How to Build a Following on Your Blog

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Blogging can be a great way to build your professional reputation and reach additional prospects for your products or services. But despite what you might expect from all of the “Overnight Blogging Success” products being sold online, blogging isn’t a quick and easy path to riches. Instead, it requires a significant of time and energy in order to build the following that will make your blog successful.

If you’re struggling to attract a regular audience on your blog, consider the following tips:

Tip #1 – Develop a theme for your blog

The most successful blogs out there are built around a single topic that audiences relate to and find compelling enough to return again and again. The chosen topic can encompass several sub-topics (as long as they’re substantially related to the overall purpose of the site), but in general, the content posted to the blog doesn’t deviate from this main theme.

For example, consider the Single Grain blog. The articles published here all relate specifically to internet business models and internet business growth. One on day, that might include publishing information on the latest Google Panda update, while the next day, it’s talking about how to increase your presence on social networking sites.

However, you can rest assured that you’ll never wind up here and come across a post on thoughts about dog training. By focusing all of the content published here on a single topic, visitors never have to worry that they’ll waste time coming to the site only to find information that isn’t valuable to them.
If your blog doesn’t have a defined, over-arching theme, now’s the time to start thinking of one!

Tip #2 – Be present

As a blogger, you’re no longer an anonymous business owner – you’re now a public presence (even if you choose not to reveal your legal name) and that comes with expectations.

First is the expectation that you’ll publish content regularly. If you’re serious about building an audience, you’ll want to publish no less than once a week (preferably at least 2-3 times each week) so that you stay fresh in the minds of your readers. Once you stop publishing regularly, people lose their reason to check back on your site.

In addition to publishing content, it’s also important to respond to your readers whenever they comment on the content published on your blog, or share your blog posts on social networking sites. Follow up with helpful information and thank them for visiting your site, and you’ll convert casual readers into true brand evangelists in no time.

Tip #3 – Define your voice

Unless you’re the world’s foremost expert on underwater basket weaving, chances are there’s already at least one other blog out there writing about the same topic you’re covering. And if you’re writing in an already-crowded industry (like personal finance, internet business or personal development), there are probably lots of other blogs in your industry that are older, better established and more profitable.

So what do you bring to the table that’s interesting enough to get visitors to leave these sites and spend time on yours? Part of this distinction is something you’ll cover when you choose the specific topic for your site. But another key factor in setting your site apart from others is your blogging voice, or the way you speak to your audience.

Having a unique and memorable blogging voice is a good way to connect with your audience, but it can take time to develop. To start, try writing a few posts the way you would speak to a friend. Don’t worry if it isn’t grammatically perfect – the idea here is to put forth an authentic version of yourself through the words you choose. Publish these posts and wait to see how people respond to your voice in the comments. With a little practice, you’ll start to pick up on the kind of language that your audience responds best to.

Tip #4 – Connect with other bloggers

Building a great blog with regular content written in your special voice is a big part of succeeding with blogging, but it’s only one part of the process. To really build a following on your site, you need to get out and start connecting with other bloggers!

The fastest way to do this is to start commenting on authority blogs in your niche. When you find another site that you like, add it to your RSS reader so that you can be one of the first people to comment whenever these sites post new content. Leave thoughtful feedback on these posts that show you read the content and thought critically about what the post had to say.

If you start to do this on enough other blogs, you’ll find that people get curious about who you are, resulting in both traffic back to your site and possible guest posting opportunities if the owners of your commenting sites like what you have to say in your comments.

Tip #5 – Social media is your new best friend

When it comes to building an audience for your blog, social networking sites represent an incredible opportunity to share your content and drive visitors back to your site. Of course, it’s not enough to simply set up your profiles and wait for the visitors to start flowing in. Instead, consider the following techniques to help jumpstart your success with these sites:

  • Search Twitter for questions in your industry – Say you run a website that’s dedicated to helping visitors find the lowest mortgage rates online. Using a tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck, you could set up an alert that notifies you every time someone tweets a questions with the words “mortgage rate” or “refinance”. As soon as these questions are posted, you can reply with an answer, increasing your brand’s authority and driving visitors back to your sites.
  • Follow and interact with industry leaders – Identify who the thought leaders are in your niche and follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. But don’t just follow them – respond to their posts with the same kind of helpful information you’d share when commenting on their blogs. Others who follow these authority figures will see your interactions and become curious about your site.
  • Encourage participation on your profiles – While it’s great to share links to your content on your social networking profiles, these shouldn’t be the only type of updates you post. Instead, use these venues to post questions to your followers, point them towards other helpful resources or ask them to share your content in a specific way. By getting them involved with your profiles, you’ll increase the level of engagement they feel with your blog and your brand.

Just remember – it can take time for these strategies to come together and result in a self-sustaining following for your site. In fact, many blogging experts suggest that you’ll need at least 6-12 months of solid work and self-promotion before you’ll see enough traffic to make blogging worth your while. However, if you’re willing to stick it out and implement the advice above, you’ll start to see substantial growth and rewards from your blogging efforts.

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