This is the third post in a series offering my mediocre advice on blogging. I usually start by saying that I’m not even that good at it and maybe you shouldn’t take advice from the likes of me. But people keep emailing me about it and over the past few years I really have learned some stuff.
You can read part 1 (about whether you should start a blog) and part 2 (newbie mistakes to avoid), or just jump in here with my suggestions on promote your blog.
The most important thing you can do to grow your audience is to write good stuff. The biggest growth my blog has seen has not come from guest posting or advertising or writing for bigger outlets. No sir. There’s no magic formula. It’s been when we publish something awesome that people want to share. If it’s genuinely good stuff, people will want to read it. The end.
Leaving comments. Some people swear this is the most important thing you can do. I think it helps but it’s tiiiiimmme consuming. I want to dedicate my time to my family, writing good stuff, watching TV, hanging out with my friends drinking wine, and playing on my iPad – in pretty much that order. So if leaving comments is an item on your to-do list, be smart about it or it will take up all your time. I’d pick the couple of blogs you really, really love and leave frequent, thoughtful comments there.
One more thing about leaving comments as a networking tool, if you’re only reading a blog or leaving a comment to promote yourself it sort of… Comes across that way.
If you do not ask, you will not get. Guest posting or writing for a big website is a really awesome way to get your stuff out there. If you love a blog or a blogger and want to write for them, send them something! What’s the worst that could happen? Put yourself out there and pitch ideas to the blogs and websites you want to work with. Be willing to do some stuff for free to help get your work out there.
If your favorite blogger is about to have a new baby, maybe she’d love a guest post. Perhaps someone you admire has a book coming out and they would be grateful for a review or a give-away. Maybe they have a project/event coming up and need help promoting it.
If you want to write for Babble or Huffpost, pitch to them! Get in touch with those folks via Twitter or Facebook. Be polite and professional and ask for advice. If you know someone who knows someone who you think might be able to help you, ask for an email introduction. And of course, offer your help in return.
Be generous and pass on all the help you get. If people (be they friends, connections, readers or strangers) have been kind enough to read your blog, provide feedback or advice, share information, or promote your work – you should do the same to the people who reach out to you.
Find the audience that is just right for you. My best writing speaks directly to my own experiences. The old adage “write what you know” is actually really good advice for folks starting out. Who better to appreciate and relate to your blog posts than other women/parents going through the same stuff? When you’re getting started, this is also a helpful strategy because if the audience you’re looking to connect with is like you – you already know where to find them. You know what sites they enjoy reading, what message boards they’re on, and what they’re likely to click on. So start there.