Given the fact that I just updated my How to Start a Blog page, I figured the next post should be the update on how to grow that blog once you have it!
I’ve received dozens if not hundreds of emails since 2010 asking how to how to start a blog for free and grow your site as fast as humanly possible. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to give you a super fast solution – growing a site takes time. But here is how I accelerated Budgeting in the Fun Stuff’s growth spurt and my suggestions for newbie bloggers (or even veteran bloggers who may need a kick in the a$$, like me)…
Main Requirements of a Blog
This list is at the end of my How to Start a Blog page, but it is worth re-iterating for anybody just starting out!
- Header with your blog’s name.
- An “About” page or tab.
- Categories or archives that make your past posts easily accessible.
- Subscription buttons so readers can at least subscribe to your RSS Feed, Twitter account, and/or Facebook account. I use a WordPress plugin called “Subscription Options” to help me place my set on the top of my right sidebar.
- A search box.
- POSTS – Publish your welcome post and About page as soon as you can. In my opinion, you are a blogger as soon as your first post is published. It is definitely the first real step to growing an audience and eventually making money online through your site.
To-Do List – How to Grow Your Blog
1. Comment. You will get a ton of new readers, and make blogging buddies, from comments that you leave elsewhere if they are well thought out. Notice that part – “well thought out”. Random positive thoughts do not count or help in any way. Read other posts and leave real feedback, additional info, more tips or hints, etc. In short, actually give a crap. It shows that you want to be part of the community.
2. Post regularly. Blogs grow faster when there is material flowing. I’d suggest a minimum of two-three times a week. I use to post daily at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff (BFS) and about once a week at How to Make Money Blogging. BFS grew way faster.
3. Looking back, also make sure those posts are personal AND helpful. I have 2000+ posts here on BFS but it was hard to find even 5% that were truly worth promoting on Pinterest because personal does not necessarily mean helpful to others. That means people may read you because they like your personality, but you won’t grow virally unless you are offering people something in return – like useful information. Pure personal diary entries – nope. Pure information – nope. A solid combo of the two? YES!
4. Guest Post!!! Aim for placing at least two a month. This is much easier if you already made connections over a few weeks or more with the first step – commenting. If your comments kick butt, bloggers will accept your guest posts more often. If your guest posts kick butt, you will draw in more readers. Plus you’ll grow a positive reputation with other bloggers AND get more links out there to your site for the search engines to find. Win-Win-Win!!!
5. Join a forum or group. You can search for forums in your niche simply by typing your main keyword followed by “forum” into a search engine. For example, you may enter “dog training forum” if your blog is about training your dog. Or search for related groups in Facebook. Or just ask the bloggers you enjoy in your own niche if they have suggestions. In short, find or make a group to talk to because you can help each other and succeed together way easier than if you were alone. And if you’ve ever attended or bought a ticket for the next Financial Blogger Conference, you should ask to join their Facebook group. Great group and awesomely helpful!
6. Don’t be in this for the money. There are plenty of other fast ways to make money without much effort. It’s a downer to only make 40 cents in the first couple of months. Have fun with it. If you are having fun, your readers have more fun. I looked at my blog as a solid community and the money-making as a huge bonus. Now I blog full time, but I always keep in mind that having my own online community to hang out with is my primary motivation to do what I do.
7. Read the very first posts on the most successful blogs in your niche. I attacked the archives of a bunch of highly successful personal finance blogs like Get Rich Slowly before I started just so I’d have an idea of what helped them to succeed.
8. Start a subscriber list. Whether you want to build a following to eventually suggest products, make affiliate sales, or you just want to build the largest community possible, you will want a subscriber list. I waited nearly 18 months before asking for anybody interested in extra info about me to sign up for my newsletter. That is a full 18 months that I lost out on an additional method of securing long-term readers. First, you should start with a free list setup somewhere. For example, I currently use MailChimp. Then, as your list grows, you should look into paid options like Aweber so that you can better manage your subscribers.
Within four months of starting BFS, I had solid blog rankings, closed my first six-month ad deal for $450, and I’d scored my first-ever staff-writing gig. Now I have 10,000+ visitors a month (and I forgot to follow my own advice for a long time). These tips absolutely work.
Did I miss anything?