Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What Helped Me Grow My Blog?

Advice for Others, Prompt 5:
What activities, practices, features or events have helped you most in terms of blog or social media growth?

I feel a little silly doing a prompt under this category; I'm no expert. But I will just share my tale, which is kind of the point of this blog, and you can take it as advice or simply as a story.

So many things have helped Midwest "Mom"ments grow. It started as an online journal. Then I slowly did each of the following steps and found myself getting a few more comments, another follower or two, a request for a piece here and there. My blog still is not huge. And that's ok with me. I had a fleeting dream of bloggy stardom once, but realized that wasn't my destiny. Because as much as I love this space I've carved out for me here, it's not my top priority right now. And I would need for it to be in order to do all that was necessary to get famous.

That said, I don't want to disappear into oblivion either. There are little things that can be done to nurture it along. Here are the ones that worked for me. (I imagine they aren't very original, but that's also probably why they work.)

1. Submit posts for publication. Mamapedia, BlogHer, Studio30Plus - find a group in your niche, who you can speak to, and submit, submit, submit! Even if your pieces aren't selected for publication, going to those sites can help you find your tribe. Which brings me to #2:

2. Read other blogs. Comment on them. Let them know how you found them. Include your email address and site. Many of them will come back to visit you.

3. Engage. When those new visitors comment? Respond. Let them know you appreciate their attention. They'll be more likely to remember you. There are gazillions of blogs out there. Set yourself apart by developing a direct relationship.

Also, when you have an opportunity to post on something that legitimately allows for you to link back to someone, do. (Note the links in this post.) Don't force it, but be aware so you don't miss out on chances, either. This helps foster community.

4. Join a meme or link-up. The first one I found was Kludgy Mom's Back to School/Back to Blogging workshop. That not only introduced me to a bunch of bloggers who were on relatively the same level as I was, it gave me lots of tips to improve my blog so people would want to come back.

A few months later, I found The Red Dress Club, a fiction and memoir writing group, and that was a huge gateway for my blog to grow in a different direction. As was Bloggy Moms.

And thanks to Liz from A Belle, A Bean and A Chicago Dog and Jessica from Four Plus An Angel who set up this #SummerBlogSocial link-up, I will find more people to connect with.

5. Have your blog reviewed by professionals. I was lucky enough for Eli Rose Social Media to take a peek at this humble abode, and they cleaned house! I have yet to institute some of the changes, but I've gotten a few done. Hoping to complete the bulk of them by the end of the summer.

6. If you don't know much about blogging, find someone who does. Whether it's Gigi's B2S/B2B or Eli Rose or any number of sources, get schooled! The Internet is your oyster. It's covered in pearls for you to find. And if you don't know where to go for the answers, just ask. Which brings me to #6:

7. Join Twitter. Twitter is the da bomb. It's fun, it's informative, it's real, it's fluid, it's supportive. Granted, when you first join, it's also weird. You have stilted conversations as if at a cocktail party where you don't know anyone. But once you find quality people to follow (avoid egg avatars!), and you witness how it works, you'll find it's more like long chats at a slumber party with old friends. And a few perverted peeping Toms on occasion. (Yes, @moooooog35, I'm looking at you.)

8. Advertise. The free kind. Set up a Facebook fan page. Tweet your posts. Guest post on other blogs and invite them to guest post on yours. Set up an RSS feed and email subscription, and post links to those and your Twitter and FB accounts at the top of your blog.

9. Then write, re-write and re-write some more. My first posts were just typed out and posted without a second thought. Most of my family updates are still that way, very little editing. But anything that has real content should be proofread. Multiple times. You want your visitors to become fans. And they will - if you give them your best. But if you offer mediocrity, they're less likely to consider you worthy of their undivided attention.

To be fair, I don't do that as well as I should. There are times when I've felt I was too busy. But as a great John Wooden quote I saw from @Sports_Greats on Twitter today said,  “If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?” (And now I'm paranoid that I've missed a typo in my 17th round of editing this post.)

There you have it. As I said, I'm far from an expert, but I hope this list is helpful to someone out there. And now I'm off to check out everyone else's suggestions!
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