The One Top Secret Blogging Tip You Can’t Live Without (Not Really)

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:

Networking

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:

I connect.

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).

It’s okay.

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,

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

86 thoughts on “The One Top Secret Blogging Tip You Can’t Live Without (Not Really)”

  1. I learned about networking in the most painful way possible: by having two blogs tank COMPLETELY. Eventually, I realized that if people did not reach out for my content, I’d bring it to their blog’s doorstep while offering praise or insight for theirs.

    As of this moment, I have written for The Bard of Steel for three weeks. In that period I have gotten 15+ suscribers and about 20 to 60 views per day.

    Reading your post, it’s a load off my back knowing things are in fact working. I’ll try to remain patient.

    Thank you!

  2. This is very interesting. I began UTCOP in July 2010 after a writers’ conference. I heard Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience and one thing she said is “write for an audience of One” and put no comments. I have done that and readership is growing but I don’t check the dashboard all the time. I do like the idea of putting a heading for readers to contact me because I don’t get many emails, even though it is available on the site. I will pray about that one.

    My other blog is very slow on readership but I don’t get a chance to write for it often.
    I totally agree with you that networking is key. I have begun to do that again.

    Many blessings
    Jan

        1. here’s exactly what I have, just copy and paste it to the page:

          [contact-form] [contact-field label="Name" type="name" /] [contact-field label="Email" type="email" /] [contact-field label="Website" type="url" /] [contact-field label="Question" type="textarea" required="true" /] [/contact-form]

  3. Nailed it bro. I find also as you connect you learn, and end up deepening your own blog posts too.

    I can’t stop grining and thinking, that it would be a shame to sit here all day waiting for the readers…to then find out that they’re all waiting for the same thing!!!

  4. Reblogged this on One Bondservant's Diary and commented:
    His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ -Matthew 25:21 ESV
    I am thankful for my current 4 followers.

  5. Another key is generosity. If I find a blog that upholds the scriptures and is uplifting, if it resonates with me, I add it to my blogroll and send others there. I have only been blogging 2 weeks yesterday, but I have had a blast “meeting” the other bloggers through this little comment box right here! Yours was one of the first on my blogroll! Every time I “liked” something I read, I saw the “chief of the least” gravatar alread there hanging out in the same places. Ha!

    http://servehiminthewaiting.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/equasions-in-the-bible/

  6. Thanks Brian, I appreciate the tips. I am very new to blogging (a couple of weeks), and I and glad to learn about it from a Christian perspective. Keep up the Christ-centred work. I’m glad to hear that there is a bit of a Christian blog community.

  7. You are right on point. The law if sowing and reaping applies much like gravity. If you sow to the Spirit by supporting others in their soncere efforts to provide godly content in the wotdpress community, you reap a burst of life into your own site. If you just write and watch your stats but don’t sow into anyine else’s site, well then you pretty much just reap….wind. I’ve been blogging exactly 2 weeks today and i found subscribers came to my site after I subscribed to sites I liked. I sowed…I reaped. It’s really not a secret at all. We just have to apply it in out own lives to experience the truth of it. Uou expressed that very clearly. So as the Lord said Let hom who has ears listen. Prace to you and keep up the really excellent and honest writing. You encourage me and a lot of others out here…..

  8. What you stated here is very true, I even read about another blogger who read other people’s blogs for 6 hours and wrote on his for 2 hours. I’m not endorsing it, but it backs the premise, connect with other bloggers by reading blogs. God Bless!

  9. So true, Bryan. Often one sentence to another blogger can absolutely make their day! And it’s true that one of God’s primary spiritual laws that governs all aspects of life is “sowing and reaping.” Good post.

  10. I agree with previous comment: Best blogging advice I have read.

    Just this morning, I am reading Bonhoeffer’s small book LIFE TOGETHER (trans. Doberstein), chapter on “Ministry,” section titled “The Ministry of Listening”–less than 2 short pages–here’s just a few of the powerful lines, and, Chief, they really reinforce what you’re saying about people wanting to be heard (as well as God’s heart for that):

    “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them…Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either;…Secular education today [circa 1938!] is aware that often a person can be helped merely by having someone who will listen to him seriously,…Christians have forgotten tht the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.” (pp.97-99)

    Thanks so much for sharing this success story!

    Ken

  11. You’re right about these blogging things, Bryan. It is about relationship and truth and generosity. It’s about casting our bread upon the waters. It is fun and godly to be prodigal in the best sense of the word (while also doing our best to be a good steward of time). To be generous is to follow Jesus Christ.

  12. Wow! I’m seeing the Lord giving me a few nudges here….

    I’m a stay at home mom whose kids are just about grown and gone. God has given me a passion for being a homemaker, and in order to make some income but still be at home I’ve been working on building an on-line Etsy business (www.hmddesigns.etsy.com). Business is slow right now, and I’ve been spending a lot of my time with the Lord looking for direction and wisdom as to how to proceed.

    Wanna know what I keep hearing Him say?…..”Network.”

    O.K., not really, at least not in audible words, but this post of yours is about #5 in a list of nudges that I’ve been getting within the past week. Guess it’s time to stop seeking and start doing!

    I’m pleased to meet you and glad you reached out!

    Blessings,
    Malaika.

  13. Excellent wisdom. I’ve been blogging for about a year now. I blogged for 7 months before I got one follow. I don’t have friends and family follow as I wanted to get established first…now, in the period of say 4 months I’ve got over 100 followers. I do a lot of networking and spend a ton of time making connections with other bloggers. This seems to be how I get people to my site. I also feel greatly inspired by other bloggers and never fail to have a backlog of writing ideas because I am so stimulated by all I read on other blogs. It’s been a life-changing experience for me. Thanks again for his wisdom, I will do this on my blog, the question..

  14. This is helpful to a new blogger like myself. Thanks for the practical advice. It’s tough to find the time to write a blog…much more network…but you describe the benefits. I appreciate it.

  15. Bryan,

    I started blogging recently and have 2 blogs in WordPress – “Impressions” and “Inspirations”

    My first post in “Impressions” was on January 12, 2012 and in “Inspirations” on February 22, 2012.

    In “Impressions” I write articles on varied subjects. I have an average of 29 views per day. For about 4 weeks after I launched this blog didn’t have a single subscriber ans then I got 4 subscribers and now I have 20.

    In ‘Inspirations” I write articles on Gospel Reading for the day. Though I am a Catholic I write daily for all Christians and non-Christians the world over. Now, I have an average of 20 views per day. I got my first 2 subscribers a week after launching and I now have 4 subsribers.

    “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” (Luke 4:24) Yes. It’s true. Most of my friends and relative seem to be not interested in what I write – not even my family members – and no one is subscribed to any of my 2 blogs.

    This might sound negative but I concur with what you say,

    “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.”

    Amen.

    I write because some power impels me to write.

  16. Good article and good advice, Bryan. I’ve traveled a different blogging road than you have, but the story is very familiar, and I’ve found the networking thing to be the most beneficial when it comes to gaining readership. I’ve been blogging for just over a year, and my subscribers came on slowly at first; then, when I started posting my poetry on various poetry blogs, things took off. I now have 190 subscribers, and have been adding 5-7 per week for the last several months. I’ve probably read and commented on several thousand poems during that time. The really great thing is, the main purpose of my blog is to encourage believers, and from the poetry experience, I’d estimate that 40-50% of my new followers are following for spiritual encouragement, not poetry. (The poetry ain’t that great, any how!) In a nut shell, networking is indeed the key. You have to reach out and touch folks; get their attention; and then–if you have something that interests them–they will return to read again.
    Keep up the good work, Bryan!

  17. Thanks for the great ideas. I am trying to network, but it has started out slowly. Your blog helps me be more focused. If anyone wants to connect with me, I am a counselor who blogs about Christian life issues. Right now, I am focusing on grief and divorce, including helping children who are dealing with these issues.

  18. Thanks for the advice! I didn’t learn networking on WordPress until a few weeks ago, when I started a new blog. I probably need to do the same with my Yahoo! Voices blog.

  19. When writing my posts and knowing I have such a very small following, I remind myself, blessing just one is God’s work. Even if only ONE person is blessed this day He has moved, often I am the one blessed as He is teaching me to sow, and grow, and stretch and to be joyful. So I need to be satisfied even if that is where this blog of mine stops.

    What I TRULY loved about your post was the following statement:

    * 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.

    ~Sadly I have ‘just’ now learned how to find other blogs to read, but I am looking forward to making up for lost time and blessing and encouraging others in their gift : ) Thank you for sharing, and your engaging writing style.

    Blessings

  20. An excellent and, once again, TIMELY post, Bryan! I’ve been having the woes over my low readership. I work hard to try and help quip the saints but nobody seems to give my blog even a glance — and it’s frustrating and puts me down some. But I noticed when I comment on other people’s blogs I had a higher amount of traffic. I think your advice is solid. But more than that your message about the gospel is solid.

    I especially needed the comment about being a good steward of what little readers I have. Thanks…That encourages me to keep it up. Maybe more people will read and hopefully benefit from my blog if I continue to encourage others.

    1. Keep plugging Josh, you’re doing a great job over there. Reaping and sowing brother, it’s amazing how it happens. I appreciate your longtime readership and comments, you’ve been one of the OGs! ; )

  21. Great blogging advice, but perhaps more importantly, great faith-strengthening advice. I subscribe to several blogs, yours among them, that I flee to the computer and read when my soul is troubled and I need to hear the word of Christ from another of His friends. Clicking on that little word “faith” under “Topics” opened up whole new avenues of deepening my faith in Jesus.

  22. Thank you so much. My first motto was “be faithful to the quality and God will be faithful to the quantity”. I try to connect with others to share the my love, joy, and delight in Christ, our risen Lord and King.

  23. great post on blogging… i’ve been blogging now for 10 years and i’m still trying to figure out the best way to do things, but these are good points. I always tell everyone, there is only one thing left in the world that is unique, that no one else can blog about, and that’s your own experiences.

    1. I agree – great points. But, I like what you said about …. “one thing left in the world that unique … your own experiences. That’s a good encouragement for first time bloggers wondering if what I have to say is worthwhile.

    1. Gail, I consider it an honor that you would think I’m in a position to do such a thing, but I’m just an ol amateur. I may give it a look and give a quick message of encouragement!

  24. Reblogged this on afcbenburt and commented:
    This has been my philosophy not only with blogs, but also with all social networks. I find that the sharing isn’t reciprocated often on Facebook, but is on Twitter and Google+. You just have to keep hoping somone will appreciate your sharing of their content enough for them to want to share your content as well.

  25. So I’m reading the post and, at first, thinking it seems self serving to comment on other’s blogs in order to get traffic to your own, but then I read your comment:

    “They want to be encouraged. They want to know other people are reading, digesting and appreciating their contribution to the e-world.”
    That is so true, people do want to be encouraged and appreciated and we (I) have the ability to do that. Brilliant! Why not encourage others with the same encouragement I am looking for, so I’ve started this great Blog Blessing adventure. Thanks for some wise insight.

    1. Awesome! It takes some time, but if you devote a little more time for networking than writing content you can’t help but grow…and it’s always nice to know you are reaching people in the process…

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