That’s a problem. But not a permanent one. Building a blog following from scratch does take time, effort and attention to detail, but it doesn’t have to take a lot of money.
In Part 1 of this post, I talked about how you can build a blog following by promoting your blog everywhere, leveraging social media groups instead of only followers and fans, making it easy to sign up for and share your blog, and showing appreciation to your readers.
I think it’s also important that you don’t equate your blog following with the number of subscribers. Honestly, I don’t have a ton of subscribers. But I know a lot of people read my blog every week, according to analytics, likes, shares, comments and profile views.
Your blog following consists of everyone who reads your blog – subscribers, followers, fans, connections, friends, and those who are members of the same social groups and networks.
So how do you build such a blog following? Here are a few more simple but critical steps.
Subscribers and social media followers and fans expect to be introduced to a new blog post by an email or social media post on a certain day or at a certain time of day. Your social media connections who may not be subscribers, followers or fans will notice and remember your blog only if you post consistently.
Breaks in the pattern and long gaps between posts make it easier for people to forget your blog. Nobody will follow a blog if they think there is nothing to follow.
Not only are human beings creatures of habit, but you won’t gain someone’s trust overnight. You need to earn it over a period of time by publishing new blog posts consistently.
Sweat the details
Are your social share buttons too big or too small? Are they too close together or too far apart? Is it clear that these buttons are for sharing and not links to your own social channels?
Is the font easy to read? Are the lines of text too close together or too far apart? Is there enough contrast between the text color and background color?
Are you using high resolution photos? Are your photos too big or too small? Do they reinforce the point of your blog post?
Are you using an author bio? Does it help to establish your expertise or make you more likeable?
All of these details – and many others – contribute to a positive or negative user experience and can make a person more or less likely to come back and read your next blog post. Take nothing for granted.
Test everything on mobile devices
After redesigning my website with a responsive theme, I realized that the sign up form for my blog would disappear on a smaller screen because the form was in the sidebar. Anyone reading my blog on a smartphone wouldn’t be able to sign up for my blog.
That sucked. A couple months ago, I had a smaller sign up form added to the footer so it would be visible to mobile visitors – and it’s bringing in subscribers.
Even if you’re using responsive design, you can still have navigation problems, sidebar content issues, awkward page breaks and overlapping visual elements.
Test every plugin and widget. If they don’t look right or work right on smartphones, get them fixed or find new ones. Failing to optimize your blog for mobile visitors is a killer.
By the way, if you’re still not using responsive design or a mobile website, you know you’re screwed, so there’s no sense beating that dead horse.
Create and share content that makes your blog worth following
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you can’t use your blog posts as an endless series of sales pitches and expect to gain a following outside of your own sales staff.
Focus on helping people, not selling. Be authentic and develop your own unique voice. Don’t be afraid to share your point of view and stick to your guns, even if it ruffles feathers.
Think of questions your target audience commonly asks and use your blog to answer them. If people gain something of value from each blog post, they’ll keep coming back for more.
About those search engines…
I was going to write something about Google but realized the rules would probably change by the time this post was published. My only suggestion is to incorporate important keywords into headlines, subheads and page titles when possible.
If you want to jump through hoops to please Lord Google, knock yourself out. I’d rather jump through hoops to please my readers.
When building a blog following, it all comes back to creating the best possible customer experience.
Create relevant, customer-focused content, share it consistently, share it with the right audience, and make it easy to subscribe, read and share. This is how you build the relationships that build and sustain your business.
What have you done to build a blog following? What makes you want to avoid a blog like the plague?