9. Network with other bloggers.
Back when I first starting blogging, if you blogged semi-consistently and were even remotely interesting, you had no problem getting readers. Nowadays, there are so many more blogs and it’s a lot harder to build your readership. One of the key components — aside from so many of the other things we’ve discussed in this series — is to network with other bloggers.
I’ve learned everything I know about blogging from more experienced and wiser people. They’ve given me counsel, they’ve taught me things I would have never figured out on my own, they’ve encouraged me with I was feeling burnt out or discouraged and they’ve challenged me to better myself as a blogger and writer.
Find bloggers you can connect with (either online or in your local area) to bounce ideas off of, to keep each other accountable and to share new things you’re learning or experimenting. These friendships can be invaluable — and it’s also nice to spend time with people who “get” what this whole blogging thing is about!
Partner with other bloggers to create series (see Honoring the Man They Call Daddy for an example), team up with other bloggers to raise awareness about issues you care about and guest post on each other’s blogs. Always be looking for ways to join forces with other bloggers in a way that will benefit your readers — and theirs, as well.
10. Create a community.
Finally, if you want to build your readership, you need to be there for them. Don’t just write a post and then disappear and let readers talk amongst themselves in the comments. Respond to questions asked and interact with your readers on a regular basis. In fact, when you are first starting out, you might to try to respond to all comments left. It encourages people to stick around and it makes them feel a part of a community.
Even if you can’t respond to every comment, whatever you do, don’t just show up to respond to commentors. As Jon Acuff says, “If you only respond to jerks on your blog, eventually you’ll create a blog that only jerks read.” It’s totally okay to explain yourself to those who misunderstood your post or are offended, but it’s much more important to respond to the faithful, encouraging commentors. They care much more deeply about you than a fly-by-night nasty anonymous commentor ever does.
In addition, listen to your readers: ask for their advice, welcome their input and let them know how much you appreciate them.
A Word of Caution
People always ask me, “How do you do it all?” I think the important thing to remember is that I’ve slowly added new things — Facebook, Twitter, email newsletter, etc. If I had tried to set it all up all at once, I would have been completely overwhelmed.
Pace yourself when setting up a blog. Challenge yourself to try new things little by little, don’t go and implement all these ten things at once. Pick one or two to focus on for the next few months. Set goals for each month, break these goals down into weekly goals and then work on them for 10 or 15 minutes each day. Over time, it will likely start to become old hat and you can add new goals and experiment with new ideas.
However, remember to compare yourself with yourself only. There will always be another blogger doing a better job of this or that or the other. Don’t let it discourage you. Look at the progress you are making towards your goals — even if it seems very slow and miniscule — and be encouraged by that.