How do you attract more followers?

Posted September 11, 2016 by Lory in discussions / 44 Comments


This post was inspired by Jennifer of Holds Upon Happiness, and her Thoughts Upon One Year of Blogging. Jennifer said,

I haven’t acquired hundreds and thousands of followers.  It is much harder than I thought to get people to read my ramblings. I knew I wouldn’t instantly have a huge number of followers but I did think by now I would have more than I do. I must admit, I get a little envious when I see other blogs the same age as mine that have many, many more followers. That can make me doubt what I am doing. I am being honest about that feeling because it is easy to feel like you are the only one whose blog is growing at a snail’s pace.

I can definitely sympathize, as I felt the same way during my first year of blogging. I found that I had to work quite hard to attract followers; it didn’t just magically happen as I had vaguely expected. It became a challenge to up my numbers, not because I was looking for advertising revenue or more points with publishers, but just because I didn’t want to feel I was speaking into a void.

I still don’t have thousands or even many hundreds of followers, but I’m happy with the quantity and most of all the quality of interactions that I’ve built up. I’m so grateful to have met so many interesting, creative, funny, thoughtful reader-friends through blogging, and that’s what keeps me going. If your audience seems smaller than you would like, I encourage you to keep looking for your people — they are out there, and you can find them.

Here’s what I would suggest if you’re looking for more activity on your blog:

  • Visit and comment on other blogs. People are more likely to be interested in and follow you if you display an interest in them. When I felt sad about my blog following, I made a conscious effort to do more commenting and it made a noticeable difference.
  • Participate in some memes. I’m not a huge fan of memes in general, but there are a couple I enjoy, such as Top Ten Tuesday and It’s Monday! What are you reading? Post your link, and also hop around and visit some other blogs from the linkup. You’re sure to find somebody with whom you share some common interests.
  • Participate in some events and challenges. The Book Blog Discussion Challenge has been especially great for generating more discussion (obs) and visiting among the participating bloggers. My discussion posts are usually the most viewed and commented-on of each month. There are also lots of events centered around various books, authors, and genres, and they can be a way to connect with like-minded readers.
  • Create your own event or challenge. I’ve done Witch Week, Elizabeth Goudge Reading Day, and the Reading New England challenge, and they have all been great fun for me and I hope for the participants as well. I’ve definitely made new connections from each one.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out. I was super shy about this at first, but if you ask politely (for someone to write a guest post for your event, for example), people are mostly extremely kind and accommodating. And be sure to give back as well — sharing posts you like, linking to interesting discussions, and expressing gratitude for small favors are other ways to build positive relationships and foster community.

With all of these, I think it’s important not to do anything SOLELY to attract followers. Comment on posts when you have something of substance to say, create an event that you would enjoy even if nobody else came. Real interest and meaningful content shine through.

Have you ever made an effort to attract followers? What has worked for you?

Tags: , ,


44 responses to “How do you attract more followers?

  1. Sarah Dickinson

    I love your discussion posts and mine are the most commented on as well. It’s definitely hard to get followers…I think I’d been blogging for almost 2 years before I really started commenting on others’ blogs, etc. I literally had no idea that I should be doing that in the beginning, plus I was nervous.

    • Cluelessness and nervousness were my main obstacles to finding more followers in the beginning. Fortunately, both can be overcome, at least in terms of blogging.

  2. Great post, Lory! I’ve only recently started to read out to other bloggers and it’s made me enjoy the experience of blogging so much more. I find it difficult to put myself out there sometimes and have stayed away from discussion posts for some reason but I’m committed to doing more once my new blog is up and running. I also created a Bloglovin’ account yesterday. I like it so far because it’s helped me find a few new self-hosted sites to follow that I don’t think I would have come across otherwise.

  3. Another interesting post Lory.

    Though I have never tried to attract formal blog followers, I tend to emphasize attracting good comments and discussions on my blog. I try to participate in the comment sections of other sites. I love this aspect of blogging as it allows folks to exchange ideas and impressions on books.

    Reading events, of the type that you are currently hosting are a big part of this for me.

  4. All very valid points. I find the best way to draw new followers is to be an active on other blogs with comments and also to have non book review posts. Posts such as discussions, etc always do seem to attract more attention and I always notice a spike in followers after posting a few.

  5. You turned your comment into a post, I am so glad. I thought it was a very useful comment. It was full of such practical information. I think it is important for new bloggers to know that it takes a while to acquire an audience and also that people will welcome their comments. I know when I first started I was very nervous about commenting. It felt a bit like jumping into a party that you weren’t invited to.

    I will have to look around for some of the events and challenges that suit my blog. I have seen posts about them but never knew how to get involved.

    • Thanks for the idea, Jennifer! I’m really glad you found my comment useful.

      It took me a little time to figure out how to get involved in events and challenges too. Usually there is a sign-up or master post that has the basic information. Have fun finding some events you can enjoy!

  6. Great list. I was very discouraged for awhile, since I had hit a plateau and wasn’t really getting any new followers despite all my commenting. It was participating in a couple of events that helped me finally advance a bit (although I have on a few hundred). So I definitely recommend that if one thing isn’t working for you, try something else.

  7. A lot of excellent hints here, Lory, some pure common sense, some familiar from WordPress advice I’ve seen, some I’ve never got around to doing such as those Top Ten memes. I hope newcomers will find these useful.

    One thing I really appreciated when I first started out was an unexpected ‘patron’ — someone who’d come across my first few posts and started ‘liking’ and making regular interested comments. I so appreciated that and it encouraged me to follow suit when I felt more established: it’s something I’d recommend, ‘adopting’ a beginner blogger until they start to stand on their own feet, and then they may be encouraged to follow your example too!

  8. Great tips! I felt exactly the same in my first year of blogging (and still do to a certain extent), so I can definitely vouch for the effectiveness of your list of suggestions. Once I started making a concerted effort to comment on more blogs and stopped being quite so shy and approached people more, then I definitely got more followers, and more importantly, more interactions and blogging friends 🙂

  9. Amen to all your points. Also, organize book giveaways, and accept to post guest-posts, articles written by other bloggers or authors, of course on a theme important to you and relevant to your blog’s identity. Emma (soon celebrating my 6th blogiversary)

    • Oops, I forgot to mention giveaways — those were helpful to me too in the beginning, although they attract a high percentage of “followers” who are only interested in the giveaway, not in your content. Still, they can be a fun way to increase activity and excitement around your blog.

  10. Great advice, Lory! Even those of us who aren’t brand new anymore can benefit from being reminded of this every once in a while.
    I have to admit to still feeling nervous about posting things that are more personal to me than book reviews. I find it much harder to do, and probably don’t do it as much as I should. (Time is also an issue.)
    I find it really interesting to see the different circles of book bloggers and where they overlap. It’s true that there is a group out there for everyone – you just have to find it!

    • The discussion challenge is a great way to share content that’s of more general interest than a book review, without being too personal. I’m also not comfortable doing more personal posts, largely because of the privacy of other people (my family and work relationships). However, I am going to share one of my other hobbies soon…stay tuned.

  11. I can sympathize too! I know I won’t ever have a super popular blog, but I think I thought I’d have a little more followers than I do now? But I agree, the interaction I get is usually great, and I prefer real interaction and meaningful comments over just numbers. Your tips are great, but I feel like I’ve just had bad luck with the first two. Like, I make an effort to find and visit new blogs, but then so many of them never visit back. And I used to do TTT, but since I read mostly indie, people couldn’t relate to my posts and vice versa. Even now I do Cover Characteristics, and the half the people don’t bother visiting my post when I visit theirs even though being social is the whole point of a meme :-/ But I really should try getting involved in events and challenges and reaching more. Those things just seem kind of intimidating to me!

    • You’re right, sometimes it can seem like the effort isn’t paying off. That why I think it’s important to do things you enjoy anyway, aside from the benefit of gaining followers. Then you don’t feel so much like it’s a total waste.

  12. Reading and commenting on other blogs, I think, is what affects my *interaction* most. When I read and comment, I get comments. When I don’t…I might get one or two. I still haven’t quite figured out what best increases my actual followers…I usually get a couple with each post but never more than that!

    • I realized I’m using “followers” when I mean more the overall level of interaction and activity, which is not always measurable as “follows.” And I agree that interacting with other blogs is what affects that the most — at least for me.

  13. I think (and I type as someone whose blog is not much read but I don’t mind about that!) that regular posting is also important.

    Discussions and the odd post that gives you a bit more feel for the writer’s character or tastes are also important. The interaction that a discussion gives, and the impression that there’s a real human being writing whose tastes you may share, are what really distinguish book blogs from newspaper reviews, for me. That’s when you start to establish a sort of friendship. 🙂

    • I do think establishing an identity is important. If you are too generic, what will make people want to visit your blog among the thousands of others? But it can be nerve-wracking too, as one feels somewhat exposed and lacking in positive feedback at first. It takes time, and a certain amount of luck as well.

  14. Really enjoyed reading this post – your tips are very complete. When I started I didn’t have a great idea of how to build a following, and slowly learned all the points you wrote in this post as the best way to find like minded blogger friends who I want to engage with. 🙂

  15. This is an important post and the comments are very instructive. As someone who just celebrated their first year of book blogging, I really appreciate these tips and observations from the more seasoned of you. I sometimes worry that my blog’s focus is a bit narrow, but I really enjoy classic literature and don’t read a lot of modern fiction. It’s those blogs that seem to have so much more interaction and traffic. Maybe I should branch out a bit? I’ll have to think about that.

    But I DO know readathons and book challenges have been important in helping me to meet other bloggers, to get a lay of the blogging landscape, to learn more about a genre, time period or location, but most importantly, they are just plain fun!

    • I think my reading choices affect my readership too; I’m just not reading those blockbuster books that everyone else is talking about. I think it’s fine to branch out if you want to expand your horizons, but I wonder whether it would gain you more followers. I still think the most important thing is to be yourself, and though you might end up with a smaller audience than some other bloggers, at least they are connected to you in an authentic way.

  16. When I first started blogging, I was terribly shy about commenting on other people’s blogs, and that made it hard (obviously) to build up a following of any kind. These days, and this is going to sound horribly sappy, I don’t want a following so much as like a community of pals? Like it really just means the world to me to have these relationships with fellow bloggers where we’re part of each other’s lives and mutually recommend books and it’s just the best.

    (And that is why I helped revive Book Blogger Appreciation Week cause I just love you guys so much, sob sob.)

    • Oh, I completely agree! I would rather have a mutually interactive community than mere “followers.” I perhaps should have phrased this post differently, but it’s too late now…

  17. I didn’t comment for a while due to being shy; at the time I saw all these amazing bloggers and my beginner self didn’t match up. Once over that I started commenting a lot and loved how much it added to my blogging experience. Commenting’s the big one, I reckon. And it’s always the first or one of on all those blogging blogs (it’s interesting when you read about it on those, because the writers couch it in terms that suggest people don’t think about it and how that build-it-and-they-will-come doesn’t work). Definitely agree on your point about being social first. If you’re commenting or otherwise interacting and it’s all about upping your numbers it’ll just become a chore and it shouldn’t be.

    • I used to be more distracted by numbers, I think. Now they have sort of evened out and I can focus more on building relationships.

  18. I think joining social media helped us gain followers as did commenting around. You really need to comment for awhile on one person’s blog for them to notice you and visit back, though–it’s not so useful if you comment on 200 blogs one time. And though memes do give us increased traffic, I don’t know that they’ve given us followers. Most people who come through for memes are just their to leave their own link to their meme.

    As for readalongs–we’ve done some of these and many events over the years. They tend to be hit-or-miss because you actually need an established reader base in the first place if you want people to participate, seeing as there aren’t many ways to get the word out about it unless these people already read your blog or follow you on social media. So if have an event and two people post about it on their blog, it’s not really going to get you traffic.

    • I agree, the increased traffic from all of these will result in a relatively low percentage of actual followers (or consistently engaged people). However, they still helped me to make that first step from reaching nobody to feeling like I was part of a community.

      You make a good point about events being difficult to promote unless you already have a following. I tried to get other bloggers involved by inviting them to do guest posts or other features, and that helped because their following then got involved as well. But again I made sure to only invite people I really admired and was interested in, not just those with large followings I thought could help me.

  19. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. I haven’t really made an effort to attract followers, but I think it’s something I would like to start doing. I think all your tips are good ones – I’ve seen the change when I do those things. I also think updating consistently can make a big difference. Since I started book blogging, I’ve had various travel periods where I couldn’t post or interact with the community. It’s a bit like ‘lost time’. However, I’m not sure how to translate page views into followers. I write on a variety of topics that make it difficult to perhaps classify my blog. For example, I imagine that a person who might follow me because of a post I did on Tolkien might lose interest when I don’t write anything about Middle-Earth for a few months. So I may have to content myself with the followers I’ve managed to get without doing too much to attract them. Most of the time I just try to remind myself I write my blog for me first. 😛

    • That is my number one priority too, and I think it’s what makes each blog so different and special. But when I’m having so much fun, I want to share with others!

      I have also wondered whether I’ve lost readers/followers because I didn’t post on a certain topic or genre consistently. But I follow many blogs where I don’t read every post – as long as I have a good way to scan through them (currently using Feedly), I can just pick the posts I’m interested in. I suppose if I was not interested in anything over a period of many months, I might stop following, but usually I give them some time.

  20. This is all such great advice! Thanks so much for mentioning the discussion challenge – I feel like that challenge, more than anything, has connected me to other bloggers in significant ways and I love reading each and every discussion (even when I’m a week behind, like I am this week! The nice thing is that I have those discussions all linked up, so I never miss out on them completely, even on weeks I’m really busy!).

    • The Discussion Challenge is the BEST. I think it’s because the participants are (unsurprisingly) actually interested in discussion and interaction, rather than just leaving links to their own meme posts. All new bloggers should definitely check it out!

  21. Great post! I was initially surprised to have any followers at all, but I’ve gotten to where I see followers as a metric of how well I’m doing what I’m doing. I’ve moved past my obsessing over those numbers phase, but I still share Jennifer’s feeling that maybe I’m not doing it right when I see a younger blog with far more followers. However, like you, I’m really happy with the blogging interactions I have. I think you have some great suggestions for attracting more followers and for getting more interactions. Currently, with starting a new job and wanting to spend time with my husband now that we’re no longer long distance, I’m wondering when I’ll have the time though!

  22. Oh, jobs and husbands — they can be so distracting! Hopefully you can still fit in blogging around the edges.