*Let me preface this by saying, I am not anti-giveaway. I have had my share of giveaways, and I enjoy having them. In fact, I will be having a giveaway soon. My goal is not to eradicate giveaways with these posts, but rather look at other options to gain readership.
The thing that trips me up lately is how many posts I'm seeing on Facebook and Twitter from new bloggers that say something like the following "Once I hit 100 followers (or whatever number) I will have a giveaway!". I even had people post things like that on my Facebook page, when I asked for people to share their blog links. It seems to be the new trend that some new bloggers are offering giveaway incentives so people will follow their blog.
I think what these newbie bloggers are missing is the real joy and rewarding experience blogging is when you gain your readers without the incentives and the promise of prizes. Blogs seems to be so giveaway driven lately, that perhaps some people do not know any other methods to gain readership. Instant gratification from a ton of likes or blog followers may feel good at first, but in the long run you may be lacking the substance from your readers and the blogging experience you may of originally planned on.
Here are some of the things I have recognized to be helpful in gaining readers outside of giveaways. None of these are quick fixes or will you get a large number of people fast, but if you're into the blogging thing for the long haul these will be beneficial and rewarding to you as your grow as a blogger.
1. Consistency- When you want to start a blog, figure out how it will fit into your life. Blogging will have to be put on your "to-do" list if you want to attract people towards you blog. People like to follow blogs that are consistent in their posting. This does not mean you have to post every single day, but a few times a week would be best. This may mean you have to cut out time in your life to blog or schedule posts in advance. The main thing is to find a schedule that works for you, and to stick to it. Long hiatuses or infrequent posts are one of the main reasons I do not follow blogs or unfollow them.
2. Personality- There is more to a nail polish blog than showing a picture of your nails and telling us what color it is. You have to spice it up, and it doesn't have to be anything big. All you have to do is to put yourself in your posts. If you're silly, be silly! If you're geeky, be geeky! If you have some little story to share about a polish, share your story. If you hate something, tell us how much you hate it! I let go of any hesitation in my posts, and just be my normal geeky self. This has been the biggest benefit to blogging for me because people get to know me, and I've found out people like me even if I'm weird and silly. They'll want to read your blog because you're so approachable, and they can relate to you. Keep it real though! Don't fake it, let go and be yourself!
3. Identity- Honestly, I hate the word "follower", it makes a blogger sound as if they're some celebrity or cult leader haha. I prefer readers. I never have assumed I am better than the people who read my blog. I'm an equal to them. I shop in the same stores, and hunt for the same nail polishes they do. I think people may see bloggers as a person of authority, but I do not see myself that way. I see myself as a friend sharing information with my other friends. Modesty and humility go a long way, even if your blog reaches 4,000 readers. Remember who you are and your role.
4. Engagement- No, I do not mean marry your readers. I mean engage with them! Your readers want to be appreciated and heard. Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog ask your readers questions on occasion. You can ask them specific questions about products they like or just ask them what they had for lunch. It doesn't matter, but involve them in your world. You can also try to incorporate them in your blog. I do it with "Share With You Sunday", where people can share their links or pictures of their manicures. I genuinely like to know the thoughts of my readers, and enjoy seeing their creations. It's a win-win!
5. Originality- We all can review nail polish colors, but sometimes we need to separate ourselves from the pack. I do not do nail art. I do not have some awesome nail polish talent, so I rely on my personality to keep me relevant. I also came up with weekly or bi-weekly posts that vary up my routine. I have "Talk it Out Tuesday", "Bottle Spam Saturday". and "Share With You Sunday". These posts are different from my typical posts. This offers something different for my readers, and provides me with more opportunities to engage with them. You can have your own weekly themed posts or your blog can be focused on your talents (i.e. nail art, stamping, or etc). I see other bloggers do some of those 30 day or 10 day challenges or do weekly series. There are tons of options!
6. Integrity- Be up front with your readers. Disclose everything you need to disclose (i.e. endorsements, paid ads, and product reviews). I know it can be difficult to review something honestly when it is provided to you. I had this experience with Butter London. I put off reviewing their top coat and base coat forever since it was sent to me for free. I had terrible luck with it, and I felt badly that I did not have anything positive to say about it, but I posted my honest review anyways. I have not heard from Butter London again, and I do not expect to, but being honest with my readers trumps free products in my book. You owe your readers honesty. They will respect you for that.
7. No Pressure- I still struggle with this sometimes! Your blog is your blog. It does not have to be like other blogs, and it can be however you want it to be. If you want to blog purely as a hobby and for fun, then do it! There are no requirements to be a PR maven or have a super professional blog. If your goal is for your blog to be professional and have involvement in the cosmetics industry then that is great too. I get intimidated a lot by bloggers who really are into the industry and their blog has given them a career path or some leg into the field.. I feel like "Should I be doing that?". No! I never wanted my blog to be anything other than my space to share my love of nail polish and make friends along the way. My blog is my little sanctuary where I feel comfortable letting loose and being myself. That's what my blog is, and your blog should be exactly what you want it to be, not what you feel it should be or how other people do their blogs. When you're doing what you love the way you want to do it, it is magnetizing. People will feed off your passion and want to support you whatever your goal may be.
*UPDATE* 8. Social Media- Utilize social media to your advantage. I recommend getting a Facebook page and a Twitter account for your blog. Be sure follow other bloggers on Twitter and Facebook, and chat with them. I do not mean spam your links with them, but take time to connect with them and get to know them. Other bloggers can help support you and your blog! Social media is also a great way to connect with your readers too. It is much more personal than a blog setting.
All of these things take time, trial and error, and patience, but they honestly will lead you in the right direction to having not only a successful blog, but a rewarding one. It will help you gain some amazing readers and commenters who will stand by you for YOU..not for what you can giveaway! I actually got a little emotional writing this because of how much blogging has positively impacted my life. Blogging has been a life changing experience for me. When you blog from the heart being 100% yourself you will truly reap the rewards.
If anyone has anything else to add to this please let me know in the comments. Also, share your thoughts on this post too! I'd love to hear what you're thinking.