After having this little blog for a year I am FINALLY getting engagement on my blog posts and finding readers for my blog. It's only taken me 1 year but I could have done this instantly if I'd have known what I know now.
Before I go into the juicy stuff, I think it's only fair to give this post a proper introduction. There are so many blog posts out there on 'how to increase engagement' and 'how to drive traffic to your blog'. Sure, they all contain useful advice but after implementing everything they said, I still wasn't getting any traffic. I felt stumped and was left scratching my head. It was easy for me to conclude that it would just take a hella lotta time to grow my blog but the most baffling thing of all was I was seeing brand new bloggers with over 20 comments on each blog post. How is that even possible?
Now I feel like I've uncovered something great - I feel like I've found the missing piece to the jigsaw. I feel like I have found the answer I wish I had been given to start with! Instead of taking this answer and keeping it close as a secret, I want to share it with you in order for you to use it as a tool to help grow your blog. You don't need to flounder around for over a year as it just isn't fun. So, here it is - the trick to growing your audience and engagement levels immediately: Facebook Blogging Pods.
What are Facebook Blogging Pods?
Facebook Blogging Pods are groups of bloggers that you can join on Facebook. They are also known as 'engagement groups'. The purpose of these groups is to increase engagement and views on both your blogs and social channels. They work because most of them require reciprocation. For example, if you leave a link to an Instagram picture on a 'like thread', you have to follow the rules of the group which are often to like 5 images in the thread or sometimes all images. That way you are guaranteed likes or blog comments.
But What About Genuine Engagement? - You May Ask
If you've never heard of these pods before, you may be thinking that the idea is outrageous as you are not acquiring real interaction. This isn't necessarily the case. Through these pods I have stumbled across blogs which I genuinely like and now follow. I have also started to create relationships with other bloggers which has always been a massive goal of mine. Have you ever noticed that majority of people that read blogs are in fact bloggers themselves?
Also, when receiving more comments and likes on social media, this is a good way to beat the algorithm. This is because Facebook or Instagram can see that people are interested in your content and they therefore show it to more people and you may get more engagement as a result.
Sounds good! Where Do I Find These Facebook Blogging Pods?
On Facebook, obviously. Hah, but seriously, they are actually pretty easy to find. You do not need to be invited. Simply search in the Facebook search bar for key terms like 'blogger pod' or 'engagement group'. It's also beneficial to be specific as some groups are tailored to certain aspects of blogging eg pods that are focused on Instagram engagement. Simply search 'Instagram engagement' or 'Instagram likes' or if you want to focus on comments 'Instagram comments'. You can also search for groups that focus on your niche. Mine is travel so I'd search 'travel bloggers' or something similar. You can also search for gender-specific groups or location-specific groups.
It's Not Quite As Easy As Simply Joining These Groups
Sorry if I made it appear easy but there's much more to increasing engagement than joining these groups. For starters, you need a decent blog and that's where all those other articles on 'how to increase engagement' come in really handy. There are many things you must have in place before joining these pods - well when I say must I mean I highly recommend doing. There's little point in joining a pod if you aren't going to engage anyone in it. Make them want to read your blog! Make them follow you because they want to come back for more content!
Make sure your blog looks professional. I read this point often when looking for tips to increasing engagement and there's a reason for this. I honestly couldn't agree more with this point. You're joining these pods in order to find new readers. Every single member of that pod is a potential reader, not just an opportunity to gain a solitary comment or like. When they stumble across your blog, you want to give them a reason to stay and a sloppy, poorly-designed website certainly won't do that.
What do I class as professional? These are just my personal opinions but do bear in mind that I am a potential reader for your blog so I guess my opinion matters to you.
1. A clean, simple design. That means no clunky side-bars rammed with content. That also means a simple, attractive header. It also means a nice, calming colour. I always have a preference towards white blogs with black text because they're so tidy and therefore easy to read and navigate.
Having colour behind your article text makes it very difficult to read and to me it doesn't look super professional.
2. No pop-ups. Ah, I just can't deal with pop-ups. They interrupt me when I'm reading a blog post and ultimately end up scaring me away. I read an article the other day about how much the writer hated pop-ups so I know I'm not alone with this opinion.
3. Simple fonts are the best fonts. Please don't try to be all unique with a crazy hard-to-read font. It just reminds me of 10 year old me playing around with Microsoft Word in school with my favourite 'Curls MT' and 'Comic Sans' fonts. Don't get me wrong, different fonts look hella awesome as a logo or even as a blog post title but when it's the main body of the text, I just can't read it so I'll give up on the article. Sans Serif fonts are great. Polls show they're more likely to engage readers and they always look professional. Unless you have a strong theme that fits fonts like 'Times New Roman', I'd advise to avoid these too. They can really work when used correctly but they're just trickier to work with and get right.
4. Low-quality pictures are my ultimate pet-peeve. I don't see this point around too much but this is arguably the biggest issue for me. There are a few blogs which I've tried to like but ultimately just can't! They have nice clean themes that look stunning and the blogs are easy to read in the perfect fonts. But - and that's a big but - the image quality is awful! The slightest sign of pixilation makes me want to tear my hair out. I get that you want to save your photos for web and devices but there's a line and you just crossed it. I love pictures in blogs! They really add so much to posts. Not only do they work to break up the article but they help to tell the story. How can I possibly enjoy looking at a blurred picture? It just makes me sad.
5. An 'About' page is more important than you think. This is probably the most common piece of advice I come across when looking at blogger advice articles. I was one of those people who really didn't think it was important but as I got more engrossed in the blogging world, I did a complete 360 and have totally come round to the idea. I also love a good 'about' page and here's why. With blogs, as readers we want to get to know the person behind the posts - the author. We want to build a connection with the blogger and learn all about them, almost every aspect of their life. The 'about' page is a window into their lives and a well-written 'about' page has the potential to hook a new reader almost immediately. If the reader feels a connection or likes you as the author - bingo, you've just got yourself a new reader!
6. Clear navigation is key. Okay, okay, this is the last one - I promise. There needs to be a nice clean menu at the top of the blog that clearly directs the reader to the blog and any blog categories they have. Most readers will follow the same patterns and often try to find your most recent posts. Please don't hide your feed of blog posts. I don't know why some bloggers do this! Also, please don't cram the menu with countless menu-items as each one becomes not-so-important.
Wow, that point ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated! As well as ensuring your blog looks professional, the content is equally as important. A blog with poor content is just, well... I'm not too sure what it is but it certainly isn't a good blog. I know 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' and whatnot and what floats your boat in terms of content may not necessarily float my boat but here are some rather general rules that normally equate to good content.
1. A sharp and engaging headline. This is what will make your reader click on your blog post. First ask yourself, would you click on it? Is the topic interesting? Does your writer's voice come across in it? Does it make you feel anything emotionally? These are all great questions. Let's take the title of this blog post for example. As a relatively new blogger, the topic is of interest to me. The headline is certainly to-the-point and doesn't dress the article up as something it isn't. Yep, I despise click-bait as does most of the population, I'm sure. Does the title stand-out? As quite a common topic discussed in the blogging world, that's a bit trickier but I've tried to make it as unique as possible.
2. Correct spelling and grammar. I'm sorry but if I read an article littered with both spelling and grammar mistakes, it's a complete no no for me. It's unprofessional as it suggests you are too lazy to proof-read your own work. You don't need to be great at spelling to have no spelling mistakes in your post. My browser has a built-in spell checker that helps me out all the time. Alternatively, write your post in a Word document or another programme with a spell-check built-in. If you are writing blogs, you are clearly an aspiring writer so spelling and grammar should be very important to you.
3. Think about the length of your post. Short blog posts just don't do it for me. I clicked on the blog in order to read-up on a certain topic. If you hit me with a mere paragraph, the post was of little value to me. I'm not asking for essays consisting of thousands of words but more than 3 paragraphs would be ideal. In contrast, super long posts can be tough as well. I know I sometimes am in danger of having long posts so if I'm writing about a really full-on day of travel, I sometimes split it into 2 or 3 blog posts as I don't want anyone to pass out with exhaustion after getting through one of my posts.
4. Your voice is important! Oh, so important. The best thing about reading blogs (for me anyway) is that the author's personality often shines through. Everyone has their own unique style of writing and it's that uniqueness that often has me coming back to read more. It helps me feel more engaged with the author and feel like I almost know them.
5. To swear or not to swear. Hmm, this has been a long-running debate in the blogging community and I myself cannot decide which side of the fence I'm on. On the one hand swearing can be difficult to read, especially when it feels like the swearing is unnecessary and constant. But then on the other hand it could help to bring out your personality more. If you naturally use a few expletives then why wouldn't you put it in your blog - your own personal corner of the internet that's meant to be completely you? I can't decide! I think a little bit of swearing is okay if it adds something to the text like comedy but I know so many people are completely against it so are you cutting-off potential readers by using expletives? This one's up to you. Sometimes I want to use the odd little word but ultimately decide against it out of fear of 'offending' someone but who knows, maybe personality in blogs is more important.
If you want to boost your engagement overnight, use Facebook Blogging Pods but just don't forget to have your blog in a nice professional state beforehand. Like with all things, there's no magic way to suddenly have a popular blog but connecting with fellow bloggers is certainly a decent strategy. I'm loving interacting on pods! I think I must have joined around 10 now. Before I leave you to start joining these groups, don't forget to play nice and engage fairly with fellow bloggers. The more you engage yourself, the more engagement you will naturally get.
Have fun and good luck with your engagement! What are your best tips to growing engagement on your blog and social channels?