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


Heartstring Eulogies

“In terms of growth, I didn’t really go searching for people. I just read blogs and post at least once a day, including holidays and weekends. Most of my posts, as you know are poems and prose, so it’s easy for me to write them up in advance and then schedule them. When it comes to reading blogs, I just find tags that include the type of posts I enjoy reading, such as “Poetry” or “Fiction” and I’ll read throughout every day.”

~ Sarah Doughty, creator of Heartstring Eulogies


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!

 

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

  1. Thank you, Milly, for this post full of gems! It was affirming and eye-opening! It was quite funny to hear several of the Legends say that they were Talking to Themselves in the early days; I guess we all have to start somewhere!

    Like

  2. Wow! I’ve been wondering the same question myself and I’m so happy that these bigger bloggers are willing to reach out and share their secrets to the road to success! I appreciate the various answers. I’m currently brainstorming some strategies! I love your blog!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, kindly for following my site. I’m glad you have because I enjoyed reading this piece.
    I sincerely love reading fellow bloggers poems, short stories, and advice. I especially forming what I consider a community and friendship will several people here. I love engaging with people that are going through trials & tribulations in their mental health issues.
    Again, community.
    Excellent post! Thank you again! 🙂

    Like

  4. As someone who’s just starting out on the whole blogging scene (I’ve tried it before, but I was never as motivated to actually make it successful as I am now), I found this so helpful. Thank you so much, Milly. I particularly liked the one (I’m afraid I can’t recall who just now) who said it was more about being authentic. And my other take-home has been to connect with people in any and every manner possible. Which, I’ll admit, is not the easiest thing to do.
    Thanks again for a great post! Xxx.

    Like

  5. Thanks for following my blog Millie! You’re my first (and hopefully, not only) follower so I will have to send you virtual hugs! xoxoxox You’re free to avoid them, no hard feelings. 😀 Anyway, I just wanted to say that I really like this post. Definitely something to keep in mind, and very helpful for someone like me who’s just starting their own blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love how varied this advice is! Personally, I just try and be friendly, make people want to come back and visit me again! I don’t have an awful lot of followers, but I’m okay with that. I can’t control whether or not they click a button, but I can control my words and my presentation. Thanks for a very cool post, Milly!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I liked Little Fear’s response. Sometimes it’s just as simple as putting a quick comment on a post. HeyLookAWriterFellow also makes a valid point that as a writer with a book coming out, now more than ever, you need to have a strong social media presence in order to sell. Especially if you are self-publishing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent information here. I joined this community on WordPress to connect with other writers and you gotta start somewhere! Leaving a sincere comment is of course a great place to start. Every successful blogger had 0 followers at one point in time!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this. I started my blog as a way of documenting what I’ve learned as a screenwriter in a state that is gaining traction in the film industry, and as a way of giving those who can’t afford college or find internships a way of having an “in” into the industry…I think because it’s so personal, and in no way something I’m doing to gain popularity, it’s easier to deal with low readership. But if I help even one person, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You hit the nail on the head: ‘But if I help even one person…’ that’s exactly it 🙂 For me, I was initially blogging because I wanted to connect with other indie authors and learn from their self-publishing experience, but now, I get a huge kick out of making people laugh when I create my cat gif posts. Even if I only make one person laugh, I feel like that’s enough for me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m impressed you got so many successful bloggers to respond to your query. And somehow, despite the millions of other bloggers that are out there, it’s not surprising I’ve interacted with a few of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose if you think about it, they all started off with 0 followers, then moved onto 1 and etc… we were all the same once!! Happy to hear it was useful to you 🙂 It was useful to me too! I felt like every response was a nugget of gold

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m in good company then. Most of what these bloggers say, I’ve done. I have chosen to use reblogging of the work of others for my own benefit–and attract readers who come for these posts. Got my ego caught in that process, too!!! I try to make myself as real as possible….and authentic in my responses. Not quite as concerned with stats now…just keeping going! 🙂 Thank you for posting the experiences of these people!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hey thanks for rhe follow 🙂 This was wicked helpful and actually just what I needed to hear! The common thread of “talking to myself” was interesting to see across many bloggers..I find myself there as well! XD

    I look forward to reading more of your material, the titles seem very helpful.
    Much love,
    CG

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Wicked helpful’ is like the best praise I could ever get, thanks!!! Yeah, I was talking to myself at the beginning too (around Nov 2015). When I realised what I was doing wrong, I deleted all my dodgy posts from that month and restarted again in December 15′ (which is why you’ll see that’s as far back as my archives go). My ‘new’ first post was one of those ‘list blogs’ where I tagged a whole lot of bloggers – and everything just flowed from there! It was so lovely to finally get some responses, I was like, ‘oh so there ARE people out there’ 🙂

      Like

  13. Thank you for sharing! I’ve been intimidated by the current demand for writers to have a “social media presence”. I really just want to shack up with my laptop and write! But the responses you shared make it seem so much more doable. Kudos for having the courage to reach out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly what you mean about just wanting to dig a hole and write! Social media can get pretty full on (if you want results) though it can be fun too. I have my instagram and twitter widgets on my page so it’s easy for people to find me, if you haven’t done so yet you totally should! I just found you on twitter. Do you have Instagram?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Milly! I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I kept thinking I’d have enough energy to write and then reply. Hah! 🙂 Thanks for finding me on Twitter! I’ll figure out how to follow you back and look into those widgets. I do have Instagram, but it didn’t have anything interesting on it until Halloween. 🙂 Instagram’s not my thing, but you can find me as RosemerrySong. I will work on getting Pinterest linked here as well. I love using it for visual inspiration!

        Like

  14. Thank you for the follow! This was a great read, seeing all the different perspectives on followers in general, and how to get your words out there, or hang back and just let people find you. Plenty to contemplate!

    Liked by 2 people

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