I about fell out of my chair. Good thing my tumble was cushioned by a wide swath of bare linoleum, or I might have hurt myself.
Really. Last time I checked my follower stats – which I do about every time Hailey’s Comet appears – I had a couple hundred followers. As in, bigger than a bread box but not by much.
Well, another comet just passed, so I checked the stats and found I’m well into 4 digits. And counting. Hence the chair-falling thing.
What did I do to increase my followers? Did I buy or import any lists? Offer new subscribers some smoke and mirrors, a fancy floor show or round-trip tickets to Hawaii? Did I bribe friends, relatives, Romans or fellow country men to sign up?
Truthfully, I didn’t “do” anything. I just tried to post content that might be interesting, useful, helpful, entertaining, or otherwise brilliant. So no one’s more surprised at the follower “bump” than I am.
My point: If I can do it, so can you. Here a few suggestions for building your blog:
1. Be yourself. Resist the temptation to mimic someone else’s voice, perspective or style. Example: To the horror of middle school English teachers everywhere, I often use sentence fragments. Intentionally. For clarity. Or emphasis. It’s part of who I am as a writer. You have your own voice, too. Keep it and say it your way.
2. K.I.S.S.S. Do you get lost in posts that ramble on until the 12th of Never, or read like War and Peace? I do. Ours is a busy society. People are in a hurry. Most read on the fly. So a brief, single-subject post is more likely to be read and shared than a meandering monologue that tries to tackle 58 topics at once. So Keep It Short and Simple, Stupid. If you can’t keep it short and simple, rewrite until you can.
3. Self-edit. Can we puh-leeze eliminate mispelings, pore grammer, impropper usage and louzee punktuashion?
4. Write your passion, not someone else’s. If you’re passionate about hiking, crocheting, or car maintenance, write about it. If dessert, Thoroughbred racing or travels to Tibet rock your boat, then chocoholics, horse lovers and world travelers will find you. Eventually.
5. Write real. In tandem with the brilliant tip above, stop writing to impress an audience, real or imaginary. If you’re blogging to be “discovered” or to become rich and famous, you need to re-assess what you’re doing and why. Fakes aren’t just phony, they’re boring. Don’t be one. Write from your heart.
6. Quality, not quantity. Hang around the blogosphere for long and you’ll hear a steady chorus of “post often,” usually in the two to five times a week range. Excuse me? Unless you’re a hermit on a Himalayan hillside, most of us scramble for that ever-elusive quality required for good posts: time. Sorry, but I think quality content has a distinct edge over quantity. Or frequency. So I don’t pay any attention to the “two to five times a week” pundits. I write when I can. Amazingly, nobody falls out of their chair in the meantime.
7. Rewards. Your readers are taking time out of their day to visit you. Reward them. Include tips, pointers, reciprocal links, author interviews, guest posts, freebies, whatever. Offer readers some “take-away” value.
8. Include Photos (legally). Photos help break up copy and engage the eye. Use ’em when and where you can.
9. Be friendly. Say “please” and “thank you.” Be friendly and you’ll find friends. And followers.
How have you engaged new readers? What works for you? Share in the comment section below.