Next week marks the 3 month anniversary of Vanessa (my wife) starting her first blog at Style and Shenanigans.
It’s been a fascinating process to watch her plan, launch and grow her blog.
Some might imagine that being married to ‘the ProBlogger’ means she’s constantly being told what to do and being given secret tips and advice – however I’ve been remarkably restrained in my involvement and very impressed by what she’s intuitively built already.
While she’s not got a huge readership – it continues to grow and it has already opened up some pretty cool opportunities for her.
In fact having watched her over these last 3 months I have been somewhat inspired and learned a lot and in this post want to share some of the things I think she’s done well that have helped her to grow her blog’s traffic and profile already.
My hope is that in doing so it’ll help others at the beginning of their blogging journey to get their blogs rolling.
Perhaps the #1 thing that I’ve been impressed with so far is Vanessa’s commitment to engaging with her readership.
This has shone through in a number of ways including:writing in an engaging style – most of her posts end with a question that invites commentevery comment on the blog is responded toevery comment on her Facebook Page is responded toevery incoming Tweet to our Twitter account is responded to
This is partly just who Vanessa is (she’s very engaging and inclusive in real life) but was something that probably stretched her a little too. I remember in the early days when she would get comments from people she didn’t know for the first few times it was certainly a bizarre feeling for her to engage with them – but she’s fully into the swing of things now!
Interestingly she’s now well and truly passed the tipping point of having more ‘strangers’ reading her blog and following her on Facebook and Twitter than she has ‘real life’ friends.
I wrote a few weeks ago about Vanessa’s first foray into including a few ‘selfies’ on the blog. These more personal posts have continued and have been received well (they’ve been the most commented posts on the site).
Other experiments with a more personal style of content included a post about a dinner party we threw for a few friends and a couple of posts about a short trip we took.
And then there’s Facebook…. this for me has been one of the most fascinating parts of the journey because her blog Facebook Page has gone ‘off topic’ and into a more personal space than I would have predicted.
There are certainly the predictable updates that are links to new posts on the blog – but mixed in are plenty of slightly more personal updates. Photos from things she’s doing, questions, funny family moments, personal quick tips and random off topic humorous posts.
The result is that she’s got a page with pretty high engagement – in fact if I had the engagement she had on my pages relative to how many people were ‘liking’ my pages I’ve be over the moon!
The other key thing that I think is going to work in Vanessa’s favour is that the bulk of her content on the blog is ‘helpful’ and solves problems for readers.
V is what Malcom Gladwell would describe a ‘Maven’. She is a gatherer of information, a watcher of trends and LOVES sharing what she finds. She’s been doing this on the topic of style in her friendship circles since before I met her and her blog is an extension of that.
The bulk of her content reflects that and is basically her curated collections of different themes of fashion and home wares.
Her typical posts feature a collection of suggested products on a colour style or brand theme and the comments I see on them are often people saying thanks for the suggestions.
Also of interest to me is that I’m starting to see readers leave messages asking for advice on particular areas based upon her posts.Her 7am post – got decent engagement.This morning Vanessa was posting an update to Facebook at 7am and I suggested that it might be a bit too early in the morning for her readers to be checking Facebook.
She responded that it was one of her best times of day and that when she posted that early she often got a lot of responses by 8am as people checked their phones over breakfast.
I had my doubts but as I ate my porridge I watched the comments come in on Facebook and the blog and realised she had her finger on the rhythms of her readership perfectly.
Also of interest is that she’s already noticed that some days of the week seem to get more comments on posts than others and that certain types of Facebook updates at certain times of the day get more interaction.
This is golden information!
I’m always talking here on ProBlogger about how important it is to ‘get off your blog’ if you want to grow traffic and to monetise your blog.
Vanessa has intuitively started to do this without much prompting at all.
It is a challenge – she’s a busy person with 3 active boys (two home during the day), working a day a week, involved in a variety of community activities etc – but she’s going beyond just writing content and responding to comments.
This has happened in a variety of ways including:when she’s mentioned brands or other sites in her posts she lets them know (this has already led to one brand suggesting that they might like to work with her and others linking up to her blog!)reading and engaging on other relevant sites/Facebook pagesinvolvement in a small Facebook group for other bloggers in her nicheresponding to opportunities that other bloggers and media have already offered her to guest post on them
By no means is it easy to get everything done (and there will always be more that you can do) but I’m always amazed at what happens when you push open doors and get active about engaging off your blog with others.
The key lesson here is to not just build a great blog and expect good things to happen to you. You need to take some initiative and get off your blog to see those good things come into being!
It was several years after I started blogging that I even considered the possibility of other people writing content on my blogs. That’s not the case for Vanessa.
Just 3 months in she’s already had two guest posts. Both have been submitted by the one person – a good family friend – but both posts have added something to the blog that V couldn’t have written herself.
The key is that she’s found someone who writes in a similar voice and that the posts have complemented existing content on the blog (for example this post from Mandy on toys for Girls was a follow up to one V wrote on toys for boys).
A couple of weeks ago I shared some great image creation tools that I use to create visual content for my blogs. Vanessa is also a convert to PicMonkey and Canva and a regular feature of her posts are collages of the products that she’s talking about.
I suspect that the visual element of her blogging will only evolve in time but these simple collages have been really popular with readers and I think are a big part of the reason that her Facebook Page has had great engagement.
Visual content is gold – particularly on social!!!
By no means am I suggesting that Vanessa has arrived or is a poster child of blogging. She has a lot more to learn (as do I). I just have loved watching her growth and development in these early months.
What did you learn about blogging in the first few months that has stuck with you ever since?