4. How do you grow your readership?
Renee: I guest blogged on a few sites. In particular, I think my time as a Stratejoy blogger brought my blog a lot of readers I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Lisa: I think the get-readership-quick tactics (such as hosting a giveaway and giving double entries to people who tweet or blog about your promo) don’t really entice a lasting readership. The best way to get people who will keep coming back is one-by-one… when you read them and leave a comment, they’ll usually come back and read you.
Lacey: Definitely guest blogging. Giveaways will get you a few new readers like Lisa said, but most don’t last. You also want to make it easy for people to add your blog to their readers, by having an easily located RSS feed button or widget on your blog, or buttons to follow you/your blog on various social media sites.
Have a blogging question you’d like us to answer? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!