I’ve received a few emails of late from beginner bloggers who are concerned they have just a handful of blog readers and want to know how to reach a wider audience. I’ve found this a very interesting (and modern!) problem to be presented with, because blogging for zero readers is naturally where we all began.
Personally, I loved those early days of blogging into a big black hole. It was liberating. I was uncensored, brutally honest. With no knowledge of who my audience was, or who they would be, I didn’t have to worry about their expectations. They only reader I had to please with me.
Of course, the first time I realised someone I wasn’t related to not only read my blog but enjoyed it was cause for celebration. When that unexpectedly starting happening more and more it was a revelation. It made me think that maybe I should take this blogging thing a little more seriously. That was 1 whole year after I first started blogging. 4 years prior to where we are now.
I get that starting a blog today is very different to starting a blog 5, 6, 7 or 8 years ago – those of us who started blogging back then had no idea what we were on the cusp of. I understand that people may want to start a blog now solely to make it their career and I get that those people will want to ask those of us who make a living from blogging how they did it.
But I would like to remind us all to have a little patience.
Whilst some bloggers rise to meteoric success in a short space of time, most of us simply slogged it out. We put in the hours, produced hundreds of posts and kept going without knowing what sort of readers or future that blog may bring.
We don’t have a magic answer, I don’t even know ALL the answers, but there are a few things I feel have helped bring new readers to my blog.
How to find your first blog readers
- Make your blog pretty. It took me a few months to realise my blog was like a shop window and the prettier it looked the more people came in.
- And fast. Resize your images before uploading them to ensure a faster loading time. (You can also use a Plugin like Smush if, like me, you didn’t know how to resize images for several years. *face palm*)
- Make it easy for people to connect with you. Include a snappy bio on the home page/side bar and make your subscribe button, email address and social media profiles easy to find.
- Make sure your content is easily shareable. I’m a huge fan of Social Warfare share bar which can float down the page.
- Tell us about you. Your about page is likely to become the most read page of your website. Make sure it tells a story about who you are and what the readers can expect from your site. Study the about pages of blogs you love and learn from the way they have structured them.
- Start with who you know. Almost every blogger I know started out writing just for their friends and family. Unless you want to remain anonymous, start by sharing what you are doing with your friends and family and ask for their support with getting the word out.
- Join Facebook groups. I add this point with caution because the number of blogger groups on Facebook has gone a little crazy of late and it’s easy to get distracted by all the noise. My advice would be to choose a select number of groups covering the different interests of your blog and become a genuine, active, non-spammy member of them. Offer advice; share your concerns. Please don’t just join them to add a link to your new blog and never be seen again.
- Join Twitter chats. As above, select a number of Twitter chats to participate in and engage with the people taking part. Find a great list of travel Twitter chats divided by day of the week here.
- Network. Attending events relevant to your blog’s niche is another way to meet potential new readers. Blogging events can also be great for learning how to improve your blog and meeting bloggers you may want to collaborate with.
- Collaborate. Collaborating with another blogger or brand is a great way to reach new audiences. Facebook groups are a great way of finding collaboration opportunities but don’t be afraid to reach out to bloggers or brands directly if you have a great idea for a guest post.
- Pitch to media. Have a great story you think would work well in your favourite magazine? Reach out to the relevant editor and see if they agree. Working with PR to provide quotes or case studies to media is another way to get word of your blog out.
- Talk to your readers. Your current readers will know better than most what does or doesn’t work with your blog. Ask them what they want to see more of and engage with them through your posts. Always reply to comments and show readers you are grateful for them taking the time to visit your part of the internet.
- Invest in your blog. It can be hard to do all these things by yourself. Invest in some key blogging tools to help with the day-to-day management of your blog.
- Take a course. If you really want to jumpstart your blog I’d recommend signing up to a blogging course like this one from The Travel Hack. Over a period of 12 weeks Monica’s course covers everything you need to know about blogging from building a brand to preparing a media kit and setting up income streams
- Keep going. Even if you are your only reader, keep doing it for you. The rest, in time, will follow.
As a little experiment I’d love to ask those of you that remember how you first came across my blog? Maybe there are some more lessons hidden in that?
Main photo thanks to Nick Morrison on Unsplash