Guess what? If your name is KIM, you've won ANY item from Castellammare Designs! Congrats and be on the lookout for an email from me later today!
I apologize in advance for this long winded post. If you just like pretty pictures, feel free to skip through...
I've been asked fairly often for tips on how to grow your blog. While I'm certainly no expert, I have picked up certain tricks during this past year and a half of blogging. Please know that none of these things matter unless you have interesting content. "Interesting" will vary from person to person- I'm sure plenty of people don't find my blog interesting, but I feel lucky that a few of you do and keep coming back. So here are some tips for you- and please let me know if there is anything in particular I can help you with.
>>>>> Comment On Other Blogs
One of the best ways to develop a following and relationships is to comment on other blogs. We all are hoping that someone will read our blog, and so knowing that people are taking the time to not only read it, but comment as well is a wonderful feeling. When you're commenting, be sure that you're being THOUGHTFUL. Leaving a "wonderful blog, I'm following, please follow me back" comment will 99% of the time not get me to your blog. I put time into my posts (as I'm sure you do) so knowing that you actually looked it over is important to me. Yes, visiting other blogs takes time. But I make sure to AT LEAST visit the bloggers who have left me comments the day before in addition to all of my favorite bloggers. If they took the time to visit me, I want to take the time to visit them.
Respond/Get to Know Readers <<<<<
Most of the time I don't respond to actual comments, unless a specific question is asked. However, I ALWAYS respond to emails (even if it isn't right away) and I try to always respond to tweets and Facebook messages. This goes back to the last sentence from the previous tip- someone is taking the time to reach out to me, the least I can do is respond.
>>>>> Sponsor Other Blogs
A great way to grow your blog is to sponsor other blogs. Yes, this can be expensive depending on the blog, but it's a great investment if you really want to grow. (You must also remember that a sponsor can only do so much- they can get a reader to your blog, but you must have quality product to keep the reader interested.) One thing to pay attention to though is how each blog deals with their sponsors. Be sure that you're investing your money into a blog that will take the time to really help you. Nothing is worse than spending your hard earned cash on a blog that merely puts your logo up on their sidebar and does nothing else to help. Having sponsors is a big deal and takes a lot of extra time (which is the reason I stopped accepting them for awhile and only accept three at a time now)- so if you're going to accept sponsors, be sure you have the time to invest. (You can view all of my sponsor info here.)
You don't need to have a top notch camera (until December I used a camera timer app and my iPhone to take all of my photos!) but be sure that your photos are clear and BIG. Specifically if you're a fashion blog. If you're showing an outfit but we can't see the details that you've put into it, what is the point? Make your photos large so that we aren't squinting to see them. Look at some of your favorite blogs and see how big their images are. Chances are they aren't only 200 px wide. (For the record, mine are 610 px wide.) I also make sure to resize my images so that they are all the same width. This makes a clean visual line going down the post.
>>>>> Use the Tools Available
There are SO many tools available to help you grow your blog, aside from Twitter and Facebook (if you don't have these two social media accounts, you should get them ASAP). Some that I've recently increased my use of: Instagram is a great way to give your readers an "inside" glance into your life, Pose is a great way to introduce your style to new eyes, Bitly is a great way to shorten your links (especially good for Twitter's 140 characters) and to see how many clicks each post gets, and HootSuite is my saving grace. In case you aren't familiar, HootSuite allows you to schedule Facebook posts and tweets. We all have things to do during the day so we can't be online all the time. This lets you be around even if you aren't really around. Each morning I set up a schedule of several posts throughout the day that I want to make sure get mentioned. This way if I get crazy busy, they're still being pushed out and not forgotten.
Posting Times <<<<<
I've been doing a lot of research in the past few months to see when my ideal posting times are to each social media site. In general this was the recommended posting times that I found online:
Facebook: 1-4 pm, Twitter: 1-3 pm, LinkedIn: 7-9 am or 5-6 pm, Pinterest: 2-4 pm or 8 pm- 1 am.
I took these times and also did some research on my reader base to see when I was getting the biggest responses. It took a long time to figure out my ideal posting times (and I still tweak it every once in awhile), but I definitely recommend you doing this. You want to make sure that you're posting when your readers are actually seeing it. My newest posts also go up every morning at midnight EST. This way people on the west coast may see them before they go to bed, and people overseas will see them when they wake up. You have to think about more than just those in your local areas.
>>>>> Getting Over a PlateauAt some point I'm sure most bloggers experience a plateau. You feel like no matter what you do, you just aren't reaching anyone new and your blog is stuck. My best advice for this is to try something new. If you aren't sponsoring any blogs, try it! Have a new posting idea brewing in your mind? Give it a shot! Give your blog a facelift. Host a giveaway or a link up. Anything that might give your blog a shot of something new is worth a try. Granted, it may not work out, but you may learn something that DOES along the way.
As I said, I'm not an expert. But these tips have definitely helped me and I hope that maybe a couple of them will help you as well. Feel free to email me with any follow up questions!