Lifestyle

What I’ve learned about blogging.

Happy December everyone! Last Wednesday I hit a huge milestone in my own blog growth. I reached 1,000 followers.  That’s by no means a blogging career/book deal/ popularity level that others might rejoice in, but it’s made me very proud. When I started blogging this year I thought Sam would read my blog and maybe two random other people. What’s surprised me most are the genuine friendships that I have formed with other people through blogging. I never expected to find a community that would become my friends even if we only exchange emails.

I’ve read other bloggers posts on how they grew their blogs and I was really interested in their process, because for me, it’s always been slightly different. Here’s my confession: as of right now, I have never purchased an ad space. I’ve swapped ad spaces and buttons (a lot); I’ve had people put me on their sidebar out of the kindness of their hearts. And a special additional shout-out is owed to Chelsee to opening my eyes to how an amazing sponsor conducts themselves via twitter, etc.

And it isn’t because I don’t believe in ad space. I do, I really do! (I sell it so it would be hypocritical of me not to!) But money has been extremely tight. While blogging as a full time side job/money generator when not acting would be my ideal, that’s not currently the case. Blogging is just a hobby. (Well a bit more than a hobby. A passion. An obsession maybe?) So while I know that purchasing ad space and sponsorship for my blog is the next step for me, I can’t currently do that until I have a bit more income.

1,000 followers in 9 months isn’t insane blog growth. No one is going to be knocking down my door for a book deal anytime soon. But part of me is insanely proud that all the growth that has occurred is because of my daily toil and sometimes tears.

So how do I think I’ve grown my blog without spending money?

#1 Content. I’ve never reached a point where I have felt like I was sitting down to write a post, just for the sake of posting something that day. I think it helps that I have tried not to pigeonhole myself into one “niche”. Yes, I am an expat. Am I an expat blogger? Yes, but I blog about more than just travel and being abroad. Am I a food blogger? Well I post recipes weekly, but I blog about more than that. Am I funny? Sam would say no, I would say yes. Which is why I full embrace my “lifestyle” blog status. Maybe Rhyme & Ribbons isn’t your typical lifestyle blog, but it does exemplify the best parts of my lifestyle.

#2 Joining blog hops and linkups. I attribute a lot of my early growth to blog hops and linkups. In fact, I still join most of them on a weekly basis. You can have the best content in the entire world, but if no one knows your blog is out there, then no one will be reading it. I’ve also heard of some bigger bloggers turning up their noses at blog hops and linkups. I’m not a big blogger (obviously) and I still find them beneficial for the growth of my blog and for my own personal reading list. So of my favourite bloggers only have a few followers and I found them through a blog hop.

#3 Responding to comments. There’s a huge difference between a follower and a reader. And frankly, I’d rather have 300 devoted readers than 3000 followers.  When someone takes the time to leave you a thoughtful comment on your blog, you should take the time to respond to it. It doesn’t have to be that day or right away. Everyone has to live their own lives, but I think it’s really important to respond to all the comments left on your blog eventually! How else will you start conversations with people and make new internet friends?

#4 Commenting on other people’s blogs. (With more than just a “please follow me back, etc”. In fact, write that if you can help it.) If you want to grow your blog you need to make an effort and put yourself out there and one great way of doing that is to start thoughtful/silly/ridiculous conversations with other bloggers via their comments.

#5 Using social media. This is one I didn’t do right away, but I should have. I didn’t really understand why people had twitter accounts for their blogs. But then I made one this spring and it all made sense. I should have been tweeting my posts all along. And even more stupidly, I’ve only recently started pinning my posts to Pinterest (which again, has driven noticeable traffic to me.) Learn from my mistakes.

This isn’t going to be groundbreaking (or even new) information to anyone but it’s a bare bones summary of how I’ve managed my own blog.

 

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  • 1,000 followers is amazing to me! I don’t even have close to that many (try maybe 200, and I suspect about 30 of those actually READ). Congratulations! You deserve it though – your blog is wonderful.

    • Ah thank you so much! For the first few months I only had a few followers, and then it really just started to snowball! There’s such an important divide between readers and followers. Personally, I think it’s better to have a handful of readers who really care about what you write, versus a load of followers who don’t. (If that makes sense.) x

  • I think 1000 followers is amazing! I think you have a great attitude towards your blog! I also love sponsorships and the friends I’ve made through them, however, money is also very tight for me too! You have some amazing tips here, especially the content part! Content is key! Congrats and good luck in the future!

    • I figured they were tips that everyone would give, but they do really work. People just have to have faith and patience, I suppose. I’m glad I have someone to commiserate with in terms of money. x

  • Congratulations on the blog milestone! As a new blogger I have been following your blog for inspiration. Never did I imagine how much work writing a blog would be. Good thing it is my passion as well. Anytime you put in that much work to something and see rewards from it is a great accomplishment. Love the points of what you think has worked well for you to grow your blog. Congrats again!

    • Thank you so much. And I’m glad that I’ve been able to help you even if it’s in the smallest of ways. Just so you know, if you ever have any questions, comments, concerns, or just want to have a chat you can send me an email any time. Thanks for the well wishes. xx

      • Thanks so much! Love the support in the blogging community it is just amazing:)

        • Finding a community away from home was one of the reasons why I started blogging in the first place, so if I can help others feel like that too, then mission accomplished! x

  • How wonderful. I am a new blogger. I have been doing it for only two months & I also find that I am obsessed with it now myself. I was just excited to have hit 100 followers last week. 1000 is quite the accomplishment, you should me so proud. This was a wonderfully informative & relateable post. Good luck fellow blogger. I wish you great success. You have now gained another follower & a fan.

    • Thank you so much. That’s the best kind of compliment a blogger can get. Andblog growth started even slower- it took me ages to reach 100! Just keep writing! X

  • Dee Williamson

    I agree. I would rather have readers than followers even if it was a smaller number. 1,000 followers is amazing! You must be doing something right, right? Everything you mentioned on here I can totally relate to my own blog. I dragged my feet on Twitter. I dragged my feet on blog hops and link-ups. Mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing on either of them. I learn as a go and I think many bloggers can attest to that. Congratulations on your milestone!

    • I’m glad that I’m not alone in making these mistakes! The seem so common sense but then it just doesn’t happen that way! And I agree- if rather have 100 devoted readers then 1000s of followers who don’t really care. X

  • I am new to blogging and I love hear some of your tips!! It is def an obssesion of mine that I would love to turn into a full time thing one day…a girl can dream :). 1,000 followers seems amazing to me! You go girl! It is a huge accomplishment :):)

    Tori
    FashionBlingGirlyThings

    • Haha- we feel exactly the same way then! Hopefully it will happen for both of us one day πŸ˜‰ xx

  • notbeforemytea

    I think that 1000 followers in 9 months IS a big deal. and although I think that these points may not be anything “new,” I do think that you’ve summed up the most important things pretty well. congrats on your growth but I’m sure it’s only the beginning. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you very much! I hope it’s only the beginning. They are simple things I’ve learned- fairly common sense- but they aren’t things that I did at first. (Which was very silly of me) xx

  • Congrats on 1000 lady!!! πŸ™‚

  • Karly Kim

    Congrats, love! I’m happy to be one of your thousand πŸ™‚

  • Umm.. YOU ARE FUNNY! So funny. I also think you are crazy if you don’t think 1000 followers in 9 months is a big deal! That’s huuuuge. You should be very, very proud of what you’ve accomplished. I’ve told people this time and time again; I am most interested in the blogs of the people I LIKE, I LIKE you and when I see that you have a post up, I read it right away. I have read blogs that are really, really well done, but I just.. can’t like that blogger. (for whatever reason.) I find myself hitting “Mark As Read” when I haven’t. I think blogging has a lot to do with who you are and how YOU reflect in your posts each and every day. I think you are doing awesome AND I’m shocked that you’ve never bought ad space. I have only bought the one through you. I’m sniffing around to see where else I want to be..

    • I do the same thing sometimes- just marking them as read when I haven’t. I’m glad you find me funny πŸ™‚ I know my humor isn’t for everyone and that critics would probably say that I am “childish” or need to “act my age” but I don’t equate being a mature adult with have to not frolic around and play games. I really appreciate your comment because I try really hard to always be myself (maybe too much?) or else I would feel like blogging was a chore and not something that I am doing for me. X

      • Not childish, don’t need to act your age. It’s all very good stuff. Don’t ever change! I don’t think you can be too much of yourself. I think whatever it is.. it’s you just being.. you!

  • Kerry

    Congrats on 1000 that is amazing in such a short time.

  • Nice job on the 1,000 followers! I definitely think that is impressive. And you’re right about Chelsee being so good to her sponsors πŸ™‚

    • She’s tops. She is the one that set an example for me as to what good social media service looks like. I don’t know how she has enough time in the day to work for her sponsors as much as she does! X

      • Chelsee

        Haha I have to say some days I am not sure how I get it all done. Thanks so much for the shout out and sweet words! I wish you all the best with blogging and I am so happy you have found such great success so quickly!

  • Congrats on your milestone and thanks for the advice. We’ve been blogging since August 1st and have had steady growth — but I attribute it mostly to giveaways and sponsorships. I actually just decided today and I will not be “purchasing” anything further for the site for a few months. I want to see what kind of organic growth we can achieve. I’m going to start focusing more time on well-developed and thought out posts and series…and participating in more linkups and blog hops via your suggestion.

    Thank you so much for putting this out there for rookies like us! We really do appreciate it.

    -Kate
    http://www.theflorkens.com

    • I am really happy with my organic growth. It doesn’t work for everyone, but since I had time to invest in my blog, and promoting it myself I did save myself money. (Even if my growth would have been faster my spending money.) x

  • FΓ©licitations!!! You should be proud! 1000 is a big number. I celebrated when I hit 100. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your tips for success with us.

    • Ah thank you! I know not everyone has the time to invest in blogging, which is why purchasing ad spots does work better for them, but since I had time on my hands, luckily, I could promote myself. x

  • Decoybetty

    Congratulations! That’s so awesome and you deserve everyone of those followers. Love your tips.

  • That’s a fantastic following in 9 months! congrats!

  • These are great tips Amanda! I think it’s important people know sponsorships alone will not grow your blog. I have seen many people buy a large as spot on a big blog to only fall off the radar the second the ad stops running. I think a lot of the growth is how you conduct yourself after you receive the traffic/followers. Which means good posts, online presence with social media and most importantly, be approachable to be make friends!

  • Glad to know that the things i am doing will eventually start paying off! Congrats!!!! Glad i am one of the 1,000! xoxo- Hayley
    Livinitupashayup.wordpress.com

    • thank you so much! And it’s true- if you put effort into your blog you really can go a long way by yourself! X

  • I’m glad you blogged about this. I always thought the way to have your blog grow was through sponsorship which I, like you, don’t have the money to do (as much as I want to). I definitely need to join more blog hops. I only join one on Monday and the few on Friday. I guess I need to my research on what hops are out there!

    • I’ve been lucky in that the hours I work are super flexible so I can pretty much work on blogging whenever I want. I’d love to buy sponsorship- it makes growth go faster- but right now I’m in a position to save money and try to do it by myself! X

  • Oh, and of course, congratulations! You’re amazing.

  • Congratulations! I’ve just been blogging for a couple of months and don’t know if I’ll be hitting 1000 any time soon, but will put your tips to good use – thanks!

  • Samantha Curtis

    This is a great post! I have too been finding the same things out. I am no where near 1,000 followers but soon enough it will come! Congrats on your milestone btw! You have a great blog!

    • Thank you so much! I’m by no means an expert but if you ever have any questions, just send me an email and I’ll try to help or point you in the direction of someone who can. X

  • This is a great post! And congrats on the big milestone

  • Selini

    A very helpfull post to me, as a new blogger trying to find more e-friends!!! thank you! πŸ™‚

  • Gena Barrett

    This is super helpful for a beginner like me! Particular since I seem to be living your life in reverse by going from London to America and considering being a permanent expat! Great post x

    • Thank you very much! Where have you moved to in America? xx

      • Gena Barrett

        I’ve moved to the Bay Area! Berkeley, to be precise, as I’m doing an exchange at Cal!

        • Very exciting! Do you like it so far? x

          • Gena Barrett

            I love it! At the moment, I’m back in London again for the holidays, so I’m enjoying being at home too, but I really like Northern California. Although, not sure I’m used to the road rule of “turning right whenever you want” that’s resulted in me being almost run over more often than I’d like to admit!

          • Ha, after 4 years I still look the wrong way crossing the street here at times too though. Do you think you’d try to stay after school? x

          • Gena Barrett

            Haha, it’s difficult to get used to! I’m not too sure, but the idea is reaaaally growing on me. I’m not as fortunate to have found a love, but the job opportunities for the field I’m interested in are a lot better over there, so I reckon it’s something I need to heavily consider.