Knowing how to build a blog following is key for the long term success of your web business. Here we have highlighted 5 top tips that will help you develop a loyal and growing following
How To Build A Blog Following: Top Tips For Success
There are several key ingredients to a successful blog. On the face of it, a few of these are pretty self-explanatory: great content, original articles, a strong brand.
When it comes to your own website, there are a lot of things you can do to make sure all these elements work as well as possible. But underpinning all of these is one thing every blogger strives for: a strong, loyal following.
This raises an important issue – how to build a blog following. This can be a tricky question, particularly if you’re in the early stages of establishing a new website.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to encourage your readers to graduate from casual viewers to loyal advocates for your blog. In this article, we’ll break them down.
Top tip 1: The Golden Rule – Patience & persistence
Before we get into the thick of how to build a blog following, there’s something important to think about, which applies to pretty much everything else we’re going to cover in this guide.
We’re going to call it the ‘golden rule’ (possibly not the most original nickname for a crucial pillar, but it’ll do!), and it all comes down to a simple principle: if you remain patient and persistent, your following will grow.
This might seem a bit of a reach (‘best-laid plans’ and whatnot), and the concept that simple persistence is all it takes to grow a following may seem a tad optimistic, or reductive.
It’s true that there’s more to it than that, but at the centre of all your efforts should lie this core principle of persistence and patience. Growing a following takes time – and it can be easy to get disheartened, or demotivated if you don’t get results as quickly as you’d like.
This is probably the biggest reason so many blogs don’t last – it’s not because their content isn’t interesting, or people weren’t interested; it’s because the blogger didn’t remain persistent, and patient. Building a blog following really is a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s important to go in with a resilient mindset.
Top tip 2: Things won’t grow at the same rate, and that’s okay!
Along with the inevitability of the time, it will take to grow your blog following, it’s also really important to recognise that if you’re intending to grow your following across a few different channels (which we’ll come onto shortly!), that you’ll probably have more success in some areas – and that this doesn’t mean you should give up on the channels that lag behind.
You may develop a thriving YouTube audience, while your Instagram following trails behind. You may have a bustling community of users on your website, but a Twitter presence that pales in comparison. Following across channels never grows in perfect synchronicity, but crucially, your followers in one area may look to your other channels to further entrench their loyalty.
If someone loves reading your hiking blog, for example, they may well want to keep up to date with your Instagram posts so they can see photos of your adventures quickly and easily – or if they love your Instagram, they may want to spend some time reading your blog, and eventually could become loyal followers.
If you aren’t persistent and present on all these channels, you may end up missing out on valuable fans, so don’t become tempted to reduce your efforts in one avenue that isn’t appearing fruitful!
Top tip 3: Fake it till you make it
The final tip we’ll provide before getting started with how to build a blog following is that often, the best way to approach things is to ‘fake it till you make it’.
This doesn’t mean you should be dishonest or deceptive – there’s no point pretending you have millions of followers if you don’t.
But instead, if you write and post confidently and communicatively with your audience – even if that audience is only small to start with – you’ll convince more people you’re a legitimate entity and are worth following.
It’s one of the most effective tricks in sales: if you make it seem like your product is already popular, then people will be more willing to buy it.
People look to others for reassurance about investing time or effort in something, so if you engage with the followers you do have, and write as though you’re talking to an audience of familiar friends (even if that audience only consists of your parents, spouse, and friends to begin with), you’ll be more likely to convince tentative viewers you’re the real deal, and your blog is worth their time.
How to build a blog following:
So, with those few notes out of the way, here’s the main event: how to build a blog following. Your ‘following’ is actually made up of a few different audiences, across different channels – the majority will be readers of your blog, while some will follow you on social media exclusively.
Many people will follow you across both channels, but this isn’t exclusively true. Your audience will also be made up of a few different demographics: some people will be one-off visitors, some will become loyal advocates, and others are somewhere between – a kind of ‘fairweather follower’.
of these audiences deserve care and attention to curate. It’s important to factor all of this into how you approach the following areas:
1. Make sure your blog converts visitors to followers
– Why it’s important:
If you write great content and take the time to work on things like SEO and marketing, then (eventually) you’ll get some viewers on your blog.
People will start to trickle in to read your content, and every time someone reads something on your website, there’s the potential to turn them into a follower – not just a visitor.
This is why it’s crucial to make sure you have some steps in place to convert visitors to followers and tempt people to come back to your site again and again.
The trick here lies in reassuring a visitor that your blog offers variety and longevity. Chances are that they’ve found your website after Googling a particular topic you’ve written about, or maybe have seen one of your posts on social media – once you have them on your site, you need to let them know your blog is more than just a one-hit-wonder, and that if they read it regularly, they’ll get something valuable or entertaining in return.
– How to do it
Practically speaking, there are a few things you can do to convert visitors into loyal followers. One of the easiest, most effective, and most popular is by offering an email list signup.
Getting people to sign up to an email list is a great way of ensuring they get notified about new articles, videos, or other types of content and have a reason to return to your site regularly.
Make sure you communicate clearly what they’ll get for signing up, such as early access to blog posts, news and updates, a weekly/monthly newsletter, etc.
This kind of list is fantastic because it can provide you with analytics, data, and insight into who is reading your content and how they’re interacting with your blog – insight you can use to improve your content types, topics and more.
Along with regular contact via a mailing list, you can also offer tempting promotions and limited offers.
This may be a competition to win something related to your niche (such as a set of walking poles if you’re a hiking blog, like us!), or a chance to be featured on the site in some way. What you offer is up to you, but by giving something back to your readers, you can convince them you’re worth staying connected to.
In terms of implementing these things practically, you can use a variety of on-site tools such as popups, signup forms, and contact pages.
If you’re using a pop-up, do this sparingly and unobtrusively – few things are more irritating than a ‘signup’ box that appears and covers the entire article someone is reading (a trick that leads to more angry ‘x’ clicks than actual signups).
Make sure you communicate clearly how people can stay up to date with your content, but don’t be too pushy.
– Why it’s important
We’ve already mentioned the importance of a social media following a few times in this article already, and make no mistake, if your blog isn’t active on social media you’re already missing out on a huge number of potential readers.
There are swathes of people in your niche just waiting to discover your blog, but it can be hard to get your content in front of them through search engines alone.
By becoming active on at least a couple of social media channels, such as Twitter and Instagram, you can get your blog in front of a huge number of additional viewers, and drive traffic to your site (before converting visitors into followers, using the tricks in tip 1)
– How to do it
Building a blog following on social media is a massive, black hole of a topic, which deserves its own attention separately from this article.
Entire books can be (and have been) written about how to use social media effectively as a blog, and as social media is an ever-changing beast with constantly updating algorithms, what works today might not even work tomorrow.
With that said, there are some things you can do to get your house in order. At the very least, make sure you have profiles established on whichever social platforms you’ve decided to use, and make sure your blog is clearly linked to from these profiles.
Whenever you post a new blog article or video, be sure to share it from your social media profiles and link through to your content.
You should also start to become au fait with the techniques and tactics that improve your visibility on social media platforms, such as using hashtags on Instagram and Twitter and using trending topics to get your posts in front of a wider audience.
There’s a huge amount to it, and we’ll be covering it in another article, but for now, just note that getting active on social media is a must-do for building your audience!
3. Engage with other bloggers
– Why it’s important
When you’re getting started in the blogging arena, it can be a little daunting trying to compete with other established, more successful websites in your niche.
It can feel a bit like a competition, and when you’re new, you can inevitably feel a little disadvantaged. But other bloggers are in fact one of the best sources for audience growth.
It’s important to remember that if someone follows and is interested in a different blog in your niche, they may well be interested in your content too.
There’s no rule saying people can only follow and remain interested in one blog at a time, and so tapping into other bloggers’ existing audiences, and putting your content in front of them, is a hugely effective way of reaching people who you can be confident will have more than a passing interest in your website.
– How to do it
This isn’t a competition and it’s important to note that you aren’t trying to ‘steal’ other people’s audiences. That can get you a pretty bad reputation pretty fast and it isn’t conducive to long-term success.
Instead, you should try to find ways to positively and productively collaborate with other bloggers in your niche and find ways to promote each others’ websites in a friendly manner.
There are lots of ways to do this, but first, you’ll need to identify other blogs that may be willing to collaborate.
You’ll probably already know several, as you’ll likely already be a loyal follower to some of these yourself, so start building a list of potential partners for collaboration, with contact details and other important notes, to keep track of who you’re reaching out to.
In terms of effective collaborations, the sky’s the limit, but a few things to try include:
- Co-promoting on each other’s websites: simple shoutouts can go a long way, and by linking to each other’s blogs you can encourage your followers to check out a partner’s website too, and vice versa.
- Guest posting: every blogger knows just how much time and effort goes into creating fresh, regularly updated content. So why not offer to write a post for someone else’s blog, in exchange for a shoutout or a link to your own site? You’ll be surprised at how many bloggers are up for this and it’s a great way of qualifying a potential new follower – they’ll have already read something you’ve written before they even land on your site!
- Social media collaborations: If you’re both active on social media, you can find ways to collaborate on these platforms. You could start in a joint YouTube video, or could run a Twitter/Instagram ‘takeover’ on each other’s accounts.
4. Good old-fashioned word of mouth
– Why it’s important
Blogging is an inherently digital medium and in our fast-paced modern world, it’s easy to disregard the value of traditional promotional channels such as simple word of mouth.
But this can be a big missed opportunity, and sometimes, the answer to the question of how to build a blog following is simply talking to people.
If someone already knows you and has an interest in your blogging niche, then they’re a qualified follower already – a simple heads up about your website is enough for them to start reading your content regularly!
– How to do it
It feels a little unnecessary to explain how to simply tell people in person about your blog… All we’d be able to really add is have a good think about who you know who may be interested and make sure to give them a heads up.
If you find it a little embarrassing to mention your blog in person out of the blue, you could always post to your personal social media profiles to let people know where to find your site.
5. Give paid media a try
– Why it’s important
This one comes with a little caveat – paid media can be a really effective way to reach more people, but it can also be a very easy way to burn quite a lot of money.
PPC or ‘pay per click’ comes in a variety of forms, from advertising on Google to promoting your social media posts to a wider audience.
All of these can be hugely effective – while you can reach many people from ‘organic’ efforts, having the option to invest in placing your blog in front of potential viewers gives you a lot of control and it’s one of the most effective tools for building a blog following.
Paid media also works very well when combined with other methods – it’s not a great idea to use any one method in isolation and while paid advertising can be a great way of getting people to your site, you’ll still need to convert them when they arrive.
– How to do it
Like social media, paid advertising is a huge field and there’s a lot to learn – far more than we could cover here! If you’re planning on dipping your toes in the ocean that is PPC, the best advice we can give is to do plenty of research beforehand.
There are guides available online for every major platform and plenty of templates to follow and use for things like Google Ads or Facebook Business Manager.
It’s important to evaluate which platforms you’ll use and how likely they are to provide the kinds of benefits you’re looking for. For example, if you’re specifically trying to grow your Instagram following, then an account-centric paid campaign or a series of boosted posts may be a good way to spend some paid budget.
However, this kind of campaign might not directly translate to followers of your website content. Similarly, if you opt for a Google Ads campaign, you can push high volumes of traffic to your blog, but this might not correlate to a rise in social media following.
The main point to be made here is that research is step one. Do plenty of prep, and start small with any budgets – it’s easy to spend a lot very quickly, so run some smaller tests with amounts you’re comfortable spending first.
How to Build a Blog Following – Final Thoughts
The list above is far from comprehensive – if there’s a simple answer to the question of how to build a blog following, it’s that the wider variety of creative and interesting ways you can think to get your blog in front of people, the better.
Ultimately though, it comes down to the golden rule we mentioned at the start of this guide: be patient, and be persistent.
If you have a strong enough conviction that the content you’re creating is helpful, original and entertaining, then over time as more people read it, you’ll build a loyal following.
It’s important to remain true to the reasons you started your blog in the first place and trust that now you’ve built it, they will come. But giving the tips above a try certainly won’t hurt!
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