“How do I gain followers?” is one of the most common questions asked in the comments section of our posts. At Giles Meets World, UK-based travel blogger Giles Jordan shares the mistakes he made in his first year of blogging, and some of his insights address how to grow your site and find new readers. Here are highlights from his post.
Not putting his readers first
People subconsciously will be thinking, “what’s in it for me,” when reading your material, so always try and bear that in mind. What will make someone want to read what you’re writing?
Giles says that his first posts were like travel journal entries, and weren’t well-formatted or easy to read. He realized he wanted to write travel guide content that provided value to a wider readership beyond his family and close friends.
So many styles of blogging and writing exist out there, of course; writing for yourself may be most important to you and your approach may ultimately be different. But the question Giles poses — what’s in it for your readers? — is worth thinking about.
Not posting regularly
You need to stick with it! Posting regularly is the only way to build momentum for your blog . . .
When Giles was on the road in his first year of blogging, he posted updates as things happened, or when he had internet access. When he returned, he had no real schedule and didn’t know how often he wanted to post.
If you’re serious about blogging, form a long-term plan: create an editorial calendar, introduce a weekly or monthly series, or build a habit with daily prompts. Set a reasonable goal (“I want to post twice a week” or “I aim to post every other Monday”). Then find your rhythm and stick to it so readers will keep coming back for more.
Not posting in a clean, easy-to-read format
A great way to find formats you’ll like to post in is to go on other people’s blogs and see what you do and don’t like. There’s no better way, especially if you’re not that hot on design like myself, than seeing someone else successfully creating good formats for posts and then replicating that formula yourself.
Giles’ earliest posts were drafted and published from his phone while on the road — they weren’t as polished as he’d hoped, and he had issues with image sizes, fonts, and layouts. Bookmarking a blog you admire and noting elements you like and don’t like on individual posts is a great way to shape your own.
Following a template may also help minimize the number of decisions to make when you’re drafting a post. Create a basic post structure for yourself — for example, start with a featured image, write a few paragraphs toward a target word count, and end with a quote — and see if that helps you establish a routine.
Not engaging with other people
Especially when you start out, engaging with other bloggers is so important. I didn’t realise until I started engaging more with other people that that’s what blogging should be about. It should be about community and people, not writing about yourself and hoping someone will listen. It’s a way of helping, educating and making a difference.
In his first month of blogging, Giles didn’t visit or read other blogs. If you build it, they will come, he thought. He quickly realized that blogging is much more than clicking “Publish” — interacting with readers and other bloggers, especially those with similar interests, can help you build your network. But do so meaningfully: on any given day, it’s better to respond thoughtfully to a few people, versus blindly reciprocating likes or asking dozens of people to follow your blog. Growing a readership takes time.
Not having a list of post ideas in advance
I have a document with probably over 50 ideas of future posts I want to write. I’m constantly thinking of new ideas of things to write on my blog and noting them down, and it’s made such a difference and saved me so much time. Not to mention, I’ve found a big benefit in having different options, because depending on my mood that day I’ll feel like writing about different things. It’s like having a menu in a restaurant that you can scan through and see what you feel like picking that day.
When your well runs dry, a go-to pool of evergreen post ideas is a timesaver. Giles is spot on — we can’t force ourselves to write on a specific topic if we’re not feeling it. Keep your list of rainy day ideas in a free notetaking app like Simplenote, or dig into your post drafts to see if you have unfinished stories that are finally ripe to tell. The “Five Posts to Write Right Now” series compiles a variety of post ideas, too.
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