5 Tips For Growing Your Blog

head shot
your humble host

I know you hate stats but… don’t let all the bar charts fool you, this is a good post. And funny. Read it.

If you don’t track what you’re doing, how do you know what’s working? 

If writing books is what you wanna do, and creating a blog is part of your author platform, then occasionally you need to stop into the accounting office of your little book business and ask the number crunchers what the numbers say.

Might be good news!

Might not.

Here, we have some stuff that looks impressive.

i-was-there-once
I’m kicking ass! Maybe.

With TWO full months to go in 2016, I have already exceeded the numbers for all of 2015! Woo hoo, right?

Well…

Yes. You folks have gathered here in greater numbers than last year, and I’m happy about that. You are getting the writerly stuff you need, having fun reading the posts, and occasionally learning stuff. You are not really watching the videos, so I need to consider why I’m doing those, and maybe scale it back. Video is an investment, though, and it’s fun, and as you’ll see I can occasionally be a slow learner. (Blog 2013-2014) More on that in a sec.

First, some humble pie.

Does your blog not have enough readers? Like NONE?

No readers? I can help you with that. Do a guest blog post here – one that benefits my readers somehow – and you will get some folks over to your blog. (Maybe ask to do an interview or an author profile. I like to help other writers.)

I was in the no reader zone once. See? Look at 2013, also known as The Dark Time

i-was-there-once-2013-stats
nobody loved me in 2013

In fairness, I started my blog in August of 2013 or thereabouts, and NOBODY read it for as long time.

A looooooooooooooooong time.

I published 35 posts in 2013, about 1 a week, and a lot of them sucked – but a lot of them were good! 

Nobody cared. Well, they might have cared – if they had been reading the blog. Which they weren’t.

And they still weren’t in 2014!

i-was-there-once-2014-stats
this is just painful

God, that’s just awful. 210 visitors IN A WHOLE YEAR! (I get that in 2 days now!) I posted every week, so that’s 2 readers hanging around on average – and I’m pretty sure one of them was a spambot. The other was my wife, but she didn’t really read the blog.

Sigh.

I was ready to quit blogging!

I can savor the irony now, but back then I was a sad guy, blogging into the interwebs with no readers. I was ready to give up. Blogging was obviously not for me. Sound familiar? So even if your numbers suck, odds are they don’t suck as bad as my numbers did.

Then, I got some blogging advice. And look!

i-was-there-once-2015-stats
BOOM goes the rocket!

Yeah, we changed a few things in 2015 and things took off – and I’ve never really looked back.

Except for stuff like this, where I am obviously looking back.

Okay, so here’s what you wanna know. HOW DID YOU CHANGE? What did you do differently?

That’s all in my free marketing book, which you can get by subscribing to my newsletter, so go do that. The gist of it is, I read blogs every day, liked them, commented on them, followed them, and a fair number – about 1/3 of them – followed me back. I call that “sought” growth. (That’s Tip #1 for those of you skimming for the tips)

I also changed the titles of the posts to be like this one (using numbers and the hint of failure if you don’t read the post – Tip #2)

and added pictures to break things up.


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Or an ad. 

$2.99 eBook or FREE with Kindle Unlimited http://geni.us/navigators Now available in paperback!


Simple changes. You can do that. The other stuff I changed is in the marketing book IN DETAIL so get it. Stuff like asking readers a question at the end of the post to get replies. It’s free cos I love you. (You can also search old posts here and see stuff like THIS and THIS)

Now, that will build quantity, but is that a quality fan base? Not really, unless they subscribe because they read you and see value.

If there was nothing but crap here, new visitors would have a look and move on. (That’s Tip #3)

Since they found value here (writing tips, entertainment, friendship, whatever) they stayed.

And since I look at what’s working and do more of it, I knew what to continue to do. Mostly, that was just be myself. Turns out I’m kinda charming. So are you. So you should be yourself on your blog. As in, if you are angry, be that! I like a good rant on occasion. If you are funny, be that. I love a good laugh. On this blog, I’m usually a helpful writer type who makes jokes and occasionally rants, but usually my personality comes through. (When it doesn’t, the readers don’t read, like, or share the post.)

Here’s the bad news:

i-was-there-once-declining-stats
hey, that trend… kinda sucks

Yeah, we seem to be headed in the WRONG DIRECTION.

Wait, what?

Yeah, we’re UP over last year but we are trending downward this year. Maybe we did a lot of stuff last year over the holidays that carried over and is inflating this year’s total number, but based on this trend we’ll be going out of business soon.

Maybe there’s a seasonal trend, where we get more people over the holidays and they scale back over the summer, returning… very soon. (That would be nice.) Maybe I was reading more blogs last year (I was) and I’m reading fewer this year (I am) which means I was bringing in new friends last year faster than I am this year. That’s all true… but I have added 50+ subscribers this month as of the 25th, about 2 a day. Now, there were times last year when I added 20 a day, but there were times like that this year, too.

Getting all that?

This is my way of saying I’m not really sure what’s up.

Except, me being me, I do. Stay with me.

I’m adding readers every day, but I’m doing WAAAYYY fewer reading of new blogs this year. That means the growth is much more organic. People are finding me because I now have a reputation, WP occasionally highlights a post of mine in folks’ readers. (No idea how that happens. Magic elves, I think.) The content is there (a few years’ worth now) so when they come they can look around and find something related to whatever they need to know.

So we moved from “sought” growth by me, to organic growth – and that’s way better.

The downward trend, while disturbing, may simply be some of the “sought” growth folks leaving, meaning my blog audience is getting smaller but it’s becoming more pure. It’s better to have 100 loyal readers than 1000 who subscribe but don’t read or interact.

We’ve made friends here, and friends tend to be loyal, but this year we’ve shed a few folks who decided his wasn’t for them. They’ll be missed, but that’s life. Each year, we’ll shed some. Each year we’ll add some, too. The spectrum of audience evolves into a fan base.

Choose organic – it’s better for you!

Those who stayed are finding the information, comedy, and friendship they came for. That’s awesome. And after we let a little fluff out of the system, our numbers will climb in 2017 – organically, under the blog’s own power. It doesn’t get better than that. Remember: we did the other stuff to get to this stuff. (Tip #4)

Hey, why did you start a blog?

Why did I?

To help build my author platform to sell books. But if it’s not fun for you, it doesn’t work. (That’s Tip #5) The blog is fun for me. I went from blogging once a week in 2014 to blogging almost every day in 2016. More posts will get more readers. Hopefully we didn’t add posts and dilute content. I think we didn’t. Or did. One of those. The good one.

We tried new stuff, too. Videos. Story chapters. Writing challenges. Memes. Guest blog posts. Interviews. The stuff that caught on, we kept. The stuff that didn’t, we dropped.

We sought out your input for book stuff before we put out the book. (That was huge.)

So here’s the take away. Starting out, do what you gotta do. Check your numbers. (It doesn’t hurt. Honest.) See what works and do more of it; see what doesn’t work and do less. Interact. Have fun.

wotwf-13
Me on the video show Writers Off Task With Friends, with my co hosts. One day it’ll take off. Probably.

Video might need some time to take off, or it might need to go away. But it took two years for me to figure out what I was doing with blogging, so I’m going to keep doing videos for now.

And don’t put up too many posts with bar charts because readers tend to not like them. Thank you for reading this far. I will now take questions.

What are YOU doing to improve your blogging skills or grow your audience?

head shot
your humble host

 

 

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

10 thoughts on “5 Tips For Growing Your Blog

  1. Mmm… nothing. I blog because l have things to say, but l doubt my 500+ blog followers read my books. So l’m not blogging to find my audience, mire because l like rambling in writing! 😉
    I’d share my stats since 2010, but l’d rather not… unless you ask, that is! 😀
    I decided long ago NOT to end with a question… if l have a comment you don’t need to prompt me. But l made an exception today! 😉
    Now l better go back to writing fiction…
    Best!
    Barb

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we all blog for different reasons. We are encouraged to start a blog to build a platform, and I can’t really say I sell books because I blog, but my readers get to know me through my blog and I think that may help sell books. So it’s kind of circuitous. But I like that you blog because you love it! That’s the key! If you don’t enjoy it, it’s going to show and nobody’s going to want to read it.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have two blogs. One is my writing/history/fiction site (which is the one I pour my heart into) and the other is basically pictures and an occasional line or two about our tiny farm. Guess which one gets more followers. The farm blog. I think it’s the cute pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

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