When I first started blogging a year ago, I had no inkling of followers or following. I just wanted to share my writing journey with other like-minded people—and generally blabber to anyone who cared to read what I had to say.
So what’s the big deal about followers? Why do most (if not all) bloggers want a lot of followers?
Some say that the more followers you have, the more potential you have for earning income. Advertisers take special interest in blogs or websites that have many readers/viewers. A whole lot of visitors to your blog means a whole lot of customers for your advertisers.
Some say that they like having followers because it boosts their self-esteem (apparently it’s some kind of popularity contest) and makes them feel good about themselves knowing their work is being read by many people.
Some say blogging is a platform–something to add to the author bio paragraph of your query letter–and having more followers increases your chances of getting an agent interested in representing you. Why? Because if you’ve got a gazillion followers, there are a gazillion potential buyers for the book you want to publish.
Some say they are just plain competitive. They would do anything to see their numbers go up for the sheer joy of surpassing a competitor’s record. It doesn’t matter if their competitors don’t know they’re competing.
All of these reasons are acceptable and sensible. Who wouldn’t want to boost their self-esteem, or feel joy at beating a blogging record (even if it’s all in your head)? And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to add something to your author platform, or make money while doing something you love doing.
For me, however, the greatest joy in gaining followers is making connections.
And the truth is, I enjoy gaining followers, but I LOVE making friends.
I love interacting with other writers who get what I’m about—writers who share the same passion for writing, who understand my joy at every writing milestone (finishing a manuscript), my every difficulty (rewriting, editing, getting an agent), and who understand why my heart breaks a little whenever I receive another rejection.
And I love connecting with new people. I love reading comments left on my blog and finding out that other people can relate to what I’ve written, or that they find my post helpful. And whenever someone new leaves a comment on my blog, I click on their message and am happy to discover another new blog, and another new friend.
These blog friends are loyal readers who drop by time and again to share their thoughts, contribute ideas, lend me support, and cheer me on. In turn, I do the same for them. I visit their blogs, read their posts and leave comments, participate in their blog contests, and re-tweet their posts. Lately I’ve been a bit lagging in showing my support for these online friends, what with the 9-6 job, and the A-Z blogfest, but I still visit their blogs, even if I don’t leave a comment.
Whatever our reasons are, all of us would certainly like to gain more readers.
No, it’s not because we bloggers are vain (well, maybe occasionally), but it’s because we are just very generous people who love to share our knowledge with the world. And we like to talk. A lot.
I found several proven ways to gain more followers/friends
1. Put effort into your blog posts. Content is king. People will keep on coming back to your blog if your posts are helpful, useful, inspirational, thought-provoking or entertaining.
I know I love reading blogs that give me something to think about, and blogs that inspire me to keep on writing or make me feel strongly about something. I also keep coming back to blogs that always have useful writing tips and advice at the ready.
There is definitely joy in helping others. I put a lot of effort into organizing materials for my blog posts, because I love helping people. If someone got published because of a helpful article I wrote, I’d feel as if I got published myself!
2. Leaving meaningful comments on other similar or related blogs.
Scour the web for blogs that have a similar theme or topic to yours. If your theme is writing, for instance, you’ll find thousands of writing-related blogs out there. Read their posts, and leave meaningful comments.
I say meaningful, because this is an important part of connecting with someone. Don’t just leave a comment like “Hi! Please visit my blog,” or “Hi! I followed you so now you have to follow me.” This is an ineffective way of getting someone to follow you. It might also make you appear desperate, and might even annoy some peers.
Saying “hi! Nice post” is quite okay, but actually commenting on something they wrote, or on a particular line in the blog post will not only leave a lasting impression in the blogger’s mind, it will also encourage them to check out your profile and visit your blog.
3. Update your profile and about me page.
And speaking of profiles, people love to know the person behind the words. They check out your profiles or read your “about me” page because they like to know that there’s a real person behind those helpful or entertaining posts. They like to know what you’re about, what journey you’re trying to share, and if you’re the kind of person they would like to follow.
Whenever someone new leaves a comment on my blog, I check their website out and read through their profile. Finding out that I share an interest or favorite show or hobby with the person makes me feel like we can develop a potentially good online friendship. He or she will be talking about things I like to read about, and things I can relate with—so I’ll definitely follow.
4. Reply to comments left on your blog.
Reply to comments people leave on your blog. I haven’t been able to do this lately due to the crazy nature of the A-Z blogfest, but what I usually do is reply to the comments left on my blog—and I also visit the commenter’s own blog and either leave my reply there, or comment on her most recent post. This is a great way of developing a blog friendship, and of ensuring that you keep in touch with your readers.
5. Link to other blogs.
If you find a particular post helpful, useful, inspiring or entertaining, link to it. Share it on your Facebook page, tweet about it, post links to it on your own blog’s sidebar, talk about it in your own post. It’s a great way of sharing helpful information, and a wonderful way of making blog friends. Bloggers are a generally generous and helpful breed of people. If you do them a favor—they’ll be sure to do the same for you.
5. Participate in blog contests.
The A-Z blog challenge is a great example of what blogfests or blog contests can do for you in terms of gaining followers. It’s only Day 5, and I’ve already gained at least 50 new awesome friends.
Aside from joining blogfests like the A-Z challenge, try to participate in other blog contests. At the very least, you’ll meet new online friends, and at most you might actually win some cool giftcard or shiny new book.
When your blog friends announce that they’re having a contest, sign up for it, and show your support by tweeting about the contest they’re having, or by linking their post to your blog.
6. Have your own blog contest.
Give away a favorite book or writing tool, or some useful gift card. Some awesome bloggers even create their own giftbasket to give away. Help fellow bloggers promote their work by giving away copies of their newly published books.
On that note, I’d like to announce that I am extending the Monster Moon Surprise Giveaway Contest. (Talk about smooth segways!)
I was supposed to pick the winners last Monday, but I thought it would be more fun if I invited my new blog friends to join. Besides, I think Kathryn, Lynn and Maria would really appreciate it if I helped promote their book series more.
Anyway, if you’d like to win a copy of the first book in the awesome spook-tacular Monster Moon Series, click on the link below and follow the instructions in that post.
If you’d like to know about the book you could win, you can read the book review I wrote on it:
And if you’d like to know more about the lovely authors known as BBH McChiller, you can read the author interview here.
That’s all for now. I hope you all are enjoying the A-Z blogfest so far and making lots of new friends!
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