This is a guest post by Jennifer Brown Banks.
In nature there’s a mandate for most living things: grow or die.
The same concept applies to blogging. Of course there are different schools of thought and approaches on just how to “grow” your blog. For instance, some swear by social media methods. Others view SEO as the way to go. And some gurus even advise gimmicks and give aways.
Though I agree that these tactics and techniques can provide temporary growth spurts, real expansion and appeal comes from being authentic, playing to your creative strengths, distinguishing yourself, and providing real take-away value for readers.
Here’s a case in point.
I’m not a big social media maven. Though I truly appreciate each and every connection that I make online, I want my blog to grow organically. I want it to develop and evolve naturally, like a beautiful rose garden, or a fine “bouquet” of wine that has fermented and reached its height.
In other words, despite what the “experts” suggest, I’m not one to “blindly” follow others just because they follow me, or to increase my numbers. Nor am I inclined to become a “groupie” just because someone else has a huge following. Heck, even cult leaders have mass influence; that doesn’t mean you should join the ranks. 🙂
As with most things in life, I find that short cuts usually cultivate short results. Instead, here’s how I grew my blog without a lot of “additives” and doubled my followers in sixty days. And you can too by observing and applying the following lessons learned.
1. I opted for quality over quantity. Though I believe that there’s a grain of truth to the reaping and sowing principle, I only planted seeds sparingly. Some weeks I would post 3-4 entries. Other weeks I would only manage one. The reason? I only shared posts when I felt I was offering something interesting, actionable, or enlightening to my readers. I didn’t take up their valuable time on rants about my relatives, or my visit to the eye doctor, or the struggle I had fitting my skinny jeans this summer, or relationship woes. That is unless I could somehow tie it in to my blog’s writing theme. You shouldn’t either.
2. I stopped the comparathon. Popular blogger Jean Saurer, over at Virgin Blogger Notes, wrote a post some time ago alluding to the tendency of most bloggers to feel the need to compete and compare to determine their overall success . And it hit me like a ton of bricks. So I stopped. Instead I decided to run my own race; even if it is in the slow lane. The more I stopped agonizing over stats and PR rankings, the more I could relax and just write. As a result, my writing began to feel natural and unforced.
3. I stopped fearing the potential backlash from courting controversy. At some point in time every “true artist” will be called to take a stand on something (remember the Dixie Chicks and President Bush?)—whether it’s discrimination, immigration, the Obama drama, or editors who are predators. It comes with the territory. This means that every now and then I might feel compelled to post something that will rub someone the wrong way. I can live with that. Realizing that writing is not a popularity contest, I’m up to the challenge!
4. I stopped being obsessed with perfection. Sure on most days my house can pass the “white glove test”. But that doesn’t mean that my online “space” has to mimic that same tendency. Mistakes happen. What’s more important to my readers is not whether my writing is flawless, but whether or not it’s relevant and relatable.
5. I allowed myself to be open to learning from others, and not closed off to points of views and approaches that were different than my own. Reflecting back on my developmental years when my mom taught me that we can learn something from everybody, if we are receptive.
6. Though I may use the pronoun “I” often, I understand that my blog is not about selfish needs and endless self-promotion; it’s about my readers and their needs. My interactive blog typically conducts informal polls, reflective questions, and opportunities for my readers to be heard.
7. I embraced the meaning of working smarter not harder. Instead of tweeting, and chirping, and blindly making random comments at random blogs, I finally got a clue. I studied the successful, “quality” blogs in my niche, contacted them and began to provide guest posts and instructional articles to get my work in front of new audiences and connect with like-minded people.
In sixty days I managed to accomplish what I ironically hadn’t in my former years of “hit and miss” blogging. Which only goes to prove that even late bloomers can truly blossom!