The other day I received a comment on one of my posts asking if I could write about how I was able to gain a following in the blogging community. While yes, there are lots of posts out there about the best ways to grow your community and find your niche, there are different ways to go about gaining a readership based on who your target audience is. Are you a college blogger or a mommy blogger? Is your core readership ages 14-24 or 35-50? Do you provide any form of e-book or online course? How you answer those questions can majorly affect how you find your core audience. Mom bloggers are more likely to find their readership through Facebook while college and food bloggers typically find the most success through Pinterest. Today I’m focusing on how to build your readership as a college blogger with a core audience ranging in ages 14-24 because it’s the core group that I personally have the most experience with.
Use Pinterest to your advantage.
From the time that I started blogging to now I use Pinterest as a way to get my blog posts out to people. In fact, it is my number one traffic driver to posts on my blog. I have personally found as a college blogger that the best way for me to reach who I see as my core audience is to pin onto my personal “college” board and other college group boards on Pinterest. While I am newer to the group board scene, I have found that the best way to find and join college related Pinterest group boards is to stumble upon them. Typically the person who started the board will have a message at the top of the board explaining how you can request to join the board as a contributor, which is typically by commenting on one of the recent pins on the board or e-mailing an e-mail address that has been given. I also recommend making and growing a college board of your own. Pin your own posts to it and other bloggers pins as well. One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to overwhelm your followers with a lot of your own posts from your blog, so I try to pin 4-6 pins from other sites for every 1 blog post of my own.
The biggest thing that I learned from Pinterest is to give it time. Your post won’t immediately be picked up by other people the instance you pin it. It takes me an average of two weeks for any of my new blog posts that I’ve pinned to be repinned a number of times. The fastest I’ve ever had a pin be picked up was two days, but that is because a major company with several thousand followers also pinned it. Just know that it takes time and be patient.
Maintain an active social media presence.
You won’t see any immediate payoff from this, but it definitely pays off in the long run. As people are discovering your blog if they stick around they may check out one of more of your social media platforms. But just because they have looked at all of your platforms doesn’t mean that they will follow all of them, they will pick and choose. I use Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and a Facebook page for my blog and typically people will only follow one of those of the four. If your readers are depending on a Twitter update to check out your new posts, but you only update your Facebook page, you are missing out on having active readers that want to stick around and potential page views. So something to keep in mind is only using social media platforms for your blog that you know you can keep up with.
Have a nice, clean blog design.
When a new reader comes to your blog, they make a decision as to whether or not they want to stick around and read within 10 seconds. Yes, 10 seconds. So you want to give them the nicest, cleanest looking, best first impression that you possibly can. I like to keep my “above the fold” section as clean and pleasant to eye as I possibly can. “Above the fold” is a term that means what you see when you first pull up a page. My personal above the fold is my header, menu bar, “about me”, and my most recent posts title. I have a clean, pretty design (or at least I think it is clean and pretty) that I hope is welcoming to my readers that will immediately allow them to see what my site is about and learn a little bit more about me.
The biggest mistake the new bloggers make is not posting regularly. Statistics actually show that you will see a better reader following and more page views if you publish at least three times a week because it will define you as an “active website” to search engines. I highly recommend that if you are a new blogger write and schedule 3-5 posts so that you can start having content up consistently. If you currently an active blogger I highly recommend writing and scheduling your posts at least a week in advance and also have 2-5 posts ready to publish in your dashboard for when things get busy. As a college student I plan when I will write and stash up blog posts based around when I have tests and finals. Since typically I have tests for all of my classes the last week of each month, I know that I won’t have the time to write posts that week, so I will plan ahead and schedule posts for that week and the Monday after so I’m not in a rush to get new content up after my tests are over.
Comment on other blogs, reply to your comments, and follow other bloggers on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest.
A great thing to do at any point in your blogging career is to work on building your community. This is another point that pays off a lot in the long run rather than the short run, but the time and effort that you put into it is so worth it. When you get a comment on your blog, reply within 24 hours. I actually have it set up so that when I receive a new comment on my blog I get an e-mail so that I’m aware of it and can reply as soon as possible. If they leave a link to their blog, I always try to take the time to read and leave a comment on their most recent post and to check out and follow at least one of their social media platforms. I also think it’s important to find blogs to follow and comment on regularly. While I’m not the best at keeping up with this since I’m juggling college, blogging, and a job, any free chance I get I will comment on blogs. In fact, if I’ve ever commented on your blog I probably commented either from the bus on the way to school or waiting at the bus stop.
Are any of these tips something that you would use to build your following? Is there anything that you would add to this list or that you do differently that you have found success from? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!