Ask Design Mom Week — Blogging Advice

November 5, 2009

Question:
I just started my own blog this month! It looks boring, I have no followers, and I feel left out of the “Blogging Circle.” Can you give me some tips on how to make my blog better? — Tanya



Answer:
Thanks for the question, Tanya. I’ll start by saying, you’re not alone. I think I get questions along these lines more than any others. How do I grow my blog? How do I get sponsors? How do I change my header? How do I decide on a blog topic?

But I confess, I don’t answer as often as I’d like. For a few reasons. One, the answers are long. Long enough that people teach multiple classes and hold multi-day conferences to try to cover the answers adequately. Two, because I try (I can’t say I always succeed) to limit this blog to topics at the intersection of design and motherhood. Three, because bummer for me, in a given week, I’m only able to respond to about 20% of my email. If that.

But since it is Ask-Design-Mom-Week, I thought I’d at least take a minute to say: it’s not too late. You can still get into the blogging and social media scene. You can still start a site. You can still participate. You can still build something new. You can still grow what you’ve created.

If you feel like you’ve missed the boat, you haven’t. If you feel like you’re not in the club, it’s a false perception. Period. This whole scene is still new enough that people are reinventing it everyday. Starting from scratch. Coming up with new and brilliant interpretations of how this whole thing could work. Just yesterday, I received an email from two friends who have started a new blog. It’s called the Sweeterie and it’s different than anything I’ve seen before. A super smart, simple concept. And it’s beautiful. And I have no doubt it will grow. What will it grow into? Who knows. We’ll find out in a couple of years.

Can I promise that your audience will grow super fast? Nope. Most audiences don’t. There are a few instant successes, but most people that are doing this for a living, built their audiences slowly over several years. Just like any small business. Are there techniques to help you jumpstart growing your community? For sure. And that’s why people attend conferences (like Alt and Mom2Summit — two conferences that Kirtsy plans the programming and panels for). To find out the best ideas and most effective ways to work in this space.

But the advice you’ll hear most often, every time the topic of growing your audience comes up, is: comment and participate. Get out there. Comment on the blogs you like, big and small. If there’s a blog party or Mr. Linky, try it out. If you see people mentioning NaBloPoMo, click the link and find out what it is. If you see buttons for a conference, ask about it. The more you explore, the more likely you’ll find the perfect social media fit for you.

Dear Readers, what advice would you add to this topic?

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 the emily November 5, 2009 at 4:23 pm

I don't have a huge following, but I have some very loyal friends and family, and word spread from there. When I first got started I told EVERYONE about it (10-year high school reunion is a blur of writing .blogspot.com) and I also comment a lot on other blogs. But I'm no Design Mom, that's for sure.

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2 KAREN TORRES D'AMICO November 5, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Above all, enjoy yourself! I started a very sparse blog in November 08 and starting posting in March 09 (as I had no idea which direction to go in!!!). I think, in my limited experience, genuine desire to write makes a blog most successful.

Also, take advise from "the pros", sincerely comment, and read, read, read.

It's HOSB for me tonight—Boston MA! Can't wait to learn something new. Thanks to Kirtsy!

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3 Petit Elefant November 5, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Be yourself, be consistent.

And sometimes make a fool of yourself in front of Pioneer Woman.

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4 stacie smith November 5, 2009 at 6:43 pm

I finally added stats to my blog. Basically, now I can see where folks are coming from, what words they use in their Google search and how many people are coming to my blog each day. This is mostly to ease my curiosity but it is also nice to know what people are looking at when… and if anyone is even out there.

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5 Deb November 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Let you passion shine through and people will notice.

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6 Isabel Kallman @AlphaMom November 5, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Hey Tanya,

one of our writers gets this question often and therefore we have written about it as well, writing much of what Gabby has shared. But take a look and read the comments also. Then, go find more on the internet at Mashable.com and other "social media" sites.

Here are our links:

http://bit.ly/2TraLI
http://bit.ly/3jZUsz

Good luck and keep it up.

Isabel

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7 Katie @ goodLife {eats} November 5, 2009 at 10:02 pm

TWITTER! I finally joined Twitter when Gabrielle did a post about what it is and how to join. Getting out there, meeting people and engaging has done so much for my blog. Have fun, be yourself.

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8 simplymodernmom.com November 5, 2009 at 10:53 pm

It's about networking and who you know. Isn't that the answer for pretty much anything in life? Make friend and like Gabby said, participate.

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9 Melanie November 6, 2009 at 12:14 am

I always comment on other blogs, and I think that has helped my visitors grow from around 50/week to about 300/week. Not Pioneer Woman or Design Mom by ANY stretch, and that has been slow coming, but it is fun to know people visit!

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10 Damaris November 6, 2009 at 12:45 am

the blogher hs great info on this as well

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11 Bloom November 6, 2009 at 2:22 pm

When we talk about growing our readership at Bloom, the point we always come back to, is that a popular blog is popular because of GOOD CONTENT. We work hard to write (or compile) things that are interesting and applicable and motivating to our readers. Maybe that sounds really basic, but it's a good reminder daily. Good luck!

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12 barchbo November 6, 2009 at 7:03 pm

I don't have a blog, but I like to comment – and I don't continue to follow bloggers who don't participate in the comments. I like the sense of community and interest in others that someone exhibits when they participate in their blog comments AND in other people's.

Guest bloggers are a great way to attract new readers, too. I have discovered some great stuff that way.

Good luck!

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13 lexiis November 7, 2009 at 10:36 am

As a new blogger trying to start out myself all this information has been great thanks!

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14 Keli November 9, 2009 at 9:39 am

All of those ideas are great, but one thing I would like to add is to update your blog daily, or more. Even if you participate in all the meme's going on, if people click on your blog and see you haven't updated for a week, they will instantly be turned off, and click away.

I always tell my friends that want to start blogs not to bother until they are sure they can commit to blogging at least 3 or 4 times a week. They always say they don't have an exciting life, and can't think of anything to blog about. I tell them once they get started, they won't blog what they live, they will live to blog! It's a different mind set. But be consistent, and people will stick around.

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15 greenrubydesigns November 9, 2009 at 10:27 am

As a new blogger as well I appreciate all this wonderful information. Thank you girls!

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16 Carrian November 9, 2009 at 10:37 am

Great post. I felt the same when I started mine, and although it still is small after almost a year I am so loving doing it!! I blog at ohsweetbasil.blogspot.com and while it would be fun for it to be bigger, I think it's most important to care more about having a good time.

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17 Jeannie November 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm

i love reading blogs, but i don't comment like i should in order to increase my readers. i started my blog as a personal development project and in so many ways, it's "helped" me. yes, i have the same questions about how to increase readership, etc. and i am working on it. i want my blog to stand on its own; to be interesting enough that people want to come back. i am just "being myself" – some days I write essays, other days it's more 'blurb' writing, and i almost always use photos. i live in a really great place, so i write about that. come on over and see me. (blatant plug) i love Design Mom and hundreds of others…would very much like to break through, even if just at my local level; i am working on that! snazzy comments will bring over looky-loos, true. sorry this isn't a snazzy comment!

i'd love to come to one of your workshops. come to jacksonville florida and i'll arrange an itinerary that'll blow your sock off out here at the beach.

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18 sheri November 9, 2009 at 3:36 pm

I would also add that you should make tags for your posts and make sure your titles are things that people would search for and then use the title or the tag in the body of the post at least once. This increases googles chances of finding your blog and showing it in search results.
Be patient, enjoy it, that will show through and people will enjoy reading.

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19 selena @ howaboutcookie November 9, 2009 at 5:39 pm

these are great suggestions! i'm in the same boat where i blog as a creative outlet, but hey it never hurts to get discovered and quit my day job, either.

i tend to be a romantic and think it's all about writing your heart out, but it's good to be reminded that it's a science too.

happy blogging everyone!

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20 My name is Laurie Jones. November 9, 2009 at 11:05 pm

I sometimes think we worry too much about getting lots of readers and should focus more on what we're getting out of it. I think its a great way to get the creative juices going and a way to express yourself. I think if you do it because you love it and you get involved with the community of other bloggers and participate then it probably helps. It seems like the ones that are most successful started doing this because they loved it not because they wanted a million readers.

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21 jamie November 10, 2009 at 12:29 am

Thanks so much for your insight! Talk about timely – I just launched my blog last week and was thrilled to find some tips. Yay!

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22 sara November 11, 2009 at 8:14 am

I just looked at the Sweeterie and my heart has already melted reading the first few candies…their blog will do well!

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23 Heidi Cogdill November 12, 2009 at 12:01 am

All the comments are so great! I'd add that blog readers are skimmers and each post needs to be visually appealing. Use short paragraphs, pictures, bold, caps, italics. Readers love bullet points and lists.

Blog about what you love and what you're passionate about. Otherwise, you'll get bored and stop posting all together. Find the joy in it.

Pioneer Woman was just a woman blogging about her life…once upon a time.

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24 Mama Holli May 26, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Linking this post up on Midchix in the “Perky Blogging Mama” Flock! Thank you for sharing these tips!!

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25 Jadah {Family Sponge} December 12, 2011 at 11:39 am

I agree with building community. We just started a blog one month ago. And I get very excited to hear personal stories in comments. And I am naturally compelled to respond to their comments. I think telling people what to share works well (i.e., share a Christmas tradition from your childhood). I’d love to know more about blogging conferences. Thank you for sharing.

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