Friday, September 23, 2016

The Complete Guide to Blogging - Part 3

(for all part of this series click here)

Lots of you have been asking about when part 3 of the series was going to go live, and here it is today! This post was by far my most thoughtful part in the series because growth is the one thing we all want to master. 

All bloggers at some point in their blogging career ask themselves "How can I make my blog grow?"
The answer is hard work and time. I wish I could tell you that there is an "All-in-one" method, but it really comes down to putting in the work to capitalize on promoting your brand. 

Some sections of this post will be addressed in more detail as the series progresses, and because I had to cut this post a ton for part 4. If your looking for a quick read definitely come back to this later because it's lonnnnnnnng. 

Let's dive in!

Social Media

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple years then you probably know how powerful social media is. Social media has become the ultimate source of driving traffic back to your blog, and can be mastered by any blogger. If you haven't already started utilizing your social platforms  then you are doing the blog a disservice by not capitalizing on free marketing. Since social media is such a HUGE topic I am going to dedicate an entire section of the series to social media, but  in the meantime lets chit chat about the basics.

Facebook
Facebook has gone through some major changes in the past couple years, and has become difficult for bloggers and business owners to promote their content without having to pay a marketing fee. I personally like capitalizing on Facebook because I'll tag a company that I am talking about in my FB post, and sometimes they will get reposted. This drives tons of traffic back to my blog, and through my analytics I can see that it came from a FB page other than mine. My first big page view was when the Pure Barre Facebook reposted my Beginners guide to Pure Barre. Once my post was shared on their page then other Pure Barre studios started sharing it on theirs. 

Another great way to promote your content is through joining Facebook groups where you can share your latest blogpost, or a favorite social media post. 

Instagram
Insta, insta, insta, oh how I love you so! This has become my absolute favorite social platform because it's an amazing way to connect with your audience through imagery whether that be showing a picture of your daily latte, latest blogpost, or an amazing selfie to show off that killer makeup. I can seriously go off on how much I love Instagram, but I am going to keep it short and sweet today until we hit that part in this series (this post is already becoming super long te he). The one thing I want talk about is hashtags. Hashtags have grown my blog like wildfire, and are amazing at intruding new followers to your account. Whenever you post you want to include hashtags that relate to your target audience to keep your follower retention high. The creators of the Bloguettes created this killer list of hashtags that pertains to different types of bloggers such as foodies, fashionistas, mommies, ect. Click here to be directed to the Bloguettes link. 

Pinterest
I will be honest I don't capitalize on my Pinterest account like I should. I've read tons and tons of ways to grow your blog through Pinterest, but I just don't have the time to master it between juggling the blog and other platforms. What I will tell you about Pinterest is that it drives me TONS of traffic. What I love about Pinterest is that when your stuff gets repined it can spread like a weed that never goes away. Companies also love repining bloggers representing their products that will get repined over and over again.

Working With Brands

One of the biggest ways my blog has grown is from partnering with companies. After reading that statement your eyes probably rolled to the back of your head while murmuring "duh, Jessica I know." It's a simple concept, but is so powerful when turning your blog from a hobby to a business. 

For those of you who are just starting out in the blogging game are maybe unfamiliar with how to go about brand collaborations (Later on in the series I will address how to successfully partner with brands), or feel as though your not "big" enough for brands to work with you. After 6 months of staring J Petite I decided that I was ready to start partnering with brands. I started going through Instagram, and finding small boutiques that I could email. I sent out hundreds and hundreds of emails to both small and large brands. Large brands just for the fun of it ;) 

My first brand that I worked with was Splits 59. I couldn't believe that they wanted to work with me since Splits 59 is a huge brand in the Pure Barre industry. With less than 1000 Instagram followers Splits 59 sent me some product to use for my blog. I shot the images, and later on posted them on my blog for "Workout Wednesday." I sent them a follow up email (always do so brands can see your post) with the link to the post, and thanking them for partnering with me. Splits 59 loved my images so much that they shared my post images through all their social media. The next thing I know my phone was blowing up with new Instagram followers/likes. When I looked at my google analytics I saw that the Splits 59 Facebook page was linking lots of viewers to my blog. I saw tremendous growth that month just from one partnership with a brand. 

Since my first partnership with Splits 59 I have developed a lasting relationship with that brand, and continue to partner with them for projects. 

My biggest advice is to you my fellow bloggers is to be proactive. If you want to start working with brands start today. It might take tons of emails, but the work is so worth it. When you finally land your first brand partnership make sure you follow up with them, and thank them for choosing you to work with. Finish off the email by saying "if you loved the content I created, feel free to share it through social media." 

Collaborating with Fellow Bloggers

One of the biggest challenges in being a blogger is how do you reach a vast majority of people? Sure you may get tons of traffic from your local state by sharing your post links on Facebook, but how can you grow your audience outside of that?

One of my favorite ways to reach an audience that is similar to mine is by collaborating with other bloggers that share my same style, and that I strive to be like. I love how there is a community within blogging that creates a support system for others in the industry. 

You want to reach bloggers that you truly do like, and engage with them over social media whether that be liking their instagram posts, leaving blog comments, or sharing their content through Facebook. When a blogger sees your engagement then they will be so excited to collaborate with you when you send them a personalized email. 

So you just wrote down a list of bloggers that you would like to collaborate with, but not sure what the collaboration is. I bet you can guess what we are going to talk about next. 

The first type of collaboration that popped in your head might be doing a guest post on someone else's blog. To be honest, you won't get much traffic from that. Do you like guest posts? Personally they aren't my favorite, and I skip them whenever I go to my favorite blogs. The vast majority of readers are viewing your blog because they are INVESTED in you. When a stranger comes into the picture for a guest post they won't have that built up connection with the blogger, and most likely won't become a dedicated follower.  

Here are some ways that you can collaborate with other bloggers.

Favorite Blogger Roundup
Who are your favorite bloggers? Create a post all about them! Try creating a post that highlights 3 of your favorite bloggers that all have something in common with you (i.e. petite bloggers). Reach out to those bloggers who you would like to feature, and ask them to write a small paragraph on who they are and the the topic of the post (i.e. favorite petite brands). Tell them to also include an image of themselves for the post. By creating a post that is apart of your brand then the reader will have more of a connection to follow the featured bloggers. After the post goes live send a follow up email to the featured bloggers. Since you did something so great for them they most likely will return the favor, and share that with their followers to link back to you. 

Linkups 
I have been joining link up parties for over a year now, and it has made my blog grown a ton!!! For those of you who aren't familiar a linkup is a way for bloggers to share their posts on a hosts blog. Talk about free real-estate! By linking up with other bloggers you are able to put yourself in a position where your blog can be discovered by other. Every week I personally link up with all of these bloggers on this list I created here. Besides joining link parties Pucker Up Style and I currently host one on Tuesdays where we encourage our followers to share their take on the beauty & fashion theme of the week. I presented the idea of starting a linkup with PUS as a way for both of our blogs to grow. We then came up with the idea to have a weekly cohost so that they will post our images and linkup app on their blog. The purpose of a cohost is to increase our reach to the cohosts audience, and increase our following. In return for their generous participation we advertise them through all of our social media, and have a section for them in the post. By participating, hosting, or cohosting a link up party you are able to grow you audience in a fun stylish fashion. J Petite Tip: If you don't want to commit to hosting a weekly link then reach out to your favorite bloggers, and ask if you can cohost. Bloggers who do utilize cohosts will be thrilled that you want to participate. 

Collaborative Post
As women we love to hang out with our gal pals. oh heyyyyyyy girl.......
Your readers are invested in your life, and are intrigued with those who are apart of it. You know what I'm talking about. You probably follow Amber Fillerup Clark, and....... her husband David Clark. You don't follow him because of "him," but more so to see his engagement with Amber. Same situation applies to fellow bloggers. If you have been in the blogging industry for a while then you probably have built up a killer tribe of blogger friends, and why not capitalize on that?! Next time you go on a shoot why not have a blogger friend join. Have someone take pictures of you two cooking, working out, shopping, or anything that pertains to what your blog topic will be. Share the images with your fellow blogger, and agree on sharing the post on the same day. Throughout the post talk about your interaction with your friend, and mention her enough within the post so the readers go to visit her blog. One of my favorite collaborative posts I did was this styled Friendsgiving shoot PUS and I did last year (view post here).  That was just one idea, but there's seriously so much more you can do to collaborate on a post.

Giveaways

Who doesn't love a giveaway? I mean who doesn't love to win free stuff? A crazy person if you ask me. Hosting a giveaway is such a great way to gain a quick growth in audience if done correctly. Giveaways have switched from hosting them primarily on the blog to now Instagram. Both have their  advantages and disadvantages. 

Instagram Loop Giveaway
This is the quick fix in getting 100s of followers over night. After paying the host of the giveaway $30+ to be apart of the loop then you are set to get guaranteed followers that day. Everyone apart of the loop will post at the same time on Instagram, and floods of followers and likes will start to blow up your phone. Since Instagram is such a great way to reach millions of people, everything happens instantly. Some loops are better than others, but you will gain followers. You can't help to get giddy when you go from a 4 digit follower basis to finally having xx"k" followers after the loop is done. The K!!! The most precious letter to any Instagrammer. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal right? 

Now time for the disadvantages, and hard truths. Just because you gained more Instagram followers doesn't always correlate with increased blog growth. If you are looking to grow the blog (should be the ultimate goal) then loops aren't for you. Someone can have a super strong Instagram account, but a very weak blog. Look at it this way. I follow tons of people on Instagram, but I never visit their blog. To be blunt, there's some people that I think are pretty to follow on Insta, but could careless about their blog. Truth. A little off topic.... Another disadvantage is that once the giveaway winner is announced you will start to see a drop in followers instantly. When people know that they haven't won the giveaway then they will immediately drop you. Yep, you got used. Best piece of advice is that if you do participate in loops make sure the people involved have a similar esthetic to you. Chances are if a bloggers is similar to you then their audience will follow you after a loop. 

Blog Giveaway
If you follow blogs regularly then you have probably seen them host a giveaway. My favorite way to host a giveaway is by using this awesome app called rafflecopter. This is AWESOME for giveaways because it will pick a random winner, you can see who's entering, can disqualify a winner if they didn't follow the entry rules, and ect. Within rafflesopter you can add ways your reader can enter the giveaway. Whenever I do a giveaway my entries will include following me on my different social media platforms. You can also designate each entry with a different point value (i.e. follow on Instagram is +2 entries, following on Facebook is +1 entry). The one thing I always do for an entry that my readers can do EVERYDAY is "Share Giveaway link on Facebook and TAG @thejpetite in the post." I do this for multiple reasons. The people who enter the giveaway are most likely the readers that follow you already, and there isn't much outreach from there. By having your readers share it on Facebook then that opens your blogs outreach to the people your readers know. Make sense? I also give this entry the highest point value of the entries, and make it an optional everyday entry to encourage readers to share more who want to giveaway prize. By doing this method for giveaways you are able to drive traffic to your blog, and grow multiple social media platform. The disadvantages of doing a giveaway on a blog is that you aren't able to reach as many people as you would with Instagram. 

Sidebar Advertising

You know that right side of the screen of your favorite bloggers template. Yep, that's prime real-estate there. Growing your blog is all about being seen by readers, and finding ways to make that happen. Sidebar advertising is a great way to promote growth to your blog "if" your ad is placed on a blog that has a strong following. Remember what I said about how a strong Instagram doesn't always mean a strong blog? When shopping around for blogs to put your ad on look for blogs that post consistently, and that have 10+ comments on a blog post. This shows that the blog isn't just a pretty space on the web, but is also a place that is frequently viewed. For most sidebar advertising there is a monthly fee ranging in price. 

I hope this post addressed some of your questions about how to grow your blog. I honestly try to take all my readers questions and feedback to incorporate into these posts. If there is a question you want addressed through the series then leave a comment here :) To know when part 4 comes out make sure to sign up for my newsletter!
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10 comments:

  1. Thank you SO much for this information girl! Super super appreciate it. How long have you been blogging for?
    I clicked on the link to the "link party" list you mentioned and I don't quite get it. Is there a group where all this happens?
    Thank you!

    xo, jess

    alljessedup.com

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    1. I've been blogging a little over two years now. When you click on my master list there are days on which bloggers post there link up. Example on Monday there is sincerely Jenna Marie that hosts a linkup. You go onto her site On Monday and at the bottom of her post there is a linkup button where you add a picture and info to your blog. Once you submit your info then it goes onto her blog for other people to click and be directed to your site :)

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  2. Great tips!!! :) thank you for sharing!

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  3. I really love all the info you shared. I earmarked it so I can come back and re-read it and hopefully let it all sink in! Thank you for linking up with us! I hope to see you again next Friday!

    ♥Tiffany
    lifeofalostmuse.com

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    1. Of course thanks for stopping by and reading :)

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  4. Great tips! And all so true! And it especially takes a ton of time! Thanks for sharing with us!

    http://www.mylittlenest.org

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    1. Thank you so much Ruth! Yes it definitely takes time :)

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  5. I have loved reading these posts. I can't get enough tips, no matter how long I have been blogging. I think there is always something new to learn

    http://www.michellespaige.com

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