This blog is coming up on a year pretty soon, so I figured I'd share my tips in honor of this wonderful year so far. A lot of what I wrote is from personal experience and what has/hasn't worked, so I hope this information is helpful to y'all as well.
You Want Readers?1. Make friends. Seriously, I can't stress this enough. Form relationships with other bloggers who are similar to you. You will cherish these bloggers and call them friends if you actually get to know them. This will also be a great way to be thought of when that person needs a guest post or wants to start a link up.
2. Put yourself out there by commenting on other blogs. Thoughtful comments are always the best. Leaving a comment saying "follow me back" or "follow each other" is just a turn off. People want to get to know you.
3. Sponsor other blogs. Whether this is swapping or paying for ads, this is a great way to get more traffic to your blog. Not many will just find your blog by chance. Swapping was the best thing for me in the beginning, since I was not ready to whip out my wallet.
4. Do the occasional link up. Don't overdue it by doing one every day. Whenever I do a link up I try to get the within the first 10 spots because I know that it's more likely to get more clicks (typical marketing strategy).
5. It's very common that the blogs we admire are the successful ones. Look through their posts and see what they are doing. It's great to get inspiration from them that way you can stay on track with the direction you want to take your blog.
6. DO reach out to other bloggers that may have a larger following. I will never be able to thank Jenni enough for her help she gave me when I was starting to blog.
FAQ I get:1. How did you grow your blog?
I grew my blog "organically" they say until I had about 450 followers. I didn't pay for sponsors until then because I did not know if I would keep the blog. Commenting and following other blogs was the main way I grew. I had a lot of free time when I first started my blog, so commenting was a great way for me to pass time and get to know other bloggers. Time is essential.
2. Can I guest post for you?
I am all about guest posters being on my blog no matter how many # of followers you have. You can look at my past guest posters, and they are all different ranges. But, I have started to limit my guest posts since I deleted my personal facebook. My family and friends want to come on here and read about me. I still will have them, just not as much.
3.Will you guest post for me?
I don't mind guest posting if I don't have other commitments at the time. I love that I have been asked several times to talk about my hometown of New Orleans. Many think it's bad blog manners to ask a blog with a bigger following to guest post, which I can totally understand and somewhat agree with, but I will just take it case by case. If I feel like the person just wants to use me, and has never made contact with me before, then I will definitely say no. But if you are a frequent visitor/commenter then I will definitely consider it if the timing is right.
4. How do you make a button/ where is the coding?
This takes quite some time to learn if you are new. But, you can re-size, edit, and get an image link by making a photobucket account. Then, read this post on how to use the coding. Be patient, it can be overwhelming.
5. Do you respond to every comment?
Physically and mentally I cannot do it anymore. I do read every comment, and they make me smile. I will always answer questions and direct messages sent to my email though. If I am not busy, there will be nights when I respond to every comment. Especially since it is summer and my husband is home, I just do not have the time.
6. How do you decide who to sponsor?
I look at a couple of things before I commit to buying an ad space. Stats: I want to see them. Large followings don't always mean heavy traffic. I sometimes ask their previous sponsors how their experience was. I usually don't invest in ads that don't have a feature or giveaway option UNLESS they are established and have good traffic and many pageviews.
Tips:1. Link Ups: (here is a little extra from what I covered above) can be a very good way to gain traffic and new readers. I did a lot of them when I first started blogging, and I kind of regret that. I steered away from the main reason I started blog and felt like I wasn't being "me". If I do one, I now limit it to one per week, because they still are fun to do every now and then.
2. Especially in the beginning, do try to respond to your comments via email (especially the questions and meaningful ones) many are hoping you will respond to them so they can get to know you.
3. Invest in a design. (There are many free ones too) Aesthetics are really important for attracting people to read more. If you blog is cluttered or has links that don't work, most likely the person will not stay long.
4. Good writing. I am guilty of grammar and spelling mistakes, but proof reading your post before you hit publish is always a smart idea.
5. Take mean comments with a grain of salt. You will most likely get them. Everyone does. But don't dismiss them if they are constructive criticism. I once got a comment that my blog was "not fresh" had "poor writing" etc. It upset me at first, but really, I learned from it and actually thought about my writing the next time I was making a post.
6. Have an updated About Me page (if you have one). People really want to know who they are reading about. That is one of the first places I click once I get to one's blog. I went through a frenzy last year when I tried my hardest to find as many "Medical School Wives" as I possibly could, and the About Me page was key to finding them.
7. Post quality pictures. This does not mean you have to have an expensive camera to post pictures. Even if it's your iPhone, be sure to size them large enough so your readers can see them w/o having to click it. Also, editing with picmonkey is an added bonus to edit pictures or to add text. They also offer collages which can be beneficial. Another important thing. Is to watermark your pictures if you value them. I have heard many stories of picture thieves taking your photos and even posing as you and your family on another blog. Creepy I know.
Technicality Tips:1. Remove word verification. Right now. Do it. It's a pain for us Real people to constantly have to prove we are not a robot in order to comment on your post. Most of the time I won't comment on those posts because in the past I've sat there for many minutes trying to prove I wasn't a robot and got very frustrated.
2. INSTEAD, change your comment settings so that you do not allow anonymous commenters. This is where 99.9% of your spam comments come from.
3. Connect your email to your blogger profile, and respond to your comments by email. Many will not go back to your blog to read the comment you left under theirs. You can read Erin's How-To guide on how to do this Here!
4. For some reason, it is much more user friendly to use the "pop out" comment form. You can change that in your comment tab. It does make it easier for other bloggers to not have to re-load your page just to comment.
I may turn this into a series, because I feel like I can elaborate so much more. But for now I think this is a good vague overview and will be helpful to many. I know some are nervous to ask these questions, so this will make it easier in that sense too. If you have any more questions, feel free to shoot me an email or Ask me on formspring! I love that thing, and always get excited when someone asks me a question :)