I’d been thinking about starting a blog for a while. Which hardly makes me unique – Wordpress alone has billions of blog pages updated every month. Billions. But it wasn’t until I became pregnant that I worked out what I wanted to blog about.
I love travelling, visiting over 50 countries so far, but almost without exception, people assumed I’d have to mothball my suitcase if I was expecting a baby. So, stubbornly, I decided I was going to prove them all wrong and blog about my experiences along the way.
Setting up the blog itself was easy. The big question was how to get anyone to decide to read it rather than the squilllions of other bloggers around…
Don’t think about the readers (too much)
If you’re sitting there worrying about whether people will love your latest post, you’ll probably never get round to writing it. But if you write about what interests you, it will be easier to find post topics and readers are more likely to enjoy it as your enthusiasm will shine through. Besides, it’s tricky to second-guess exactly what anyone on the web wants – someone found my blog recently by searching ‘I am a beautiful llama’. The mind boggles.
Don’t just blog on your own site – find other bloggers who write about something similar and comment on their posts, or join in the conversations on blogs you enjoy. That way both the people who write them and their readers may find themselves heading back to your blog to check you out. Something more witty than ‘nice post’ is a bonus.
Reply to your own commenters. If people have taken the trouble to say something about your blog, at least say thanks. Better still, an individual reply is more likely to keep them coming back in future. Chances are you’ll be so inordinately thrilled that anyone’s commenting that you’ll be rushing to type a response anyway.
Shout it loud
Modesty may be a virtue, but with billions of blogs competing for everyone’s attention, you need to let potential readers know you’re out there. If you’re not on Twitter, sign up. Post your blog links in your Facebook status. Get your head around Google +. Pin away on Pinterest. Social media is one of the quickest ways to tell the world what you’re blogging about, while blogging networks are also great to get to know people writing on similar topics.
Searching for the right terms
Writing a post that only focuses on SEO keywords is probably the quickest way to a truly boring read. But don’t forget the search terms people might be using and consider using them in the headline or introduction of your blog, as well as in photo file names and captions. One of my top posts was about whether you should travel with a baby before they have their first vaccinations – when I was looking for the answer myself, nothing came in searches. Now my post comes up first on Google if anyone else is pondering the same question.
Spread yourself around
Bloggers are forever being contacted by people offering guest posts ‘absolutely free’ if they just include a string of links. You don’t want to be this person. But if you do know any other blogs or bloggers who might interested in you writing something for their site (well, like this) it’s a great way to find a brand new ready-made audience. Look out for blog carnivals and link parties as well, which can also help you get featured on bigger blogs.
Let’s face it, you’re not going to update your blog every day (or every few days) if it’s a huge chore. Remember why you started it and don’t get too hung up on checking your stats, addictive though it is. However much fun you’re having, don’t forget to use the spellcheck though. Would you struggle through a page of typos?
Cathy Winston is the travelling mummy behind MummyTravels, a 'travel obsessed writer who's never knowingly underpacked.' Cathy has been published in leading newspapers and magazines, including The Independent, National Geographic, Traveller, Top Sante and Red.