It’s official-I’m finally back for a Frequently Asked Questions post! I know you guys thought I abandoned this, but now that I’ve cleared my schedule a bit I’m able to give this feature the time and dedication I need to make it worthwhile. I stated in the last post that I’d be discussing growing your followers, as this was the #3 most popular question I’ve received, so here we are! Please keep in mind that the suggestions I’m making and the examples I give are what have worked for me; you may have to tailor things a bit to find out what works best for you and that’s ok. Please feel free to leave any questions you may have below in the comments if there’s something I didn’t clear up or need to explain further; I’m also open to others sharing their suggestions of what has worked well for them in the past too! ❤
CONNECT WITH FELLOW BLOGGERS/READERS:
Everything in this post will be under the umbrella of that single piece of advice; the “big secret” to growing your blog is really no secret at all. I can guarantee that almost any major blogger you see started from a little platform and gained momentum through patience, consistent hard work, and networking with their peers. As bloggers, we are as varied as the type of books we read, and when we can connect with those who share similar sub-genre interests it gives us a feeling of encouragement that spurs on growth. Promoting your blog amongst other bloggers is important; there is no competition and these chums will be your most valuable way of growing your viewer audience. I’d like to first discuss the ways I use various social media to promote my blog, although please do not limit yourself to only the ones I discuss below. Afterward I’ll be discussing a few other ways to grow your viewership as well and you can decide which ones work for your schedule and budget.
Honestly I don’t utilize FB as much as other bloggers do, as it wasn’t the most productive use of my time in the beginning and I feel like it’s so late in the game to start now. A good number of bloggers have found success in creating their own Facebook page for their blog where they auto-share their latest posts onto that page instead of using their personal page to do so. The way that I incorporate Facebook is through the many book related groups I am a part of. TBC on Facebook, Book Connectors, Great Thoughts Great Readers, and a myriad of book blogging groups are just a few examples of the places I’ve been able to build connections and friendships with many other bloggers, readers, and authors along the way. Some of these groups allow you to post your reviews and blog posts in the group for others to view and share while others focus on just general conversation around books with no self promotion. Always make sure and read a group’s rules and objectives before you post in their group, but in those that allow you to do so, share your posts!
Twitter is one of my favorite ways to promote my blog, because it’s quick and easy, but widely underused by many bloggers. By now you should be utilizing the Publicize feature if you have a WordPress blog (if you use Blogger or another platform I’m not sure what the equivalent is but I know it’s there) where you can set you posts to auto-publish to the social media accounts you choose to connect there. You may have to play around with times to figure out what works best for you; I try to set my posts to publish around 3am eastern time, as it hits the UK folks while I’m still sleeping and then waves over to the US folks afterward while keeping a steady flow of traffic going while I’m checking out other blogs with my morning coffee. This works both ways; if you expect people to share your posts to their followers its crucial that you show the same level of support in return. Am I able to share the posts of every blogger I follow every single day? Absolutely not, and no one expects you to. I simply try to rotate around and share what I can when I can. I cannot express how important fellow bloggers’ support is; each time your post is shared its reaching their entire following which means more exposure for you. It also means you are creating valuable friendships with others in the same boat as you who can pass on wisdom from their own experiences. I’d be lost without my blogging buds!
*I’d like to add a side note here… There are some people who push the notion of finding as many users as possible and following them all, then after about a week they use an app to unfollow all those who don’t follow back. While this may be a quick fix to getting a few extra followers, it is no alternative to building the lasting relationships and support you need long term for blogging. By all means, follow any and every user that interests you or that you’re interested in connecting with, but doing this to a mass number of users solely for a “follow back” will not replace the hard work for steady growth that you’re more likely to retain.
Instagram is the tool that is used in the widest of varieties, as it is completely tailored to what you want it to be. There are no bounds to the creativity you can use here, so I’m just going to touch on some of the ways I choose to use mine and add in some suggestions of what I’ve seen work for other bloggers as well. It helps to find your own unique style of pictures that you like to post and have a somewhat steady theme to them. Coffee shops, outdoor scenery (everyone knows I love my lake pictures!), and indoor shoots with bookish props are all extremely popular. Many of the high ranking bloggers use professional cameras and a slew of props for their photos; if, like me, you can’t afford to use anything but your phone and Mother Nature, then make sure and edit your photos using the Instagram app or another app of your choosing before posting. I personally use Instagram solely because I’m already there and I like to keep things simple. All you do is pull up the picture and instead of choosing a filter, click edit and play around with all the options there. I like to edit the lighting, sharpness, and saturation on my pictures to make them look a little nicer, but I am no professional and my pictures are simply just a hobby. If you are looking for more interaction on your posts (I.E. Likes and Comments), timing is apparently everything with the new algorithm. I read an article HERE that I found extremely helpful in suggesting timing and hashtag usage. I’m planning on doing a future FAQ post regarding BOOKSTAGRAM, so if you have any further questions on this feel free to suggest below so I can add it to the next post.
I just wanted to touch briefly on Goodreads, as it seems to not be discussed in depth in the blogging community. For those who are unfamiliar with my story, I actually got my start on Goodreads by reviewing books for NetGalley there. My blog didn’t come along until almost a full year later and probably never would have happened without the support I found there. Connecting with other readers and reviewers on Goodreads is a fantastic way to cultivate a following, because once you’ve connected with a blogger there, they are usually apt to follow you on all forms of social media and are looking to create that symbiotic relationship of mutual support as well. I joined a few groups in my early days there and made some friendships that are still some of my most valued book relationships today. Those folks are usually the first I go to when I need a fresh set of eyes to view something and I’d be lost without them! (I’m looking at you Christine and Amy!) Goodreads has been my outlet that has kept reading and reviewing fun for me; my intentions for starting a blog and reviewing books was due to my desire to create conversation around the books we were reading and I find it easiest to do there. I’ve also established multiple publishing contacts (my very first one was from a publicist at Penguin who found my profile there), so just remember you never know who is watching.
I’ve found a few other ways to create growth in following and traffic to your site are to offer giveaways on your blog, vary your types of posts, and taking any opportunity a fellow blogger offers to feature you on their blog. Publishers like to offer books up to be raffled off on blogs, but if you are still creating those contacts and growing your initial numbers, some authors are very generous with offering their books and that may be the route to go. While it can get expensive, the occasional giveaway funded by yourself can be well worth what you spend if it’s done on occasion, just make sure you specify which countries can enter or choose to giveaway a giftcard that caters internationally (such as Book Depository or variations of Amazon’s website). As funny as it sounds, book reviews tend to produce the lowest number of views on blogs (as a general rule), so varying the types of posts you feature may work to your advantage. I’ve created some of my own (such as FAQ, Cover Love, Officially Obsessed, Mini Review Monday), or you can borrow from popular features that others have created (such as WWW Wednesday, Top Ten Tuesday, It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?); just make sure you always give credit to the original curator and use the appropriate hashtags. Many bloggers have a regular feature where they create a post that interviews a fellow blogger; anytime you are invited to do so or see an open invitation looking for bloggers take advantage of it!
I apologize for making this post so long, but I hope this gave the briefest overview of some constructive ways to grow your viewership for the long term. Don’t get discouraged if your blog isn’t growing in numbers as quickly as you’d like; if you keep putting in quality posts and networking with others in the community that growth will come and give you the pay off you’re looking for. My next post is going to pertain to the various types of posts that seem to do well on blogs and further tips for promoting your features. Following that, I’m planning on going ahead with the Bookstagram feature and would love suggestions of where I should take this series after that happens. Happy Thursday readers; wishing you all a relaxing and restful upcoming weekend! Until next time, happy reading! ❤