Have you seen Julie and Julia? It’s a heart-warming (read cheesy rom-com if you’re a cynic) tale of a downtrodden woman in a dead-end depressing job who wants to make something of her life. She’s tired of her over-achieving friends looking down on her career and one day, decides to blog her experience of cooking all 575 Julia Charles recipes.
There’s a classic moment in the film when, on the verge of a nervous breakdown (or meltdown as she calls them) Julie is wondering why on earth she’s bothering, and whether anyone is even reading her. Then she gets her first comment… except it’s from her mother, asking if she’s the only one reading this and when she’s going to give it all up and start behaving like a wife.
Of course it all ends happily ever after. Julie gains an enormous following, she is inundated with calls from book agents, she’s now a writer AND she gets a film deal. Wow! That’s some happy ending.
When you start blogging (and even when you’ve been doing it for a while) it’s easy to worry about who, exactly, is reading you. Is anyone visiting your blog? Do they like what you have to say? Is it adding any value to your business or your life?
I remember talking to Karen Skidmore a few years back. She always used to have such vibrant conversations happening on her blog, and I’d be lucky to get a comment a quarter.
Karen told me that they’d start to happen. And once they started to happen that they’d snowball. And she was right. Although it took a little longer to figure things out than I’d hoped. Comments, retweets and people stopping me at a networking event to say that they love my blog is the ultimate validation for me that the hours I spend blogging are doing something. That I’m not just talking to my mum and dad through this blog, but that there are real people out there enjoying and benefitting from what I have to ramble on about.
And when I get new clients because they’ve been following my blog for a few months and love what we’re doing, that’s great. In fact, it’s more than great, it’s now a core part of my marketing strategy.
But how do you get your blog to a point where you have regular readers, subscribers and your blog has a real presence?
I think there are lots of factors. Design is key, think about blogs like decor8, designsponge or some of the foodie blogs I like to read such as Sweet Paul. The photography and design is utterly gorgeous – people keep coming back for the inspiration and escapism these blogs provide.
Content is king, but there’s more to a blog that people want to read than good content. We’re suffering from information overload. If your blog looks dull, it doesn’t matter what you’re saying, your readers are going to think your blog is dull. And it doesn’t matter how compelling your post, they’re likely to forget you. As people start to comment more you’ll be able to suss out what they want to know about.
When I started blogging I didn’t post much on what we’d been up to in the studio. I thought it would be too boastful, that people wouldn’t want to read about it. But actually, the more ‘In the Studio this Week’ posts I wrote, the more comments I received. Of course, I always make sure I intersperse with some “how tos” as well, or it would just turn into one massive online portfolio.
Your writing style also has an influence. I’ve found that the more I let my emotions loose in a blog, the more comments and dialogue I seem to gain. And uber-bloggers like Holly Becker seem to do the same.
One of the things that’s revolutionised my blog more than anything is my use of Twitter. By feeding my blogs in to Twitter, I’ve been able to “promote” my blog to my followers, who, if they like what I’ve written, have retweeted on to their followers. When I get this right, my hits shoot through the roof and I know I’ve struck a chord.
But how about you? What do you do to promote your blog? How do you engage with your readers?
Fiona Humberstone, Flourish design & marketing