Hello, friends. I hope 2012 is treating you well and that you’ve been able to stick with whatever resolutions you’ve made so far. As you can imagine, I’m doing a great job sticking to mine!
I was recently approached by a bloggy friend, Hannah Tyler of Insomniac Mom (well worth a visit, I assure you!), about how to take her blog to the next level. I was flattered and pleased; I never considered myself an expert on this, but since it seems to just keep getting better over here, I guess I can share what I know. As I wrote yesterday, I highly recommend you advertising here at Rub Some Dirt On It, but besides that, there are several ways that I’ve been able to increase my readership and take this blog from a digital baby book of my kids’ lives to an outlet for me to celebrate my journey as a mother and photographer. I made this decision almost exactly a year ago, but it took some preparation to get RSDOI’s game face on. Things to consider:
Do you have any? Are you prepared to share it all, regardless of how it may make people in your life feel? Is your family on board with this new transition or would they prefer to be kept out of it? Are you going to use real names and places, or aliases? My original blog was like a treasure map for kidnappers to come and snag my beautiful children: here are our full names, the town where we live, and the places we hang out on a regular basis. Please come by and introduce yourself while you are secretly plotting your kidnapping. Not something everyone has to worry about, but definitely something to consider. If you are taking your blog public and promoting the hell out of it, your personal information will be everywhere. Are you prepared for that?
Okay, now that you’ve committed to sharing all your deep, dark secrets and innermost thoughts, you may begin your wild ride to bloggy fame. The number one way to do that is through being as completely honest as possible, so that people feel like they can connect with you and that you can understand where they’re coming from. My posts with the most feedback are the ones when I say things like, I can’t do it all and I feel like a terrible wife/friend/mother/blogger because those are the ones when people respond and say, You’re not alone! Thank you for saying that because I thought I was the only one! And once you realize all that, then the rest will come naturally. Exhaustingly, but naturally.
So without further ado, here are some ways to rock 2012 in all your bloggy glory:
1. You have to try to post as often as possible (as close to every day as you can). People must come and stay for as long as possible, not arrive and see you haven’t written anything new and then bounce. Having people come and leave immediately isn’t great for your stats. Also, if they come often and you don’t have new material, they may not come back. So post at least 5x per week but try to do daily (which sucks because sometimes, there’s just not much to say!) but that way people will be more likely to bookmark you or follow you in some way to be sure they don’t miss out on the next brilliant thing you may share!
2. You have to make connections and not assume that other people are going to come find you. The best way to do that is to blog hop. If you go to my links and hops tab you’ll find a zillion places that I link up on a regular basis. Once I started really hopping I made a spreadsheet of where I try to go every day. You have to put yourself out there and link link link link. Then you have to comment like crazy. Don’t just link and run. The thing about blogs is that even though you may never meet these people, in a few weeks you can feel like best friends. Comment on other’s people’s links, follow who you like, then try to get back there a few times, comment, and establish a relationship. Also, if people comment on your blog, you should go back to their site and comment back. This becomes exhausting when your blog is bigger, but it’s a great way to start relationships. You’ll see that on a lot of “bigger” blogs, they’ll have a “blog roll” or “blogs I love” or “links” etc. so you can just start going to those, finding the ones that have link parties or blog hops, and start joining! I have one on Thursdays about what makes you happy; just start linking up there, commenting on those around you, and hopefully establish some new friendships!
3. Join blogging communities. My favorites are I Blog For Me (formerly For the Love of Blogs) and BlogHer, but there is many others like Bloggy Moms and Mom Bloggers Club. You have to do a lot of work posting there as well as your own sites, but it’s worth it. I would post, cut and paste it on those sites or join up to their hops. I have been featured on a few of them as well, and that was such a confidence booster. It makes you feel a little less like a teeny tiny tadpole in a humongous sea of bloggers. Recognition is food for the bloggy soul, so put yourself out there to be recognized!
4. Guest post. Anywhere you see someone ask, take them up on it. I have done two guest posts at A Taste of T (also fabulous and I highly recommend it!), and she had way more followers than me. She put my button up on her sidebar and people were paying her quite a bit to do so! I felt like I was being asked to sit at the cool table at lunch! Guest posting is like taking out free ad space; there is absolutely nothing to lose and so much to gain!
5. Social Media. Need I say more? I read somewhere that the first few years of blogging feel like “post, tweet, repeat,” and that really is a true statement. You can’t assume people are going to remember to come to your blog every day, so remind them! Google+, Facebook fan pages, Twitter, and Networked blogs are all a great avenue to share your updated information, not to mention all the other social media I haven’t had time to investigate (yet). My husband and I both syndicate my blog posts on our personal Facebook walls as well as my Facebook fan page, so people get a heck of a lot of reminders from me (if they haven’t hidden me yet!).
6. Like I said above, you can also advertise/sponsor another blog, like mine. You pay someone a small fee, and they put your button in their sidebar, post/tweet/facebook about you, and encourage people to head over to your site. Some people charge as much as $20/month or more. I charge $7. Something to consider if you want to get exposure to a lot of people quickly. Something doubly worth considering if you have an etsy shop and want to drive people that way.
That’s all I can think of right now, but I’m sure there are ways to drive traffic to your site that I haven’t even considered. If you know of some noteworthy methods, please feel free to comment! If not, realize that you have a long journey ahead of you, with many MANY long nights in your future, but once your blog has its sea legs, it’s smooth sailing from here. Maybe at this time next year you’ll be the one showing bloggy newbies the ropes! Cheers to that!