I asked 6 bloggers how they built their audiences. This is what they told me…
Comment on Other Blogs/Social Media Pages
Stephanie Jankowski blogs at http://www.whencrazymeetsexhaustion.com/. It’s a colourful and fun blog:
At the time of writing, she had:
|59,980 Facebook Likes|
|7,069 Twitter Followers|
|2,228 Instagram Followers|
|1,769 Pinterest Followers|
I asked her how she built her social media following. She replied:
I don’t know that I have the holy grail of an answer for ya, but it certainly involved being SOCIAL! I would hop around to similar sites and like/comment/share, and most of those people reciprocated. I also posted only what appealed to ME, which means keeping it honest and real. As far as strategy goes, I’d use relevant hashtags (which aren’t as important any more), share a trending story, a viral post, etc. I also straight asked family and friends to “like” or follow my page because that gave me exposure.
From there, I just try to keep it fresh and engaging. I really take the social part of it seriously, as I respond to questions and have conversations with those who interact with my page. We’re a happy community at this point 🙂
I asked her how she organised this work. Did she have a system(e.g. comment on 5 other blogs/Facebook pages per day)? Or did she just comment on other blogs when she felt like it? She said:
In the beginning, I was much more strategic about it. I would set aside a few minutes each day to scroll through, leave comments, etc. I rarely followed up to continue the conversation unless it was something I was truly passionate about
I then got in touch with Danielle Geva. Danielle is an artist, a business consultant, and she blogs at https://daniellegeva.com/.
On her blog, she writes about art, travel, business, and more. I really like Danielle’s no-nonsense approach to writing about business. Her Twitter Account has over 2,000 Followers, and some beautiful photos:
One of my concerns was that commenting on other people’s blogs might be considered rude – isn’t it sort of stealing their readers away? I asked Danielle for her opinion. She says that there are two kinds of comments. The bad kind is like this:
cool post, check out drugsarethebest dot net slew of random emojis
The good kind is like this:
You have a really interesting take on social media. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook myself. But it seems like whereever you advertise/promote yourself(Facebook, Twitter, Google, Bing…) somebody’s privacy is being invaded. I wrote about my take on it here: www.myblog.com (or even just sign your name & url).
In Danielle’s opinion, the second comment isn’t rude. In fact, she says:
I would welcome it and respond to it.
So, if you are going to comment on other pages, be sure to add something to the conversation. Danielle also recommends that you:
make sure to measure the ROI of the labour intensive comment tactic.
Commenting is free, but time is a finite resource.
If You Use Paid Ads, Hire Experts
I talked to Mike Hulleman next. Mike is one half of the http://www.hobowithalaptop.com blog:
Mike and Oshin blog about the digital nomad lifestyle. Their Pinterest Account has 2,511 followers:
I asked Mike if he ever used paid ads. He said:
If I ever do paid, I have a guy I call to manage it for me. It’s always worth it to pay someone who specialises. If I did it myself, I’d probably lose a third of the budget on bad ads or missing the mark some how.
Danielle also recommends outsourcing your advertising. We talked about Facebook in particular – she recommended I use an agency that specialises in Facebook ads: https://www.abacus.agency
I found the Abacus website a little intimidating. Their contact form asks how much you intend to spend per month. The minimum is $10,000:
I asked them if they accepted clients with a much smaller ad budget. They said it’s not a problem.
Paid ads are a complex topic. I think they deserve their own articles. I will be covering them in the near future. You can subscribe below if you don’t want to miss out.
Organising Facebook competitions can be a really effective way to gain Facebook Likes. Shi Hui Tan of http://www.ireviewuread.com told me:
I got my first 100 Facebook fans after holding a few giveaways
Shi Hui is based in Singapore. She is a lifestyle and beauty blogger.
She told me that it took a long time to build up a following. I could see this reflected in her posts. In 2012, one of her giveaways got just 2 shares:
Over time, her giveaway posts became more popular. In 2016, this one got 24 likes, 20 comments, and 19 shares:
There are ways to speed up this process. A few years ago, a website called pretty.ie gained almost 100,000 Facebook Likes in 3 months. Their secret? They offered very attractive prizes e.g. a hotel stay, a bracelet, and a voucher worth €250. Their posts received thousands of likes and comments.
And then, the page disappeared.
The Dublin InQuirer reported that the page appears to have violated Facebook’s terms. If you’re hosting a Facebook competition, you cannot require entrants to “tag a friend” or “share the post”. Here is the relevant section in the Facebook Terms Page:
The Dublin InQuirer article also strongly implied that these Facebook competitions were faked. The author of the piece could find no evidence that any prizes were awarded. Before it was taken down, the pretty.ie page had just 32 likes:
The pretty.ie website no longer exists. But I still feel there is a lesson to be learned from this. If you offer exciting prizes, people will respond.
Join Forces with Other Bloggers
Stephanie told me that by commenting on other blogs/pages, she built a network. She and other bloggers in her niche:
formed a little sharing community and that REALLY helped. I still participate in groups like that to share memes, Tweets, etc. Having that as part of your social media community is a great thing, too!
Shi Hui said that, when you’ve built an audience, the next step is to:
market in various Facebook groups that’s related to your niche
She stressed the importance of networking and getting your name out there:
Collaboration also helps and promoting my social media accounts on various sites. I also make sure that I add my social media to my email signature and cross promoting my social media on my other social media accounts. Eg. Promoting my Facebook page on my IG page. You just have to be really proud of your work and introduce them to anyone online and offline. I also join support groups where bloggers can make friends and support each other
Mike recommended I sign up to Triberr:
Triberr is an app that lets bloggers connect and share each other’s content. Bloggers join “tribes” like this one:
It’s free to create an account, but joining more than 1 tribe will cost you:
Collaborating with other bloggers is another topic that deserves its own articles. I will write about collaboration in upcoming posts.
Make a Specific Plan
Before I finish, I’d like to say thanks to the bloggers who contributed. They all took time out of their day to give me valuable information. Danielle even wrote a post in response to my mail. She writes:
If you’re starting a blog today, treat it like a business. Start with a marketing plan, and then use trial and error to figure out what work best for attracting your target audience. Oh and remember to avoid making the pinball machine mistake.
Chantal Miyagishima offered similar advice. Chantal blogs at…
Chantal says you need to be crystal clear about the audience you want to build:
Find your niche about what you ACTUALLY want to talk about. How is it helpful? Who are you speaking to? Why is it important. If you can’t figure out these few questions it will be quite hard to create a successful blog. If you’re in it for the free product and the money, chances are it will flop, you have to be filling a question someone is asking. If you don’t feel passionate about what you’re talking about – people will see through it. Find out what kind of branding you want associated with yourself. Do you want to come off as aggressive, sweet? Floral? modern? Find that audience
Be CONSISTENT. Blogging takes a lot of time, creativity and patience. If you aren’t continually pumping out content, no one is going to see it. You need to keep going, even if only your mom reads it for the first couple months. Don’t give up!
This isn’t the first time I’ve been told that success in blogging takes a long time. I’ve heard this from a lot of bloggers.
Eric Termuende blogs at https://erictermuende.com/blog/.
His work has been featured in Forbes and the Huffington Post. According to Eric, in order to create engaging content, you have to keep refining your plans:
Look at who read and engaged with the content…
Refine and narrow the scope of the audience…
Be patient, persistent, and resilient
‘an overnight success takes a thousand days’