Blogging is a passion of mine that I’ve recently been lucky enough to attempt to make a living out of. I always get a rush of excitement whenever a friend asks me for advice; Disconcur and Casadella probably regret ever showing me their blogs because I just Do. Not. Shut. Up. once I’ve caught even a whiff of interest! So, in order to spare them from my incessant ramblings, I’ve decided to share with you four tips for newbie bloggers who are looking to build an awesome community of like-minded readers.
Write With Purpose
Back when I first started Mama Needs Mana, I had an ambitious goal of writing a new post every day because I had read somewhere that it encourages visitors to return. But here’s the thing: without having any particular reason for writing other than my arbitrary deadline, my posts went down in quality very quickly. Writing for my pet project became a chore rather than something I genuinely wanted to do and my traffic suffered as a result.
When blogging as a hobby, you need to do what is right for you. Readers can tell when your content is forced and your heart isn’t in it. It’s also not going to be very fun for you, either! Posting at regular intervals is important, but quality content that is written with a purpose is arguably more so.
When looking at this issue from a business perspective, I usually recommend clients write detailed, well researched posts that are crammed with useful information for their target audience. This not only helps to establish their business as an authority in their industry, but it is also better when looking to convert leads into sales.
Don’t Paint Yourself Into A Corner
I weep when I look back at old traffic reports and how many comments my posts on Neri Approves got compared to this blog. However, Neri Approves is focused around World of Warcraft, and more specifically, guild leadership. When I stopped playing WoW, I no longer had anything to write about. Sure, I could have re-branded Neri Approves to be what Mama is today, but in the process I would have lost what made it so successful in the first place.
Work out who your ideal reader is and what their interests are, and write for them. Most of the time, you’ll probably find that your ideal reader is you. If one day you want to write about World of Warcraft, and the next you want to write about knitting, then go ahead! I would only recommend going after an ultra specific niche readership if you are looking to monetize your blog.
I am probably extra sensitive about this because a big part of my job is making websites look pretty, but presentation is an important part of running a successful blog. Everything from your colour scheme, layout, widget choices, navigation, post formats and ad placements will affect how well your blog is received by your desired readership. You want your information to be easily located and read, with your most important assets such as social media, blog subscription options, etc. in prominent positions.
More important than all of that, though? Correct spelling and grammar. I know I am notoriously bad for hitting the publish button before triple checking that what I’ve written actually makes sense (My subscribers must laugh so hard at me when my typo riddled posts land in their inbox), so trust me when I say that this matters if you don’t want to look like a babbling idiot!
Professional blogger or not, it is nice to be considered an authority in your hobby of choice. Industry authorities do not mix up ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’, or misspell ‘Three’ in a post title (Yep, I’m guilty of that one). Triple check your work, then take a break from it and read it again another time with a fresh set of eyes. You will be amazed at what you miss when you’ve been staring at your work for hours on end.
Get Busy Networking
Let’s be honest here, as bloggers we like to know people are reading our stuff. My biggest goal with Mama Needs Mana has been to create a community of like-minded gamer parents, and so I share the posts that I do with the aim of sparking up a conversation. That’s a hard thing to do if people don’t even know your blog exists!
Do not be afraid to promote your work. If you don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account for your blog, get one now! Be brave and reach out to other bloggers and ask if they would be interested in an ad swap, listing you on their blog-roll, or even running a guest post you have written specifically for them. If you can find the time, leave comments on articles that are relevant to your readers, or better yet, write a response post on your own blog that includes a link back to theirs.
Speaking of comments, if a reader takes the time to leave you a response, they totally deserve a reply! Even if it’s just a ‘thank you’ note, it will go a long way to encouraging them to reply again in the future. Same goes with comments and tweets you get on your social media pages. Conversations are generally not a one-way affair. If you want to build a community, you need to engage with your readers!
I imagine that some of you reading this may be doubting whether or not this advice is any good when I’m not exactly pulling in hundreds of thousands of readers a month. The thing is, I know that if I was better at life and I actually did these things on a regular basis, I would see my statistics improve.
Hobby or not, creating a thriving community takes effort and passion on your part. You will get out of it what you put in, it just most likely won’t happen overnight.
Want to learn more about creating a community? Check out a these posts:
- The Complete Guide To Building Your Blog Audience
- 33 Experts Share Their Secrets For Building Reader Engagement
- ‘Finding Readers For Your Blog’ Webinar Recording
- NBI: Month Wrap Up (Scroll down to Sponsor Posts)
What advice would you give a newbie blogger? Share your pearls of wisdom in the comments below.