17 June 2010

Helping Small Blogs Grow

I have been kicking around ideas for this post for a long time. I'd love to do a series (hint, hint...anyone trying to grow their small-ish blog want to guest post? See more details below.*) I consider my blog small (less than 500 subscribers and no sponsors), but I have been trying to reach out and increase my scope for the past three or four months.

Thus far, it is working pretty well. I have more than doubled both my daily blog hits and my Google Reader subscribers.

I work really hard on this blog. It is my outlet, and a lot of the reason behind my sanity (or insanity) at times. It's like my baby. I feel passionate about it (by the way, I am still working on figuring out my life's true passions).

I'm not going to lie - sometimes it is tough to find motivation to write and to keep plugging away when I am not being monetarily compensated. Oh shit, I can't believe I just said that. That's uncomfortable to admit, and maybe some of you won't like it, but it's the truth. A lot of the popular blogs I follow talk about how they just happened upon their thriving blog like it was a penny on the ground waiting to be picked up. No real effort, just a happy coincidence. That type of scenario is great, but it doesn't help those of us that...I don't know...are working at it a little?

Obviously, it's not all about the prospect of money. If it were, I would have quit a long time ago. Some of us are writing for ourselves. Others enjoy interacting with their readers. I mean, come on, blog comments are like crack. As bloggers, we can become addicted to comments.

The point of this post is that it would be nice to be able to help and motivate other small blog writers to keep growing and expanding. A simple online search about "how to expand your blog" turns up thousands of hits. For the most part, they say the same things. There has to be more to this. And consequently, I am making this my little ongoing project.

To start things off, here is my working list of tips.

1) Give YOUR opinion. People will visit your blog to read your voice and your perspective. If I wanted to know the latest summer dress trends, I would google "latest summer dress trends". Do you think the latest summer dresses are f-ing ugly? Tell us.

2) Don't be afraid to share stuff about your life. Pictures help a lot. This tip is weird for me to be writing. I mean, I once wrote a post about valuing my privacy. Then promptly after that, I started telling TMI stories about my experiences at the gyno. I worried people would think I had no tact. In actuality, I have realized that being truthful and honest with your readers is one of the most refreshing perspectives you can give. Readers don't know you from Mary. You have to let them get to know you! (This is something I continue to work on daily.)

P.S. This doesn't mean complain about anything and everything. It's a thin line. Too much complaining = turn off.

3) Get your ass on Twitter. I wrote a post about how I'm no good at Twitter. I'm still no good at Twitter, but I'm working on it. If you are trying to get yourself and your blog out there to the world, Twitter can actually be quite useful. Most importantly, it is a great way to connect with your favorite popular bloggers and exchange information. I have been sneaking on at work, and thus far, haven't been fired. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

4) Be part of an online community. As many of you know, I blogged for Weddingbee. I not only have the support of my fellow Bee bloggers, I also have support from all of the members of Weddingbee. This has been huge for my blog. But even now, I am constantly trying to reach out to other newlywed bloggers and twenty/thirty-somethings. There are online communities everywhere (some of them centered around popular blogs). Spend some time on the boards, and make friends!

5) This one is obvious (and has been said a million times)...but blog regularly. I farted around with this blog (back in the old school wedding planning days when I was known as "Westside Bride") and some months I only posted 4 or 5 times during the ENTIRE month. If there is nothing new to read, there's no need to visit. I made a vow in February/March of this year to start posting daily or almost daily. It has done wonders for my blog traffic, and I suspect it has helped my writing, too.

6) How do I manage to post so often? You have to schedule your posts ahead of time. There is absolutely no way you can sit at your work desk or sit in class and pump out a wealth of decent material. It takes commitment and chunks of free time. It also takes a caring partner who won't bitch and moan at you when your face is glued to your blog every evening.

7) Original content, please. I don't know how to say this without sounding like a biznatch, but if I see one more blog where people are modeling outfits without any actual text or description or anything, I think I might shoot myself in the foot. I love looking at what bloggers wear. Heck, I've done "what did I wear?" posts. But, you've got to put some spin on it, or it doesn't really grab my attention.

8) Seek out journeys and write about them. Life is all about the journey, right? I have found that people like to read about personal journeys. Whether you are planning a wedding, pregnant, designing a home, or running a marathon, it is always interesting to tap into how someone gets from Point A to Point B. Sometimes you don't have to seek out a journey. It just comes to you. Recounting some of my health struggles has been an ongoing adventure, and I have bonded with a lot of readers by sharing my experiences.

That is all I can think of for now. I desperately want this to be a series! Bloggers, let's help each other out. Do you have any tips for small-ish blogs?


*If you are interested in guest posting for The Less Than Domestic Goddess about finding your blog passion, growing your blog, finding your voice, etc. email me at carlysdreams at hotmail dot com. Or maybe you have another idea for a guest post? Email me or comment.

20 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your tips, Carly! My blog has very few subscribers, but I really enjoy it and I think that's what keeps bloggers like us going. Readers can also definitely tell when you have a passion for blogging too. :)

    Great tips!

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  2. Great advice. I have a small blog that I'm trying to work on. I definitely need to get better at posting more often.

    Love your blog! I visit daily!

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  3. Great advice! A few additions based on my own experience:
    1. Comment on other blogs!! It takes time and effort but often brings them back to see who you are.
    2. Respond to questions in email and blog comments. No one wants their questions falling into a black hole.
    3. Write guest posts on other blogs that you think your target audience visits. If they like what they see, they'll click over to your blog.
    4. This one is more for those who post pictures of their projects, etc....join Flickr! Submit your photos to relevant groups. In the description of the picture, post a link to the blog post you talk about that project in. This will also generate more traffic to your blog!

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  4. Great post, even though I don't follow any of this advice because I am still uncomfortable about having too much private info out there. The tiny audience I have works well for me, though, because I started my blog to help me get healthy/lose weight. And even though I have only a handful of readers, the comments I get motivate me like nothing else; I absolutely love it! If I wanted to expand my blog, though, I would definitely take this advice. The blogs I love to read are written by bloggers that take tons of photos, are active on Twitter, answer reader questions and are decent writers. I can't stand bad grammar/punctuation/spelling in a blog!

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  5. Great post and the twitter thing was something I've been dreading I did join today though!

    Thanks for the motivation!

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  6. I'd love to write a guest post for you! I will email you :)

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  7. I just added you to my blogroll, hopefully those three people who read my blog will come visit yours! Seriously, I love your "voice", and you're so darn cute, too. :)

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  8. i love this post, carly! you have been one of my fave blogs/voices for a while now and hope you continue to grow. i've been having some blogger block lately, but i think your tips will help me out greatly. looking forward to reading more & to the guest posts :)

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  9. What a fabulous post, and just the inspiration I need for my small blog...

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  10. this is a great post! I'm going to do some brainstorming this weekend and email you next week about guest posting!

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  11. Great post! And I completely agree with #5 — my subscribers and regular visitors shot through the roof once I started blogging every day.

    I would love to do a guest post but I have no idea what I would write about. If you're not bombarded by bloggers wanting to guest-post and would consider me, just let me know!

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  12. This is great info....you have some great points too Holly P.

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  13. Totally going to e-mail you. :)

    Great tips dear! I've also been trying to grow while maintaining "me" in the whole process. I'm not terribly open either so I struggle with that.
    But I love meeting more bloggers and it's been an interesting evolution!

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  14. Ooooh, thank you all for commenting! I'm really excited about bloggers helping each other. I don't know why this concept makes me so giddy? I'm weird. Keep sharing tips and inspiring each other, everyone!

    @holly p: I love your suggestions! I never thought about flickr. Thanks so much for your tips! I consistently feel inspired by your craftiness and creativity! :)

    @brooke: My SYTYCD guru AND a guest poster?! I should be so lucky! Email me or hit me up on twitter. I'd love for you to guest post.

    @Katie: Absolutely! Shoot me an email or tweet when you're ready.

    @Geek in Heels: Yay! I'll contact you. Let's figure something out.

    @Chic 'n Cheap Living: Your email just came through on my blackberry. I can't wait to collaborate!

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  15. Oh, this is a wonderful kick in the pants for me. I'm still finding my voice and style for my blog and it's just starting to get cohesive. But your tips really help me think about how to start thinking about expanding and focusing it--or give it some sense!

    Balancing time, privacy, honesty and the right or most interesting content is a challenge. I think you do a great job yourself! Love your blog. I would guest post, but I got nothing. Look forward to others' posts, though!

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  16. I was so giddy with excitement over this post- I immediately went over to my blog and started brainstorming some ideas for future posts.

    I absolutely love your blog- it's honesty, beauty and charm is what keeps me coming back every day. I am still "finding my voice" but hope that my blog can be as beautiful as yours some day in the future.

    And rock on for wanting to help out other small bloggers- I think it's an excellent idea.

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  17. Late to the game commenting, but I wanted to say thanks for the tips. I started blogging because of the wonderful bloggers on Weddingbee. I appreciate the suggestions and hopefully they'll help me in the future!

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  18. hi there - i just found your blog through another blog who linked back to this post. Thanks for the tips! I have a pretty small blog as well :)

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  19. Super late- going to email you- no ideas for a guest post- but would you do one for me?? I love your voice.

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  20. These are great tips!! I loved you over on WB and I think I love you even more on this blog!

    I have a small blog that was focused on wedding planning. Well, my wedding has come and gone (still have to start recaps, though) and now I'm trying to figure out where to go from here. I really want to continue writing, I just need to sit down and do some serious brainstorming. Just need my life to settle the eff down first!

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