For the record, I’ve been blogging for almost two years now. When I first started, I was pretty clueless about certain things… but had done my research on others. Because of that research and because of my rabid and obsessive nature, I was able to skyrocket in a way that is, apparently, not normal. There are advantages and disadvantages to this.
Advantage: You don’t have to slog through the quiet and thankless first few months of a blog, where you’re constantly writing and putting stuff out there but NO ONE is reading. I had an audience from the get go.
Disadvantage: It grew way past what I had planned for. I assumed I’d be blogging to the ether for the first 6 months or so. When the numbers grew, so did the list of things I had to take into consideration, which meant I was scrambling to keep up with the beast I’d created.
So how did I do it?
Step One: I planned the shit out of my concept
Maybe this is the “niche” thing everyone is always talking about. Think you don’t have one? More on that in a future post. Just know that I very much refined the purpose and point of my blog. I scratched down a million little notes until I found a tagline that summed it all up: “some mistakes are too good not to share.” That said it all for me. So long as the vast majority of stuff I wrote could somehow relate to that tagline, I’d be good to go.
Tip: I made a list of things to write about. About twenty things. This way I knew what I was doing straight out the gate. Looking back, with everything I know now, I would have gone ahead and written the first five posts or so.
Step Two: I went out and found my people
Here’s my big bad secret, you guys:
1. Keyword Search – I’d go into the wp.com reader (or whatever you’re using, like bloglovin, feedly, etc.) and find the option to search by keyword.
2. Comment Bomb – I would search every keyword that related to what I was saying. Then I would go and read those posts and if they struck a cord with me, if they gave me that “yes, these are my people” feeling, then I would leave a comment. It’s like introducing yourself to someone you hope will be your friend. A lot of those people came back and commented on my blog as well, and voila! A friendship was born. This is how I’ve made a ton of my current blog friends, like Angelle (who came to my wedding) and Jana (who was my roommate at BlogU).
3. Build Relationships – Constantly go out and find more and more people who feel like “your people.” These will be your community. You will mutually steal each other’s readers, you can share each other’s shit on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Welcome to the give and take of not being an asshole blogger.
4. Engage – Always respond to comments on your blog and social media. Nowadays there are a lot of people who say that they can’t, that it’s too overwhelming, etc . But I can’t agree with that. I still find a way to respond to everything. If I want people to take the time to comment, then I need to take the time to respond. If you don’t think you can reply, then don’t have the option for people to leave comments. Eventually, they will stop. No one likes to talk to themselves.
5. Advertise – I advertised on The Bloggess for a few months. This was around Month Three. The traffic it sends to you is not omg viral epic my site is going to crash worthy, BUT if you’re writing something similar (humor, lifestyle, mental illness advocacy, etc.) you know that those people are primed to be your audience as soon as they arrive, just because of where they came from. So I think putting money into advertising is a great idea if you have it. If you don’t have money, you can still make a massive effort by just liking and commenting on other people’s stuff.
Step Three: Stop sleeping, forsake all other hobbies or interests
I’m joking. You can still have a life. BUT if you want to see exponential—yet authentic—growth, you’re going to have to get your hustle on. I used to spend hours and hours and hours every single day on my blog. I would work 8 to 5, come home, and then slave away. I somehow fit in a date night every Tuesday + The Weekends, as well as a small amount of studying for school but for the most part, you could find me staring at the blog page from 6PM until 11PM 5 nights a week. Not everything I did was a great use of my time (more on that here) but it still takes a ton of effort to build something from the ground up.
You get what you put in. Every single time I’ve focused significant effort and energy + had a well thought out plan, I have broken through whatever barrier or glass ceiling I saw in my way.
So that’s pretty much it. This is what I did. No big secrets. It wasn’t a massive ad budget, I didn’t sleep with anyone (other than Alex, huzzah!) I just spent a shit ton of time on my computer going out and finding the people who would want to read my stuff. You have to make it a priority if you want to grow.
It wasn’t until three months in that I realized I had a ton of other stuff to figure out. Like social media, tools to make my life easier, how to plan my content out in advance , how to go self-hosted and how to make my own graphics. But this is how it all began.
“But Aussa, I comment on people’s stuff and they never comment on mine. Those BITCHES.”
Maybe you need to find new people. Or maybe you need to remember that authenticity is key. I very rarely ever stalk-back someone who says “great blog” in a comment. Also— there’s something to be said for finding someone who is in a similar situation to you. Someone with a similar audience size, similar trajectory, etc. Then you can team up to double your efforts. Don’t stop. The internet is a big place full of weirdos just like you. Go find them.
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