How to Build an Online Platform: Blogging

Photo credit: Magnet 4 Marketing dot Net on Flickr
So way back in July I started this how to build an online platform series (focusing on Twitter) then sort of left you guys hanging? My bad. The series is back!

Today’s focus is the blog! Because I just hit a special milestone (*EHEM* so maybe check out Writability next week? JUST SAYING). So yay!
Blogger birthday: May 2011 (3.5 years, as of this writing). 
Followers/subscribers: Roughly 1.1k (according to feedburner, as of this writing). 
Total pageviews: +1,000,000!!! *squee* 
Time spent weekly: Roughly 3-4 hours ish.

Tips: 

  • Post consistently. So in three and a half years, I’ve yet to miss a post. I’m not saying this to be braggy, I’m saying this because posting consistently? It’s important if you want to build a blog following.

    I’ve already written a whole post about why posting consistently is so important, so I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty again. But the main benefit to bloggers is by posting consistently, you’re allowing your readers to get into the habit of checking/visiting your blog on a regular basis. Whether that’s weekly, bi-weekly, several times a week or monthly is up to you, but no matter what, consistency is key. 

  • Figure out what you want your blog to be about early on and stay within that realm. While having a blog where you post about anything and everything under the sun can be fun, it's much harder to find an audience if you don't pinpoint a particular interest to target. 

  • Ask a question after your posts to encourage discussion. Case in point: 95% of my blog posts. :) 

  • Answer your comments. You won’t always get comments. In fact, there will often be long stretches where you barely get any comments at all. (FWIW, this is something that STILL happens to me, three and a half years later). But when you do get comments, I think it’s really important for bloggers to make a point of answering them. Yes, all of them. (Or nearly all of them, at least).

    Why? To me, it’s common courtesy—your readers have taken the time to read your post and respond in some way, and by answering their comments, you’re telling them you appreciate their time and reciprocated with their own. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that on the posts where I answer comments quickly, I tend to get more comments—readers like to see that the blogger is taking the time to interact with the community.

    As an added bonus, I’ve had some really awesome discussions happen in the comments of my posts—and those would’nt have happened if I hadn’t answered the comments to begin with. 

  • Share your posts elsewhere. I habitually share every one of my blog posts on Twitter, tumblr and Facebook, because that’s where I’m most active. Pinterest is another good one, but I’m not very consistent with Pinterest so I tend to let other awesome people pin my stuff for me. (People are nice).

    But basically, if you’re on a social media site that allows for link or text sharing, then I highly recommend you take the time to share your posts. Just don’t get spammy about it (as in, posting about it twelve times in the same day). 

  • Make it easy for others to share. As in those lovely Twitter-sized bites below (directions on how to create those here). Or the sharing buttons below that. But the point is, the easier you make it for people to share, the more likely they are to do it. 

  • Comment on other people’s blogs (especially at first). This is something, that sadly, I haven’t had very much time for as of late. But at the beginning, one of the number one ways I found new blogs, connected with other bloggers, and found new readers was by commenting on blogs with topics similar to mine. This is especially helpful at first when you don’t have a lot of readers and you want to find people with similar interests, but one caveat: do NOT include a link to your blog at the bottom of your comment. That’s considered spammy and kind of rude. Instead, people will find your blog by clicking your name (because you usually have to include a link to your website (aka: your blog) in order to leave a comment). 

  • It’s okay to stop. Thankfully, this isn’t something I’ve had to (or wanted to) do. I love running Writability, and even though it’s time consuming, it’s something that I intend to continue to do for as long as I can.

    But that being said, if you’re a blogger and you find that you’re no longer enjoying it, or it’s taking way too much time and becoming a burden, then it’s okay to stop. Really. The last thing you want is to dread writing your posts, because then it’ll become an emotional drain and quite frankly, your readers will likely notice. 

Do you run a blog? What tips do you have for new (or even established!) bloggers? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Looking to build a blogging platform? @Ava_Jae shares her experience and a few tips. (Click to tweet
"Consistency is key," and other blogger platform building tips from @Ava_Jae. (Click to tweet)

13 comments:

Laurie Schafer Hoffman said...

Thanks for your insight Ava. I am new to the blogging world and have to twist arms to get my friends and family to read my posts! Maybe someday....

Ava Jae said...

You're welcome, Laurie! It can be a little tough at first, but don't worry—if you keep blogging and connecting with people online, you'll be a pro in no time. :)


Good luck!

Lola R said...

Great post with great blogging tips! I think replying to comments is really important, even if those who leave a comment might not check back to see the reply. I love commenting systems that notify me of replies, it's nice to know the blogger has read your comment and replied.
I think commenting on other blogs or commenting back is really important towards building a sense of community. I only started seriously commenting on other blogs about 6 months ago and I found out how much fun it is. But yeah it takes a lot of time.

Also thanks for sharing the link to your post about how to create those twitter links, I always wondered about that!

Ashana Lian . said...

Great post! I found you from Heather's "Sometimes i'm A Story Blog." You made a lot of good points here. I've heard many before but always forget to do them, so thanks for sharing. The question-at-the-end-of-every-post thing is only something I'm getting into lately. I think it does help. =] From, Ashana.

K. J. Farnham said...

Thanks for these tips, Ava Jae! (And thanks to Lola for recommending your blog to me.)

Heather said...

Some of these I can stick to... Some of them I can't. Even now. It's hard to find something you can talk about consistently if you don't talk about a lot to begin with...


Anyway, if I were giving advice, I would say that if you are going to stop blogging, stop on a good day. Not a bad day. Because if you stop on a day when you don't feel like the blog was a total waste of your time and nobody likes it then even if those things are true you're missing out on a chance to make the blog better.

Ava Jae said...

Thanks, Lola! I also like commenting systems that notify you when someone has replied (I think Disqus does this? I hope so, anyway). It makes it much easier to keep a conversation going. :)


I definitely wish I had the time to comment on other blogs as much as I used to. Sometimes when I have a little extra time I get the chance to do a little commenting on other blogs again, but unfortunately it tends to be the first thing to go on my list of priorities.


Answering comments here, however, remains an important item on my to-do list. :)


And you're very welcome! I'm happy it helped!

Ava Jae said...

Oh wow! Thanks for letting me know—I'll have to try to track down that post that linked to me so I can thank her...


Anyway, thank you! The questions definitely help drum up conversation. It's a tip I read early on when I first started blogging and I've really found it helpful. :)

Ava Jae said...

You're very welcome, K.J.! And I don't know if Lola will ever see this, but I thank her too for recommending my blog! :)

Ava Jae said...

I think idea generation is probably the hardest part about blogging, at least for me. Sometimes while thinking of ideas I'll get two or three, but most of the time the part that takes me the longest is just trying to decide what to write about to begin with (which is further challenged by the 580+ posts I've already written, heh).


That's an interesting point. I'm not really sure if I agree or disagree...hmmm...

Lola R said...

Yes Disgus indeed send an e-mail when there's a reply ;). And indeed it makes it so much easier to keep a conversation going. I comment on quite some blogs eahc day, so there's no wya to keep track of them of them to check back to see if they replyed.

Commenting on other blogs is also the first thing that I scrap from my to-do list when I am busy, which is a shame as I really love commenting on other blogs.

Heather said...

Heh, more than that I'm impressed that you can write about the same-ish stuff 580+ times in a row. XD But I can see how idea generation would do that.


*shrugs* I come at it from the perspective of someone who quit blogging twice on bad days. I quit for impulsive reasons—which could have been avoided and took a step back to do some research and think about what I was going to do. So I dunno. That's me.

Ava Jae said...

I think maybe I take a middle stance there—on one hand, I wouldn't say quit when things are going well because if things are going well...why quit at all? But I do think that if you're having a bad day (or week), maybe take some time before you make a decision about whether or not to continue.


And writing within the same realm for an extended period of time forces you to start getting kind of creative lol. But it's worked so far. :)

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