Expert tips to help you grow your blog

Blogging. A subject that I love to talk about. While I learn, grow and continue to put my time and effort into making A Lady Goes West an enjoyable place to visit, I’m constantly amazed by the world of blogging. I’ve met some nice people, had great opportunities, and quite frankly, I feel like I’m just getting started. As long as you all keep coming back, I’m going to keep writing. And if you haven’t noticed, I’m not the only person somewhat obsessed with this whole blogging thing.

The state of the blogging world

There are hundreds-of-millions of blogs out there. More than half of all bloggers actually own and manage more than one blog. There are people who have a blog as a hobby. There are people who have a blog as a business. And blogging is continuing to evolve, change and grow, especially as there are even more “micro-blogs” popping up, which exist solely on social media sites and don’t even have a standalone website. 

But has blogging reached its peak? Nope, it’s just gearing up for more. And we will soon see people who write blogs and share via micro-blogs, considered and referred to as “influencers” rather than just “bloggers” as their roles expand. All of this information is just a snapshot of what was offered up by Katy Widrick, a blogger and social media consultant, in a presentation last month at IDEA Blogfest with Sweat Pink in Los Angeles. 

Expert tips to help you grow your blog

Today, I’m going to give you a few of the big takeaways from all of the blogging and social media presentations that I heard over the course of the two-day event. Let’s get to it …

Expert tips to help you grow your blog via A Lady Goes West

Find your niche. And your micro-niche.

Because there are so many blogs out there, it’s okay to be different and hyper-focused with your content. In fact, Widrick suggests that you get as specific as you want and reach out to special populations. Her example? Create workouts for people with purple hair. Why? Because the more specific and tailored you are, the more engaged your audience will be. You can’t be interesting to everyone, so if you’re super-interesting to only a few people, you’ll have more loyal and engaged followers. She also gave this little gem of a quote when talking about the readers she gets visiting her own blog …

“I’d rather know that ten people got active and healthy rather than ten-thousand people came and did nothing.” — Katy Widrick.

Numbers matter, but engagement matters more.

You don’t have to have the most page-views or daily visits to your blog or have the largest social media following in order to run and write a successful blog, says Widrick. In fact, these days, page-views and your overall following matter less-and-less, but the engagement you get on your posts matters more (the clicks, the shares, etc.). That being said, as a smaller blogger you should celebrate your readers and appreciate them, and hope that they will share their love of your blog with their friends and families and stick around. Don’t get too focused on increasing your following on every social media channel, but stick to the ones that work for you and the ones you get results from. Spend time socializing where your readers are, and forget about trying to do everything. I agree!

Share, share, share and share again. 

According to Jamie Walker, founder of Sweat Pink, sharing is caring. Being a part of an online community (like Sweat Pink, FitFluential, etc.) and sharing other people’s content is a great way to grow your own blog. However, you also need to make it easy for people to share your content. You should always have a “Click to Tweet” option with a shareable quote and make sure that your Twitter handle is included in there. Widrick seconded this fact and suggested that you spend 20 percent of your time creating new content and 80 percent of your time sharing other people’s content. Wow. That’s a big chunk!

How to grow your blog? Spend more time sharing other bloggers' content! Find out more tips today. Click To Tweet

Over-communicate to improve your brand relationships. 

According to Katie McFarland, as a blogger or influencer, you should treat your relationships with brands as you would any other relationship. Be kind, reliable, cooperative, follow up and spend time getting to know the ins and outs of each brand that you work with. McFarland’s greatest tip? She suggested that you always share the anecdotal results from a campaign with a brand in addition to the numbers that they ask for. I took her advice recently and reported back to a brand that in addition to the clicks and social media mentions I delivered, I was also tagged in a separate comment thread on Facebook about the particular brand I was promoting because of my post, and it was all positive. The brand was super pleased and will likely want to work with me again. That being said, when in doubt, provide extra information and go above and beyond with your efforts. McFarland also mentioned that you should never let your brand relationships end after a campaign, keep them going by staying in touch here and there in hopes of a future collaboration. So true!

Here are a few other helpful pieces of information …

  • Make sure your design is mobile responsive. Your blog must be easy to read on a phone. And when it comes to design, simple is always better.
  • Use plenty of clear visuals in your posts. Try taking pictures from the subject’s level to get cooler shots. And use Canva, PicMonkey or other sites to help improve your pictures and create graphics. You can also check out my post on my my five favorite free photo apps and websites.
  • When you’re promoting a sponsored post on social media, using #spon as a hashtag is not legally enough for federal guidelines. You need to use #ad or #sponsored or #paid.
  • All affiliate or links in a sponsored post must be categorized as “no follow.”
  • Your posts should be no less than 500 words in order to get a better ranking in Google search engines and classified as quality content.
  • SEO is super important, and the plug-in Yoast can help you get started. (This is one of those confusing areas, where I know I need to focus more.)

And that’s that! Just a little snapshot of some of the good stuff.

More about IDEA BlogFest, IDEA World Fitness Convention and writing

If you want to know more about my time at IDEA BlogFest with Sweat Pink and IDEA World Fitness Convention, the biggest fitness industry event of the year, check out the following posts:

*Please note: I was given a complimentary ticket to IDEA BlogFest with Sweat Pink and the IDEA World Fitness Convention in exchange for speaking at the event and posting about it. I covered my travel and accommodations. Fair trade? I think so!

Questions of the day

What’s something you like to see when reading blogs?

Have you learned any new blogging tips lately?

What’s your most helpful blogging tool?

Ashley signature

 

 

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73 Comments

  1. I love these tips Ashley! I just spent the weekend at an Australian version of the blogging event you went to (Called Problogger) and met some amazing American/international bloggers with some great advice too. It is so inspiring! xx

    1. Hi Krissy! Oh awesome! So glad you went to a blogging conference — they can be such great networking opportunities. 🙂 Keep up the good work, lady!

  2. This is super interesting, Ashley! Even for this non-blogger. I’ve been wanting to start a blog for over a year now, but I haven’t pulled the trigger because the type A perfectionist in me feels like if I can’t start it perfectly, I shouldn’t start at all. I know I need to just jump in, but I haven’t quite been able to.

    Anyway, this is great info so thanks for sharing and happy Tuesday to you!

    1. Hi Megan, Would you believe I don’t use CoSchedule yet? I so need to!! Happy Tuesday! Your link shares post each week is such a good way to help promote others. Keep it up!

  3. Great tips! I feel like I’m always learning more and more about blogging, and I still don’t know much! I need to get better with the sharing deal. I was so good last year but then it kind of slipped. Need to work on that!

  4. Great round up! I am all about the engagement–numbers are like your resume, engagement is like your experience–they both matter, but in certain situations, one matters more than the other, but you need them both to be truly accomplished.

  5. These are all great tips! I think the share ratio between your content vs. others content is crazy but true because I’ve read that statistic on other “grow your blog” posts before. With that said, I’ll definitely be sharing this post 🙂 Also when working with a brand, I agree it’s a smart idea to not only share numbers after the campaign has ended, but thoughtful insights too (i.e. what went well, what could have been improved).

    1. Hi Erin! I know I need to be better about sharing others’ content more as well, because it’s very effective. This post was a reminder to me to do it too! 🙂

  6. Great round up of tips and ideas. Since going back to work full time I feel like my blog is now playing 3rd or 4th fiddle to everything else in my life. I’m cool with letting it chill for a while but it is true blogging is better when you share! Plus I feel like there are so many voices out there that know just what I’m feeling when I can’t put it into words.

    1. Hi Renee! Yes, that must be a big change to have so much time taken up by your other job. But if you still have the passion for blogging, you’ll find at least a little time to get a couple posts up a week and read others. Good luck finding that time and balance, lady! 🙂 Right now — just let it chill! hhahha

  7. People ask me for advice when it comes to blogging a lot – and I say: BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Don’t be selfish and think people are going to come to your blog because you are a fan of the blog post you created. No. Go to other people’s blogs! Results don’t come if you don’t put in any work (aside from pressing publish).

    MAKING FRIENDS = the best way to grow your blog 🙂

    1. Hi Rebecca! Yes, much of the SEO talk went over my head that day at BlogFest. But Yoast is a good place to start. Best of luck to you!!! 🙂

  8. Great post Ashley! Lots of really good tips there for newbies and for bloggers like myself who have been working away at it for over a year.

    I think it does good in the first year to learn and practice your writing and to concentrate on creating quality content. It took me a while to adapt to this. I think I was a bit “all over the place” for a while, but now I feel more comfortable in the quality, quantity and length of each post. My numbers seem to be on the way up too, which is nice.

    I’ll just keep going and improving. I enjoy it and wouldn’t do it otherwise. There’s too many out there who see it as a way to earn money, and nothing else. There’s no passion in writing a blog that way is there?

    1. Well that’s not me, Neil. I wouldn’t spend a second blogging if I wasn’t passionate about writing and sharing. Same with you, I’m sure! Keep up the awesome work. Yes, we’ll always be learning and growing!! 🙂

  9. Awesome recap, Ashley! I am so in love with the Yoast SEO program. It’s super helpful, and I can make sure that they keywords I’ve researched are properly displayed and used with that plugin to make sure I have good keyword density, etc. This post has me wishing that there were more fitness blogging conferences distributed throughout the year so I can learn even more! 🙂

  10. As a new blogger, all of this information is so helpful! I think my main goal for the next few weeks is to get more active on social media and I loved the tips on maintaining relationships with sponsors. Hopefully I can get to that level with my blog in the future. Have a wonderful day! 🙂

    1. Hi Cassie! Thanks for noticing that I like to reply to my comments — it’s a fun thing for me. And yay for you getting good traffic from Google. Keep it up, lady! 🙂

  11. Not a blogger myself, I still read posts like these because I think it’s interesting to see what bloggers have to navigate behind the scenes. The sociologist in me appreciates and is fascinated by the strategies bloggers use to build their blogs—things like making post headings easier to find on a search engine by using careful phrasing, etc. Maneuvers like that strike me as just smart advertising and promotion. What I strongly dislike, however, are the tips that involve sharing the content of other bloggers and commenting on others’ blogs. It’s easy to see why that’d be a helpful practice, and I’m certainly all for it when a blogger feels that what he or she is commenting on or sharing is something that he or she genuinely supports, but too often I see bloggers comment on other blogs in such a flagrantly self-interested way that the marketing dimension, being so unabashedly in my face, has the opposite effect of what the blogger probably wanted. Another aspect that makes me uncomfortable is that, absent some obvious negative tilt to the comment, I view comments on blogs as the commenter giving the blog a tacit endorsement. This makes me frustrated when I see a blogger I respect comment on a blog that has content at odds with the commenter’s platform/advice, etc. It’s kind of a rub to the reader because it implies that the reader is too dense to figure out the commenter’s inconsistency. This is mini rant is not directed toward you (aw, hell no, you post great content and that Rudy dog is just so darn cute….) or anyone else specifically, but I would be super curious to hear what other non-bloggers and even other bloggers think about aggressive commenting devices.

    1. Hi Julia! Well you win the award for best comment today. First of all, I think your interest in reading about blogging tactics is awesome, because I also like to know the “behind-the-scenes” about things I’m not actively involved in. And your point about sharing content is true. While I didn’t touch on it in this post, (but I have in previous posts) you must be authentic in your voice at all times. That means sharing things you believe in and following blogs you enjoy. However, I don’t think that a blogger needs to have a FULL endorsement of another blogger just to comment, at least partial, you know? Sometimes I read blogs of people I don’t agree with, because it gives me another perspective. You know what I mean? However, I would NEVER promote someone’s blog, if I didn’t think they had rewarding content at times. So no need to be spammy sharing other people’s stuff, unless you really like it. I am really glad you brought this up on here. It’s important to remember the thoughts of the viewers/readers. As bloggers, we need to realize our readers not only see our posts, but also our comments, and we need to be transparent. Thanks, Julia. And Rudy says hi! 🙂 hehehe!! Hope you have a great day.

  12. Great recap – these are such awesome tips. I’m working on engaging with others in hopes that they will engage with me – so far it has been going great 🙂

    1. That tip came from Jamie Walker, of course! I think she was talking about taking a picture of her dog. heheh! 🙂 I’ve totally done it now! Happy Tuesday, Dapinder!

  13. Great tips! I really like a variety of high quality content, and especially when the blogger interacts with the audience. I know I really appreciate that you respond to most of your comments :). I keep toying with the idea of blogging, but man with my regular job and other things… I just don’t know. Maybe I’ll make a list of post ideas and see if I can come up with my micro-niche.

    1. Hi Jessie! You should totally start a blog. You don’t even have to share it with anyone at first, but just have a place to write out your thoughts! And I know it can seem overwhelming, but you may feel good when you hit publish! And yes, I love to respond to my comments. Getting to know my readers (like you) is the best part! Have an awesome day! 🙂

  14. Great tips Ashley! I definitely agree with not ending the relationship after a collaberation, you never know what will happen in the future! 🙂

  15. Hi Ashley- Thanks for sharing this information! I started my blog over a year ago and for me, it is more of a hobby. But of course I enjoy people following and reading. I think it is important to share posts and comment on other blogs, but I also think it is important to be authentic to yourself and participate in these types of things as a way of being social/supportive. I will get a comment every now and then where it’s pretty obvious the person didn’t even read my post. They are just commenting for the sake of leaving a comment and it kind of defeats the purpose to me. I also really enjoy it when a blogger stays true to herself/himself after the blog starts to grow, rather than shifting focus to just blogging to grow the blog if that makes sense. Anyway, I really enjoyed this post!

    1. Hi Sam, Oh, I’ve definitely gotten comments on my blog from people who clearly didn’t even read the post. But of course, I at least appreciate that they came to skim through. 🙂 And yes, I am all for being authentic and keeping your voice, both on your blog and on other people’s blogs. As long as you keep enjoying blogging, keep at it. I love reading your stuff! Have a great night!

    1. Hi Sue! Yes, just share in general was the point. On Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or in a link-share post of course. I definitely don’t reach that ratio at all, but apparently it’s the goal.

  16. Great post! I especially like the part about connecting with other bloggers and sharing others content. I’m realizing just how important that is lately, and have really been making more of an effort to do so! And my favorite blogging tools are definitely a) Canva for graphics, and b) Periscope for interactive social platform (that I can then repurpose videos on youtube/blog!)

    1. Hi Chrissy! Thanks! I just started using Canva and it’s so awesome. I need to play around with it more. I’m not on Periscope yet though! It’s apparently all the rage heheh. Thanks for stopping by to say hello. Have a great night!

  17. I love reading blogging tips like these. There is just so much to learn! I have always felt a little technologically inadequate, but actually having to do the behind the blog work has helped with that. I love the tips on sharing and engagement; definitely areas where I could improve. Thanks Ashley!

    1. Hi Heather! There’s always more to learn, and that’s what keeps blogging interesting. I agree that the backend is scary, but you do what you can, until you need to seek professional help. As far as sharing — I need to do it more too. Glad you enjoyed this read, Heather! Have a fabulous evening! 🙂 Send me a brownie!

  18. Great tips Ashley! I need to review my notes from Blogfest again. I always come home excited to implement what I learned but get so busy I forget! I meant to start using Canva after hearing such great things about it but of course, forgot! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    1. Yes, Giselle! I’ve just started using Canva, and it’s awesome. But yes, we took in so much information so it’s always good to go back to the notes. I’ve been trying to use my SEO plug-in a bit more lately, after all that talk of it’s importance. Hope you have a good night! 🙂

  19. I love tips like this, they are easy to read and get me thinking about a new strategy. I’m so guilty of not sharing enough, I need to be more active in that part but with a full time job, ti’s difficult. I know there are apps to schedule that but I like the organic feeling sometimes as well! I’m working on my micro-niche now, such a fun concept! Thank you for taking the time to share these tips, it’s really so helpful to hear (even though you know these things, ti’s great to hear them again and again).

    1. Hi Sam! I like writing posts like this, because I always learn something new. And I think that blogging needs to fit into your life, so if you’re devoting all the time you can to it — that’s enough. We’ll never be able to share ENOUGH or do EVERYTHING we want. So just keep chugging along. And I am with you that I need to share a bit more. I also don’t preschedule my social media posts and do them all live, which is a time-suck for sure! Anyways … glad to know you on this blogging journey, lady! 🙂

  20. Great post! I love the idea of numbers versus engagement… I mean, it’s kind of like my classes, ya know? I love to see the numbers grow, but I’d rather see people coming back week after week after week versus about the same or more numbers, but new faces every week.

  21. So many great tips…Love this post and everything that you have shared! I believe that with my blog, it is just the beginning. I learn so much from other bloggers, including yourself, that constantly keep me inspired, and want to continue to grow. Our blogging community ROCKS!

  22. Hey Ashley!!

    Thanks so much for this post! Blogs have been a part of my daily routine for years and I finally pulled the trigger on my own. The tips you have highlighted have helped me focus on what I want to share. As I grow my blog/influence and become more active in the blogging world I know they will guide me. Thanks again!!

    Marilena

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