I received an underwhelming four views that first day, and had few hopes I would ever do much better than that. But here I am, still going, and I’m glad to say my initial skepticism has been proven wrong.
Week after week I’ve gotten more views, more feedback and more subscribers — and though my numbers are surely nothing by comparison to the big guys, I thought I’d take this one-month ‘anniversary’ post to offer some encouragement (and some advice) to bloggers just starting out.
New bloggers: No matter how slow things are at first, don’t quit; keep at it, follow this advice, and things will surely (though slowly) improve.
#1 Get Passionate
They say to write what you know; when it comes to blogging I would add “write what you love.” It will show through your writing when you do and your readers will appreciate your work more because of it. Even more importantly though, being passionate about your subject matter will ensure you never run out of things to say and never tire of saying them.
#2 Write Well
If you follow my first bit of advice, this one will take care of itself nine times out of ten. Passionate posts about things you care about, written in your own voice, tend to be the most fun for readers. But for that tenth time (and to polish up the other nine) you should be sure to take your time on your posts; give them a nice, logical flow, write them clearly, and weed out as many of the typos as possible.
Even though blogging isn’t always as formal as other forms of writing, it should still be easy (and entertaining) to read.
#3 Post Often
The first piece of advice also helps with this one because the fact is, the only way to build any kind of following is to post consistently. And if you’re going to post consistently, you’d better be having fun or it’ll get real old real fast.
Some people post three or four times a week; others post three or four times a day. I would recommend something in the middle. You should post enough that your readers know they can check back daily or nearly daily for new material, but not so often that your subscribers feel like they’re being inundated with dozens of one-paragraph emails every day.
#4 Engage the Community
Maybe the single best way to get people to come to your site is to go to their site, see what they have to say and then make meaningful comments in response. Key word: meaningful. Don’t just think of it as a means to drumming up readers for your blog, but as a way to give feedback to other writers like you, with similar interests. And if, like me, your blog is about creative writing, it’s a really good idea to take part in the myriad weekly challenges and fun writing prompts on offer throughout the blogosphere.
This past Friday I did my first post for the Friday Fictioneers (care of Madison Woods) and had the single best day to date on my site. Right now I’m working on my entry for The Seven Deadly Sins Series put together by k8edid. Again, it’s not just a way to get views, but a way to get feedback on your writing, check out the great stuff other bloggers have put together, and push your writing abilities — all at the same time.
#5 Share the Love
While Facebook and Twitter may be obvious ways to get your site out there, they’re not the only ways. You can also make thoughtful posts on forums that discuss your topic or sign up for blog sharing sites like BlogInteract or Blokube. Different sites are better for different types of content, so there will be some trial and error here, but it’s definitely worth checking them out as another step toward engaging the community and increasing your site’s visibility.
#6 Don’t Stress
Finally, know now that there will be good days and bad days, great days and abysmal days. Some days you may find yourself with a hundred views on your blog, while others you may find yourself plunged back into the single digits. If you obsess over the numbers, you’ll soon become frustrated with the slow days and the constant up and down, so instead just enjoy posting and keep the numbers in the back of your mind.
Sometimes there will seem to be no explanation for the fluctuations in your readership, but more often than not you’ll be able to glean helpful lessons even from your off days. Low readership may mean you’re not writing about what you’re best at or what your usual readers are interested in; it may provide clues as to the best times of day to publish your post and the kinds of posts that do or don’t do well on Facebook and Twitter.
The point is to look at you numbers, try to analyze them, and then forget them altogether.
So that’s my advice, even though I’m essentially still a beginner myself. If you’ve just started, and if the future doesn’t seem bright for your blog just yet, be persistent.
Forget about the numbers and write about the things you love; have some fun, post consistently, and get to know your blogging neighbors (hi, neighbor!). When that’s done, then you can check back in with the numbers.
It’s a safe bet things will be looking up in a month.