Tips For Gaining New Followers on Your Blog

If bloggers all share one common conceit, it’s that we’re hungry for followers. We like the idea that people are reading what we post on the Internet, and we’re always looking for ways to make sure that plenty of people discover our work and that they keep coming back. And while there’s no correlation between the number of followers and book sales (I wish there was, though), having followers can lead to some book sales on occasion.

Here are some tips I’ve found useful at one time or another for gaining followers on my own personal blog. Now, there’s no guarantee that any of these tips will be helpful for your blog. At best, a combination of these might be helpful, but that’s for you to find out. Like any technique in this business we try to increase sales and readers, it’s all trial, error, and learning from the past so we can learn from the future.

DO NOT ask for people to follow you! I know some people really want followers, but asking for other bloggers to follow you, especially in a comment on a blog post, sounds a little desperate, which can be a major turn off to some bloggers. There’s a better solution to get a blogger to check out your blog, especially if it’s a blogger you really would like to follow you.

Converse. If you read a post by a blogger or really like their blog and you would like them to follow you as well, then talk to them. Have a lengthy comment conversation where you go over issues or points made in the blog post. Engage them, and let the comments you leave speak for themselves. I’ve been drawn to certain loggers just by a single conversation we’ve had over comments on their or my blogs, and vice versa (I think. Maybe once or twice). If your comments really resonate with a blogger, then they may be drawn to look over your blog (if they’re not already reading your blog at the moment) and maybe then they’ll click the Follow button.


Blog often. I think a lot of us at first only blog when we feel we have something important to say. But that only increases the pressure to have something relevant to say, and may contribute to us blogging less, which may lead to readers not finding us because we have a small body of work. So instead try blogging more often. It doesn’t have to be big or groundbreaking or important. It can be a small revelation you had about a character, or how a day with your kids inspired you to write a story, or even the frustrations you have with your old computer and how you can’t wait to get a new one. I have a couple of friends who blog once a day every day, and they have a lot of followers, blogging on things going on in their lives, sharing excerpts from their WIPs, and the latest in STEM accomplishments and science fiction, to name but a few. You don’t have to write a post every day if you don’t want to, but writing often, even on the little things, can help people find you.

Blogging often also makes us better bloggers. We get a feel for it, like how we get a feel for fiction writing by reading and writing a lot. We learn how to write a compelling blog post from blogging often and from reading other blogs. And that brings me to my next point.

Always be on the lookout for an interesting blog. I love Freshly Pressed on WordPress, because I’ve read really interesting articles and bloggers through it (I actually discovered this blog through Freshly Pressed, by the way). One should always be on the lookout for an interesting blog or blog post, not just on Freshly Pressed but anywhere else you may run into them. And if a post really catches your attention, don’t just Like it, comment on it. Likes are nice, but comments really engage.

Tags! Tags help readers find your blog articles just as much as keywords do. So make sure you have a tag for most or all of the points covered in your blog post and maybe it’ll help people find your blog, or even get Freshly Pressed (in which case, I might become jealous of you).

Stay consistent to the main theme of your blog. Most of our blogs revolve around our writing careers, so we should keep our posts revolving around writing, our respective genres, the latest updates of our books, etc. Sure, it’s okay to maybe talk about something interesting in your life or maybe a political issue you feel passionate about, but don’t do it so much that you deviate from the main theme of your blog more often than you actually write about it. Otherwise you might lose followers who signed up to hear about you and your writing, rather than twenty posts about your job or church and then maybe one about your book, over and over again.

Use pictures. A WordPress administrator actually wrote a post a few years back and published it on Freshly Pressed. One of the tips he or she (I can’t remember which) gave was that one should try to use pictures, as they can spice up some blog posts, especially ones where it might seem to the reader as just one long list of text without end and they might lose focus.

Maybe I should use a picture in this article…

Remember your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Just like readers hate horrible grammatical errors, typos, and things of that nature in the books they read, they get really annoyed with that in blog posts. So try and keep grammatical rules in mind, make sure you’re spelling that word correctly, and don’t use a semi-colon when a period or comma would do just fine.

Have fun with it. The main thing with blogging is that you have to enjoy it somewhat. If you treat it as a chore, it’ll come off that way in your blog posts and people might not want to read your work. But if you like it and get into it, that feeling might reveal itself in your blog posts.


Like I said, these techniques don’t always work for everyone. These are just ones I’ve felt have helped me. But in our line of work, where we experiment as we write and publish and market, you never know. These tips, as well as those from other writers, could prove extremely helpful in building your audience.

What sort of tips can you give other authors on building audiences and gaining followers?

An Article About Balancing your Social Media Efforts

I’m one of those people who are out of balance in the social media forum. Maybe I’m not utilizing them very well, but then again I think it’s a nearly impossible task without repeating over and over again the same message and run the risk of being removed from our readers/followers media streams. No one likes spam and when you use the micromedia forum, that about what you have to be to stay on top.

I joined Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Facebook because I was told by other writers that these were the places to market and promote on. I had to have these accounts because it would help me succeed. I’ve since removed my accounts from all places except Facebook and Twitter, neither of which I update all that often, usually because I forget or I’m really busy with my other efforts, like writing and publishing a book.

I found this article Expand Your Social Media Mix: Twitter Alone is Not Enough by Jeremiah Owyang who briefly mentions that all our efforts maybe out of balance if we only use micromedia places like overloaded Twitter to market instead of focusing our efforts on things that should be longer lasting, higher impact, and larger form content. These would be better places to focus our efforts (ie writing new books, blogging, and/or article writing) and balance it with the micromedia of our choice. And lastly he calls for a Mindset Change and a way to rebalance your social media mix. This leads me to the second article.

Why 150 Followers Is All You Really Need  isn’t the original article I found, but I like it just the same. The gist of the article talks about devoting  most of your time to creating a backlist of books, then to your blog, and lastly choose one social networking site and utilize it to the best of your ability. If that site is Twitter, then focus on following the rules of Twitterverse. If it’s Goodreads, make sure you participate in an acceptable way. Facebook the same, etc.

Spreading yourself all over the different networking sites means that you’re less effective in your message and connecting with people. The article went on to say that we can only have meaningful relationships with about 150 people, not sure how true that is, but I know from experience that having a relationship with more than 20 starts getting hard for me.

What do you think about your social media efforts?  Do you have any articles that you would like to share on social media?

The Writer’s Business Plan: The Marketing Plan

Some of you know that I live on a Ranch and occasionally I throw out a ranch analogy. This is going to be one of those rare occasions.I was out with my husband and kids feeding the cows on a cold and foggy morning. I now understand the mean of “thick as pea soup.” Heavy, wet, cold, and blinding. Now usually when we feed in the winter time the cows come running and occasionally fight over small piles of good hay. And from the start, we watched these three “old buggers” fight. Around and around they went, neither gaining nor losing ground, and all around them the other cows munched away on the hay. They were making quick work of those piles, while those three fought.

Cows fighting during a foggy, winter morning

I’m standing in the back of the truck, just shaking my head and wondering what they could be thinking. What benefit is it for them to fight? And it suddenly hits me. These cows remind me of marketers. You know the kind. The ones who fight and wave their product in the faces of everyone they meet. Those who throw a party every time someone gives them a good review and splatters it across the webverse as if anyone is paying attention—this does not count if this is your first review for a new book, we all understand and indulge your excitement. But there are those who state their stats and ratings every week. Those who flood our inboxes and make us cringe every time we see their names, until we eventually shy away from them as if they have the plague. There are those that give the rest of us bad name. Marketing is a fine line between sharing what you have and stalking to the people who don’t care.

The more I read about business the less I want to be involved. I’m not a pushy or competitive person, and publishing can be a competitive, cutthroat business. A writer is told not to cross-promote unless it benefits them, but I don’t agree. Creating a group of writers to help each other sale books does more good than bad. The thing about Marketing is in order for it to be successful, you need to test a few different things and see what works and what doesn’t. I’m not going into a detailed list of marketing ideas. But here are a few to get you started:

•Build your Author Platform. This is your readers and fan base, your author identity, and your message –what you are about, your tone and style of writing, what you write, etc.

•Try Social Networking at places like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Goodreads, etc. Post reviews of book sites but keep your interaction low. Readers are used to the marketers I mentioned above hounding them. On places like Twitter and Facebook, interact and make friends. Don’t be all about your book. Show that you are a human being.

•Blogging. Either blog for others, or blog for yourself, but only blog if you like it, otherwise you’ll hate it and people will feel it in your writing. You can always join up with other writers in a joint blog and pick a day to post. It’s been suggested by professionals that you choose three subjects upon which to blog that deal with your writing (i.e. genre, writing tips, self-publishing, marketing, etc). One suggestion was to use a blog as an announcement board, but I wouldn’t suggest it. You’d do better with a newsletter.

•Newsletters should not flood the inboxes of your readers or they will groan every time they see them. Newsletters should be sent out to your mailing list when you have a giveaway, contest, coupon, sale, or new release. It should have an opt out option too.

•Forums are not a place to promote, unless the thread specifically asks for the information you can provide. If someone asks a question about your book, answer briefly. Have the one-sentence explanation of what the book is about and link to find out more.

I know there are more ideas, but this post would go on forever than. I just want to say that this is the place in your Writer’s Business Plan to explore new marketing ideas and when you plan to execute those plans. What marketing technique do you want to try? How do you want to gauge it’s helpfulness to you? Do you want to have a giveaway? A contest? A sale? Post a short story on your website? Go wild with ideas and then pick a few to try.

The Writer’s Business Plan: An Introduction

The Writer’s Business Plan: Parts of the Writer’s Business Plan

The Writer’s Business Plan: Creating a Budget

The Writer’s Business Plan: Building a Production Schedule

The Writer’s Business Plan: Setting Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals

One Author’s Rise from Unknown to 1K in 8 Weeks

I ran across this last night and thought I’d share the links. Susan Bischoff is writing an interesting series of posts on her rise from unknown author to a 1K Kindle author in 8 weeks and how she did it. The posts start here with Kindle Rank: Unknown to top 1K in 8 Weeks, and continue through her thoughts on Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Goodreads, Giveaways, and Reviews; Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Blogging and Social Media, Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Friends and Cross-Promotion, and Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Pricing.

Not sure if there will be more, but I found some of her approaches to promotion to be interesting.

Yes, Authors DO Feel….

As writers we tend not to discuss our feelings, but rather to analyze them like a third-party and then hand them off to a character to feel for us; or at least a good portion of us do. To that end, we tend to be in denial,  at least publicly, about many of the emotional ups and downs of publishing, including those terrible book release jitters.

Whether it’s your first book or your third, when you put a book out it’s the same as taking a little piece of yourself and holding it out to the world for approval because, no matter what you write, some part of yourself is embedded in the words.  And what if “the world” doesn’t like it? What if they reject it, or sneer at it, or call it “trite”, “cheesy” or even “terrible”?

Though we smile and say, “oh, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if no one likes this; I’m writing for me.” We do care.  Just like everyone else, we want to be accepted and loved, and that extends to our words because our words are part of us, and a rejection of those words is a rejection of ourselves, and who wants that?

Even worse, what if we have fans who liked the other book(s) but hate this one and suddenly turn their back and forsake us forever?  What if we lose what fan base we’ve established? What if? What if? What if?

The what-if’s make it the worst. When there are too many possibilities, the imagination can shift into over drive and make up all sorts of terrible scenarios.  After all, that overactive imagination is what prompted us to write that book in the first place, so why shouldn’t it be running full tilt now?  How do you stop it?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t “stop” it, only distract it. I can try to “logic it away” by pointing out that the world won’t end, that it’s unlikely my five fans will hate it so much that they’ll walk away, and if they do, then I can surely go find five more somewhere else. And, just because they don’t like the book doesn’t really mean they don’t like me. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of an author whose every single book I’ve love, love, loved.

But logic can only go so far, and in the end the best way to work through it is to just work through it. Talk about it, write about it, blog about it. Break the “rules” and admit that you’re not an unruffle-able being with a stone heart and skin so thick that every sling and arrow bounces off it. Sure, we might think we’re supposed to be, we might be following the examples of industry leaders who sail on with their perfect persona’s in place, but I’d be willing to bet that even the calmest and coolest of the cool has lain awake at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering “what if?”

After all, as a writer words, and feelings, are our craft, so why are we all trying to hide from them?

Blogging How-To’s : Automated

Stephannie has posted some excellent articles chock full of blogging tips from a writing point of view, so I thought I’d take a little time to discuss the more technical aspects of blogging with some handy tips I’ve discovered.

In the spirit of short blogs, I am breaking this up.


Most WordPress bloggers know how to write engaging posts, embed photos, videos or even polls in their posts, but did you know that you don’t have to publish the post right away? I’m not talking about the save as draft option, I mean that you can set your blog up to post a blog on a specified day, at a specified time, while you’re not even near the computer.

Yeah, I’m doing it now. As this blog is posted, I have no idea where I’ll be, or what I’ll be doing, but WordPress will be auto-posting this for me. Pretty cool, huh?

To post your blog on a future date, simply edit the post date like so:

And then, you walk away, and it posts for you. This can be especially handy if you’re doing a series but want to sit down and write it all in one day, or you’re posting a long piece – like a book chapter – in pieces.

Want even more automation? How would you like some, automatic system to post an update to your Facebook and Twitter that lets the world know you’ve posted?  Sound like an impossible dream? Well it’s not, thanks to TwitterFeed.

How does it work? Go to, make an account, and set up a new feed. Name it and then enter your feed address ( the RSS feed address for my WordPress blog is: – copy this and change the to your url  ). Twitterfeed will authenticate it, and then continue to step 2 where you can choose to use this with Twitter, facebook, Stautsnet,, and Hellotxt.

The extra cool thing about this is that you can have more than one feed. Facebook only allows you to sync your account with one blog. For instance, I have it linked to my personal blog, which meant I had to manually post links to my author blog, but now I could actually let twitterfeed handle them all, if I wanted to, or even add another blog.

So, how well does it work?  As of my writing this, it’s posted two posts to my facebook wall, but I imagine there will be more by the time this is posted. (If you want to see for yourself, you can go check it out – ) It does put a little yellow icon that says “posted via twitterfeed” after it, and it doesn’t have the thumbnail image that you get when you post the link manually:

a Twitterfeed posting of a link Vs. manually posting the blog link

And here’s the result on Twitter

Lookin' good!

So far, I highly recommend it!

Have you discovered any “automated” services? If so, what are they, and would you recommend them?

Blogging How-To’s : Pages

Stephannie has posted some excellent articles chock full of blogging tips from a writing point of view, so I thought I’d take a little time to discuss the more technical aspects of blogging with some handy tips I’ve discovered.

In the spirit of short blogs, I am breaking this up.


As a WordpPess blogger, you probably know about Pages, but just in case you don’t, they’re worth a mention.  A page is exactly that; an extra page that can have information on it without having to be a blog post. For example here on SPAL we currently have an “our Bios” page and a “Contact us” (listed in the menu bar above the blogroll.)

To make a new page, choose it from the drop down box on the header of your dashboard page:

At this point it works exactly like a blog post except that it has this cool little attributes menu. Here you can choose to have a “Parent” for your page – for example, I have the Help Spread the Word for Shades of Gray (it’s just banners and such)page as a “child” of Shades of Gray.

Why would you want to do that? Mainly for display purposes because in your custom menu it would then list the pages as :

Legacy of Ghosts

Shades of Gray

  • Spread the word

101 Tips…

I don’t have mine displayed that way right now. I wanted the option later, so I went ahead and set it up that way.

Another cool thing you can do with Pages is to change the template – or layout of it. The templates available depend on your blog theme. For instance, on one blog I have only two options: Default and Full Width, while my other blog has four options: Default, Full Width, Archive and Site Map.

So what would you use pages for? A Contact Me page is a good idea, as is one for your Author bio. And why not do a page for each of your books where you can organize the synopsis, trailer(s) and any relevant links, such as where readers can get your book?  You could even use pages for other projects you’re involved in. The possibilities are endless.

More on using WordPress pages

Does anyone else have any cool tips to share about using pages?  Do you have any pages on your blog(s)?  If so, what pages have you made?

Blogging How-To’s : Appearance

Stephannie has posted some excellent articles chock full of blogging tips from a writing point of view, so I thought I’d take a little time to discuss the more technical aspects of blogging with some handy tips I’ve discovered.

In the spirit of short blogs, I will break this up a bit.


When blogging on WordPress, you’ll notice first that you can’t use CSS to customize your blog unless you buy an account. But don’t despair, you can do a lot without it, and it might even be easier.   I mean, who gets CSS, anyway? (This is rhetorical. Obviously someone does. Just not me.)

So how can we get all the fancy “borders” and the layered “box” look? Just make your wallpaper look layered. For instance, here is a snap shot of my blog (so you can see what I mean)

You can see how much of that is actually in the wallpaper

You can see that the wallpaper is a lot “taller” than what you see in the preview – that’s because a monitor with a different resolution may show more, or less, of your wallpaper and because of the WordPress toolbar that runs across the top of the screen and covers up the top of the wallpaper.

To get your elements lined up perfectly (like I did for the sidebar) open your blog and then use full page viewing  by pressing F11 on your keyboard. Then, press the “Print Screen” button (It may say Prt SC or Prnt Scr, the initials vary by keyboard). You’ve now copied your “screen”. Go to your graphics program and paste as a new image, and then, if you have a program that allows for layers, such as GIMP (a free download) make a new layer and draw your “boxes” on that layer. When you’re finished, upload the wallpaper through your  Appearance –  Background menu (the Appearance nodule is on your Dashboard, towards the bottom of the page. You may need to hit a drop down arrow to make the choices show up).

Most themes also allow for custom banners, or headers. When you choose that option in the appearance menu, it will give you the dimensions of your header :

Also be sure to check all of your theme options because some themes have different color schemes and other customizations.

You can also add a “Blog icon” under the Settings – General menu. If, like me, you have no idea what a blog icon is then allow me to show you:

You can see that two of the blog’s I’m involved with have “pictures”, or blog icons, while the middle one just has a Blue W – meaning that no icon has been set. These icons not only show up on the new subscription page, too

More on using Themes from WordPress.

More on WordPress Appearance

Does anyone have any other tips or tricks for customizing the way your WordPress blog looks?

Auto play videos? You just lost me.

Warning a rant ahead

I am not a web site designer expert. I know a little HTML, I know why css is used. But as you can see (I use blogger or wordpress) I don’t design websites. But I use them.

Why? Why do supposed professional sites, that are set up to “help you with your website traffic” make a fundamental mistake?

You click on their page a few second later suddenly a video plays, loudly. The worst ones will have very little written content. Look this is something I know not to do. If you run one of these sites: here are the reasons I click you close as soon as it starts to play.

1. It’s annoying.
Auto playing videos are the new equivalent of embedded midi files. Don’t remember those? For those of you too young to remember, it was a fad to embed midi files into your web page. So you would click on a page and get hit with an 8 bit rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon.
Setting up your video to do auto play is the same thing. I am not going to waste my time to look for the stop button. And some of you don’t have one. You know what I do, Close tab, never look or listen to what you say.

2. Its like a screaming commercial.
I hate loud and annoying commercials. I tune them out. Same with the video clips.

3. Might not be the best time to watch something.
There are times I am using my computer in a public setting, and I can’t find my headphones. I don’t want “WELCOME TO OUR SIXTEEN PART SERIES!” blaring out of my little speakers. Close tab. I might not have time to watch your twenty minute video. I am looking for information, not an infomercial.

4. Some of us don’t have the processing power.
I use my netbook a lot, it is one of the first ones, not much in the way of memory (I do have 2 gb of ram, but only 4 gb on my HD) I can watch videos on it. But I like to clear the screen before I do. Suddenly having a video pop up eats up my resources and I hate you.

5. YOU look unprofessional.
For all the reasons above.

6. YOU insulted my intelligence.
Obviously you don’t think I know what a play button is or that I can’t read.

7. You got the click, but nothing else.
Traffic is measured in the number of clicks on your site. Your site was good enough to catch my eye when I was looking through the search results, but I did not stay. But you will claim a victory. But I DID NOT STAY! A good site will make people want to stay. It will make them want to find out more. A blaring video just shows your potential repeat visitors that you are not worth the effort.

Do you even look at the stats of how long some one stayed on your site? I do, if I keep someone on my site for 2 minutes or longer I did a great job. If you have a lot of under 30 second looks, you are not getting your message across.

If you want a video on your page, fine, but make it optional. I like vlogging, I watch some on youtube and other sites. I don’t mind videos. There are some sites I follow that only do vlogs, but I come back because they do two things.

1. Don’t autoplay.
2. Either have a full transcript of the vlog up or a nice summary.

I realize the people that design those annoying sites, won’t read this. Too bad, they should listen to their potential users. Oh wait they can’t, the video is too loud! I don’t know what internet guru told you that this was okay, but it isn’t.

(updated from my original post at

Blogging Tip #2: Get Readers to your Blog

Yesterday I talked about writing your blog for you readers. Today I want to discuss how to promote your blog to get those readers.

First you have to start writing your blog. Once you have a few posts, its time to start looking for readers to read your blog. Yes, I know that readers will come looking for your content eventually, finding you through search engines and other people. But that is a very slow climb upward. Trust me.

My first blog was at LiveJournal. I created it so I didn’t have to keep writing the same letter to friends and family. They could read all about my day. When I decided to publish my novels and start an author’s platform I started another at LiveJournal. This lasted about a year until I decided to create my author website. The decision to go with WordPress meant that I had everything in one place. Blog, about me page, extra pages for books, etc..

The next step was to promote my new site. And the best way I found to do this was to find other blogs and forums that I enjoyed and befriend those people. I dislike the ‘look at me, I’m so great, buy my book’ commentors or the ‘I’m only commenting because I want you to buy my book’ commentors. This doesn’t work. An honest question or comment has me clicking on their website every time. Another way to get readers is to offer something for free. People love free stuff.

What are other ways you’ve found to get readers? Do you have any suggestions for future posts or questions? We’d love to hear from you.