I feel a little bit coy right now ... and not just because I'm writing this above a picture of a bra ...
- after 6 weeks of badgering you to have a heart and throw Save the Children £1 in appreciation for this e-course ... I reached my £500 fund raising target.
Actually no ... scratch that ... what actually happened was ...
WE EXCEEDED MY £500 FUNDRAISING TARGET!!!
With a little help from Dr.Who, McFly, Kenny Rogers, Austin Kleon, freezer meals, Groundhog Day, special guests Caroline, Gabrielle and Jennifer ... plus too many cleavage-enhancing garments to mention ... we did Something Good you and me ... something really good.
So thank you:
Abi, Alexa, Alison, Amanda, Amy, Andrea, Angie, Anon A, Anon C, Anon G, Anon K, Anon W, Barbara, Beverly, Carmen, Carolyn, Christine, Deb, Ellen, Emy, Fay, Fiona, Gail, Hazel, Heather, Helena, Helena C, Honore, Janet, Jayne, Jemma, Jennie, Jennifer, Jenny, Jo, Joanne, Julia, Julie, Jx, Karen, Karen M, Kate, Kirsteen, Kirsty, Linda, Liz, Louise, Lynn, Lyra, Lythan, Maria, Mary, Mel, Miriam, Nicola, Sandie, Sandra, Sarah, Sheena, Sian, Suzy, Teresa ...
[And Thank You in advance to those who continue to donate now as my page remains open to contributions from anyone who's still catching up with the series and wishes to show appreciation in the future].
Your kindness, your support, your participation means that Save the Children can now put our combined £518 towards:
- saving children’s lives, fighting for their rights and helping them fulfil their potential
- across 120 countries,
- where they reach 80 million children a year.
And because I've had a few questions about this [and also because my Dad (gently) teased me about me going on holiday with your donations!!] let me just clarify:
- Just Giving forwards all of your donations on to the charity within a few days;
- I never see any of it - it comes nowhere near me;
- No holidays / shoes / dresses / snacks were purchased during the making of this course with your £££!
Appropriately enough we've gone full circle ... because we're back where we started [maybe it was the Dr.Who effect?] with The McFly Approach.
Because after all the tips, tricks and inspiration you've picked up along the way ... ... it's still all about you ...
... only now it's about you, me and the thing we are together : the blogging community.
How can we build and encourage a community around our blog?
When I opened up the floor to your questions ... the only one I received was on this topic. And perhaps it was one key aspect of blogging I'd not touched upon already.
Perhaps it's the missing segment of padding in our blogging bras! [Thank you Carolyn for raising such an interesting point].
And perhaps it could be a series in itself ... but perhaps not by me. Or not now at least. Which I think is why I've found this post so hard to finish! There's almost too much to discuss, and I'm by no means any great expert on this [I certainly don't have the world's biggest blog-following].
So let me just tell you a few things I feel I can pass on ...
Is there anybody there?
So ... you've taken on board some of the ideas in the series, you've got a line of draft posts, scheduled posts, and fresh content working its way along your blog's production line ... you're hitting 'Publish' more often than you did back in March when the series began ... now what?
Where do those posts go?
Do they come to rest gently on open eyes, ears, arms, hearts, minds? Or do they bump down with a resounding echo ... in an empty room?
Chances are ... during your blogging 'career' it's going to be a mix of both I'm afraid.
I don't know if it's possible for every single post you create can achieve the same amount of comments, traffic and exposure. And some days you really will feel like you're whistling into the wind.
And, while it's far easier said than done, if you want to continue to maintain and build your blog, you're going to have to not let the set backs ... well ... set you back!!
I think ... yet again ... that this is where working out why you're blogging, finding our what benefits blogging can have for you and then only blogging what YOU enjoy [as we looked at in the early chapters] comes in important.
Because if having a blog offers you an important outlet before you get anyone else's feedback ... then you can work on everything else over time, rather than giving up when things feel a bit lonely.
But let's look at a few things you can experiment with to help you find a wider audience for your blog:
A few ways to increase blog traffic + blog comments
If you've never read up on anything like this before do me a favour and read through my next set of tips with an open mind ... and don't let yourself get overwhelmed. OK? Please?
I've been there myself ... [still go there occasionally!] and I know what can happen.
You can get to thinking that you need to take it all on board in the next 5 minutes or else you're getting blogging 'wrong'.
But you're not.
These aren't hard + fast rules ... just things to consider, test out and discard if they're not working for you.
Remember that this whole course has been Pick n'' Mix. Taking baby steps. Not leaping from a Double A cup to a Triple G overnight. Moving along by increments.
They may initially feel rather 'cold' to you, technical, businesslike ... and they may not be what you had in mind when I said we'd discuss 'community'. But stick with me ... because we'll get there by the end. OK? OK ...
I know some people blog purely to share photos and things with immediate friends and family - like an online family album ... so the following hints may well not apply if that's you. But, if you're hoping that word will spread about your blog beyond immediate acquaintances, if you want a bigger and better blog you're going to have to ...
Invest in the quality of the content you share:
- People are more likely to leave comments on posts which have really grabbed their attention - for one reason or another.
- Think about the kinds of posts which arrest your attention ... what do they contain? What made them special?
- What's in it for them?
- What do you offer that will keep them returning?
- This can be anything from friendliness and humour to tutorials and inspiration ... to free downloads to interesting insights ... and on and on
- Whatever it is ... you do need to bear in mind that blog readers are just as time-pressed, forgetful and just a click away from the next web page as you are. If you want them to hang around ... you're going to have to offer them something worthy of their time.
Make your post 'pinnable'
[You do not need to be signed up to Pinterest for Pinterest to work for you. Other people 'pin' [save] your post for future reference on their boards.]
Pinterest is the single biggest driver of traffic to my blog.
It is responsible for the traffic behind my single most viewed post of all time:
This step-by-step tutorial I posted in 2011 gets repinned on an almost daily basis on Pinterest and has led to over 29,000 views of the original post.
For the record: to anyone feeling dejected about how your posts don't get lots of comments ...
- this post, with over 29,000 views has a grand total of ... 28 comments.
- Approx 0.1% of the people who've seen it have left a comment.
- Blog-traffic figures and blog-comment numbers do not always match up the way you might expect!
Occasionally, almost 2 years later, I still get emails and comments from people thanking me for the tutorial letting me know that they plan to stick around, read other things and subscribe / follow me. And it's all down to Pinterest. [Oh and ... also me putting in the effort to make a nice tutorial! I don't want to hand over my successes entirely to someone else!]
- People are more likely to pin your posts to Pinterest if it features beautiful / fun / eye-catching images and /or an inspirational project / a tutorial / tips etc
- People can only pin images to Pinterest ... so even if your written advice / recipe etc is the best in the world ... make sure there's at least one image in there.
- This needn't be a photo - you can make a .jpg image just from text eg. a quote or a diagram.
Use good quality images:
- brush up on your camera skills so you can take more attractive photos of your projects
- learn a few photo-editing tricks [this needn't be in Photoshop. I personally use: Microsoft Office Picture Manager [a free software on my laptop]; Picasa and GIMP [both of which are free to download online].
- If you use Blogger - you can also edit photos after you've uploaded them to your Picasa Web Album / Google+. Click on your image > select 'Actions' > select 'Edit in Picasa' or 'Edit in Creative Kit'
Make your post 'searchable', 'Google-able':
At this point in your blog's life it may well be the case that the only people reading your blog are those who already know you from somewhere [friends, family, members from another website or forum] however ...
- the more you blog, the more content you put out there then the more visitors who you don't know from Adam will start dropping in ...
- and many of them will find you via search-engines [like Google]
- If you want to know more about this you can find a world of information about SEO [Search Engine Optimisation] on the internet however ... in simple terms ...
- the words you use in your blog post title, body of content, in your labels / tags and in the name you've saved your images under all help tell search-engines about what's in your post and so ...
- if you've written a tutorial about Art Journal Pages then those words need to be in those places somewhere then ...
- the next time someone looking for inspiration for a journal page goes to Google and searches for those terms ... your post is more likely to appear in the search results.
Do you see how even though SEO etc is dry, technical and slightly like black magic ... it can still lead to positive, human connections?
OK, well hang on to that warm fuzzy feeling ... because we're dipping back into uncomfortable territory again now ...
Make your post 'visable':
I once read some business advice that said something along the lines of: 'launching a new product without marketing it is like putting up advertising posters in a basement: no one will know the thing exists' ...
... and the same goes for your blog post.
I know you might be feeling a little unloved because your blog isn't getting the attention you'd like ... but maybe ... just maybe it's not because you're hopeless at it ... it's because no one's knows about it or you!
How about revisiting Chapter 8 'The Austin Kleon Approach' where we looked at joining in with other people's link-up features for some more ideas about branching out and making connections:
- When you leave your link on these kinds of posts chances are the the host and some of the other participants will drop by.
- Maybe to leave a comment, maybe just to look.
- But the more you take part, the more connections you'll make.
- The more your face / words / style will become familiar.
- this could be by approaching a blog you like with an idea [preferably blogs you know take on guest-bloggers already.]
- or keeping your eyes peeled for requests and opportunities
- or by getting together with a few blogging friends and 'swapping' blogs for a day ...
- or creating a blog-hop
But you don't need to only rely on other people helping you become more visable ... you can take on the role of promoting and marketing yourself too!
When I asked on my Facebook page for people to share how they build and promote their blog my long-time blogging friend and ever-supportive commenter Carmen [of Whoopidoings] replied:
- "My blog posts automatically get tweeted and posted on Facebook and with my book reviews I also manually copy and paste those over to Amazon, GoodReads and Pinterest. If I notice someone has pinned something I've done I will thank them in their comment section of that pin."
- My posts get automatically tweeted and Facebooked;
- I tweet links to my posts and FB them on top of the auto-posts
- I pin my own posts on Pinterest
- I occasionaly guest-blog
- I leave links on the Facebook pages of various companies when I've used their products in a particular project
- I put my blog address on my shop packaging
- I sometimes add it into the bottom of my emails [depending who I'm writing to of course!]
- Pick one idea ... and give it a go for a month and if it doesn't work, at least you'll know.
- Look for the things you will enjoy doing [eg. tweeting, joining in with link-ups] ... and then concentrate on doing those consistently, regularly, and pretty darn well!
- if you're content with keeping things small and simple, then that's great, there's no need to venture out into social media etc to promote it.
- And at least you can understand why it's remaining small
- And it might be clearer to you that other people aren't inherently more popular than you ... they're just promoting themselves more often.
Remember to do unto others ...
- You want more people to visit your blog? ... then visit more blogs yourself, ones you're genuinely interested in.
- You want people to leave comments and feedback for you? ... then leave comments for others.
- You want more personal comments where you feel the commenter really read your post? ... then engage with other bloggers, let them know their post resonated etc with you.
- [Edited to add: I still appreciate the quick comments too! It's good to know you're there in whatever form! x]
- The other blogger may well return the favour sometime ...
Rinda of [Gallo Organico] offered up a perfect example of this in a comment on a recent post in this series:
- "I scheduled almost a full week's worth of blog posts on Monday when I had some free time. That's given me more time this week to visit other people's blogs and be a good commenter/community member, which has in turn brought more people to my blog!"
- it shows me how if I can really enjoy a post ... but even then still not stop to comment ... it may mean that other people did the same thing on my post!
I think that, while we continue to build and grow a readership, we really need to embrace and appreciate the audience we have right now, the people - no matter how few - who keep showing up for us.
Let me share something with you ...
I may have plenty of blog subscribers, a couple hundred Facebook page 'likes', and close to 1000 Twitter followers ... and Push-Up Bra Blogging may well have brought in a few thousand page views ... but ...
... do you know how many donations were made to Save the Children to help me reach my target? 63.
Now ... I won't lie and say that figure hasn't caused me a certain amount of ... pause for thought let's call it ... over the last few weeks but ...
... while I was typing out the names of the people who made each of those 63 incredibly kind donations [so I could thank them all at the top of this post] ... do you know what I realised?
That I knew them.
That I knew you.
The vast majority of your names were already familiar to me.
You're a mix of regular blog commenters, Month in Numbers bloggers, regular Facebook and Twitter friends, people I know in 'real' life, and family plus and few faces I've seen here and there in Blogland.
You're the people who've regularly shown up for me here.
And the lump in my throat as I write this stands as evidence that those 63 real connections - above all the other seemingly impressive statistics - are the ones that really count.
So ... I guess my final word to you has to be:
You get out there and enjoy your blog my friends!
My fundraising page once again.