Friday, December 14, 2012
the in's and out's of having a successful blog
So I recently have had a couple readers email me with questions on how to help grow their blog and gain readership and sponsors, so I thought I would write out a little post today about how it worked for me and maybe it will help you too!
1. Followers DON'T matter
Say WHAAAAAAT? Yup. It's true. First thing's first, stop worrying about how many followers you have, because in the end it doesn't make a difference. The only thing that makes a difference at all, is your stats (which I'll get to in a minute). On average I receive 18,000-30,000 views a month and only have 304 public followers via GFC. So as you can see, my followers don't even come close to reflecting my blog's popularity. When I first started a my blog, I always worried about gaining followers, which is important to a degree, but it really doesn't make a dent in how much your page is being viewed, shared, or visited. Plus those followers you see on GFC only show those publicly following you on a google account, which really limits and dwindles down your readership stats when you segregate it that way. It doesn't account for those who are following you privately, or who remember your blog address by heart and are typing it in organically, or searching for your blog via search engine. Think of it this way, (kind of weird analogy coming here), but its like a UFC fight on TV. Perhaps one of your friends has subscribed to the channel and is paying to see the fight, and then they invite 20 friends over to watch it. All the channel knows is it is being ordered and paid for by 1 household, when in reality it is being viewed by 20 people at once. That's kind of the same thing with GFC followers. Just stop worrying about it.
Shot taken from my stats page this morning
2. Watch your stats
Now THIS is what really matters. Your stats are where you can really look to for guidance on where your blog is at with popularity. There are 2 ways to go about this. Blogger has a stats section on its homepage, so make sure you are looking at that frequently if you are trying to grow your blog. This page will show you everything from how many views a day you get, how many a month you get, how many views to date you have received, and where your traffic is coming from. To go even more in depth, you sign up for a free account from statcounter.com. I get an email weekly from them and I can go in a see where my readers are coming from, where they are going, and how long they are staying. These stats are vital if you want to outsource for sponsorship, and to put on your sponsor page for other bloggers to see if you plan on charging for ad space.
Shot taken of my statcounter this morning
3. Shamelessly self promote
When trying to gear up your blog, don't be afraid to put yourself out there! Make a Facebook page for your blog, make a Twitter if you use that (I still don't get it), and by all means pin, pin, and pin some more! Most of my traffic comes from Pinterest, so make a board for your blog, and pin whatever you want to it, and people will repin, ultimately reaching people you don't even know! With Facebook, ask your friends to share your page, follow you, or like it. Friends and family can help a lot. I had a lot of friends helping me promote my blog in the beginning, and a little help can go a long way.
Shot taken from browsing the women's fashion section on Pinterest today (I don't know who pinned this particular pin)
4. Reach out to other bloggers
When starting out your blog, the best way to grow quickly is to hook up with other blogs! Find some blogs you like, and see if they do button swaps, and that way you can help each other by swapping readers. If there is a particular big blog that you really want to be associated with, be willing to pay out to put ad space on their blog! I would not pay any more than $15 dollars though, because NO blog is worth shelling out precious money just to get more views, try to remember even bigger blogs are by NO means celebrities, and if it's gonna cost you more than 15 bucks just to have a little button there, it's just not worth it.
Once your blog has soaring stats, it's time you can start charging, but don't expect to be making thousands of dollars, and keep your expectations reasonable! When I first stated my blog, I thought that you made money from companies paying you to advertise, but actually it is other bloggers that you make your money from! I was using a ad space service called Passionfruit to help me organzine my payments for ad space. I recently did away with it for now and am only doing button swaps, because I simply do not have time to offer guest posts or shout outs on social media. But if you do go this route, make sure to offer different sizes and prices for your ads. For example, you can offer large ads that cost more that include a guest post on your blog, and social media media mentions, or whatever you want, whereas a smaller ad offers no guest post or mentions. Make it easy to purchase for any budget. When I was using Passionfruit I was making about $40-$50 a month, so eventually it is possible to bring in money.
In the beginning your blog is not going to have the stats or the popularity to back being sponsored by a company, so there are a couple different routes you can take to get there. First of all, readers LOVE a giveaway. LOVE IT! But since your blog isn't yet getting material from companies to give away, you need to giveaway your own things. Sounds sad, and it is, but it is one of the few things that can boost your faithful readership. I started out spending my own money on jewelry to give away on my blog. I would do one about once a month, so I was spending on average about $10 a month purely on giveaways. Unfortunately with building your blog, sometimes you have to be willing to pay out until you get sponsorship. At first sponsors are not going to come to you, you are going to have to go to them. Once you have a number of followers/good stats, start by reaching out to Etsy shops that you like! Find a smaller Etsy shop and write them a message. Try to be professional as possible and let them that you love their shop, tell them about your stats, and let them know that you would love to do a review or host a giveaway for them on your blog. Let them know that this would be beneficial for both parties and you are excited to work with them. Be prepared to be turned down by some shops, but be grateful and genuine to those who do accept your offer. Once you have been doing reviews and giveaways for a while, sponsors will come to you:)
A few of my actual sponsors
7. Be patient
I can't tell you how stressful trying to figuring out how to grow your blog can be, but if you are going through it right now, then you know. There were countless times that I just wanted to give up and delete my blog. I was tired of working so hard, seeing slow growth, and it just felt like it was going no where. Then I remembered that I wasn't doing this for other people, I was doing this for me, and I wanted to love what I was doing, not loathing it like a chore! Once I kept that in mind, it brought me a lot more happiness and joy doing the blog. So lay off the pressure and let it happen.
I hope these tips helped those of you looking for it. Sorry it was long, but I wish you the best of luck and success in your journey to making your blog a hit!