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How Do I Grow My Blog?

Gala-Darling-10In this post Gala Darling from iCiNG shares some of her experiences of growing her blog and getting readers involved with comments.

“When you started iCiNG, how did you make it known? And goodness I’m gonna sound pretentious but how long did it take for you to start having constant readers and comments? I started my blog just because I wanted to write, but it can be a little unmotivating to write something really inspired or enthusiastic and don’t get really any response. I know it’s just a matter of time and to keep writing with my heart, but I’m still wondering how it all works.”

“How do I make my blog more interesting/get more comments (minus the hateful ones haha)? I made a resolution to post everyday but I don’t know :( I know you wrote something before like, ‘get your readers more involved’ but I don’t have a huge following like you.”

Well, I didn’t have a huge following when I started, either! The same goes for every blog, regardless of how popular it might be these days. We all start from the same place — just someone in a room, churning out content, hoping people like it.

What you need to do is work out the best way to find the people who you think will dig what you’re doing. That might mean finding a forum of people with similar interests, or leaving comments on a blog that has the same kind of readership. It’s a bit of a tricky balance doing this sometimes. Remember, you’re there to add value, not to spam & tarnish your blog’s name!

In my case, I’ve been journalling online in some form or another since about 1998, & I had a fairly considerable number of people following my Livejournal. So, when I’d written my first article, I made a post on Livejournal saying so. I asked what people would like to see, & encouraged them to ask me questions that I could use as the basis for articles. It grew from there.

The growth was really organic, & soon I saw that people on my friend’s list were recommending my blog to other people. It was an amazing thing to see, & it made me really happy! I also made an effort to connect with other people in my area — mostly fashion blogs — & we helped to promote one another.

It’s important to remember that in order for people to keep coming back & reading, you need to be providing them with something! Making someone laugh, providing them with information, inspiring or distracting them are all excellent reasons for someone to subscribe to your blog. If you think about the most popular sites on the web, most of them fall into one of those categories. Why else are people fanatical about XKCD, Darren Rowse, Martha Stewart, Perez Hilton? They all fit into at least one of those areas. Consider what you’re providing, & if you’re not exactly sure, you might want to redefine what you’re doing.

I think a lot of people aren’t sure what to write about, so they start blogs which consist of their opinions on various subjects (life, shoes, Apple products). That’s okay, but unless you are exceptionally knowledgeable, funny, successful or interesting, it’s probably never going to be a huge hit. Why? Because everyone has an opinion. They’re just not very valuable!

It can be hard to know, however, whether your low traffic is because you’re just starting out, or because you’re not providing something that people want. Sometimes it can be hard for us to realistically assess what we’re doing. We’re so attached to our work & our creativity that we’re quick to proclaim ourselves dunces or geniuses — & we’re probably not either of those things. In situations like this, it can be really useful to seek the input of someone whose opinion you respect (& who is, ideally, known for being honest but kind!). Of course, you probably need to act on their advice, too!

Don’t be afraid to evolve in a new direction. Most of the biggest companies now make the bulk of their money from doing something completely different to what it was they started out with. You may not be into blogging for money, but it’s an example of the fact that being open & flexible & trying new things is important! Find a niche & fill it — just like that cool glue that expands to fill gaps!

In terms of motivation, I always think that if something’s a drag, you shouldn’t do it. It’s your life, live it how you want to! If you’re writing out of obligation, it’s never going to have the same spark that it will if you’re writing because you love it.

Ideally, you want to be doing something you enjoy which also provides value to people. When you stumble upon that magical combination, you’re totally golden.

The best writing always comes about when you’re doing it for the right reasons. I guess we all have different ideas of what the “right reasons” might be, but I tend to think it’s based around writing that makes you joyful, writing you’ve enjoyed, & words you’ve pieced together with a real sense of fun & excitement. I tend to think that when you write with the intention of making money or netting praise, it doesn’t come across very well. This might be a bit weird & supernatural of me, but I think people can sense that in your words — & the more writing I do, the more true & obvious that becomes.

Be enthusiastic about your work, promote yourself, learn to take criticism & make adjustments without major ego damage, embrace the writing you do, share, set a good example. Make people happy with what you do. Uplift & educate & inspire. Do what you love & the money will follow. It just requires a little faith.

So you want to be a writer
Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.
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About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Killer Picke says:

    What an inspiring post!

  2. Cindy King says:

    Hmmm, talking about ending up in a different direction than you originally planned.

    That is already happening to me and its only been three months. I write about multicultural marketing and international sales. Before I started writing I didn’t realize non-native English speakers would be so interested.

    I wonder where I’ll be in a years time…

    There are so many people out there. If you have something you are really interested in, it comes through and like I said, there are others out there.

  3. SpecialPete says:

    Thanks for a great post. The passage from Charles Bukowski feels like a checklist…and I am definitely not getting full marks for all of this.

    Assumming that you participate in the community in a positive manner as you suggest (commenting, forums etc). How long does it normally take to get any form of traction?

    I have recently started a new blog and am trying to set my own expectations of how things may progress.

  4. George Geder says:

    Thanks for this post!

    “Ideally, you want to be doing something you enjoy which also provides value to people. When you stumble upon that magical combination, you’re totally golden.”

    I’m getting closer to this ideal. Once I nail down the ‘provides value’ part (in terms of confidence) I’ll be there. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to make some decent money from my blog!

    Peace,
    “Guided by the Ancestors”

  5. David Shaw says:

    I only started my blog in February, and although I am getting several thousand visitors, I am still finding it difficult to get some good interaction and community on my blog.

    I am hoping that If I keep trying hard enough, then people will start to stick around.

  6. Articles like this one provide inspiration for those who want to write, but are concerned about getting their readers involved and keeping them interested. Even though I have been writing for many years, I still come here to spark the senses and get new ideas.

  7. Frugal Dad says:

    Excellent post! I especially enjoyed the last paragraph’s message to “uplift & educate & inspire.” I saw my own writing heading down a path of negativity and rants, when I originally started it to be insipiring. I received some criticism for it, and originally scoffed at the negative comments.

    However, when I looked at them through an objective filter I began to read my own writing the way readers were reading it, and I discovered they did have a valid point. I have dedicated this week to writing more inspirational posts to turn the ship back in the direction I wanted it to be heading in the first place. Your post has inspired me that much more!

  8. sarah says:

    very well said. great post — thanks!

  9. Wow! This had a lot of fantastic insight. These are answers to questions I’ve been pondering lately. Thank you for posting this today, Darren. The bottom line of every successful writing en devour is passion, desire, and providing content readers WANT! This takes time. I see this now. Thanks again.

  10. Christina says:

    I don’t know where to begin to respond to this excellent post…the concept of writing from your heart keeps coming up lately, and it is what keeps me on the straight and narrow, so to speak, when otherwise I might get pulled way off track or fall deep into a valley. There is staying power in being true to what is in your heart.

  11. Eban says:

    Great post.

    The part on evolving in a new direction is especially good. That is becoming the growth pattern on the web today. Launch, test and measure response, relaunch, repeat.

    Staying in a narrow focus that is not working out will cause burnout so much quicker.

    The advice on criticism and ego is also dead on. I have seen people get into blogging too many times that came out swinging for the fence only to be sidelined after criticism.

    People’s words reflect the person, usually, add to that the completely public forum of the internet, and you have a recipe for blogging disaster if you can’t develop a thick skin.

    All in all, put the work in and a quality blog out, you will eventually reap the rewards.

    Cheers,
    Eban

  12. tmosley says:

    Yes write from the heart and also send out a press release via prweb or some other news release service. This helps people to find you that are looking for the content you write and not to mention other news type blogs will generally pick up your story helping you to spread the word about your blog. I think for the most people blogging you always get the feeling no one is listening, but in time that will change.

  13. My blog is all opinion all of the time. The truth is that I have written a few posts that have gotten a tremendous response. While others (the majority) are nothing to brag about.

    I have found there are four (4) secrets to making it work and getting readers.

    1. Spend a lot of time and thought on the headline
    2. Spend a lot of time and thought on the first 2 sentences.
    3. Spend a lot of time and thought on the subject you are going to write about. Make darn sure that other people will find the subject interesting.
    4. Let people know that you have a blog!!!
    A ) Digg is kind of weird but I use it and it gets me readers but they don’t tend to subscribe.
    B) SocialMedian.com is a site that I like and it seems to like me
    C) Commenting on blogs like Problogger will get some people to click over to see who you are and what you are about.
    D) Commenting on lesser known blogs help a lot. The people who write them are thanful that you are leaving a comment. They normally will leave a link to your blog. They will also talk about your blog to other people.

    I have found that building readership to your blog is a time consuming affair. Patience is a virtue and it’s free!!

    Live From Las Vegas
    The Masked Millionaire

  14. Wonderful post! I agree that the best writing comes along when we do it for the right reasons. So many people start blogs with the sole intent of making money, and it becomes a bore. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Emon says:

    Great post! I’ve been blogging for 3 years now and only recently realized why I blog. I blog to say what’s on my mind. To do that and expect a huge subscription base – I was kidding myself.
    It’s when I stopped worrying about traffic and subscription numbers is when I stopped ‘whoring.’ I accepted the fact that my being true to myself and speaking my mind, putting my personality on each post will eventually result in a healthy growth.
    I’d rather have a subscription base that cares about what I have to say than how fast I transfer a breaking news to them. You can never keep up with current affairs. You can never keep with changing technology.
    I have better days and I have awful blog days. By keeping it a personal blog I have the freedom to:

    1) Not post anything for a day or two.
    2) Post a hundred things a day.
    3) Talk about any topic that comes to mind.
    4) Make mistakes.
    5) Learn from them.

    Not a great recipe for a gazillion subscribers and definitely not for making money. Take the movie Jerry Maguire and replace football with Blogging.

    Darren’s blogs are successful because of one thing. His love for blogging about things he loves.

    I don’t want to speak for you, Darren, but I believe you’ll agree with me too.

    Thanks for the Bukowski!

  16. ~Kat~ says:

    Thanks for the great post. You gave me some things to think about. Especially writing opinions. My opinion is my favorite thing to write about but you are correct! Everyone has an opinion.

    But I have to agree with Emon too. When I first started blogging I tried to write what I felt I was “supposed” to write. It came out stilted and awkward. Now I write just like me and my blogs are better for it.

  17. Lori says:

    What a great post! I definitely started out to only make money. Even though my blogs are decently successful, I’ve learned that I don’t want to do parts of it anymore. I would much rather pursue my passion.

    I will be merging 3 blogs into one and only posting when I have something to say, not just a bunch of rambling. I’ve also been working very hard on my food blog because I have much more fun with it than I ever did with my “making money online” blog.

    You really need to be happy with what you’re writing about.

    Thanks for the read!

  18. We have to actively search out for readers who will dig our blogs. Gotta be passionate in our writings yeah!

  19. MrCooker says:

    It’s important for any blog to grow, if they want to earn some money with it. And like the masked millionair said: “Patience is a virtue and it’s free!!”

    I’m gonna try and take my time, and try to enjoy blogging as much as I can. If I end up with 10 subscribers after 6 months, so be it.

  20. SpaceAgeSage says:

    In some ways I write my blog to avoid finishing and editing my novel (84,000 words so far). I would sit too long and too uninspired in front of the screen for the novel, but blog posts are pouring out of me and its fun. I will eventually get back to the novel, but I’ve learned that easy and worthwhile writing requires that the heart be more engaged than duty or expectations.

  21. Myself having just entered the world of blogging am just going to do what i love to do and see how it go’s from there. The good thing is that i am blogging about stuff that will im sure will one day help someone.

  22. I thought that was a beautifully written post. I especially loved the poem at the end. Again, the moral of the story is to do what you love, and write about what you love as well. I’ve read this before, but you said it in a delightfully unique way. Thanks for the post.

    - Dave

  23. Pentad says:

    Inspirational post. People like to read and hear that everyone started out somewhere. It’s easy to forget.

  24. Lisa says:

    Thanks for this inspiring post – I’m new to blogging, and I write about what’s on my mind. I find that I’m already getting the urge to diversify and branch out to include more topics that I’m interested in. :)

  25. I like this post. Encouraging. :) THANKS!

  26. Reece. S says:

    Wow, I was thinking about blogging but I don’t think I’m ready lol.

    I’m going to leave it ’till I can easily write blogs, but while I’m waiting, I can always practice :D

  27. Shane says:

    I love the poem – very inspiring….

    It’s funny how when it comes ‘from your gut’ it tends to find an audience. People can spot someone without passion a mile away and that’s why this post is so good. It reminds us to get back to the basics of why we blog and will cause some people to pause and ask “Why am I doing this?”

    Most people will never get rich an famous as a result of blogging but it can be fun and very rewarding.

    Thanks for the post.

  28. Kelly Rusk says:

    Great post–very inspiring!

    Lately I’ve been overwhelmed because I don’t have enough time in front of my computer to pump out the words, even though they’re floating about in my head. So, my solution is good old fashioned paper and pen! I scribbled my ideas down when they hit and use as a framework when I finally get to my computer at the end of the day. It’s too early to tell, but I’m hoping this will re-ignite my passion.

  29. Jessica Bond says:

    Great tips and words of inspiration – thank you!

    Write for the love of it!

    Jessica Bond
    Medical Careerist

  30. This post spoke directly to my needs as a blogger.

    I’ve been blogging for a few years and thoroughly enjoy the conversation. I still am challenged by how to attract more visitors, and equally important, how to encourage them to leave comments.

    I’m encouraged by your reminder that it takes time to build a readership. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing from my heart.

    Thanks.

  31. Jaux says:

    This post WAS great. The comments are helpful too. I have a
    blog that covers guitars and guitar gear, called GearTrap.com
    and i’ve had a lot of success w/ Myspace. I’m sure that wouldn’t work for everyone, but it seems to be helping out a lot. I’m tracking my traffic w/ site meter and the traffic is slowly but steadily improving.

    Also, I’ve had some luck getting in contact w/ companies that manufacture the products that my blog covers and had them check it out. I been lucky enough to have on big one in particular voluntarily link to GearTrap.

    I’ve also managed to get in touch w/ magazines and different publications to check it out and they seem to dig it.

    This stuff wouldn’t work for everyone, but i thought i’d throw it out in case it might be a help to someone!

    Jaux
    GearTrap.com

  32. Kenneth King says:

    That says it all. Words of encouragement, of warning, of inspiration, of courage, and of truth.

  33. UPickReviews says:

    Great article!

    I’m starting from the bottom, so it has helped me and motivated me!

    Thanks ProBlogger

  34. Juels says:

    I thought this was an excellent article and now I know that others starting out are just the same as me. I only just started blogging this month and started doing it at the urging of my family and friends so they could keep up with my comings and goings and a couple of them have told me I needed to keep writing…so I did and I am.

    Thanks again to Gala for some inspiring thoughts and thank you Darren for sharing this.

  35. lady coveted says:

    aww… it’s really great to see gala darling here on problogger… she’s a big inspiration for me!

  36. I am new to the blogging world, but I have alot to say. I appreciate your post. I am not blogging to make money but I really hope it helps anyone who is in the same position I am in. Its about the late budding and bloom of my career, although I am still in the budding phase. Some dont realize how emotional careers can be. Sharing your experiences and advice with others is just as emotional…..dm

  37. ...liz says:

    Excellent post once again and nice that you ended with Bukowski advice. His poem, so Bukowski, is really good advice to all of us who enjoy writing and want to better our blogging presence.

  38. jasmine says:

    I want to start a blog in my website and this give me a good info to start. I have downloaded the software from wordpress – ver 2.5 But according to some info from the internet ver 2.5 has some problems. And ver 2.5.1 is out, have anyone try it?

  39. Glenn Abel says:

    First known sighting of Chuck B. on a pro-blogging website. Way to go!

    The 3 Chuck godhead:

    Bukowski
    Berry
    Bronson

  40. Isaac says:

    Once again I really enjoy your writting style. Keep up the genuine tone. Thanks for sharing. It’s helpful for me in the season I’m in.

  41. Penstalker says:

    Hi Darren, you hit the problem right in the head. Great tips for beginners and those who do not seem to know how to go about growing their blog. Your tips are easy to follow and unpretentious. Great read!

  42. bloggista says:

    A very inspiring post for newbie bloggers like me. I know it takes lots of hardwork and patience. Without them, you better not be blogging.

  43. Dan says:

    Like that poem, some guys love writing while some find it really tough. I think thats probably the reason why so many blogs are shortlived. You have to get your motivation.

  44. Dan Root says:

    This post hits the nail on the head. Humans can detect passion, even through the way we write. Anyone who writes about something for “all the wrong reasons” is likely to never be as successful as someone who does. The people who are truly passionate about their topics always come to light. This is great advice for newbies.

  45. Amit Ganguly says:

    Thanks for this amazingly great post. I am a new blogger. I have learned something about writing valuable post.