How did I grow my blog?

Wine, lots of wine. Preferably a light-bodied, unoaked Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, NZ.

OK, but how did I really grow my blog?

A few people have been asking me to answer this question via email and social media ever since I blogged about reaching 5,000 followers.

I’d like to reassure you that while that number looks impressive, there is no need to get jealous. My blog doesn’t actually attract high levels of organic traffic (from search engines). A large percentage of my views are made up of social traffic (from platforms like Twitter, Instagram and the WordPress Reader).

This means if I don’t put the leg work in, my stats begin to slide as my blog verges on the precipice of a supermassive black hole. For this reason, I spend most of my time and energy seeking out other WordPress bloggers and visiting their blogs. You may also find me trawling my favourite WordPress tags, #Publishing and #writing. Engagement is the name of the game, and I am very happy to participate.

Thinking back over the last two years, I think there are three main reasons why my blog has grown to where it is today (and this is very specific to ‘The Cat’s Write’, as you’ll see!):

The links that bind

I love making lists, which is why my very first blog post back in 2015 was a list of: 10 blogs writers should be following by new & upcoming authors. On second thought, don’t click on that link. Who knows what you’ll find at the other end. No really, don’t do it.

At the time of writing my first blog post, I had no clue my links would notify other WordPress bloggers that I had written a blog with them in it. I merely wanted to create a list that I could come back to time and again. I’ve since learned about the Blogroll widget (I’m still astounded at what a newbie I was!) I didn’t even know you could add ‘tags’ to your posts or that there was a search function associated with the WordPress reader.

When my first post went live, I was surprised by the amount of bloggers who came by to say ‘thanks for the shout out.’ It was an epiphany, without which, I could have gone months and months talking to only me, myself and the void!

Cats, so many cats

The second thing that I stumbled across purely by accident, (but which should have been blindingly obvious) is that cat gifs are hilarious and everyone f—ing loves them. After I wrote my first cat themed post back in 2016, my blog exploded with traffic for the first time ever. And to think it only had one cat gif in it. Just imagine the possibilities!!

It wasn’t long after that post that I decided to change the name of my blog to ‘The Cat’s Write’. Even today, my most popular post of all time is The nine main stereotypes of writers. Seems I’ll never be able to escape all the cats! (Funnily enough, since I wrote this, my top post has changed LOL). I’m not sure if anyone remembers that far back, but my blog used to be called ‘Coffee, Chocolate & Writing’. More LOLS.

My back has an itch

It took me a long time before I figured out that the saying ‘if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’, applies to blogging too. I always try to reply to every comment on my blog, and when I can, I reciprocate in kind. This has actually turned out to be one of my favourite hobbies. I’m slightly obsessed with reading other people’s blogs and getting a little sneak peek into their lives (I’m not a stalker, I promise).

Oh and most importantly, don’t forget that people can smell a faker from a mile away. Think of those ‘social media influencers’ who employ the follow/unfollow method. Do they think they can do it without anyone noticing? No, no they can’t. We will sniff them out every time. Employing a method like this won’t necessarily damage their stats and reputation, but it’s just not nice.

My non-expert conclusion

If you decide to become a blogger because you ‘want to be famous and all that’, your followers are gonna pick up on it and be turned off. They want someone real to talk to, not a social-climbing piranha.

Be genuine, and they will come.

And if you want tips from the ACTUAL pros, check this out: Ask the blogger: how did you get so many followers?

I really don’t think I deserve any of it: all the lovely, encouraging comments, all the helpful emails, all the views and likes and follows. I never intended to be a “blogger”, and yet here I am, throwing cat gifs at you as you sip your morning coffee/tea/vegan matcha latte.

cat throw.gif

Sorry, I just had to throw that one in there.

 

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125 thoughts

  1. I love love this, i especially like the social climbing part, i started blogging because i want to, i figured i can just put everything i write in one space and voila , thank you for this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After jumping around your blog, reading different posts, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t need to blog for people, I need to blog for me! I’ve wanted to start for years and just recently picked it back up, but was so unsure if I should be offering some sort of “service”. I’m glad to hear most of the time, people just want to read true, genuine stuff, no matter the content.
    Thank you for what you do!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so much for the advice, and the follow! I’m so new to this that I feel like people can smell it on me, but I have to remind myself all the time that I am happy to have anyone reading my words and thoughts.
    You should know (as I’m sure you have already been told), that you are not just shouting into the void, that we are out here listening to you and taking note.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m only here for the cat gif at the end. 😛

    Not really, haha. This is great content. I’m super shy about trying to pretend I’m good enough at anything enough for people to listen to me, but warm and friendly I can do. It’s so good to remember that there’s people behind the usernames!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “Engagement is the name of the game, and I am very happy to participate.” LOL Seriously, it’s only as of late that I’m noticing such amazingly witty people on WordPress. Did I recently crawl out from under a rock? Seems to be the case.

    Anyway, thank you for posting this. It was more personalized than a lot of other lists out there on the same topic. The part where you said you had created a list of authors to follow for your own future reference – that resonated with me. The best posts (i.e., most viewed, most liked, etc.) on my blog seem to be from notes I’ve made on things for my own future reference. Gotta admit, kinda love how that works out.

    By golly, I think you’re on to something here. 😀 Ok, that’s enough dorkiness for the night. 🙂 Toodles!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! I had so much fun sitting down and writing this. My thought pattern went like this… ‘So why do people REALLY come here?’ Insert long pause before earth-shattering revelation… ‘Oh… It’s for the cats.’

      LOL

      P.s I’m a classic dork too, nice to meet you!

      p.p.s thanks for pointing out that line, I thought it was a fantastic stroke of genius on my part

      p.p.p.s you probably already know that I tend to be sarcastic

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mom’s a big cat person. Well, not a huge person made out of cats. I don’t think. That would be odd. What would that make me? I digress. Anyway, I need to search for the cat blogs because I haven’t seen them. Are they invisible cats? Man, I should get to bed. Love what you’re about, Milly! A Dude Abikes

        Like

  6. My…aren’t YOU the Ton’s-of Replys Queen 😉 But, well… you deserve it. A ‘must’ to follow being you told me just what I needed to hear. I started about the same time as you and you, well…’read my mind’. My heart wants to reach other people’s hearts with my memoir almost out (and hopefully their dear little wallets, too of course when it’s ready to sell) – Anyway, thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love this! This is such real advice, from someone who has a very successful blog at least from my perspective, and the realities of what it takes to get there. I admire your commitment, and thanks for shooting straight.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Great tips. I have been blogging for 10 months and struggle to get traffic. But recently I rebranded and have been focusing on community building. I think I’m going to enjoy your blog a lot gifs are my love language

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Millie. I decided to revive this blog even though it’s been lying dormant for two years. The main reason being the WordPress Reader which is such a fantastic feature. I posted just this morning and have two followers already, yours being the second one. I’m practically giddy that someone knows I exist in the blog world.
    Thanks for following me. You really made my day. Your posts are highly entertaining and informative.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you for this piece! As a newbie who went through a certain amount of anxiety with even the thought of putting my soul out there in a literary sense and worrying that after such a step no one would read it, this advice helps a lot!
    Thank you again 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Great article and yes everyone just loves cats but some people will not admit it. You are dead on regarding the lists thats given me an idea for another post which does help since I get writers block whenever I seat down to write something!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Milly. I appreciated this post so much. And all your blog posts for that matter. I’m an aspiring author too and I just started my own blog (like literally a few days ago). I didn’t have a clue what to do or where to start. But after I found your blog through Louise Allen’s Writers in the Attic I was totally inspired. I was thinking that I couldn’t really start an author’s blog if I wasn’t a published author. But your courage and openness made me realise that I totally can. Because getting the ‘tick of approval’ from a ‘real’ publishing house isn’t a prerequisite for sharing this amazing adventure. Which you do so well. So thank you. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I like that you said : be genuine and people come to you . In fact it is true. If I look to all my posts perhaps Icant find even one that actually was playing with words. I always give my inner best to others, cheer them up who they are , inspire them that makes me happy. And my main reason for opening the blog was not and is not gathering the crowd to hear what’s the life about . It was all about who they are in their creator . Their identities found in the things unseen.
    I am so glad at least you liked my one post _ ( what ever reason you came in ) .
    Although , I love to reach more followers because that help me to be closed to vision and mission _> to encourage the individual in whole globe.

    Everyone is welcome.

    http://www.hhhigh.wordpress.com

    Much LOVE
    Dariush Youkhaneh
    The Author of Serving the Living God.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Firstly, I spent half of the post waiting for a cat GIF as soon as you mentioned one, which partly kept me reading on.
    Secondly, I can’t believe how much I love this post. My first attempt at blogging failed so bad because I just didn’t try. I wasn’t speaking to other bloggers, I didn’t even really read other blogs but I’m so glad that this time around I’ve hopefully started doing the right thing as well as blogging for myself, rather then others.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hahah yes I just had to make sure I threw in at least one cat gif!!
      I’m so glad you loved it!! And absolutely happy to help and share what I’ve learned. It took such a long time to figure out what I was doing wrong – I wish someone had set me on the right path straight away!
      Reading and visiting other blogs has definitely been the key for me. I don’t always have time to visit everyone, but I think as long as you try your best 🙂 On that, I wish I could be a full-time blogger!!

      Like

  15. This was super helpful to someone who has just started their blog not a week ago!! Was on the fence about writing a post about my cats shenanigans and if anybody would find it amusing and now I think I’ll go for it! Thanks!!!
    -Katie

    Liked by 2 people

  16. You always provide such great advice. So kind and inviting, encouraging everyone including yourself to strive for more

    I’m sure I’m one of the ones who stumbled into finding your blog from the cats… but they are pretty hilarious.

    This is a really great post to read… it confirms alot of simple but telly effective techniques that I’ve been a tad remiss with.
    I’m really glad you wrote this and I hope many others besides me get a little jolt of aspiration and inspiration from this!!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s certainly one of the best online communities…So many are toxic but here it’s full of encouragement.

        The cats are but a footnote… adorable and hilarious but nothing compared to the talent of the writer.
        I still like them though 😄

        Like

  17. Don’t get me started on the follow/unfollow types. Grrr. At least I can usually spot them by now, but they still continue to surprise me.
    Congratulations on building a successful blog – it takes a LOT of hard work!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I definitely think you deserve, for being authentic if nothing else. I have enjoyed your writing (the play review come to mind most) and I have appreciated your comments on my blog.
    Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I always feel bad when I feel myself slipping into the ‘unauthentic’ side, and it’s happened a few more times than I’d like to admit. Thanks for mentioning the review, I think it was less popular for being a review and location specific, so it’s so nice to hear that someone enjoyed it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Social-climbing piranha. Lol!
    I used to have a lot of inactive followers (i.e. ones who didn’t read, let alone comment) but I got rid of them all by moving to my new site. And now I have practically no followers! I think. New site, tricky technology…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahah glad you liked that line! It started off as ‘pariah’ – and then I was like mmmm that doesn’t quite work. I think a lot of my followers are inactive on Instagram, but oh well 🙂 I’m sure you’ll build a following quite soon!!

      Like

      1. Hi Millie. Nice to meet you. I was on my smartphone and didn’t notice that your post was reblogged by my dear friend Beem.

        Sometimes we are meant to meet.

        Thank you so much for following my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. There are definitely normal cats and then there are the ‘special’ ones. My first rescue cat was what I’d call normal, but sadly he went missing when I accidentally left him outside overnight during a storm (I hated myself for it). My new rescue cat plays fetch, opens doors, watches TV, pats my face in the morning when he wants to toilet outside, stares at me like a dog when I’m eating… just… yeah. I’ve never had a cat like him. He didn’t even attack the christmas tree last year!! Sometimes he looks at me and I feel like he knows that I’m a human o_0

          Like

  20. Oooh, nice! Incredibly useful, especially for one such as myself who just recently celebrated hitting 2 whole subscribers 😛 ahaha thanks for being number 2, by the way; know that you triggered an early morning victory dance, on my way to work. Definitely need to get myself browsing around more, and making good use of these tips!

    Liked by 4 people

  21. I was just thinking about how to grow my blog, and apart from employing the tactic of click bait, I had no idea what to do. Also thanks for following me. So sorry it’s taken me this long to follow you back ☺️

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I never even really thought about trying click bait on my blog!! (Although I know it works really well on YouTube hahaha). I think everyone would crucify me if I did that here, but I do think it’s important to write an interesting title that will draw people in – which I suppose is clickbait in a way!

      Like

        1. Yep, they’d definitely call us out! It’s funny because when you wrote this comment I was in the process of coming up with a click baity title:

          ‘Guess who got published!?’

          Yep. Not me. Hahaha

          Like

  22. Milly, I like the cut of your jib. I think you and I could hang 🙂 I’m kidding. I love this post, completely agree with everything here, engagement is so big, but its not just the act of asking someone to marry you, you really have to mean it. Go the extra mile, respond to comments, this dalliance has to be authentic.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I literally started writing this comment and I also enjoyed it so, yeah I’ll be writing a post on engagement haha! Should be fun. We can definetly be the best of friends. Have you ever hung out with a Lion?

        Liked by 1 person

          1. 🙂 not much, just that we roar alot and listen to Katy Perry because she just gets us. But yeah, there will be alot of fawning over your posts most likely lol.

            Like

  23. Good points with a healthy amount and type of humour, I like it. But it’s of course not the first writing I liked truly. BTW, too late…I clicked on THAT link. And I am a cat person too, blessed with crazy ass Bengals. We just f love them! Before I forget, what do you think about a poll filling “task”? It’s fun, I promise. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You have bengals?? Ah gawd I want one so bad, but they cost about $1,000-$2,000 here from the registered breeders and I promised myself I’d only buy rescue pets from now on. I bet you love them – they look amazing. What do you mean by ‘poll filling task?’ lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Solid advice. Writing for something other than expressing your own voice never really works. It took me a minute to realize it in my own writing, but it makes a world of difference regardless of the views or followers.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Writing in your own voice makes such a big difference! I feel like everyone can tell when I’m trying to be serious or literary – it just comes off stale or forced. Being literary is just not who I am, no matter how much I wish I could be! Better to ‘write what feels right’, I say 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!! It’s fantastic to hear this – I’ve always wanted people to have fun here, but wasn’t sure if I was succeeding. In real life I’m one of those poor sods who is only funny ‘by accident’. Like, I’ll say something stupid without realising and everyone will laugh… then when I try to be funny on purpose, I just get blank looks 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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