First a little background:
I’ve been blogging consistently since November 2009 when I first opened my Etsy shop as a way to keep sane during the months and months of unemployment due to the economy. The main purpose of my blog was originally to share photos and updates on new products for my shop – boooring! I quickly realized that blogs strictly about other people’s shops weren’t the type of blogs that I enjoyed reading. I found that I enjoyed a more interactive type of blog, where there were tutorials, support for other Etsy sellers, with more personal type posts, things I could relate to. Since I knew my way around Etsy pretty well back then, I decided to write up a bunch of tutorials (that I still have up today) on things that I needed help with at one point and had figured out.
Writing those tutorials was the best thing I could have done, because this was where my first huge surge in readers came in. It was someone at Etsy that found my tutorials (whether through tweets or from a forum post) and they included the blog link to my list of tutorials in one of their mass emails! I was ecstatic to say the least and I must have gained 100 new readers just from that one promotion. This was the first boost in my blog-self esteem. So this is my first tip: Have content worthy of being re-tweeted and talked about, whether it’s super interesting or helpful to others.
Write consistently to keep motivated.
At first when I had hardly anyone commenting or following, it was discouraging. I know! It feels like you are writing to nobody. So to keep myself from giving up, I set up certain days to do certain posts. Mondays I’d play with the Pounce feature and would post about new and interesting sellers. Wednesdays were for my wishlist where I’d post about the things I had added to my Etsy favorites over the week. Fridays I set aside to interview Etsy sellers and post a Q&A with them. Now that I’m not an exclusive Etsy blogger anymore, I set aside my Fridays to share my Project 52. Tuesdays are for fill in the blanks. I leave all the other days open to write about whatever I feel like. Make something up! It’s fun! And encourage others to play along.
Don’t be afraid to feature other bloggers and/or Etsy sellers on your blog.
You might think, “well if I post about their blog and their shop, people are just going to leave my blog to go there instead.” Well, no that’s not necessarily true. Doing so is not only a cool way to meet new people, but eventually, someone will want to feature you! While that person you just featured is tweeting the link to their feature on your blog, guess who will be coming to your blog now? All those people. So do an interview with a blogger. Share your favorite links. Interview a favorite seller.
Include lots of pictures
I will admit that I get bored easily with a pictureless post. I can’t help it, it’s just the way I am! I think it’s safe to say that lots of other bloggers will agree with me, that more pictures is better. Even if it’s just a random webcam shot of you sitting there at the very moment you wrote your post, it’s something to relate to!
Write honestly about the good and the bad.
It’s your blog and you can do whatever you want with it by sharing how much or how little you want, but I found that along with the happy shiny posts about cupcakes (yum!) and kittens (aww!), people want to read about the bad too. Not because they enjoy your bad news, but because they can relate. When my dog died I had the hardest time ever getting over it (I’m still not over it), and I was completely depressed and angry, but I had SO many lovely people leave comments relating to me, telling me their own stories that it truly touched my heart. When you show you are vulnerable it makes you come across as a human being with feelings. So don’t be afraid to write honestly.
Be aware of who may be reading
You never know who may find your blog and end up reading your posts. Your mom, your sister, your employer, your nemesis from college, some stranger on the other end of the world. So just think about what you write before you post it. Especially if your blog is an extension of your shop, be careful about posting things that may affect your business in a negative way (IE: politics, abortion, personal views like that). I always tell myself to write as if I know my grandma is going to be reading. Sure, sometimes I may throw out an F-bomb once in a blue moon, but that’s different than talking smack about someone who’s feelings might get hurt or offended. Just be aware.
Comment on other people’s blogs
Leave meaningful and honest comments. Not just a “wow. great post” kind of comment either. Bloggers can see right through those terse comments as if it’s a way to get them to just check out your blog. And it is especially not OK to post a comment with just a link to your blog. If they want to check out your blog, they will do it on their own accord. Same goes for following. Don’t ask someone to follow you. That’s like telling someone what their next favorite book will be. They’re like, “umm, ok?”
Do something interactive with your readers
I did a feature where I asked readers to send in a picture of themselves jumping in the air. And two other features where I asked them to send in pictures of their dogs and another one of their cats. Simple, but it was fun! Lot’s of people participated and shared the link with their twitter friends which ended up bringing new people to my blog. Other ways to get people commenting is as simple as asking a question at the end of your posts. Create a weekly challenge and have people comment with the link to their challenge.
Have a pretty layout
This is not imperative, but it certainly doesn’t hurt! All the things I learned about blog design I learned from searching Google.
Try to learn a photo editing program like Photoshop
I was scared. to. death. of Photoshop when I first opened it. This big blank canvas with buttons that I had no idea how to use. Again, Google was my hero (as well as Katrina from Pugly Pixel) and now I can play with my pictures, make blog headers and fun graphics to go along with my posts. It’s quite addicting once you get the hang of it. Another much easier online program that you can use to edit pictures too is Picnik.
Sponsor other blogs
If you’re ready to invest a little money in your blog, there’s so many amazing bloggers out there that offer advertising on their blogs. And you are sure to find one that fits in your budget. Ask them for their blog stats to see how many visits they get per day/month. Usually the higher traffic they have, the higher the advertising rates will be. If you decide to go ahead with sponsoring a blog, create an eye catching button to entice readers to click on over.
Having a successful blog doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and dedication! But don’t let it feel like a chore. Blogging should be fun and chores are no fun, right? I know it’s hard to run a shop AND have a blog to maintain, so set up a schedule for yourself. Plan posts ahead of time. Dedicate a day or two to bloggy stuff where you write posts for the week and schedule them to post on a certain day (I know you can do this with blogger but I’m unfamiliar with other blogging platforms). Then keep the rest of the week dedicated to your shop and promoting.
All of these things have helped me in one way or another. I hope you found this helpful and I wish you luck!