One of the great joys of blogging is knowing that people enjoy your content. But as a new blogger, it can be a frustrating process trying to build an audience.
How can you let people know about your amazing blog posts if you don’t have a ready-made audience or a huge following on social media?
Tots100 is here to help. We’ve scoured through our archives and asked our team for their top tips, and here are our 50 best, tried-and-tested ways of increasing your blog’s audience.
1. Share a Post. We might be biased *cough*, but if you’re a Tots100 member, using our Share a Post feature couldn’t be easier. Just click on the button, share your post’s URL, and your post may be featured on our site. It’s a great way to reach new readers who might otherwise never discover your particular blog.
2. Join a collaborative Pinterest board. You might only have a few followers on Pinterest, but joining together with other bloggers to share posts and ideas can reap huge rewards because everyone else’s followers can see your contributions – not just your followers. Why not join our collaborative Parent Blogger Pinboard? Just let us know if you’d like us to invite you.
3. Take part in WillyNilly Friday. Every single Friday, Tots100 reads and shares your favourite blog posts on Twitter. All you have to do is Tweet us a link between 8am and 8pm using the #WillyNilly hashtag.
4. Join in with Linky posts: A Linky is a nice way to meet new bloggers, as many people joining in with a Linky will visit the other blogs taking part. Warning – this will only work if your entry to a Linky is genuinely interesting enough to make new visitors stick around! Check out our list of some of the best Linky post opportunities for bloggers.
5. Join in with competitions: Competitions that ask for blog posts are also another good way to reach new readers. For example, our Center Parcs ‘design a water ride’ competition will be shared with Center Parcs followers, and we often share images on Facebook, too.
6. Have a good link to your RSS feed: one of the best ways to boost your readership is to encourage your visitors to subscribe to your site. Make sure you have a prominent link to your RSS feed on your blog above the fold (ie in the part of the site users see without scrolling down). If you use WordPress, consider a plug-in like Greetbox to encourage subscriptions.
7. Use a Facebook page: Twitter is great for reaching the sort of people who already read blogs, but Facebook is better for reaching non-bloggers, in our experience. A good Facebook page, shared and liked by your real life friends, will score you lots of new readers. Be sure to follow our tips on making the most of your Facebook page.
8. Use a G+ page. Let’s be honest. At the moment, 99% of the people you know probably don’t know what G+ is, much less have a G+ profile. We don’t think G+ is where you’ll find new readers – but we do recommend you have a profile. Why’s that? Because having a G+ profile and sharing links to your blog posts on there will boost your site’s visibility in search engines. Better results in search engines means more readers. And if you’re on G+ don’t forget to follow us for tips, recommendations and fun opportunities. We’ve also shared some tips on using G+ for new bloggers.
9. Make Twitter work for you. Almost every blogger is on Twitter and uses it to promote posts. But are you making the most of the opportunity? Research from link shortening company Bit.ly shows that most clicks on links happen between 1 and 3pm on weekdays – so share your posts then. Links posted after 8pm tend to get lower results, and anything posted after 3pm on a Friday is likely to sink without trace.
10. Stumble. Frequently. StumbleUpon is all about Internet serendipity. Register with the site and it will show you random web pages it thinks you’ll like. As a blogger, you should register and stumble your own content – the StumbleUpon community is absolutely HUGE and stumbling posts on topics like photography, Internet tips and tricks, comedy and tutorials will bring in scores of new readers.
11. Share your posts with brands. If you write a review of a product, be sure to share the link with the brand in question. Post a link to your review on their Facebook page. Tweet them. Ask them if they’ll consider sharing your post on their blog. Some brands have hundreds of thousands of followers and likers, and getting brands to promote your blog to them is a BIG opportunity.
12. Have blogrolls. Blogrolls are considered a little old-fashioned these days, but many people still use them as a way to find new blogs. Create a blogroll and ask your blogging friends listed on it to return the favour and list them on yours.
13. Not a blogroll person? Make sure your Tots100 profile is updated so your blog is included in our Love Blogs Widget – this is a blogroll that updates every day to display a different set of Tots100 blogs at random.
14. Add your blog to your email signature. How many emails do you send a day? 50? 100? Your email signature is the quickest, easiest way possible to tell those people about your blog.
15. Join forums. Joining forums (like Blogger.Ed) is a great way to make connections and share ideas with like-minded people, and adding your signature to your forum posts will also help bring in new readers, and could boost your visibility in search engines, too.
16. Use Instagram. Posting, tagging and sharing photos on Instagram is a great way to reach new readers, who may not be bloggers. Consider posting pictures that promote your latest post, but also post random pictures of your day, pictures from events you attend, and special days out. Don’t forget if you are on Instagram, you can follow us (@tots100index) and join in with our Tots100 Tumblr, which is a great way of reaching new people.
17. Comment on other blogs. Commenting on other blogs is the tried and tested way of getting new readers – people reading the comments on a blog post you found interesting are likely to find your blog interesting, after all. To turbo-charge this approach look for blogs that use CommentLuv, which allows commenters to leave a link to their most recent blog post at the bottom of their comment.
18. Focus on headlines. People reading on the Internet don’t (usually) settle down on the sofa for a good, long read. They scan, and hop from page to page, until something captures their attention. So make your headlines GREAT. Make them short, make them relevant and use key words people are likely to be searching for. Puns, song titles and single-word titles might be creative, but they’re not audience-grabbers. Aim for 7 words per headline, max.
19. SEO, SEO, SEO. It’s obvious. If you want people to find your blog through search engines, you’ll need to do a bit of SEO. Don’t panic. It needn’t be technical, it needn’t be time-consuming. Having a relevant title, using keywords in your posts, and giving images smart and relevant tags will boost traffic, as will using an SEO plug-in such as Yoast or All-in-One SEO. Check out this post for more quick SEO tips for bloggers.
20. Be consistent. As awful as it might sound, high-traffic blogs are those that have a consistent ‘brand’. If you consistently blog about the same sorts of things – or about different things in the same sort of way – then you’ll become the go-to blog for that sort of content. Readers come back if they know what they’re going to find on your site.
21. Everyone loves a list. Remember how we said readers on the Internet have short attention spans? (what do you mean, you’ve forgotten?) Well, people love lists, because they’re easy to read. Top tens, five important tips, 50 great ways to… Consider posts where you can pull together lots of your other posts, or link out to lots of resources across the Internet to save people looking for them.
22. Break up the page. Another way to make your posts easier to read and encourage people to stick around, is to break them up into sections. Use sub-headings, pictures and spaces to break long bits of text into smaller pieces.
23. Volunteer for media opportunities. Being in the press is a great way to get new readers – especially if you can persuade the journalist to include a link to your blog in their article. Have a media page on your blog with links to places you’ve been featured, if appropriate. And if you’re REALLY serious about getting into the media, then register with sites such as Expert Sources, where journalists go and look for subject-matter experts.
24.Make use of badges. Lots of bloggers love to have badges on their sites and the good news is badges are like teeny, tiny little ads for your blog. If you run a weekly carnival, a blog hop, a charity campaign or similar, consider making a badge and inviting fellow bloggers to display it on their sites.
25. Join Facebook groups and communities. Yes, there are Facebook groups for bloggers, but Facebook also has thousands of other groups for people who like books, or baking, or badgers (probably – we made that one up). Search for them, join them and make connections. By this we mean chat to people and offer advice and mention your blog if relevant. Don’t ever barge into any online community with, “I’M HERE! NOW READ MY BLOG!” unless you want to be ignored.
26. Make videos and post them on YouTube. Did you know YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine? Loads of people on YouTube know nothing about blogs, but are always looking for tips, recipes, demonstrations and comedy cats. Posting videos with a link to your blog in the channel, the video description and even on screen as part of the video is a great way to find new readers.
27. Interview people. Feature them on your blog. The higher-profile the better. Most people will be flattered to be asked, and when you publish your interview, they’ll share it with their followers. Simple.
28. Make it easy for people to share. There are loads of sites where you can get ‘sharing’ buttons so people can share your content on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks. Make sure you use them, and make them easy to find!
29. List your blog in directories. Of course, your blog should be listed in Tots100 or Foodies100, but there are lots of other blog directories, from media databases such as Gorkana and Vocus to Wikio, Technorati and Fuel my Blog. Don’t be shy. If it’s out there, aim to be listed in it. You never know where your next reader might come from.
30. Use keyword research. It might sound geeky and boring, but knowing that people are 100 times more likely to look for “Christmas log recipes” than “Yule log recipes” and incorporating that knowledge into your festive recipe blog post will be worth the effort. You can find out how many people are looking for any word on Google using its keyword research page.
31. Use search-friendly permalinks. It takes approximately 2 seconds to change your permalinks and once done, your traffic from search will increase enormously. Basically this means changing your blog settings so that post addresses look like this: www.myblog.com/recipe-for-christmas-cake and less like this: www.myblog.com/12-11-11-post145. Check out your blog settings to make sure you’ve got this box ticked.
32. Court controversy. If there’s one thing we know about human nature, it’s that there’s no quicker way to get thousands of people on your blog very quickly than to start a heated debate. If you’ve got the nerves for it, feel free to blog about how awful the customer service at Tesco is, or why you hate your mobile phone provider. Take that celebrity to task for wearing fur. But remember the rules – snark only works if you have a sense of humour, nobody likes a bully, and libel laws are very real. So be opinionated, but also be fair, honest and try to retain your sense of humour at all times.
33. Submit press releases. Done something amazing? Why not shout about it? You can submit a press release to a press release distribution site for just a few pounds, and it means nice new backlinks to your site and potentially lots of new readers. If you win an award, climb a mountain, launch a charity appeal or anything else noteworthy, check out sites like Response Source and consider writing your own press release.
34. Use analytics. We’ll be honest. Google Analytics confuses us. But one reason for looking at your stats from time to time is to see which of your posts are most poular with readers. Armed with the knowledge that your readers want to know more about plus-size fashion and kitchen design tips, you can write more posts like those.
35. Submit your best posts to Reddit and Digg. These sharing communities are perfect if you have a BRILLIANT post that deserves a wider audience. Don’t use it for every post, though, or you’ll quickly get a reputation for spamming.
36. Use business cards. When you go to any blog-related event – be it a conference, launch, press conference or similar – distribute business cards liberally. Some bloggers also leave business cards in their wake on a daily basis, in hotel rooms, on trains… always worth a try!
37. Use LinkedIn. If you’re blogging about anything work-related, you can now link your blog to LinkedIn and share those posts with your professional contacts. LinkedIn also has lots of groups you can join, and share content with on email alerts.
38. Respond to comments. When you respond to blog comments, you look like a nice person. This is more important than you might think when it comes to turning a on-off visitor into a regular reader.
39. Find out who’s linking to you. Using sites like Open Site Explorer will let you see what other sites are linking to you – and you can then go and say hello to that site, and potentially convert another reader.
40. Collaborate. If there are blogs you admire, consider approaching the blogger and asking if they’d like to collaborate on a project. You might jointly hold a carnival, or a themed week of posts on a particular topic, which you both promote to your respective audiences.
41. Create a newsletter. Email newsletters and digests are a nice way to connect with readers who might otherwise forget to keep visiting your site. Newsletters are frequently shared and forwarded, too, helping you reach new readers. Try mailchimp and Constant Contact for affordable email newsletter services.
42. Comment on newspapers. Lots of newspapers will allow you to post a link in your comment on their site, so if you find a story that’s very relevant to your blog, then feel free to post a comment with a link to your site. Simple.
43. Host images on Flickr. Putting your blog images on Flickr and linking them to your blog will help you find new readers, particularly if you use relevant keyword tags and descriptions.
44. Host a competition. Competitions are a FAB way of reaching new people, especially if you list your competitions on popular competition websites such as Moneysavingexpert and Loqax. Those visitors might not stick around, but you never know!
45. Showcase your top articles: one way to convert one-off visitors into readers is to showcase your best articles. Create a set of links in your sidebar to your most popular or most commented on posts, or use a word tag cloud to show readers at a glance what your site is about.
46. Build relationships. You can take a rather cynical view of this and use Followerwonk to identify which of your followers are most influential online, but a more fun and social alternative is to make sure you chat to people – reply to those who @ you on Twitter and send @ messages to influential people you admire who don’t (yet) follow you. You might need to Tweet someone a few times before they follow you back, but it usually works.
47. Enter awards. We recommend not entering those awards that require you to badger your friends into voting for you every day for a month, but there are now lots of awards for bloggers, and they’re a great way to raise your profile, especially if you reach the finals and receive some media coverage. We run the MAD Blog Awards each spring, which are perfect for parent bloggers.
48. Always Be Linking. When you write a post, use every opportunity to link back to other posts you’ve written. You should also try to link to other relevant posts on other sites. This can generate a trackback which will appear on the bottom of the other person’s blog post, if they have that setting enabled.
49. Pictures, pictures, pictures. The Internet is a visual medium, and is becoming ever-more so. Add pictures, make pictures, share pictures.
50. Don’t give up and have fun! This is perhaps the most important piece of advice there is. If your blog is interesting and fun to write, then don’t give up. It might be 12 months or more before your blog starts to get a regular audience. It might be even longer, but remember you only need for one post to go viral on a social network for your blog’s popularity to leap overnight – keep plugging away, write your blog in a way that is genuine and fun for you, and it’ll happen!