Yesterday, I pondered the role of the "perfect" reader. Today, I ask a related, but different question.
What is the best way to build a "perfect" blog readership?
When I first started blogging almost two years ago (so hard to believe), I was eager to build an audience. And quickly. As you might have guessed by now, I am a wee bit Type A, and when it came to this blog, I wanted it to explode. Overnight. Well, ha. That doesn't happen. Growing a blog takes time. It is an organic and opaque process. There is no magic formula. Truth be told, I did not love learning these things. I am an instant satisfaction kind of creature and utterly lacking in patience. But I did love writing words here. Asking questions. Floating bits personal and philosophical into the odd internet ether. And so I kept at it. Even though I had very few readers and nary a comment for a long time.
Recently, several readers have asked me if I have any advice on building blog readership. And this strikes me as crazy because I am hardly an expert and this blog is far from huge, but I do have some thoughts. Thoughts borne from experience and imagination and, yes, struggle. And so I will share those thoughts with you today. Because I know that many of you reading these words are bloggers. Some of you are rookies like I once was. I imagine many of you are eager beavers like I was and am, and want results. And readers.
Comment away. It is important for you to get off your own blog and leave comments. Everyone says this and it is true. But do not do this randomly. Find blogs you love. Blogs where the writing sings and the topics grab you. Blogs that might attract, and appeal to, a similar audience as your blog. (If you blog about life and love, it isn't going to help much to leave a comment on a personal finance blog.) Once you find these blogs, lose yourself in them. Swim in the words. And then leave a bit of yourself there. Respond to the writing. Engage with it. Say hello to the blogger. Announce that you are new if you are. Explain how you found your way there (i.e. I found you via the lovely X at blog Y...) And don't just stop there.
Look through the comments on blogs you like and admire. This is where the true gold is. Why? First of all, these are people who leave comments! And chances are, many of those leaving comments have blogs of their own, potentially wonderful blogs. Visit these bloggers. Whether they are big or small, leave a comment if you like what you see. (Again, authenticity and appropriateness are key. It is often obvious if you are leaving a comment just to bait a reader.) Leave a comment. A thoughtful one reflective of who you are. And then? Visit another commentor's blog. Rinse and repeat and hope for the best. There's a good chance these bloggers will come visit you in return and maybe they will love your blog. Maybe you will collect a new reader or two. You never know.
I am no expert. I do not believe in experts. But these are things that I still do (when I have time), things that have worked for me, things I believe in and endorse. There is nothing quite as exciting for a writer than finding lovely new words and lovely new readers. A good place to start? My comment section below. Leave one. A comment. Say something. About this post. About yourself. Tell me if you are new to this blog or new to blogging or have been at this for some time. Sift through the comments on this post and others. Visit some of my readers' gorgeous blogs. If you like what you see (and I trust you will), leave a comment. Say hello.
Alas. A practical post. But one I wish I had read when I started out. And I will end here by saying thank you. You guys? You are why. Why I love this place. I could never have imagined I would collect such a diverse and amazing troupe of readers.
My perfect readers indeed.
Do you have any tips on building a blog readership? Any questions or insights about blogging? Do you agree that finding the "right" readers is more important than finding the most readers, that quality indeed trumps quantity? Please leave a comment here and make sure to link to your blog. From among the comments here, I will pick one blogger (or more) to feature on ILI in the coming weeks.