Before I started Quills & Coffee, I blogged at a different site for several years. I had no social media accounts, and barely visited any other blogs to comment/interact. My intention was not to attract a lot of readers. It was just to have fun and share what I knew.
Of course, those are both goals in running Quills & Coffee, but there is also now an intention on my part to engage with other writers/readers. I try to visit other websites and meet new people, and it is one of my favorite things about blogging. The writing community is absolutely wonderful!
I have also recently joined social media (Facebook and Twitter), and focused time and energy into those. Now that I am blogging and interacting with intent, I have discovered a few things about building a “following”–
When we first start out as bloggers or writers looking to build a platform, we will have no or very few followers. If you already happen to know some people, your numbers could initially spike, but depending on who those people are, they may not stick around for long. Personal friends might read your first few posts, but if they aren’t truly interested in what you are saying, they’ll eventually trickle away. The goal in blogging and social media is to attract readers/followers who will be consistent and engaging. Ones who will be there for the long-term. And most importantly, ones who will actually gain something from what we give, and be able to apply that to their own work.
For the average person, it takes months and months of hard work to grow any sort of following. How you go about doing that is a topic for another day. Today I want to talk about what kind of material to put out there in the early days of blogging or social media.
When I first started out, one thing hindered my growth initially… The idea that I didn’t want to post anything “too good”, because no one would even see it. If I found a really inspirational quote, or wrote a blog post that I just thought was super well-worded, I hesitated to put it out there when I knew only a handful of people would see or appreciate it. This had nothing to do with vanity, or with wanting to be appreciated myself. It had to do with wondering what the point of all the hard work was, if I just wasn’t getting anywhere fast?
Well, let me tell you that there are some very good reasons to give your 100% from the start. Even if you have zero Facebook followers, zero people reading your blog posts, and zero people seeing what you tweet, don’t act like there is no one watching. Act like you have a huge audience, because one day, you just might.
Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. -Annie Dillard
The same principle applies for blogging and social media. Give it all. Give it now.
WHAT’S ATTRACTING PEOPLE?
Let’s say that after you visit and comment on other people’s blogs (which you should do frequently when you first start out), someone actually notices you and gives your blog a visit. Yay! What will they see when they get there? Lots of great posts worth their time? If you have been giving your 100% from the beginning, then yes, that is what they will see. But if you have been holding out until later, instead posting half-hearted advice, there won’t be much to persuade them to stay.
100% WILL GET YOU MORE SHARES, AND THEREFORE MORE FOLLOWERS
You know that really great quote that you want everyone to see, so you are going to hoard it on your computer until you have 500 followers who will like and share it? That quote will be just as shareable today. And you know what? Shares will be more helpful to you now than they will later. What does this mean? The great thing about shares is that they make more people aware of your presence online. Isn’t this what you want in the beginning? Of course, likes and shares down the road are still awesome, but they are especially helpful in the beginning. You are new to the scene, and shares can help people notice you. What kind of stuff gets shares? Half-hearted tweets and sparse posts? No! Consistent material that inspires you. 100%-level material.
YOU CAN ALWAYS SHARE AGAIN LATER
Let’s say you post an article on your blog that you feel is just really well-done. Your very limited group of followers reads it, and you get one comment and no shares. Disappointed? Probably a little. The wonderful thing about this, though, is that you can pull posts from the archives and repost them later on. I wouldn’t recommend doing this until they are at least a year old, but once they have sat in the archives a little while, bring them back to life! By then, you may have more followers, and more people will see that post you love. Nothing is forever. Once you share something, whether on your blog or social media, it doesn’t just disappear. So share freely and abundantly. Give your 100%!
What are your thoughts on starting to build a platform? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment below…