….Also known as “The Post Which Makes Me Sick at My Stomach With Nervousness”.

I have had several people ask me recently to write a post of advice on how to gain more readers for their blogs and how to take their blog to “the next level”.

Now I must say that writing “How-To” posts make me VERY uncomfortable. I always feel like I’m going to come off as a know-it-all or an expert, neither of which I am in any way.

I have literally been writing, throwing it away, editing it, trashing it, and re-writing this post for months because it makes me so squirmy. So to make myself feel better, I had to add some tongue-in-cheek-ness to this post, so PLEASE don’t take this post all that seriously.

And, I would just like to say, that there are HUNDREDS of ways to grow a blog – these are just some of the things that I personally have done to grow my blogs, very meager though they still are.

Now that I’ve fully disclaimed and disowned this post, here are some pointers that I’ve picked up on:

  1. Comment, comment, comment on other blogs!! There is NOTHING that motivates most of us bloggers more than getting comments (seriously – you’d think I was a total freak if you knew how obsessed I was with comments), and most bloggers will appreciate your comments and go to your blog to check out who you are and read your work. Also, their other readers will start to get to know you through your comments, and they’ll want to see who you are also.But don’t lose sight of the greatest benefit of commenting – the friendships you create by reading each other’s blogs. I have some amazing friends that I would have NEVER met had it not been for our blogs! Commenting back and forth will help you grow friendships and has the side benefit of helping you grow your blog, all at once. If you simply read someone’s blog without commenting, you’re getting to know them, but they’re missing out on the opportunity to get to know you. We all thrive off of knowing our readers!
  2. PARAGRAPH SPACING. Blogs are unbelievably more eye catching and easier to read if written in the shortest paragraphs possible. If a blog post is one long paragraph, it appears to be torturous to read. And don’t just have paragraphs, put whole lines of space between each paragraph. It really eases the strain on the eyes and the mind. Add wide open spaces!
  3. Consistency and commitment. Blogging daily or nearly daily is important to keep interest. Also, Edit, edit, edit. Read and tweak your posts at least three times before hitting publish.
  4. Think in Bloggese. Ask yourself as you go through your day, “How can I make this entertaining/interesting to blog about?”
  5. Pay attention to other bloggers, learn from them, and incorporate tips into YOUR writing style, but don’t sacrifice who you are to be like them. Be yourself and don’t lose sight of that while trying to grow your blog. People are attracted to genuineness.
  6. Don’t write your blogs in a format like you would tell your husband about your day. “When we woke up, we did this. . .and then at breakfast, this happened. . . and then at two p.m., we went here…”. Instead, weave a story. Interlink all of your points. Draw it all together in a nice, neat package to maximize the appeal of your post.
  7. Never show pictures of your kid’s poop. Diapered or otherwise. You can blog about it, you can describe it in disgusting detail (like I have been doing a LOT of lately), but just don’t ever show it.
  8. Take pictures of the craziest stuff (Except the aforementioned poop, of course). Random pictures add interest and humor, and help your readers draw a visual of your story. Also, if your post doesn’t inherently contain pictures, add silly header or footer pictures. Header pictures or illustrations draw your reader immediately into the blog post. Example here. Also, you can use a footer picture to end your post with a last laugh, such as here.
  9. If you are blogging about something negative (mildly negative – I’m not talking about tragedy here), use humor and be self-deprecating to let your readers know that you are, in fact, emotionally okay with the events and not, in fact, using your blog to whine or vent. Of, if you can’t be humorous about it, be sure to wind the blog up in a positive manner, telling what you learned from the event. Example here.
  10. When your kid says something cute, don’t preface this by saying “today, so-and-so said the cutest thing. He said “….”. Isn’t that ADORABLE?”. Instead weave what they said into a story. Draw interest without stating the obvious, which is that you think your kid is adorable. Your readers all think your kid is adorable too, but the story will be a hundred times better if you stage it. See example here.
  11. Use creative ways to add humor and interest, such as using strikethrough on your “real” thoughts and put after them your “politically correct” thoughts. this adds humor. Another way to do this is to use over-the-top, obvious exaggerations, like the “I have re-written this post 684 times because I was so nervous about writing a how-to post” (although that may not be an exaggeration).If you don’t know how to do strikethrough, all you do is put a bit of HTML in your post. Directly before the part you want to strike through, type <strike>. Then right after it, type </strike>.
  12. If I haven’t stressed this enough already, think creatively – don’t just tell a story, but try to come up with original ways to frame your posts, like letters, analysis, rhythm, repeated phrasing, etc. Example here.
  13. Respond to some comments – people do this in different ways – some people respond with another comment, some people respond with email. I have started responding with email when I can, because I realized that I rarely remember to go back to a post I commented on to check for a response.
  14. Get involved on blogging networking sites, especially ones that will link you with bloggers of like-interests – such as 5 Minutes for Mom and their specialized sister sites, Alabama Bloggers, Blogher. . . there are TONS of them in all sorts of specialized blogging niches. Find yours, interact, comment, participate, and become a part of a community! You will be amazed at the number of new relationships you will form by doing this!
  15. If you have a very short anecdote that you want to share, build it into a larger story by adding context, analysis, and humor. Example here.(Some people would disagree with this philosophy, saying that blog posts should be as short as possible to keep the readers attention. I agree that this has merit also. I just can’t seem to write anything short.)
  16. Use blogging tools – there are tons of free programs out there to help you maximize, analyze, and optimize. I blogged about my favorite blogging tools here at Alabama Bloggers.
  17. If you use Blogger, here are some specific tips:

  • Don’t use word verification for your comments (some people have major issues with these), unless you have an issue with spam commenters. I’ve never used it and have never gotten a single spam comment until the past week.
  • Use the Full-Page or Pop-up comment system rather than the embedded – although Blogger won’t admit it for some reason, there are MAJOR issues with the embedded form – I often get error after error when trying to comment, as does everyone I’ve ever asked. I know for a fact that I missed out on a lot of comments when I used the embedded system. (This setting can be changed under Settings –> Comments.)
  • If you insist on using one of the above Blogger features, just please please PLEASE don’t use both. The embedded system doesn’t show that it’s going to make you word verify, so often I will have closed down the page before it comes up to verify, and my comment is lost. It’s a really stinky system – Blogger could really do to improve it.
  • Allow full blog feed. More people will read your posts, and I don’t think it keeps the people who would comment from commenting. (This can be changed under Settings –> Site Feed)
  • Be sure to have your email address in your Google Account so that it shows your email address to the blogger when you leave a comment. Many bloggers (including me) respond by email to comments, but if your email address isn’t there, they can’t respond to you.
  • Regarding music – I personally find it very distracting. I can’t listen to music and read at the same time, so I always mute blogs with music. But I may be alone in that preference, and I can always use mute, so don’t change your music preferences for my sake!

And once again, I stress, COMMENT. Building relationships with other bloggers is the Number One way to grow your blog, and, in my opinion, the most fulfilling part of blogging!!

Please let me know if you have ANY questions – I will attempt to answer them!

Okay…I did it. And…now I totally hate myself for writing such a how-to-ey post.



I all of a sudden feel the need to write the silliest, most pointless, inane blog post ever to cleanse myself from this post.

Quick! Somebody do something ridiculous so I can blog about it!

46 thoughts on “Widening Your Blog’s Appeal

  1. Thank you for this Rachel. You did great! I have always wanted to know how to do the strike through thing.

    Thank you for all you have done to encourage me in my blogging and of course thank you sooooo much for the blog design.

    So glad I have gotten to know you through blogging. You are right-building friendships is the best part.

  2. Great tips! You are such a blogger rock star!<–I know that makes you uncomfortable but hey you're a rock star to me and the bonus is that I now get to call a rock star friend. :)
    Thanks for the tip about emailing commenters too. I kind of noticed you doing that.
    Going now to make sure my google account has my email address although I am pretty sure it does. :)

  3. Thank you so much for the post! You had a lot of ideas that never crossed my mind. I am a huge blog reader, however I rarely comment… although I love it when others comment on mine. I am going to have to be a commenter now. I guess I do need to become more active in blog communities as well… and post more often.
    Going to change my blogger settings ;)
    The post was well worth the wait, I'll be sending my blogger friends your way!

  4. Thank you so much. Your blog is one of the first one's I look at everyday. Thanks for sharing all of this information it will come handy.

  5. Thank you, thank you ,thank you!! I have been wanting someone to do this for-ev-er! Now I have a much better understanding of blogging.

  6. Rachel,

    Stop beating yourself up! This was an excellent, unsilly, and very informative post. We can all use how-to's once in awhile, and this one is great!

    Now get to writing a crazy post with made up words so that we can get back to normal around here, k! :-)


  7. Couldn't agree with ya more, Rachel. You did a great job with it! Hey, if it weren't for the fact we comment each other, we wouldn't be buddies. Plus the friendlier we get, the more silly we can be! :)

    What's up with your photobucket account??? Add that to your list now. ;)

  8. Is Photobucket taking over your blog? It's making my eyes cross.

    This is a great post, btw. You nailed it.

  9. Great tips Rachel! I found them very useful…all the things I've wanted to pick from your brain. You're an awesome blogger…and friend!

  10. I totally agree about the relationship part of it. Yours is my favorite blog b/c you've made it personal. It's nice to not just be another reader, but a friend. Thanks for all you do to make us laugh and keep us entertained. :)

  11. Sorry to much work.I'll just stick to blogging without thinking.I'll have to give someone else the link to this if they want to do it.:)

  12. The ultimate irony, huh? My blog design decides to totally hose up the SAME and ONLY day I will ever do a blogging how-to post… nice. :)

    Thanks so much for all of your encouragement! I feel much better about having written this post now!

  13. A very good how to even if you don't like writing them. And you don't even know how happy I am that you didn't talk about finding your niche. As far as I know there isn't one for people like me.

  14. Excellent, excellent advice. I couldn't agree more with many of these tips. Especially with turning off word verification!!!

    It drives me bonkers.

    Comments are really what makes the blogosphere go round :)

  15. Great advice! Thank you for this post. I appreciate your encouragement in growing my blog. It is certainly fun and glamorous! Also, I will do my best to come the the next Alabama Bloggers meet up! It would be great to meet you too!

  16. Don't feel ick.
    I just realized, I guess I have word verification b/c it seems like your always get a dirty word.
    I'll have to go change that…

  17. google reader has turned me into a crap commenter. But, I'm really loving your thoughts about comments and building relationships. It's great stuff!

    I tend to guard access to my blog like fort knox for security reasons (and have only recently put in extra information about me and my family on my profile), but I thought all your ideas to enlarge your readership were great. I agree with all your other commenters that you didnt' seem like a know-it-all at all!

    And…I do think your sweet girl is adorable. In fact, if she ever goes missing, it might be wise to check with me first (though it would be logistically impossible for me to pull off such a feat!). Anyway – great post. Thanks for sharing your ideas and experience!

  18. Thanks you so much for this post. I have been wondering how to do this and I so needed this info. I am mostly a lurker on blogs and only post every once in a while – so that posting comments idea was the most valuable for me!!

  19. Yay! Now, this wasn't so hard, was it? Now you have to tell us your secrets for getting the good (free) trips and how to get our kids to have good "Ali hair."

  20. Yay! This was so well done – very thorough.

    Commenting is key, you are right. I became read because I read a LOT of blogs and commented often. I'm not shy (much) and I know the writer WANTS that feedback!

    I would add that blog carnivals are a good way to be read but they sometimes just create a once a week readership unless you are able to capture real interest.

    Word Verification is annoying and out, but Comment moderation is vital for me (I had an UUUUGly experience that could have been SO bad if Leigh of Bloggeritaville didn't have my phone number).

    You were right to – blog like you are talking to strangers and telling them a story – don't blog like you are dictating events to Hubby.

    GREAT post Rachel!

  21. This is a great "how to" post, very informative, but also funny.
    Thanks for all your help in getting my blog up and running!

  22. You're a silly goose to have been so worried. You did a great job, as usual. Don't freak out so much next time; know that we love you and want to read your thoughts. Just sayin'.

  23. Good tips, Rachel! I did a blogging tips post awhile ago & I think everyone enjoyed it too. Nice for the new bloggers who are just getting started and those are great points.

    My personal pet peeve is the letter verification thingy too, hate that & of course, added it to my tips of things NOT to do.

  24. Icky is the last word I would use to describe this post. How about useful? Generous?

    Seriously, I enjoyed reading it AND learned a lot.

    Thank you!


  25. Amen and amen on the word verification. I no longer even comment on those. I do have it on my business blog, but I rarely get comments. I use it to drive people to my website or have them email me.

    There were a couple of tips about pop up and full page I did not even realize and changed them right away. Thanks so much!

  26. Great advice…I was just talking to my friend today about enlarging my blog readership.

    Hence, I will commence commenting…starting now:)

  27. This was so helpful. I'm attempting to start to blog and this gave me a lot of good advice. Thanks Rachel.

  28. Hi Rachel,

    Quick question. I removed the word verification in comments to make commenting easier. Since I’ve gotten random spam almost daily. Any ideas?

    Also, not sure if you got the other follow-up msg, but Floyd is the same guy from Northern Exposure.

    One more thing…any suggestions on sites to help build a better blog. I’m not so great at the design end and want to add tabs, etc. Someone suggested transferring from blogger to WordPress, but that seems like a tough endeavor.?.?

    Thanks! Kimberly

    1. Hi Kimberly!

      1. Regarding Spam: I have found that most spam is on old posts, because it’s the easiest for spammers to find (they’re indexed with Google, etc). So an easy way to not have comment verification but limit spam is to go to settings –> comments –> comment moderation, and set your blog to moderate comments on posts older than 10 days. You can still approve them if they’re real, but it will keep spam from going to your actual posts.

      If you do end up going to WordPress, the best way to do it is to have all comments from new email addresses go straight to moderation – that way it will catch anything from anyone who has previously not had an approved comment on your blog – catches pretty much all spam that way.

      2. Floyd – that’s so cool!! We really enjoyed that show – the actors were all so genuine and quirky!!

      3. I used to be on Blogger and am now on WordPress. It was a tricky transition, but totally worth it for many reasons. I wrote another blogging-how-to post this year where I talk about the pros and cons of the different platforms – you can find all of that info here. But in general, WordPress is great, but it also costs money. There are ways to get a Blogger blog more “designed” – that might be the easiest solution if that’s your only motivation for moving. It can be complicated, though – hiring someone to design your blog might be a good option. Some people are very expensive, and some people are reasonable. One of my blogging friends just got a new design, and the person that designed it, Danielle Moss, is one of the most reasonably priced people I’ve seen, and does VERY beautiful work. I’d use her for my blog, but she only designs blogger. You might want to check it out!

  29. Thank you so much!! This is really helpful for me as I am just starting a new blog. Much nicer to have such tips and tricks handy then creating a boring blog and then learning :P

  30. Thanks so much for this guide to better blogging. I am going to utilize some of your tips this weekend! FYI – I found you on Pinterest via the Mom jeans blog…which was excellent. I live in a small city with few retail options, but thankfully I travel to “big cities” for work. I can’t wait to look for some new jean options next time I’m in Chicago.

  31. I found your blog thru a pin about finding good fitting jeans and then spent at least an hour on your blog. I NEVER do that. I have just started my blog, but haven’t worried too much about growing it yet since there’s not much there. And need to really settle on a writing style. I found this post VERY VERY helpful. And will probably come back to in in a month when I am ready to start working harder on my blog.

    I was CRYING about your “break with blogher” post (and so was Mr. Steam).

    Love your sense of humor.

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