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Building a blog audience. Every blogger – varsity or alumni  –  faces this issue. Whether the end goal is to build traffic in terms of sheer numbers, quality engagement levels or loyal, return followers, we’ve all had to ask ourselves (and often each other): How can I build a blog audience?

Be a Better Blogger Series - How to build a blog audience and get more traffic | blogging tips to grow your blog - PeppercornCreative.com | website design agency and blog & business mentor in Vancouver BC

It’s a loaded question and depending on who you ask, there are about a bazillion different answers. I think one thing we can agree on, however, is that it takes a serious commitment to do so. Just because you build a blog, doesn’t mean they will come. In fact, they’re quite unlikely to. With so many other blogs out there, promoting their sites and doing it well, you need to work to build your blog audience and stand apart from the crowd by producing quality content.

That’s right. Content (How sick are you of hearing about content in this series??). Building a blog audience is entirely about content production in all its abundant forms. After many years of serious blogging, I’ve discovered what will drive traffic to your site in droves and what simply doesn’t. Here are my top 5 methods you can employ right now to build a blog audience, increase traffic, leverage quality engagement levels and nurture loyal, returns followers so your blog gets bigger, your brand awareness grows and ultimately so you see a return on your investment and make money blogging.

1. Create quality content on your blog. Obviously.

What this means can vary from blog to blog in terms of length of posts, topics, frequency, etc… But the main idea is that you write, photograph and share stuff that has value for your readers. We’ve talked about it before in this series but it’s worth repeating: create quality content on your blog because that’s how Google is indexing sites now. Sure, in-post SEO is great. But mostly, share what you publish in a coherent, person-centered way and people will come back for more. Be human. Write like R2D2 is your core audience and no one will come back. I promise.

 2. Comment.

And then comment some more. And then some more. Comment until you’re blue in the face and you hate everything about blogging and you chuck your computer under a dump truck. Okay, maybe not quite that much. Blogging should be fun, after all. Commenting is one of the most time consuming and at times, frustrating, ways to promote your blog. It’s also the most effective. By thoughtfully commenting (i.e. showing that you’ve read the post) on someone else’s site, you not only leave a direct link back to your own site that they – and their audience – can follow, but you also:

A. Demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.

B. Invest your attention in their content. The moment you give someone a pay-off for what they’ve done, you’ve given them a reason to be interested in you. This often leads to them returning the favour because ultimately, they want you to come back to them and invest more. It sounds selfish. And it is. But it consistently drives traffic back to your site and you’d be surprised at the relationships that this kind of commenting can create.

Note: On WordPress.org you can install a free comment reply plugin on your site so when you reply to comments that people leave on your blogs posts, it sends the reply in an alert to the commenter’s inbox. This creates a dialogue because they know you’re listening and thus feel validated and encouraged to return.

3. Be Social.

Write guest posts, ask others to write them for you, get on the social media and learn how to do it right. And when I say “learn how to do it right”, I mean it. Doing it wrong is worse than not doing it at all. In effect, social media IS digital marketing. Marketing is an extension of your brand. This means you need to represent and deal with social media as an arm of your overall brand schema. Like it or not, this is where the people are. If you want to build a blog audience in a productive and successful way, you have to form relationships. You have to be social.

Note: Be sure you’re not only sharing your new posts but also writing updates in ways that speak with your audience, not at them. Share their content too. Just like commenting, this is one of the best ways to generate leads, traffic and connections. See “B” of point 2.

4. Keep doing it. Consistently. For a long ef’n time.

Success comes with time. Create your blog, make sure the design is great, make a posting and promotion schedule, try using a program like Hootsuite to help with social media updates, and once you’ve developed a good collection of posts, keep doing it. Longevity is as important as quality content in this sense. If you’re using the above methods to create and promote yourself, in time, you will become THE presence in your industry. Or at least one of them. You want to build you audience? Commit.

5. Buy them.

If all you care about is the actual number of hits or followers, you can buy them. But 99 words of caution: 100,000 followers without quality engagement means nothing. Not true. Means a lot. But not in the way you want it to. It will not increase your Google ranking, it will not entice real people to follow you, and to be honest, when I see someone has a ridonculous amount of followers or likes without a whole lot of authentic engagement, I’m suspicious. I click away and I don’t come back. And I’m not the only one. It’s more important to your potential readership if you have only 73 likes on Facebook and your content gets shares and comments than if you have 20,000 and nothing is happening on your page.

Note: this is why tools like Google Friend Connect and other blog follower apps are obsolete, outdated and really just make your blog look amateurish. Get rid of them. Focus on getting people to share your content and comment on your posts.

What do you do to promote your blog posts? What gets you the most traffic? Do numbers matter to you? Is return traffic more important? What inspires comments? How do you build your audience? What doesn’t work? Share your thoughts below! Be social!

In the meantime, read:

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20 Comments on Be A Blogger Series (5 of 10): Build A Blog Audience

  1. suzy supnet
    September 10, 2013 at 8:02 am (4 years ago)

    Loving this series Kristy. You are inspiring me to get rid of GFC. I have a question though. Can I just delete it or do I have to make an announcement on my blog. If I just delete it will it affect others?

    The other thing I have on my blog is my google plus followers. I am not sure I want to delete that yet. That is my only social media presence (by choice) and I am hoping to build that following. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      September 12, 2013 at 8:45 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you Suzy!!

      If I were you, I’d give your followers plenty of notice. Give it a solid month, starting with a post announcing that you’re getting rid of GFC and why and provide alternate ways for them to follow you (i.e. RSS, Bloglovin, social media feeds). Throw an ad up at the top of your blog for the duration of the month stating essentially the same stuff and then make sure you post a couple other announcements and updates both on the blog and your social media channels to make sure people know (once per week is usually good). I recommend doing it on a different day each time to make sure you reach the most people possible. And then get rid of it. To be honest – I did this exact same thing a few months ago and by updating people about it on a regular basis, I didn’t lose any traffic at all.

      Re GooglePlus – keep Google+!!! GFC is NOT Google+ (very different). To build that audience, I suggest joining communities, commenting on other people’s shares and be sure that when you re-share someone’s stuff that you not only add your own comments with it, but tag them in the comment via “+name” so they get the alert that you’ve mentioned them. The key is to thoughtfully engage, just as you would on any other social media channels. I think you do a fabulous job on there – you just need to expand your circles by joining communities and participating in them.

      Reply
      • suzy supnet
        September 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm (4 years ago)

        Thank you so much for your reply. So thorough. I may not do a whole month since I only have 50 some followers, but I will do a few reminders.

        Reply
  2. Sara
    September 10, 2013 at 6:45 pm (4 years ago)

    I have the hardest time with this! I WANT followers and return visitors! I wish the saying were true, “If you build it they will come…” Not true for bloggers at all! UGH! I don’t even know how to leave a link on a comment! I am such a novice 🙁

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      September 12, 2013 at 8:39 am (4 years ago)

      Hi Sara! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
      The best way to leave a link on a comment is to simply fill out the comment box as it requests you. This will (usually) cause your name to become a clickable link itself when the comment goes live. Entering links in the actual comment box itself (i.e. check out my blog! http://www.myblogurl.com) can make the blog you’re commenting on flag your comment as spam and it may never actually see the light of day.

      Reply
  3. Bradly A Ritzenthaler
    September 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm (4 years ago)

    I picked up your how to blog series today from a Google+ post. The advice I’m getting from you is immediately applicable to what I’m trying to accomplish and I can’t wait to see the next five blogs.

    The biggest questions you answered for me were about content and frequency. I am now comfortable with the idea of posting three days a week and more focused with the Kristy inspired rotation of Sci-fi Sunday, Travel Tuesday and Future Friday.

    Thank you very much for this very informative and helpful blog.

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      September 12, 2013 at 8:37 am (4 years ago)

      That’s exciting Bradly! It sounds like you’re doing things right – those posting theme days make it much simpler to know what to post, and when. Your blog sounds fun too! Do you have a URL?? Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
      • Bradley A. Ritzenthaler
        September 12, 2013 at 10:41 am (4 years ago)

        Does commenting get easier? Duh, misspelled my own name in my very first comment. Let me introduce myself again. Hi, I’m Bradley, nom de plume B. A. Ritzenthaler. My website is baritzenthaler.com

        I was in danger of becoming a lifestyle blog that only my mother read. My intention is to draw attention to my writing and novel, soon to be novels. Trying to post every day lead to some poor posts that I’ve already deleted. I’m looking forward to writing more informative posts in the immediate future.

        I feel my blog is on a much stronger foundation now. I’m anxious to read more about building a solid blog with a loyal readership. Looking forward to the surprise at the end of your series. Your hook is set!

        Reply
  4. Kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts
    September 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm (4 years ago)

    Kristy,
    Had a long thoughtful comment, forgot that pesky name and stuff, and poof! Vanished.
    Let me try again, skipping the whole commenting part, and merely replying to the questions before I throw the computer across the room and risk hitting one of the new wiener dogs (the tiny print, italic font, and faint color make this reply thing a total pain and I have no idea how to fix it so I can see it easier):

    To promote my posts I do 3 things. I join link parties like my friend Kristy’s Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up, I share my photos on a pile of food porn sites + FB + Homegrown + G+ (when I remember that one), and I join themed recipe round ups.
    I get the most traffic when a photo is picked up by a major food porn site and from the themed recipe round ups.
    Size matters, but numbers not so much. I admit I like to check my stats, but the thing that makes me most happy is not the number of unique monthly visitors but the number of folks who have returned to my blog (You came back!)
    I have no idea what inspires comments!
    I build my audience by crafting better recipes and learning to take better photos to make those recipes look better.
    To be honest, I look to link parties, especially ones like yours and Heather’s What’s In The Box which both focus on my CSA niche, not to build an audience but to help me find my like tribe of bloggers. The other things (food porn and round ups) help build the audience of people I’m trying to reach–the ones who keep shoving the kohlrabi to the back of the crisper because they don’t know what to do with it, who are in danger of quitting their CSA, and telling all their friends why they quit, thereby causing fewer people to know the joy that is eating fresh local food. Damn, that sounds altruistic.

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      September 12, 2013 at 8:27 am (4 years ago)

      ACK! Kirsten I’m so sorry! Stupid computers!!! ARGH! (I’ve always giggled whenever I see “argh” typed out – it reminds me of Garfield comics).

      I totally dig everything you’ve just said (get it? “dig”? haha)… I’ve been really sucky at joining up with the linky parties lately because I’ve been so busy with work but I really value the relationships I’ve made from them. Heather’s is great!

      And I know what you mean about the food porn sites. I have a handful of those I often submit to and I do get a ton of traffic from them – I do find though that those visitors are one time traffic. Which is fine but like you said, it’s the return and repeat visitors that make it all worthwhile.

      P.s. I’ll fix the reply box if I can. You aren’t the first to make that comment.

      Reply
      • kristygardner@gmail.com
        September 12, 2013 at 9:16 am (4 years ago)

        FIXED! 🙂

        Reply
  5. suzyhomemaker
    October 1, 2013 at 7:31 am (4 years ago)

    One more quick question Kristy. I have decided to treat my blog as a part-time business instead of a hobby. So the last few weeks I stepped up with everything.

    I love G+ and am active on it but should I break down and do a FB page too?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • kristygardner@gmail.com
      October 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi Suzy!!

      I’ll be honest – I’m to Facebook’s biggest fan. By far. That being said, I think it’s a good idea to be on there. If for no other reason than because it’s the social media platform where MOST people feel comfortable. There’s a ton of people on there that you’ll never reach if you just stick to Google+ or Twitter. You do very well on Google+ – people could take lessons from you! But I do think it’s smart to be on Facebook…… Unfortunately.

      Let me know if you need help 😉

      p.s. I’d love to hear more of what you’re doing to step your blog up!

      Reply
  6. Paul v Walters
    June 22, 2014 at 11:22 pm (3 years ago)

    Thanks for the fabulous article. My traffic ghas stalled at about 1000 visitors a week and perhaps after reading this I can get the traffic moving again

    Reply
    • Kristy Gardner
      March 4, 2015 at 9:22 am (3 years ago)

      I hope so Paul! Let me know if I can be of further assistance 🙂

      Reply
  7. kenzie negron
    March 2, 2015 at 9:31 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi! I’m just beginning to start my blog and I love love love this series you have created.. thanks so much for the awesome tips!

    Reply
    • Kristy Gardner
      March 4, 2015 at 9:23 am (3 years ago)

      Hey Kenzie! Thank you so much – I hope you find it useful! I also have a free ebook download you might find useful. It’s just in the sidebar there. Go grab it – it should help you focus your new blog and make it super awesome.

      Reply
  8. LeShonda Martin
    August 2, 2015 at 9:35 pm (2 years ago)

    Great series, Kristy!

    You are teaching a novice (3 weeks in) like me how to make this thing grow and work! I am looking forward to reformatting my blog and making some upgrades. I see everyone mentioning WordPress. I went with Weebly. Do you have thoughts on Weebly? Will I be able to achieve the same kind of advertising benefits on a non WordPress platform? To address your questions, right now I mainly share my posts on my personal Facebook page. I also created a Twitter, Instagram, and fan page on Facebook for my blog. I encourage interaction on Instagram and shares/likes on Facebook. My twitter is pretty non existent right now. I feel like Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest will be the last social media platforms to develop for me. What’s working for me is lining up interviews to create consistent content. I’m also spending a crazy amount of hours trying to build the foundation. What I need to improve on is the system of blogging (really appreciated your post on scheduling). Great blog! I will be back to read more. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Kristy Gardner
      August 21, 2015 at 8:32 am (2 years ago)

      Hey LeShonda! Thanks for taking the time to say hello 🙂

      Unfortunately I don’t know much about Weedbly. I’m a WordPress.org (not WordPress.com) advocate myself. It provides you with so much control over the design, SEO and functionality and it’s my professional opinion that Weebly falls short on those areas.

      It sounds like you’re doing great things though on social media – spend more time on those platforms (maybe one less blog post per week) so you can curate your content and relationships there. After all, we can create all the consistent, amazing content in the world but if no one cares about us (or our content) enough to share it, no one will see it.

      Good luck! 🙂
      Kristy Gardner recently posted…How to Use Facebook (when you hate using Facebook)My Profile

      Reply

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