Ask the blogger: how did you get so many followers?

I went out on a limb and contacted some of my greatest blogging idols to see if a few of them might like to lend us some of their wisdom in response to the one question we’re all thinking about: how the hell did you get so many followers?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d get many replies. Surely these bloggers (with their thousands of followers) are far too busy to answer the many questions, emails and comments they must get every day? Turns out I completely underestimated how LEGEN – wait for it… no really you have to wait for it… sorry just a little longer – DARY these bloggers really are. Because who would answer an email from a random quote-seeking newbie like me?

Legends. That’s who.

So instead of digesting, paraphrasing and regurgitating some of their responses to make the perfect introduction, I thought I’d move aside and let the bloggers do the talking themselves:


Little Fears

“We grow mostly on WordPress by talking, not just about ourselves, but going out and talking on other people’s blogs. Just saying ‘Great Post’ and liking alone will get you nowhere, but reading what others say and leaving genuine comments accounts for 90% of my subscribers and regular commenters. Most of the people I recognize [on the Cool Kids of WordPress list] are prolific commenters, as am I.”

~ Peter Edwards, creator of Little Fears


 Booknvolume

“I honestly have to say that I believe building a following takes time and effort. Being responsive to comments and interacting with visitors is one way; visiting other bloggers and commenting on their work is another. Offering something positive seems to be another key, as well as providing posts that are quick and relatively simple to enjoy. At the end of the day, I guess I’d have to say this: Followers follow flirtatiously until friendships form. Then Followers are no longer followers, but Friends.”

~ Cynthia Morgan, creator of Booknvolume


Terrible Minds

“I didn’t build it so much as I earned it, and I did it by writing posts not meant to try to sell anything or be focused on clicks, but posts that I thought were interesting or funny or useful to me first — meaning, I focused on making authentic, earnest work appear there.”

~ Chuck Wendig, creator of Terrible Minds


Richard Ankers

“I’m quiet and I like it quiet. The fact so many people follow me is a constant source of amazement. I’ve never gone looking for followers and never will. If people enjoy my writing and choose to read it, then I’m honoured, because trying to tempt people with sweet words always turns sour in the end. Just be yourself. Write what you want how you want, and let your passion for words shine through.”

~ Richard M. Ankers


Hey Look a Writer Fellow

“I started Heylookawriterfellow because I had a book coming out. That means I needed a “social media presence.” So I became a blogger — and just kind of assumed the followers would arrive once I started posting. It didn’t work out that way, of course. I spent my first year of blogging pretty much talking to myself.

This wasn’t a bad thing, though. I needed that online solitude to find my voice and discover what my blog was supposed to be about. I also needed to figure out how to make the blog fun, because nobody wants to read posts by somebody who’s boring.

To put it another way, I didn’t spend much time thinking about ways to get more followers. I did, however, spend a lot of time writing and rewriting (and rewriting) my blog posts so, when potential followers did show up, they’d want to stick around.”

~ Mike Allegra, creator of Hey Look a writer Fellow 


HarsH ReaLiTy

“I’ve built blogs with thousands of subscribers just by going out and meeting people. Conversing like you and I. You can do anything and reach anyone with a blog! All it takes is the will and want.”

~ Opinionated Man, creator of HarsH ReaLiTy


Writer Site

“I have never had a follower goal because I’ve never had intentions of monetizing my blog. I began writersite.org to change my mindset into that of a writer from that of a wannabe-writer. Very quickly I discovered that I love blogging because I love the community. Other bloggers and blog readers have become my friends. I haven’t checked my stats in years, and I really don’t care about them. As long as I have plenty of friends through blogging, that is what counts for me.”

~ Luanne Castle, creator of Writer Site


A Writer’s Path

“To build a following on my blog, I did two things: put out content that people wanted to read and did it consistently, usually daily. I wish it was sexier than that. I wish it was easier than that. At least in my experience, it wasn’t. But at least it was simple. Now that, I could do. I could do simple.”

~ Ryan Lanz, creator of A Writer’s Path


Ben’s Bitter Blog

“When I first started blogging, I was basically talking to myself. It wasn’t until I found the reader that I realized there were other bloggers on WordPress. I started following them, reading posts of theirs and commenting and liking them. I wrote at least three or four times a week and they knew they could come back time and time again. Then, I got Freshly Pressed and found a whole host of new followers. I started developing friends from it and a community for me was born. It’s been 5 years and a lot of work, but blogging is the best, though everything else makes me bitter.”

~ Bitter Ben, creator of Ben’s Bitter Blog


Daily Echo

“My best advice would be to read widely and, when you leave a ‘like’ or a comment, make sure you mean it. Write from the heart, be yourself as you write, remembering that you, not your books, are what people will be reading every time you post. Allow a visit to your blog be a bag of mixed candy… reliable quality, but a surprise every time. And leave your ego at home… you may have thousands of followers, but there are over 300 million blogs out there. Be grateful someone found you. :)”

~ Sue Vincent, creator of Daily Echo


Brevity

“There is no shortcut or trick. You simply have to provide content that others find useful and provide it consistently. In our case, that content is information on writing contests and opportunities, and discussion of the joys, disappointments, and frustrations of the writing life. The life of a writer can be lonely, so people appreciate a place to gather, like a virtual water cooler.”

~ Dinty W. Moore, Editor at Brevity


Lipstick and Laundry

“Since I blog about imperfection and authenticity, I wanted to build an audience the same way — no gimmicks or fancy tricks. I wanted my readers to be people I could connect with and build relationships. In a nutshell, the process boiled down to three things: 1) I visited other bloggers and writers and read what they had to say. I commented on the posts that resonated with me and built some true friendships in doing so. 2) I try to provide good content –write my story, but chose subjects that are relevant and helpful to others, too. Grammar, length, voice – all important! 3) Frequent checks – am I being real? Is this helpful? Is it positive? Is it hurtful? Does it sound too promotional?”

~ Michelle Terry, creator of Lipstick and Laundry 


Whatever

“I built a following by having the blog for nineteen years and updating regularly, by being readable, and by catching the blog wave early. That’s all there is to it!”

~ John Scalzi, creator of Whatever


Katzenworld

“The way we increase our followers is not just by posting fun and engaging content, but to invite people from our audience to make guest posts and contributions to our Blog. Doing so helps to amplify the reach of the Blogs of the contributor but also to amplify your own reach if the contributor shares their guest post to their own social channels.

This is a win-win situation for both Blogs as while some readers may overlap, you are introducing the blogs to each other’s followers. And furthermore, Katzenworld was always meant to be a community where cat lovers can share experiences and stories, so the more cat lovers that unite, the better!”

~ Marc-André Runcie-Unger, founder & blogger at Katzenworld


Hugh’s Views & News

“I have built up my readership in a number of ways, but the most important ones are by reading other blogs and leaving comments (even if it is only one a day) and to always ensure I respond to comments and any questions quickly. Treat visitors to your blog as you would guests in your home. After all, there are millions of other blogs to choose from out there.”

~ Hugh W. Roberts, creator of Hugh’s Views & News


 Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha

“Basically just blog regularly and in different quantities. Small posts for those who have seconds to spare, longer posts for those who have a few minutes, and of course I have sample chapters for those who want to spend more time.”

~ Kent Wayne, creator of Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha


Myths of the Mirror

“My blog takes a huge amount of time… and I’m constantly struggling for balance. I have no idea how people with tens of thousands of followers keep up with everyone. I’ve never actually “tried” to grow my blog. I just have fun, visit, and I always reciprocate. It is a nice community. Happy Blogging!”

~ D. Wallace Peach, creator of Myths of the Mirror


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P.s If anyone wants to join me, I’m going to have a go at Peter Edward’s free skillshare course in gaining 1,000 WordPress subscribers a month!

 

194 thoughts on “Ask the blogger: how did you get so many followers?

  1. I’m a little behind on reading the blogs I follow, but in this case that’s quite fortunate. I have just started binge listening to the Become a Pro Blogger podcast (not because I was necessarily looking to grow a large blog, but because I am consuming so much podcast content lately that my feeds are often empty and the ProBlogging one looked interesting). Your post is quite relevant to my current interest in the blogging world beyond my tiny little patch. I’m content with my minute piece of real estate for now, but I can see the attraction of large blogging empires. Good luck with reaching those magic numbers. I think your blog is really interesting and you’re certainly doing the interaction thing well. 😊

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  2. I couldn’t disagree with what they have answered.Those were the truth.However,if you write to express not just to impress-getting more attention-,everything will fall into places.Having fewer followers,likes,or feedbacks doesn’t make us a lesser person or writer.So,when it comes to writing,one should be true to himself/herself.

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  3. This is a fantastic post and reinforces my own beliefs about building a platform. Write quality content from your own voice, post regularly, reach out to others and get to know them and your readership will build. Slow and steady growth is still growth and in the world of millions of choices, it is a miracle anyone has found me. I’m also thrilled to see that I have gotten to know two of the superstars on your list – D. Wallace Peach and Hugh. They are fabulous and have been so generous with me. I can’t wait to explore the other people you have interviewed!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Booknvolume and commented:
    I recently received a random email from someone I didn’t know, however I chose to read it and am so glad I did. Low and Behold, I’ve met a new blogger who had this simple, yet befuddling, question to ask and in the process of answering, have made a new friend 🙂 Thanks Milly!

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  5. Thank You Ever So Much Milly for sharing such a wealth of good vibes and pure passion for writing here 🙂 I am honoured you chose to ask me at all, because I hardly consider myself legendary 🙂 Im even more delighted to be among such truly marvelous fellow writers. Thank YOU 🙂

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  6. This is a timely post for me! My blog initially had a fractured personality. I think about all manner of things all the time, so I thought “variety show” would work. I probably didn’t give it a fair chance, but I landed on poetry for the most part. That may seem like I think of it as a compromise, but I didn’t know I LOVED poetry until October ’16.

    As for the other content here, it affirms what I had begun to suspect as a new blogger. There have been a few poor choices, but just being me, being scatter-brained with my topics, and being diligent is working. Also posting everything to Twitter helps spread the word.

    Thank you for this uplifting post!

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  7. I am so thankful that I blog because I enjoy blogging. I do on occasion notice the number of followers other bloggers have, but also notice how long many of them have been blogging. They are consistent, timely, and actually connect with their readers.

    As an avid blog-hopper, I notice many of these same bloggers responding not only to my blog, but to other blogs as well. I am not talking about just hitting the “like” button, but actually responding. They are also interested in a variety of blogs, as I am, not just the ones considered to be in their same genre.

    Whenever I think: How come I don’t have thousands of followers, I stop and take a long breathe. Would I have the time or the interest in responding to the 50-100 regular contributors to my blog every day? As one of your readers mentioned, this would take a lot of time, and a sincere interest in each and every reader. By the way, they can tell your intention by your response, or so I suspect.

    My advice: Build slowly. Blog-hop regularly. Diversify your blog reading interest. If you don’t have one, put up an About Page. This always seems to spark interest in you, because readers want to know you. Write regularly, at least two or more times a month. Make sure your blurb on the Reader is eye-catching, and titled like a book or movie jacket. Hold interest. Be consistent, and by all means yourself.

    Highest and Best!

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  8. Excellent advice. The basic message is – don’t blog to get followers or make money (ugh). Blog to share your writing (but not too much of it) and to learn from others’ writing (I’ve learned tons). In the end, you end “the blog you make is equal to the blogs…you take” (with thanks to the Beatles…)

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  9. I greatly appreciate this article! As a new blogger myself I’m sure I will be putting as much of this information into practice as I can. I don’t think you could have presented it in a more straightforward way, which helped to make the advice more even more compelling. Many thanks for collecting all this knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This was such a cool post and I loved the way you formatted it, just throwing the quotes directly in there. I also thought it was pretty awesome of the trends and similarities that kept popping up.

    Keep writing awesome posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. To be honest I have no idea how many followers I might have – I’m such a techie dummy I’m not sure where to look for the figures. I write books most of the time but love my weekly blog about me and hosting another writer once a week. It’s so much fun and so many people to meet 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As important as followers are, meaning they help to build community as well as motivation so that we may keep on blogging/writing, I strongly believe that blogging as a platform should be done so for the very reason it exists: A space for writing. And as a space for writing, the passion to write – regardless of a follower count should be prioritized.

    Those who comment should do so with real interest – genuine in what they think of someone else’s work. Otherwise, why bother? One thing that all these bloggers in the article have in common is there attitude towards communicating with others. Neither see themselves in competition with one another, nor popularity. And if bloggers want – and let’s be real we all want a lot of followers – then we should communicate, follow other blogs, and say what we feel of other people’s work. Doing so with honesty, meaning to follow and comment on blogs of your interest.

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  13. Thanks Milly. I’ve wondered how some bloggers attract some many followers as well. Sometimes I think I know the right thing to do, but am afraid I’ll be successful and get overwhelmed (just being honest). That doesn’t change the fact that I do want to interact with people and know that I’m contributing something to their lives. Anyway, here are my takeaways from the responses you’ve shared. (1) post often and regularly (2) be genuine (3) be brief but relevant (4) reach out — leave thoughtful comments on other bloggers’ posts (5) proofread (6) be brave. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the encouragement. Since reading your post I’ve written a 7 post series on writing. I’ll publish the first one later this week and set up the rest to go live at weekly intervals. This week I hope to write another series on a different subject and set them up to weekly on a different day of the week. I’ll also try to set aside time to comment on other blogs every Monday when WordPress sends me the weekly digest of blogs I follow. Hopefully, I can keep up that pattern so people can start to trust that I’ll be there for them. Wish me luck!

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  14. I’m not sure what “a lot of followers” even means. I’ve got “a lot of followers” by whatever my standards — and I’m not even sure what I mean by that. I get a lot of followers who don’t seem to have any reason to be following me. Maybe they recommend me on the reader or something? My real followers, the people with whom I interact on a day-to-day basis, are friends. We keep in touch. We know each others world, kids, physical problem and so on. But the other 15,000? No idea who they are or what, if anything, they want. I have never heard from about 13,000 of them ever … and generally only hear from maybe fewer than a dozen?

    I have NO idea what that says about my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s so interesting, 15,000 followers!? Wow. I wonder where they all come from? I don’t think I get many ‘random’ followers – most of mine are people I’ve connected with in some way on WordPress – even if only briefly. The way I’m going now it would take me 5-6 more years to get anywhere near as many followers as you!

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    2. I have a long list, but I have you on my reader. I like a mix and browse it when I’m bored, like a newspaper. I don’t always click through a post, I read the blurbs for fun. There’s “one reason” someone might follow you. 🙂

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  15. As far as I am aware, the “Followers” stat is very misleading. WordPress happily announces your new Followers, but it never advises of “Unfollows”. Does this matter? Probably not, but I know that while I have around 1400 Followers, I only in fact have about 50 regular visitors.

    All the advice offered in Comments is wonderful to maintain an active blog with regular visitors, but I would suggest that the Comments is a bloggers best guide to the “health” of their blog. Interactions with readers is surely everybody’s goal? “Likes” gives a vague guideline, but hitting the “Like” button simply means that somebody was there… and no more. “Visitors” is very misleading because it will include people who accidentally found your blog!

    The are unscrupulous ways of drawing attention to ones blog, such as using controversial/attention getting words…. but this will only retain a rather undesirable clientele.

    Despite all this………. Blogging can be so much fun and very rewarding. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ll agree with that. WordPress stats have always been misleading. More so for flash fiction writers like myself, and haiku, poetry and artists in general. Short posts readable in the reader without opening means stats show barely a fraction of the views you get. There was one morning where I had managed to receive 200’ish likes but only had 100’ish views.

      WordPress can be a useful guide for where and how people are finding your blog, but anything numbers wise should be taken with a pinch of blogging salt heh.

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  16. This is an excellent post. Thank you Milly, and thank you to all of the bloggers that took the time out of their busy days to share their wisdom. My head was sore from banging it against the wall thinking of ways to grow my readership. Now the pain is fading! Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Milly,
    What a great capture of some fantastic bloggers – I learned so much from many of those you quoted above. To be mentioned in the same post?? *Swoons
    Best wishes as you spread your wings – thank you so much for reaching out ❤️
    Michelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Michelle! Thank you so so much for helping out and providing us with your own golden nuggets of wisdom – we really appreciate it! I was genuinly nervous contacting you all, so it was awesome that you were all so lovely 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you very much for that! I will set aside some time to make a cup of tea and visit several of the blogs mentioned. I thought it interesting that several said they grew their blogs by visiting others.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Thanks so much for this post, Milly. I love Hugh’s Views and News’ comment, ‘Treat visitors to your blog as you would guests in your home.’ I’d never thought of my readers in this way but it is obvious that’s what we need to do. I also need to rethink my approach to blogging and to my responses to comments from fellow bloggers. I have struggled to find the time to comment on the blogs I follow and although I respond to comments on my blog, finding the time for that is also difficult. I am too focused on writing and not on my community. As an introvert who was, on a daily basis, required to deal with large groups of people, I now relish my time alone, writing and reading and reflecting. I note there are some bloggers who don’t worry about stats or followers and others who do but despite enjoying my solitude, I fall between the two. I blog because I want to write, which means I want readers (not thousands, a few more than I have would be great), but after two years it is finally apparent that reciprocity is what it’s all about. My problem is, how can I achieve a balance between writing posts, reading commenting on posts and my life outside of blogging? You and this blog have given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂 It is SO HARD to find the time to reciprocate, comment and interact with other bloggers! As I have a full time (day) job and also study part time, I usually don’t have much time to write, let alone blog. So what I do is I only usually blog about 2-3 times a month because I spend most of my ‘blogging time’ replying to comments on my blog, leaving comments on other people’s websites, and reading and discovering other blogs. It’s worked well for me so far!
      I would say I only spend about 10% of my time on WordPress actually writing blog posts – the rest is all interaction! But everyone’s different and for me, I would much rather spend hours exploring other blogs and reading new articles, than writing them myself! (Although I’m not ashamed to admit that I die of laughter every time I write a new ‘cat-gif’ post of mine.)
      Good luck with your blog 🙂

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  20. A great idea for a post! Was interesting to read. I agree with a lot of them. Just be yourself and the interaction with other bloggers is important. I love the quote about the follower becoming a friend. That has been my favorite thing about blogging, making friends from around the world!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Thanks for compiling this! Most of this matches what I’ve seen from other “big” bloggers. Going out and commenting on other blogs seems to be the #1 advice, particularly for the niche of book blogs. Most people who follow book blogs are actually other book bloggers, not random people off the street, and they’re only going to know you exist if you go out and talk to them.

    I also like the idea of writing quality content. I think that’s generally but not always necessary. Some people (no offense and not naming names) seems to get “popular” without that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading! I really enjoyed the advice the bloggers gave on providing ‘quality’ content for your followers (instead of just spewing out 5 posts a day to try and attract an audience!) Funnily enough I’ve found that my most popular posts are ‘The Nine stages of…’ posts that include cat gifs. I supposed I underestimated how funny cats can be in relation to the #writinglife haha

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  22. Great post! It is very insightful to read the comments of these bloggers who worked hard to built their audience. Like everything else in life it takes dedication to reach our goals and blogging is no different. It’s always nice though to read about successful stories. Thank you for sharing them with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. This is really cool, and informative. Thank you for sharing! It’s reassuring to hear that it took a lot of them a good while to build their followings. Sometimes it can be so discouraging not to see any growth from day to day (or month to month).

    Liked by 3 people

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