Get Blog Followers from the Right Places

Get blog followers from the RIGHT places.

There are no tricks or shortcuts to getting blog followers. There’s a difference between:

  1. Raising your follower NUMBER.
  2. Gaining real, LOYAL followers who love your content.

Quite often, those are two completely different things. People can be so focused on #1 that they forget they should be aiming for #2.

Encouraging people to click “follow” does not make them a follower.

This is when I start to roll my eyes at people who say, “I follow back!” or “Follow me and I’ll follow you.”

Those people are playing the numbers game. They try to bribe people into clicking the “follow” button so they can raise the number of followers that gets displayed to the world.

But bribing someone to click follow DOES NOT mean that:

  • They’re actually reading your posts.
  • They’re engaged in your content and keep checking back for more.
  • They return to your blog regularly.

Google Friend Connect is/was a breeding ground for inflated numbers.

This was a MAJOR problem with Google Friend Connect. People would click the “follow” button, add a number for the blogger, but then not actually stay updated with posts. The blogger gained a number, but not a loyal reader.

This was usually inspired by giveaways that had entries for becoming a GFC follower. Typically the blogger’s motivation here was to get more readers/followers, but in reality they only incremented an arbitrary number that didn’t actually represent the number of people reading the blog regularly.

4 ways to get loyal followers.

We’ve talked about arbitrary numbers, now let’s talk about real followers. These are people who read your posts, sometimes leave comments, and come back for more.

1) Content is king. Make it GREAT.

The best reason for people to follow you is because they love your content and don’t want to miss any future posts.

Don’t bribe people with trades—just produce content that’s truly fantastic. It’s better to put more time into fewer posts than less time into more posts. Write three REALLY AWESOME posts per week instead of seven mediocre posts per week.

2) Guest post on other blogs.

Creating great content on your blog will certainly attract people, but posting great content on another blog will expose you to whole new audiences.

The readers on the other blog will love your post (if it is in fact great 😉 ), follow you back to your blog, and subscribe there.

Guest posting is a great way to gain exposure and expand your audience.

3) Offer content upgrades.

Content upgrades are downloadable pieces of value. The idea is that you create an epic blog post, then offer extra bonus material in exchange for a subscription.

You could call this a bribe, which I just said was a bad thing, but I think content upgrades are great because they attract people who already love your content and add them to your mailing list.

Let me explain.

If someone reads your blog post and doesn’t like it, they’re not going to download the content upgrade. Why would they? They’re not interested.

But if they read your post and loved it, that right there is a fan and potential loyal follower. You solidify that relationship by offering them more epic content and adding them to your list.

Just make sure your content upgrades are related to your blog posts, and, if you can, make your future emails to your new subscriber relate to the content they downloaded. (ActiveCampaign can do this well.)

4) HELP people with your posts.

I always say there are two types of “quality content” (you know, when people say “have quality content on your blog”):

  1. Content that’s entertaining.
  2. Content that solves a problem.

Problem solving is a great way to build a loyal group of followers. If you’re offering advice and solving problems, people are going to want to read every post!

What about giveaways?

I have mixed thoughts on hosting a giveaway, with an extra entry to become a follower.

The problem with giveaways is that they’re often generic. Like you get a free book or a giftcard, etc. Those things don’t DIRECTLY relate to the content you offer on your blog. As a result, you’ll get a lot of people who subscribe with bogus accounts just to get the free item, but they’re not actually interested in your posts.

Those are not loyal followers.

But if you tailor the content to be VERY SPECIFIC to your audience and relate DIRECTLY to the content you post on your blog, then it’s more likely that a giveaway subscriber will enjoy your blog posts.

What do YOU do to increase your followers and grow your blog?

How do you feel about “giveaway subscribers”?

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. I’ve been a blogger for 4 years now and have never hosted a giveaway (unless it’s part of a blog tour, in which I don’t get new followers from that)! I have a much lower follower count that some bloggers who have been blogging for only 6 months. Same with Twitter giveaways.

    I love this post, because honestly, I think people need to remember to create quality content for their loyal readers instead of just focusing on the numbers! So true about creating content that is entertaining and/or solves a problem (aka your blog, which is why I love it so much! ;)) I think guest posting is a great way to introduce yourself to another group of readers – it just doesn’t happen a lot!

    Wonderful post, Ashley!

    Jen @ Books and Other Happy Ever Afters recently posted: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa | Review
  2. I don’t really do anything to try to get more followers, Ashley. There are some bloggers who stop by my blog to comment almost every day, others who stop by a couple of times per week. And I’m quite happy with that.
    I write mostly reviews, so I’m not exactly solving anyone’s problems, but you do that, and you do it well!
    I host giveaways every now and then, either as part of one of the challenges I host, or for my blogoversary. It has also happened that I’ve been so excited about a book that I wanted to give a copy of that book away in my review, so that was directly to do with my content, I guess.
    I enjoy getting comments on my posts, of course, I think we all do – but I also write down my reviews for myself, I read so many books that I forget something bout some of them.
    Have a terrific day!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted: The Sunday Post #50 – London with my Honey
  3. I fully agree that loyal readers (as opposed to followers) are what really matters to a content creator. It’s just like writing books, right? You want a solid core of readers who love your stuff and come back to it time and time again. Big numbers of people simply breezing by isn’t anyone’s target.

    I think the sweet spot of numbers is 1000+, in whatever way. In more ways, all the better. And that specific number came I think from publishers’ criteria for approving review copies, especially in one forum, do you agree? I saw that number clearly specified in requirements a couple years ago. Now it’s mostly changed to pageviews, number of comments (thing that causes “comment to win” giveaways, if you ask me), that sort of thing. Whatever the criteria for selection is, there will be ways of getting those numbers that focus specifically on the numbers, even on the numbers only. Quantity over quality, in short.

    I think what I’m saying (in too many words, as usual, lol!) is that what kind of audience you want is directly dependent on why you’re actually blogging in the first place. If quantity only gets you what you’re after, then go after numbers only. If quality is what you need, then work to get that. It’s tougher to get quality over quantity, imho. Kind of like in real life.

    I’m not saying one goal is better than the other. To each their own, and kudos to everyone for getting there.

    Livia @ Butterfly-o-Meter Books recently posted: Indie Flutters: Beast by Kim Faulks
  4. I think Giveaways give a false number of followers. There is no denying that I have started following blogs due to giveaways and ended up sticking around for cool content, but that is like 3% of blogs I found and followed. I don’t have BIG numbers of followers, but I have a cool core group of people I love to stalk and check out my posts.
    I think I probably need to concentrate on solving a problem more often. I have had some posts that I think do that, but not nearly enough.

    Karen Blue recently posted: The Sunday Post #53
    1. I totally agree. Tons of people subscribe via email with bogus email addresses, or follow via Twitter with “giveaway accounts”. A huge chunk of those people don’t actually stick around to read the blog.

  5. I definitely agree that simply encouraging people to hit the follow button (perhaps with a F4F incentive) doesn’t help anyone. Followers are definitely more than a number. I think I’d prefer to have a lower number of followers that actually stick around to read my content than have a larger number of followers who don’t listen to anything I have to say. I always thought content upgrades has the same effect as giveaways (followers that only stick around for the free stuff), but know I can see how offering a content upgrade that’s relevant to your blog means that the people who sign up for it will also be part of your target audience. I’ll have to look into it more! 🙂

    1. Yeah making the content upgrades relevant is the key. It also helps to incorporate some advanced, targeted email marketing.

      For example, let’s look at my blog. I talk about four overall subjects (two of which miiight be more related):


      So any time I offer a content upgrade, I tag that download with keywords, and then those keywords get applied to the new subscriber. Let’s use my free What I’m Reading plugin as an example. I’ve tagged that download with:

      Book Blogger, Books, Doesn’t Have UBB, Might be Interested in UBB, Uses Goodreads, WordPress

      Those tags get applied to each subscriber who opts in to the content upgrade. Now I’ve learned things about that person.

      In the future, it won’t be helpful if I send that new subscriber EVERY email, including ones related to business and freelancing. They may not have expressed an interest in those things! But they have told me they read books, review books, use Goodreads, and use WordPress. So it will make sense for me to send them emails related to those specific things.

      In short, I don’t send every subscriber the exact same content. I’m still perfecting my method and working on my newsletter content, but I’ve started setting it up in such a way that I can segment my list to only send people emails that I think they’ll care about.

  6. Great post. As someone who works in email marketing in my real job, I have a hard time convincing some of the higher ups that the number of people on our email list isn’t what matters as much as the number of people interacting. Removing the people who haven’t opened or clicked in a long time from your list can be beneficial and save you money. They always want to see that high number.

    Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons recently posted: Claimed Audiobook by Rebecca Zanetti (REVIEW)
    1. You’re absolutely right! I’m super big on removing people who just aren’t interested or active.

      With my new email service, I’ve set up an automation that works like this:

      It begins as soon as someone subscribes to any list.
      Then wait 60 days.
      If the subscriber has not opened any email I’ve sent, it adds the tag “Disengaged” to their profile.

      I haven’t added a follow up after that point yet, but my plan would be to create another automation like this:

      Triggers when “Disengaged” tag is added.
      Send email saying, “Are you still interested in receiving my emails? If so, click {{here}}”.
      Wait 2 weeks (or whatever).
      If they’ve clicked the link, remove the “Disengaged” tag.
      If they haven’t clicked the link, remove them from my list.

  7. I agree that giveaways basically inflate numbers. I don’t do tons of giveaways, but when I do there’s always a free entry. You can get bonus entries for following, but this mostly rewards people who are already following–few people are going to do it when they can enter for doing nothing!

    I think giveaways are tempting, though, because having a high follower count can be impressive to publishers and even other readers. I know I pay attention to bloggers who have thousands of followers because I think, “What if there’s something really great going on here that I should know about?” I then check the blog out. Also, I think it’s tempting to think “Well, maybe I’ll get a couple real followers from the giveaway, so it’s worth it.”

    Briana @ Pages Unbound recently posted: Discussion Post: Why I Don’t Watch Booktube
    1. I think it depends on the guest post and how it’s presented.

      * If I enjoy the post then I’ll be interested in reading more and will check out their website.

      * If the person’s main goal is to SELL something (like a book) rather than promote their blog (which would have similar content) then I’m LESS likely to check out their site. Sadly this includes authors. Authors typically guest post to encourage book sales. Their blogs rarely have similar content to what they guest post. They’re usually just book news.

      * If the post or the snippet before/after the post encourages a PERSONAL relationship or connection with the author, then I’m more likely to check out their website. For example, if someone writes a business post about how they grew their business, that’s a personal story. It’s not generic tips that don’t form a personal connection. But if I fall in love with their story and accomplishments, I’ll want to learn more about them so I’ll check out their blog.

      So I think it depends on how it’s done. For sure some posts are boring or not presented well or feel like advertisements.

    1. Content upgrades are basically where you:

      1) Write a useful, valuable post. This is key. Your post can’t be all about the content upgrade. You need to provide excellent information for everyone without any hoops or walls.

      2) Write something EXTRA that can be added onto your post. It’s like bonus content where you go above and beyond. Then put this into a PDF or some other form of download (I often do plugins).

      3) Make the bonus content available to download at the end of the post… if they subscribe to your blog.

      4) When someone subscribes and confirms their email, they get an automatic email giving them the bonus material.

      It’s a very effective way to grow your mailing list! I think the most important points are:

      1) Convey what happens when they enter their email. Make it clear they’re being added to your list.
      2) Provide value in your post even without the content upgrade. No one wants to click through to find that they can’t get ANYTHING useful without subscribing.
      3) Try to only send that new subscriber similar content they’d be interested in.

      The kind of content upgrades I most commonly do are plugin/coding tutorials. I provide ALL the content and code in the post itself in the form of a DIY tutorial. But then the content upgrade is the completed, final version of the plugin. So the idea is that anyone can use my tutorial to build the plugin themselves. But if they don’t want to DIY, they can download the “ready made” version at the end.

  8. Great post, I’ve just launched my blog earlier this month and have been working on creating a following. I really want to do a guest post for a blog of similar content. I believe my content is good and share worthy but I just need to expose it.

    Do you do guest posts and if so do you have a certain way of pitching the idea?

    1. The only times I’ve done guest posts are the times I’ve been contacted by someone else and invited to do one.

      But you could certainly be the first to reach out. Maybe say something like:

      Hey {name}!

      I came across your blog and fell in love with how you talk about {blank}. It really resonated with me because I talk about {blank} on my own blog.

      I’d love to write a guest post on your site about {blank} because I think your audience could really benefit from my ideas on {blank}. What do you think?

      Looking forward to hearing from you!

      You could of course beef it up a bit and make it more personal, but I think that general approach would work quite well. 🙂

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