If you look directly above this post (about an inch) you will notice a “Holler at Me!” tab right below the banner photo. Sometimes I’ll get inquiries from site visitors about a wide array of issues. Usually I’ll answer them briefly and personally over email. But if the same question is asked by different sources I decide to write a post about it.
In sum, this is one persistent question I’ve been asked the past couple months:
I’m new to blogging, what’s the best way to grow readership and reach as many people as possible with my message?
A little historical context.
By relative standards, I’m new to blogging too. My very first post for “Chief of the Least” was October 22, 2010. I shared the blog’s inception with a few good friends and tried to update it with a semi thought-provoking post at least twice a week. I’d share new posts through email and Facebook and would see minimal traffic trickle in here and there. Every now and then a post struck a chord and generated more hits, but overall growth was very, VERY….slow.
Honestly, just as shortly as two and half months ago the only subscribers to my blog were my immediate family, good friends, and handful of internet acquaintances that found me through search engines I haven’t quite figured out how to successfully manipulate ( : If you’re keeping score, that is roughly 1 year and 3 months of consistent blogging with very little readership. To make it even more specific, let me say this:
Just two months ago I had a total of 16 subscribers. Sixteen precious subscribers I am proud of and indebted to, but sixteen nonetheless.
One of them was my mom. Another was my wife.
Now I’m definitely not of the misguided ilk that says numbers are the only thing that matters. Jesus the Son of God had 12 faithful (er, 11!) disciples on earth, and even most of those punked him out when His cross got too real and horrifying for them to bear.
If your web traffic is a drizzle, be thankful for that drizzle. Be a good steward of that drizzle God has entrusted you with.
But let’s be honest. No one, and I mean NO 1, cuts their wrist open on a computer screen, hits “Publish” and then says,
“Man, I really hope nobody reads this. And if they do I really hope they don’t comment on it….”
We all have a public blog on the great world-wide web because we hope the great world-wide reads it. We have a message to share, and if we didn’t believe it could benefit others we would never have endeavored to share it.
So I’ll share this one practice that I believe is absolutely crucial to blog growth. It is simple, yet not necessarily easy. It is the only thing that I’ve done differently the past two months that I failed to do the 1 year and 3 months previous.
You ready? Here it is in a simple word:
I got really serious about networking. And not just random networking. Networking with like blogs that have like interests. On this blog, I try to relate everything I write about back to a Christ centered message. So I may write about Tim Tebow, Call of Duty, Lil Wayne, or fatherhood. But I always try to relate everything to Christ, because in the end all that matters for all eternity is our relationship to Jesus Christ.
So when “networking” I try to find blogs like mine, with writers who simply have an invincibly high regard for the person and work of Jesus Christ. There is a large and flourishing Christian community among WordPress bloggers, and it is quite easy to find them through tag surfing and searching titles and keywords. And when I find those blogs I do something equally simple:
Whether it be through a short comment, a like, maybe a follow (have to be more conservative with those), or whatever connecting means available. I have found this to be true: People want to connect. They want to be encouraged. They want to know other people are reading, digesting and appreciating their contribution to the e-world. Many times I will connect with people with completely different denominational influences, worldviews, and outlooks on life. I appreciate their content not because I always agree with it, but because I enjoy their writing style or ability to form a compelling story or argument.
You can stay within the comfortable bounds of your Dashboard, keep submitting excellent content, and just cross your fingers and hope the SEO gods are good to you. Or you can connect. Maybe it is the timeless biblical principle of reaping and sowing, but after you reach out and connect then usually the favor is reciprocated.
And people you have connected with will usually then come to your site, maybe read a post, possibly leave a comment, and if your style and subject catch their eye enough: They may just subscribe to you.
This is important to me because I believe a vast majority of my readership are good Christian folk with a gospel-saturated Christ-exalting message to share. A lost world needs what you are writing. And it is perfectly okay to desire to maximize your gospel writing influence to the widest audience possible. It’s not necessarily narcissism (though everyone should check their hearts before God).
I don’t have an exact equation (even though I am a Math Teacher), but I will say that if you want to have a consistently growing blog, then you need to Network with other blogs about as much time as you spend writing for your own blog. I think a split of 50/50 is about right. But do what you can with the limited time you got. If you have 20 mins to devote to your blog a day, then 10 should go to writing and 10 to networking. 10 mins may not be enough time to write a solid post each day, but quality posts trump quantity of posts anyways in my book.
Don’t worry about your own writing platforms, site stats and getting a mad following. Get out of your Dashboard and make a big deal out of other people’s blogs.
Connect, encourage, and make someone else’s day better.
There’s a good chance the favor might be returned.
Peace and grace,