It wasn’t so long ago that I was a brand new blogger at WordPress. I started my blog at the beginning of October with no real goals in mind other than making one particular piece of writing publicly available for sharing. I chose WordPress because we use it at work and several friends spoke highly of the community. It wasn’t until I saw my first piece of original writing on my blog that I started thinking what next?
I knew nothing about blogging. But I did know that all communities have their own unique culture and through a combination of trial and error, generous mentors and reading several really good guides to WordPress, I found my footing here. This past weekend I hit 500 followers. I remain just as flattered today that someone has read and responded to my writing as I did the first time.
Recently I have had numerous new bloggers approach me asking how to grow their blogs. I have no magic insights but I am happy to share what worked for me.
- Read guides for new bloggers. WordPress offers some great guides but some of the most useful information is from other bloggers.
- Make writing a daily habit and post frequently. You will become a better, more confident writer and it will be easier for readers to find you.
- Subscribe and respond to the Daily Post. Responding to and reading the Daily Posts is a great way to find other writers who turn you on, push yourself creatively and bring new readers to your blog.
- Tag wisely. Good tags make it easier for people to find you.
- Remember that many WordPress readers are following you on a SmartPhone or tablet and reading you at lunch. Shorter posts are more likely to get read. You can always divide a longer post into sections that you can publish separately if you have a lot to say.
- Look for writing that excites you/resonates with you/makes you smile/fits your interests and FOLLOW those blogs. Reading good writing makes you a better writer. Writers who write what you like to read have followers you have something in common with. Check out their followers- very often these are also people you will want to follow.
- If a blog you love has the option of subscribing by email, do it. When I first started it was easy to keep up with new posts. I am currently following a hundreds of other writers and I really appreciate those emails that keep me from missing posts from my favorites.
- Reply to blog posts that are meaningful to you. There is no greater compliment to me as a writer than hearing that my writing resonated for a reader. If you are shy or don’t know what to say, “Wow,” “loved this,” or “This spoke to me,” says volumes. I have been known simply to reply “Sigh” to particularly beautiful writing.
- New bloggers tend to be very enthused about promoting their blogs. There is a fine line between posting “Hey, I’m a new blogger. Come check out my blog/follow me” and “Your writing really resonated for me. I think we have a lot in common.” If you ask me to check out your blog and you haven’t followed me, I tend to think that you are more interested in numbers than in my writing.
- I am a really busy person—I have a day job, kids, spouse, elderly dog with a bladder control problem and I am a managing editor for other blogs. If you say “Check out my site and tell me what you think” I may put that off until that mythical moment when I have more time. If you say, “I would really appreciate your feedback on my post X” and provide the link, I feel less overwhelmed and am more likely to do it right away.
- Don’t think of this as a numbers game. We post our writing because we want to be read, but 15 really engaged readers can sometimes give you a lot more than 200 disengaged readers. Numbers are a funny thing on WordPress. It took me a really long time to hit 300 readers. It took about 6 weeks to go from 300 to 400 readers. It only took 3 weeks for me to go from 400 to 500!
- Remember that when you reply to a post you are doing so in a public forum. Sometimes the discussions we get into here are really not for general consumption. It is always okay to ask to take a discussion offline.
- Unless someone specifically asks for your constructive criticism, don’t offer it on WordPress. Support and respect are the culture of WordPress. Writers are putting their heart and souls on the screen here. If you don’t like or love a piece of writing, quietly move along and find something you do to comment on.
- If someone takes the time to comment on one of your blog posts, RESPOND. Even if it’s just to say thank you. Most relationships on WordPress develop in replies. I have met wonderful people here on WordPress and what keeps me here is the incredible community of writers.
- Learn where your Comment Spam folder is on your Dashboard and check it regularly. It is really good at capturing spam but sometimes it gets overzealous.
Other experienced bloggers: What important tips have I forgotten?
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