Welcome back to my Blogging Tips series!
I’m extra excited. It’s officially one year since I started my blog! Can you believe it?
So much has changed since then and I really wanted to share with you how I went about growing my blog to what it is now.
When I began blogging a year ago, I didn’t really have a sense of what I wanted to do. I mean, obviously I wanted to create a food blog, but what was my focus? For me, starting is always the hardest part because I have no idea what I’m doing. Do you feel the same way? I always feel that once I get through that first part it gets easier because now you have some idea of what you want and how to go about doing it.
During that first month, I struggled with writing recipes, taking photos, and figuring out the content of my blog posts. Should I write and take step by step photos? Should I write little stories leading up to my stories or just get to the point? How many photos should I include? How the heck do I make my food look appetizing? How often should I post?
I had sooo many questions that I had no answers to because every blogger/blog is different. What works for you might not work for me. But you start to instinctively know once you write several posts. You start to develop a niche, the purpose of your blog.
Mine? I focus on quick, simple, and healthy recipes. Not to say that I don’t deviate from that time to time. I do. Because I think it’s okay to indulge every once in awhile as long as it’s in good portion sizes. Why did I choose to focus on this? Because I felt like I was in college forever pursuing my degrees. When I first started living on my own for school, I felt like I was always too busy studying or attending classes to cook. My diet consisted of tons of pasta and salads and some takeouts. I was very uninspired to cook after a long day. So I thought I’d create a blog that focuses on creating dishes that are easy to make; require common and easy to buy ingredients; can be prepared, cooked, and served in about 30 minutes (with some exceptions); and are mostly healthy. You can read more about why I started my blog here.
***As a reminder, these blogging tips are based on my personal experience over the past year of blogging. By no means am I an expert.
The First Month
In November 2013, I barely had any views. My total view count was 96 with an average of 4 views a day, which really meant that some days I might have up to 10 views while other days I had none. At the time, I was just happy to get any views and subscribers. But it can be discouraging when you see that no one visited your blog. After all, we all want someone to read what we write. At least, that’s how I felt. Does anyone else feel that way?
Here’s what I did for the first few months: I posted sporadically. Some weeks I posted back to back days, other weeks I waited several days in between posts. The only consistency was that I always posted on Sunday. And I just waited to see if there’s any response. And continued to wait. And well… nothing really happened. My blog was mostly quiet.
Was I disappointed? Yes! Especially those days when there wasn’t even a single view.
I mentioned in the first post of this series that consistency is the key to gaining readers and subscribers. It’s true. Well, for me anyway.
I started playing around with my blog, trying to figure what worked best for my blog. I noticed that when I posted back to back posts I get more subscribers and viewers. Then when I wait days in between posts, the views decreased to nothing.
So I thought I’d try to be more consistent. There was absolutely no way I could post every single day and still write quality recipe posts. But what I could do is write every other day. That was much more plausible for me.
When I became consistent in posting, I noticed more viewers. Readers want to know when they can expect a post from you. If you post once or twice every month, why would they feel a need to follow you? And how do they know that you’ll continue to update?
You don’t have to update every other day like I do, that just works for me personally. But maybe consider writing a post 2-3 days a week.
When someone writes a comment on your post, or asks a question, try to answer them. You want to be approachable and present so that your readers can connect with you.
Let’s say you asked a blogger a question about their recipe, and you never get a response, how would you feel?
I try to answer every single comment on my blog, even if it’s just a quick thank you to acknowledge that I’ve read the comments. And I do. I read every single comment. But sometimes it takes me a few days to get through all of them.
There are a few exceptions though. Sometimes a comment is flagged as spam by Akismet. I check the spam folder once a week to see if that happens and mark them as not spam. However, I have accidentally deleted my entire spam folder a couple times when I actually meant to delete just several. If you’re one of those commenters, I’m really sorry!
Visit Other Blogs, Like, and Comment
The most important thing I learned? You can’t sit around and wait for people to come to you. There are soo many blogs from all over the world. How is anyone going to find your little blog?
Which means you’ll have to put in some extra work.
Explore other blogs, whether they’re small or big, whether they’re about food or travel or lifestyles. Like and comment on posts. People notice. And they’ll come by to visit your blog. If they like what they see, they’ll subscribe to your blog. Which is why it’s super important to have quality content!
Allow your readers to follow you however they like whether it’s email subscriptions, BlogLovin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest etc.
Not everyone wants their emails cluttered with dozens of emails from blogs. So they might prefer to follow your blog through BlogLovin (a blog reader) or other forms of social media.
Leave your social media icons in a place where visitors can easily see and click. Mine is on the upper left side where people can easily see it. Even before my profile.
Understand that not everyone is going to follow you from every single social media account. And try not to follow people and then immediately ask them to follow you back. The reason for that is because sometimes it can be taken the wrong way and sound like, “I’ll follow you if you follow me.” Instead, introduce yourself. Say, “Hi! I’m Andrea from Cooking with the Wallflower. I love your blog and can’t wait to see more.” Or something similar. It’s much more friendly and personal.
This is actually one of the best ways to discover new blogs and be discovered. Link parties, if you haven’t come across them before, are basically a weekly gathering of bloggers with the same interest. You submit links to your best posts of the week, making sure to meet the requirements for each link party. Sometimes the hosts will ask that you follow them through social media, or just link food related posts, or have you comment on three other bloggers’ posts before yours. Things like that. You want to make sure you follow the rules.
Why is this the best way (in my opinion) to meet new people? You’re showcasing your best work and so are other bloggers. People will come across your post and click on it if they like what they see. You can discover new bloggers by clicking on links with photos that you like. Trust me. Visit and talk to other bloggers. It really helps your blog too.
Here’s an example of one of the link parties I join weekly. Fiesta Friday at the Novice Gardener was the first link party I ever participated in. Everyone is friendly and actively reaching out to others. I’ve made a lot of blog friends this way.
Sometimes the button can be customized like this image below.
Most of the time, it looks like this image below. Click on the button that says “Add your Link.” It’s usually located near the bottom of the post. On the right side, it’ll tell you how much time you have to submit your posts. Usually a few days. Once you submit your link, it’ll appear like a grid for people to explore.
Submit a link, the title of your post, and your email address. Photos will pop up in the “Image Source” area. Select the image that you want displayed, crop it, and it’ll appear where the Frog sits.
You can find more link parties that I’ve participated in by clicking on the “Link Party and Features” tab in the heading.
The link parties I join are all food related, but you can search to find other link parties that are more suited to your needs. If not, you can always try creating one and asking others to join.
It’s super easy to join in. And if the hosts or other readers like what you posted, you can be featured! And that’ll give you even more exposure.
I like to keep track of the link parties I participate in weekly. The first column is the date of submission, the second the name of the link party, the third is the post I submitted, and the fourth is for the date a post is featured at a link party. I like keeping track of all that info in case anyone ever asks. It does take a bit of time to write it all down, but it works and it keeps me organized. You can download a copy of your own below.
Click on the button below to download a copy of the printable.
This is actually for food bloggers, but I’m sure there are lots more like it for bloggers focused on other categories too.
Try submitting your posts to galleries such as Foodgawker, Tastespotting, Finding Vegan, My Recipe Magic, plus so many more. These galleries will help bring traffic to your blog. And don’t be discouraged by rejections. Just keep trying and learning from rejections. You’ll get yours accepted eventually. I’ll talk more about this when I write about photography. =)
I know this was a super long post, but I hope that you found it somewhat helpful. As you can probably tell, blogging takes time to develop and grow. It’s not something that will be successful overnight. You have to put a lot of effort and dedication into it to gain a steady audience.
Are there any other tips that I missed that you’d like to share?
Missed any posts from this series? Click on the links below.