Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Grow your Blog Platform: Supercharge your Stats

I still remember the first time I saw the numbers. It was an article entitled "How Big Should a Writer's Platform Be?" by agent and social media expert Amanda Luedeke. She wrote:

"The cold, hard truth is that solid author platforms come in the tens or hundreds of thousands.
If you have a website or blog, your monthly unique visitor count should be at least 30,000.
If you have a Twitter account, your followers should be pushing 5,000.
If you have a Facebook page, your followers should be pushing 5,000."

In his post, "7 ways agents measure social media", Thomas Umstattd ups the ante even further with the statement, "Agents and editors really want to see Facebook pages with 10,000+ fans." 

Wow. I remember looking up from my computer screen, equally intimidated and stirred with an odd kind of excitement. I had no social media following whatsoever at the time, but having those numbers in front of me felt strangely motivating.

Up until then, social media had been a mystery to me, something I had little interest in. But suddenly I felt a new clarity. Those numbers looked near impossible from my vantage point, but they were a goal. Something to shoot for. No more stumbling around blindly, frittering away time on social media and wondering in an abstract sort of way if an editor would give my paltry efforts the nod of approval.

Now I knew. I knew the actual stats that an editor or agent would find impressive in a proposal.

I also knew it must be possible, because those figures came from real people.

Today I'll be giving you a list of actionable tips you can use to supercharge your stats.

1. Incent people to follow you

One of the quickest ways I saw growth in my stats is by using Rafflecopter giveaways - you know the ones where you can get extra entries by following your host on Twitter, Facebook, etcetera? Well, they work. Supercharge your growth by partnering with other bloggers to run a giveaway. Not only are you able to offer a more enticing prize when you pool your resources, but the giveaway gets promoted across a series of other blogs, thus multiplying the total number of entrants and followers. Which leads me to my next point...

2. Partner up
Partnerships are the quickest way to grow. Partner with other bloggers to run link parties and blog hops. If you host a link party with a small group of other bloggers, whoever links up at the party is required to follow each of the hosts. It's a great way of cross-sharing your followers and gaining new ones. You could also agree to feature each other on your blogs, with links to follow on social media - it helps each of you to grow your numbers together.

3. Grow your Twitter following
The most organic way to grow your following is to consistently share great tweets that people retweet. This, however, can take a long time before you get anywhere. If you want to give yourself a starting boost, here's the method I used: follow a set number of people each week (I went for 100) and then use the app JustUnfollow to unfollow those who don't follow you back.

Why should you unfollow? Your ratio of how many people you follow to how many are following you says something to anyone checking out your profile. Like it or not, it gives them an impression of whether you're worth following. If you're following 600 people but only 180 follow you back, most people will assume there's a reason for that, and they'll pass you over too. Of course, there'll be some people you want to follow regardless of whether they return the favour, such as "big-name" authors, celebrities or anyone whose content you take a particular interest in. The app allows you to "whitelist" those people so they don't constantly show up on your non-followers list.

A great place to start is to find a blogger in your niche and then follow their followers. You can just work your way through their list. Although a percentage will never follow you back, many will, and if you're consistent you'll begin to see your numbers rise steadily over time.

3. Pinterest Power
Using Pinterest effectively is a whole blog series in itself. 90% of my blog traffic comes via Pinterest - its power as a traffic driver can't be overestimated. For today, I'll share my top tip: get yourself on some group boards, and start sharing your content on them. I have 3,000+ followers on Pinterest, which is respectable but nothing earth-shattering, but the combined following on all my group boards exceeds 500,000. That means even with my modest personal following, I can get my content in front of potentially half a million people each time I write a new post. Powerful, huh?

Try looking up the Pinterest profiles of some bloggers in your niche, and if they are on any group boards (distinguished by the little people icon in the top corner), click on the board and take a look at the header blurb. If they're accepting new contributors, they will usually have guidelines here on how you can apply to join - often it's as simple as leaving a comment on a pin or sending the board owner an email.

I hope these tips give you some practical ideas for increasing your follower numbers. I feel like I'm just skimming the surface of many of these, so any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

This wraps up my series on How to Grow your Blog Platform. 

If you missed any of it, you can find the rest of the posts here:

How to Grow your Blog Platform
Essentials for your Success
Guerilla Facebook Marketing

Karen Schravemade lives in Australia, where she mothers by day and transforms into a fearless blogger by night. Her popular creative home-making blog, A house full of sunshine, reaches over 150,000 readers a month. She's a Genesis finalist for women's fiction and is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such. Find her on TwitterGoogle+Facebook and Pinterest.


Sarah Forgrave said...

I love your perspective, Karen! Those numbers are intimidating, but your example gives the rest of us hope that making a plan and working hard DO pay off. Thanks for the tips! I'm bookmarking all these posts. :)

Edie Melson said...

Karen, I'm LOVING this series. Your advice is so helpful and your insight encouraging. Thanks so much!

Emily Ann Putzke said...

This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing!!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Karen, Wow, I am so impressed with you girl! I didn't even know about Unfollow. What great specific and strategic suggestions! You're getting me to believe I can start a blog again!

Rachelle O'Neil said...

Feeling rather intimidated at the moment. *grimaces* But, as you said, it is attainable. So, I'll keep pressing on! Thanks for your tips!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

SARAH, so pleased this is helpful to you!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

EDIE, your comment made my day - that means a lot coming from you!! Thank you as always for your generosity in spreading the word on Twitter. xo

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

EMILY, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a note of encouragement! xo

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

JULIA, yay, so thrilled this has given you a boost of confidence! You would rock it, girl!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

RACHELLE, I totally get that! I still feel intimidated at times when I look at those numbers. There are two things I tell myself when I need a shot of encouragement: Don't compare your beginning to someone else's ending, and There's power in incremental progress. Even inching progress will get you to your goals over time. All the best for the journey!

Rachelle O'Neil said...

That's a really good way to look at it, Karen. Thank you!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

You're so welcome, Rachelle!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Great advice, Karen. Awesome ideas and examples.

For those who are stepping out into these great ideas, I suggest you pick one of these and really nail it. You'll feel good and have the incentive to tackle another.