A little more than a year ago, I published a post about how to get followers on your blog, and, like everything I posted before 2020, I cringe whenever I remember it.
Even though I agree to some extent with everything I said, I definitely could’ve phrased some things better and formatted the post nicely. So today I’m revisiting the post and giving my fresh perspective on the things I wrote and some extra advice.
I feel like I’m more equipped to do so now that I’ve been blogging for a year and a half, but I’d like to give the common disclaimer that I don’t have all the secrets and this is just what works for me! There are so many paths to blogging success, whatever that means for you (you may not care even the slightest bit about followers or statistics, which is totally valid). I also feel like a big part of the journey is figuring out what works for you the hard way, so this post may not help at all. But hopefully it does a bit, or you at least have fun reading it!
In the original post, I said reply to comments and blog hop, but in this post, I’m condensing these two into one section called “interact”!
I think it’s important to interact because it shows that you care about your audience and other bloggers. People are more eager to interact with you if you interact with them too. Like I said in my introduction to book blogs post, interaction is an integral part of the book blogging community. And personally, I’m more eager to comment on someone’s post if I know that I have a chance of getting a reply back.
People also feel more obligated to check out your posts if you show theirs support. If you want to up your stats by commenting on a lot of bloggers’ posts, especially bloggers who comment back, that’s totally valid! I just suggest actually reading the post and not commenting something like “Great post! Check out my blog.”
I think blog hopping is especially important if you’re new to blogging and don’t have an audience yet. The blogosphere is pretty small, and one of the most sure ways to get people to find you is to comment on their posts.
If you’ve already built a readership and don’t rely too much on blog hopping to keep people coming back to your posts, then I don’t think it’s a must. I haven’t blog hopped and have been the absolute worst at replying to comments for the past few months, but somehow my stats haven’t taken a blow. Everyone in this community is so understanding. 🥺
Your aesthetic is the first thing people see when they visit your blog, and they’ll probably click away if it’s unattractive. It doesn’t have to be the most beautiful thing ever (though, as with most things in life, the prettier the better), just presentable and easy to navigate!
As someone who’s not the best at design and probably never will be (not everyone has the time, skills, or resources to have aesthetics like Kat’s or Shealea’s), what has worked for me is being consistent! I don’t have the prettiest site theme or graphics, but I think I make it work by incorporating green into the majority of my blog and using the same graphics and fonts. Using nice and easy to read fonts is so important. What we consider a good-looking font could differ, but some of my favorites on WordPress are Karla, Montserrat, and Quattrocento Sans. My least favorites are Fondamento, Source Code, and Anonymous Pro (sorry if you use them).
I also want to highlight the importance of formatting! Everyone formats differently, but as with aesthetic, neatness and consistency are important. Also, I strongly recommend making use of headings, different text sizes, and the bold/italicize/etc. features! They really spice up a blog post and prevent one big wall of text, or walls of text broken up by a few headings, from becoming boring. I’ve personally stopped using gifs, but they’re great ways of breaking up text and making a post more entertaining!
This is kind of a given, but no one wants to follow a blog that’s been inactive for say, six months, because what’s the point? The more you post, the more your stats are likely to spike, but my advice is to just do what’s best for you. I’m a quality over quantity person and I’m sure a lot of people are.
I used to post three times a week, and while I was able to do this through a lot of procrastination, I was also able to do so because the quality of my posts wasn’t as good before. My average number of time spent on a post used to be between two to three hours, but now it’s easily four to seven because I’m more aware of what works and what doesn’t. I barely post once a week now, and my stats are still better than they were when I posted three times a week. Like I said, quality over quantity.
You don’t have to stick to a strict posting schedule or post every week. Yes, posting more means more chances of getting followers, but book blogging is probably just a hobby for you, and you should one hundred percent prioritize more important things without feeling guilty.
And now, we come to what, in my opinion, is the number one most important thing to refine as a blogger. Your blogging voice is how you write and get your ideas across with words, gifs, etc. I’m sure you’ve heard the advice “be yourself” a hundred times before, but this really applies to blogging voices!
I used to think that being myself wasn’t enough because my voice was too boring compared to everyone else’s. But you don’t have to be the wittiest person alive, crack approximately three jokes per paragraph, or copy someone’s writing style, no matter how much you love it. Just be completely authentic, and trust me, people will notice and respond positively.
I also editing my posts extensively, which I attribute to my blogging voice vastly improving. Usually, especially if the words just aren’t coming to me, I write a very badly-written first draft of a post. The paragraphs are incoherent, but what matters is that the idea is there.
I only convey the idea well when I edit. Sometimes the way to do so doesn’t come to me immediately, in which case I
cry take a break or skip to another part of the post. I always come up with something eventually, and when I’m done the post is a few hundred words shorter.
If I were to come up with an analogy of the process, I’d say that the first draft is a bunch of clay to be molded. It may vaguely look like what I want the pot to be, but for the most part it’s just an ugly blob. Only when I edit do I actually mold it into what I had in mind. I don’t know how I came up with this analogy—I don’t even do pottery.
I don’t even know if what I said above makes sense (it’s a very instinctual process for me), but basically: cut out as many words as possible—I do this a lot while editing. I don’t mean that all of your posts should be less than 1,000 words because mine definitely aren’t, but try your best not to repeat statements or go on unnecessary tangents. Erase sentences that you like but are ultimately irrelevant to what you’re trying to say, and come up with ways to say what you want to say using fewer words.
Types of Posts
In the original post, I suggested writing discussions, whether they contain advice, dissect a controversial topic, or whatever. Doing this helped me grow my audience because discussions, especially ones about spicy topics, usually bring in a lot of views, comments, etc., and the posts that bloggers link back to in their monthly wrap-ups are usually discussions.
That being said, I don’t think writing discussions is a must to gain followers. Some gain a lot of traction and others do just as well as your other posts. It all depends on the topic and how you dissect it. I might publish a post on how I write discussions in the future!
Just write the posts you want to. If you only want to post reviews, go for it. Only want to post reviews and wrap-ups? Go for it. Reviews are known for being unpopular, but I’ve seen some bloggers publish reviews so often that they don’t do poorly compared to their other posts because their audience expects them, or they review hyped books/new releases.
Part of the blogging journey is figuring out what posts you like to write. I used to post reviews, book tags, and Top Ten Tuesdays regularly, but now I barely do them because I’ve realized that I don’t really like writing them. No matter what you post, just make sure to refine your blogging voice because it’s what matters, not the post type.
There are other things I could’ve covered, because who knows how some people grow and others don’t, but for now, I think this is all the advice I have to give about gaining followers. Again, these are just based on my own experiences!