If you’ve been following my Ultimate Guide to Blogging series, by now you may have set up your blog, published a couple of posts, or thought of ways to spice up your existing blog. You might even be breathing a sigh of relief, thinking your hard work is done… But no! The hard work is only just beginning! No matter how great your blog is, it won’t be much fun (or make you any money, etc., depending on what your blogging goals are) if no one reads it, right?
That’s why, in Part 3 of Chic Pixel’s Ultimate Guide to Blogging, I’ll be sharing my tips on how to gain new readers, navigating the thorny underbrush that is social media, and cultivate an audience for your particular niche. This part is likely the most intimidating because it means really putting yourself out there, but don’t worry! I’ve included actionable steps for you to take to get the word out about your awesome blog, whether you’re just starting or have been writing for years.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts
You’re probably already on at least one form of social media as an individual, but using social media to promote your blog and make connections with potential/existing readers is very different from posting about whatever comes to mind. It’s up to you whether you want to make separate accounts for blog-related things and persona/private use. I don’t separate the two, since my blogging voice is relatively close to how I am in everyday life, but if you, for example, are blogging about a topic you don’t necessarily want your local friends or family to know about, you may prefer to keep things separate.
My number one piece of social media advice, regardless of platform, is be authentic. It’s easy to pay for a service that will automatically like every post or leave a preset comment on every image that uses a certain hashtag on Instagram, but the time it takes to go and leave a personalized comment will help you so much more in the long run! Ultimately, the goal of social media is gain followers who are interested in you and your blog, so it’s important to be true to yourself and share things that genuinely interest you (in addition to promoting your own hard work!).
For more specific platform-based advice, I’ll break down the main forms of social media I use and my tips for getting the most out of them:
- Twitter: Twitter is, by far, my biggest source of social media traffic to my blog, but I created my account in 2008 and have (at the time of writing) a little over 2,800 followers. It can take a while to gain traction on Twitter, so don’t get discouraged! Follow bloggers you know and check out what they’re retweeting, and then follow some of them! Following others and interacting with them (in a positive, constructive way) is the best way to start getting people interested in what you have to say. Tweet updates about your life (whether you want to stick only to your blog topics is up to you), retweet interesting and relevent content, and promote your own blog posts from time to time. Don’t be afraid to repost at different times of the day to account for time zones! Not everyone will see something the first time you post it.
- Instagram: While Twitter is all about text, Instagram is all about images, so the best way to get eyes on your account is to post nice photos! The photography tips for bloggers I posted in part 2 are equally relevent for Instagram, so check it out if you haven’t already. Hashtags are king on Instagram, so don’t be afraid to use them! I like to dedicate a separate comment to hashtags so they don’t clog up the main description section. It can take a little while to find hashtags that work best for you – try poking around relevent hashtags and look at the related tags and select a few to try out. Keep in mind that Instagram does not support clickable links outside of your main profile, which can be a pain when you’re trying to get people to check out a post. I usually write something along the lines of “check out the link in my profile!” in the description of my photo and update my profile link to the blog post I want people to see. I’ve only started using Instagram in the past 3-2 years and I just passed 2,000 followers, so I think if you focus on posting eye-catching photos and utilize hashtags, it can be a much faster way of growing a following than Twitter.
- Facebook: Oh, Facebook. I honestly don’t have a lot to say about Facebook. Unless you’re willing to pay for advertising, it’s very hard to get eyes on your posts. I rarely have more than half the number of people who’ve liked my page seeing each individual post, and for some reason the ones that perform the best are all cross-posted from Instagram. I still post on my page regularly for the people that do like to use it (and there are some that very much do), but I don’t prioritize it. Facebook Groups, however, can be a great place to get to know other people in your niche community!
- Tumblr: Because of the variety of posts you can make on Tumblr, it can either be its own blogging platform, as I mentioned in part 1, or used more like other forms of social media. I use mine similarly to Twitter, in that I reblog things that I think my followers would be interested in between posting links to my own blog. Images are generally more well received, so I’ll usually pick one or two photos from a post to feature, include some text and a link to my post in the description, and throw in a few relevent hashtags. Just remember not to republish your blog posts on Tumblr in their entirety, as having the exact same text in more than one place can hurt your Google ranking.
There are definitely more social media platforms out there, but I wouldn’t go too crazy signing up for everything you come across or you’ll risk stretching yourself too thin! One way I combat this is by using Buffer to help me schedule posts to various social media platforms so I don’t have to be constantly updating things in real time. I only started doing this seriously in the past year or so, but it’s been a lifesaver! When I publish a new blog post, I can head straight to Buffer to schedule the link to go out on different accounts at any time of my choosing, so it’s a great way to make sure I promote my posts without having to remember to share them multiple times manually.
I could probably spend a post on each individual platform and the strategies I use, so if you have any questions regarding something I didn’t cover, please feel free to ask in the comments!
Building a Community
When I started blogging, my only real goal was to find like-minded people who shared my interests. Whether or not this is the same for you, it’s essential to build a welcoming community around your blog if you want to attract and maintain an audience. Social media definitely helps in this regard, but there will always be people who follow your social media accounts for the pretty pictures or quippy humor that hardly, if ever, head over to read one of your posts. That’s why it’s important to cultivate a sense of community through both social media and your blog itself.
The easiest way to do this is by actually engaging with people. When someone replies to your tweets or leaves a comment on your latest post, respond! People who receive replies are much more likely to remember you in the future. And don’t just wait for people to comment on your posts – leave some thoughtful comments on your own favorite blogs, or check out one of your follower’s Instagram photos and give them a compliment! Better yet, send an email to someone you admire in your niche. It may feel self-servicing, but after you tell them how much you love their latest post, you can add that you have a blog and would thrilled if they would check it out. You can also offer to write a guest post on a topic that’s relevent to them, which can be a great way to get your blog’s name out there and reach a whole new set of readers.
Guest posts tie into another factor that is extremely important for building a community and establishing your blog: links. Any time a site links to yours, Google sees that as making you more credible and gives you a little boost. The more links back you have, the higher your posts will appear in search results! But if you’re just starting out, it can feel near impossible to get anyone to link to you, which is why offering to write a guest post or commenting on other blogs can be so helpful. It’s extremely important that you’re aren’t disingenuous when you do this, though, as people will know right away and it really isn’t a good look. Engage with people you are sincerely interested in, and make sure you do your research on their blog if you plan to write them an email!
Another great way to establish connections with other bloggers is by linking back to them. No one’s going to want to do a favor for someone who only asks for things but never gives back, right? I’m thrilled whenever I see someone’s linked to one of my posts, no matter how big or small their blog/social media following is! There are lots of ways to link to others, such as link roundups like Otaku Journalist‘s Otaku Links or Nice Job Breaking It, Hero‘s Last Week Today weekly recap series, or a post dedicated to in individual blogger like I do in my Sunday Spotlight series. Not only is it something nice to do for a fellow creator, but they will probably stop by your site to check out who linked to them, too. It’s win/win!
What’s in a Pageview?
Even though I never outright stated it, an underlying theme of this post has been how to increase your pageviews, likes, followers, and reblogs, because those are all clear indications that your work is being seen. But in the end, they’re all just numbers. If you’re anything like me, it’s very easy to get caught up in the numbers and constantly want to see them grow, because it means your blog is growing… right?
Well, yes and no. You could pay for bots to follow your social media accounts, if you really want. Or, for a less extreme example, say tons of people follow you because of the super cute pictures you post of your dog, but they care less about what you have to say about comic books on your blog. What’s more important than numbers is that the people who follow you are genuinely interested in what you do. One of your posts may go viral someday, and while the massive boost in pageviews will undoubtedly feel great, most of the people who see that one post will probably not go on to look at the rest of your blog.
I’ll end with a personal anecdote: At one point a few years ago, Chic Pixel received about 20,000 pageviews per month. However, when I migrated the site to WordPress, my traffic took a hit, and since then I haven’t been able to get back up to that magic 20,000 mark (I track my stats using Google Analytics). But I honestly believe that I’ve had an increase in meaningful interactions on my blog and social media over the past 2 years, and I don’t feel that the number of pageviews I’m receiving is negatively affecting the site in any way.
I hope what you can take away from that is to not to worry too much about the numbers, and focus more on connections. That’s what will matter the most in the long run, even when it comes to trying to earn money from your blog. And guess what? Monetization is the name of the game next week, so check back on Tuesday for the final post in my Ultimate Guide to Blogging! You can also subscribe to my newsletter to make sure to never miss a post. Finally, if you’re enjoying this blogging series, please consider supporting the site by donating a few dollars or shopping with my affiliate links! Your support is greatly appreciated!