*Disclaimer: All of my thoughts and advice are merely things I have learned in the past year of blogging and strategies that I’ve used to get to this point.
Welcome back to my Bites for Growing Your Blog series! I intended for this post to be released last week, but a website server upgrade got in the way.
In my Getting Started & Site Design post, I explained that I use Blue Host as the hosting server for my website. Just last week, I had to upgrade to Servint. A bittersweet notion, indeed, since a server upgrade means your website is doing well and your current server cannot handle the blog size and traffic. The bitter part of it? The process. It was a bit of a headache – but that is expected with a website server migration. However, thanks to the 24/7 customer support at Servint and my blog’s support team, Zesty Blog Consulting, the process was manageable and I felt supported and guided the entire time. Blue Host is a wonderful (and affordable!) server as your blog starts up, but at a certain point you may need an upgrade and I highly recommend Servint.
Being Present & Personable on Your Blog
Before I pressed publish for the first time on Sally’s Baking Addiction in December 2011, I followed several recipe blogs. Drawing inspiration and baking ideas from them, admiring their photography, their writing, and their courage to put themselves out there. I was the silent lurker, bouncing from blog to blog in my Google Reader. Reading recipe blogs for baking inspiration is how I would unwind at the end of the day.
I remember vividly one afternoon last year, spotting a recipe I adored and emailing the blogger with a few recipe questions, while also commending their recipe and photography. This blogger was my idol! I hoped to make the cake on their blog for a work party that weekend. Days went by… then weeks went by. Nothing. Figuring that my email may have gotten lost, I emailed the blogger again. Nothing. I felt ignored and disheartened. Is there really a person behind that blog? A robot? As a reader, am I too inferior for my questions to be answered?
When I made the decision to start Sally’s Baking Addiction, my number one priority… the most important thing that I would do… is to be present and personable with my readers. That’s pretty major. I’m not a robot!
I’m a painfully relatable person, who makes mistakes, works a 9-5 job, and has a real life. I forget about cookies in the oven, I hate to iron, my singing voice hurts ears, and I love sprinkles. (duh)
My readers are the reason for my blog and they attribute to its growth, so it is important to me that they feel invited and comfortable visiting my website. It is my readers that make it all possible, and as the blog’s author, I feel it is my duty to be available. Responding to emails, comments, tweets, and messages is a priority for me when I am not at my full time job or with my family.
Trust me, I still get just as excited when I see a new comment pop up as I did back when I had 10 blog subscribers and the only comments I got were from my mom – through a text message.
And what’s more?
When I hear that you had success with one of my recipes, I feel my own success.
It is my “blogging philosophy” to connect with my readers and here are a few ways how I do it. As always, these are things that have worked for me and may not fit your blogging style.
1) Be yourself! I inject my real personality on my blog. I write exactly how I talk. It took some time to get completely comfortable with it, but I try to write and blog as if I were talking to a real friend in real life. What are your lovable traits and individual quirks? Show them on your blog and make your readers feel as if they really know you. Of course, it is not in everyone’s blogging style to get personal, and there are some things I am extra cautious about when mentioning my home, my family, and my job.
People are curious by nature and by allowing my readers to get a glimpse of the author behind the blog, I feel as though we can all really connect. Keeping in mind that I publish a food blog, the main content on my blog is focused on food and not my personal life. See more about Sally. And, if you’re incredibly bored, 27 Random Odds and Ends about Sally.
2) Tell your readers that you love them… regularly. Honest to goodness, I love you. More giveaways ahead.
3) Be dependable and consistent. You want your readers to count on you. Being on a regimented blogging schedule is important for my time management and for loyal readership. I typically post 4 times per week, with an occasional personal post or recipe-round up post. Four posts per week is all that my schedule can allow at this point. Consistency, I believe, is more important than frequency. My readers can depend on a certain number of posts per week and that is what matters most.
4) It’s ok to embarass yourself! On my website, over the past year, I’ve published typos, misspelled words, and shared my burnt cardboard muffin stories. Ooops. I make mistakes too.
5) Mingle! Comment on other blogs and put yourself out there. Comments are a wonderful way to stir discussions. Once I began to introduce myself to other bloggers, I noticed they visited my blog in return and conversations began. Get to know one another! Don’t hide behind your blog in hopes that one day you will be noticed. If time allows, leave valuable and heartwarming comments. Share a story relating to the material you read. But don’t overdo it – I feel that generic commenting “just to comment” is pointless. And it’s noticed.
6) Answer comments. Of course, this will not work for everyone’s schedules, full time jobs, and family lives, but if a reader has a question or something notable to say, I try to respond before I write my next blog post. Feeling ignored stinks. I’ve been ignored on the other side of a blog, and it is not fun.
7) Look at your blog through someone else’s eyes. Ask yourself, “am I being a good resource? Will this make sense in someone else’s mind?” I admit, sometimes I begin to write a post and then take a step back. Will this make sense to my readers? I know for me, I try to share recipes and methods that are approachable, because not everyone knows what spelt flour is or has time to make a 6 tier cake.
8) Social Media! Instagram, facebook, and twitter are all extensions of your personality – use them to both market your blog AND share your real life with readers. Of course, you don’t want to appear ”salesy” or bombard your readers with updates every 5 seconds. More on social media later in this series.
With so many new food blogs popping up every day, it’s important to create your own blogging identity and stick to it. What are your goals? Dreams? What do you love the most?
Be available to your readers – even if it’s a simple “thank you for reading.” Knowing a real person is on the other side of the computer screen helps them feel connected.
Being genuine goes a long way.
I will never forget an email I received about a month ago from a reader who said that she never comments on blogs or contacts bloggers. She had a question about a recipe and ended the email thanking me for my approachable recipes and relatable personality. She said, “It just feels like I know you.” My goal with each and every post.
How do you feel about getting personal on your blog?
What is your #1 priority on your blog?
Check out more posts from this series: