How to Grow Your Fan Base with a Blog

Grow your fan base with a blogCreatives are often intimidated by the idea of starting a blog (one more time-consuming, energy-draining, nail-biting activity to add to the heap). It’s easy to discourage yourself by imagining that blogging is like writing one of those harrowing school papers about colonialism, with a bibliography four pages long. But in actuality, blogging isn’t hard. (See all the white space on this page? Mrs. Finneren never would have let me get away with it.)

Blogging is a casual art form. You don’t need perfect prose or grandiose themes to succeed. All you need to do is be yourself; your friends and fans will appreciate it. Blogging is also the best tool for growing an audience online, and it’s actually quite simple to start your own.

Guess What? You’re Already a Blogger

A blog post can be anything: a picture, a sentence, a poem, a video, or a song. In fact, you’re already a blogger. Blogging is what you do when you update your Facebook status or send a tweet. Yup. Last time you posted a picture of a kitten-in-a-basket on Facebook, you were actually blogging. Blogging is simply sharing interesting things with your audience and encouraging interaction. So you’re probably wondering, “If Facebook is blogging, why can’t I just stick with Facebook?”

Updating your Facebook or Twitter feed is a very limited kind of blogging. Social networks are closed systems with a narrow set of rules. Creating your own blog exposes you to a much larger world. A blog has untold potential. Here are some tips on how to make the most of yours.

5 Important Tips for Running a Successful Blog

1. Promote Every Post

I’ve already mentioned that a blog can be anything. Just take 15 minutes a week to share something on your blog. Experiment. But don’t just let your content sit there. The act of blogging is two-fold. Create something and then tell people about it. This is where Facebook and Twitter and other social networks come in. Get on your favorite social networks and advertise your new blog post. Say something provocative, “You won’t believe what happened at our last performance. Read all about it here.” Then link to the blog article you just posted. And Voila! Instant traffic to your website. The more you share, the more likely others will share your content with their friends (and so the snowball gathers snow).

Sometimes it can be a very slow process and it takes practice to discover what your fans respond best to, but it’s a learning experience, and it DOES WORK.

2. Post Regularly

Set a goal. Once a week, once a day, or even once a month. The important thing is to be consistent. This way your audience will know what to expect and they wont feel neglected. Try to always post your blog on the same day and around the same time.

3. Vary Your Content

The more topics you write about, the better the chance that people will discover your articles in search engines. Every article you write becomes another portal through which potential fans can discover you. Google and other search engines love blogs because it gives them more content to categorize, and it demonstrates which sites are active and growing. The more active and relevant your blog is, the greater your chances of ranking higher in search results.

4. Read Other Blogs

What better way to learn how to blog then by reading and interacting with other bloggers? Use Google Reader to collect all your favorite blogs in one place. Use Google Blog Search to find new blogs. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these bloggers. Ask them questions and participate in the comments sections on their posts. When relevant, mention your blog and add a link back to an article you’ve written.–but only if it makes sense to do so. Some bloggers do not take kindly to shameless self-promotion in their comments section.

 5. Respond to Your Readers

Make sure you encourage your readers to leave comments on your blog. You can do this by asking a simple question at the end of every post. Also, take the time to respond to every comment. Even if all you say is, “thanks.” When people feel listened to, they keep talking. And that’s what you want. You want people talking about you and your work. Don’t delete critical comments either. Negative comments almost always spur conversation. Sometimes the biggest favor someone can do is leave a negative comment on your blog. It will encourage other commenters to defend your honor. :)

Do you have any suggestions or questions about growing your audience with blogging? Leave your thoughts in comments below.

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  • Anonymous

    Adding the LinkedIn Share button to your blog posts is as easy as adding the Tweet or Like button, and may be a good way to increase traffic and readers to your blog from the professional social network.

  • Anonymous

    Include one or two relevant pictures and keep it humorous. People love humour.

  • John Palmes

    Personally I have no use for blogs. Most of my time on the web is spent looking for hard facts and real information. Opinion just gets in the way. I guess I can see the utility of blogging if it gets people interested in my work, so I’ll see what I can find about other people who do similar things. I appreciate the advice but I’ll have to figure out how to use it. http://www.johnpalmes.com 

  • http://members.cdbaby.com/ CD Baby

    Hi John,

    Almost all news sources on the web are also blogs: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal etc. A blog is simply a way to syndicate content. If your fans like hard facts–then give them hard facts. Blogs are not necessarily informal by nature.

  • Anonymous

    How does anyone know that I made a blog on my website? Does it show up anyplace?
    I am trying to promote my band, my website, etc and anything I can do to do that would be great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Milt-Matthews/100003291997281 Milt Matthews

    thanks, are you a musician. if so, what instrument do you play

  • http://members.cdbaby.com/ CD Baby

    It will be indexed by Google, but you also have to self promote. For instance, you just told all of us you have a blog. Where’s the link? The more you share, the more people will find it.

  • http://eafloe.com/ Edgar Allen Floe

    Good insight.  I’ve just started my new site a couple of weeks ago, so I’m starting on a long journey.  Consistent content is king!

  • magicsong

    I need some feedback!  I’m an improviser by nature, in my painting, in my jazz, and ~ in my cooking.
     How would a blog of things to cook when on the road, on a hotplate, with limited supplies (one pot and a knife) appeal to any of you?  These would be nutritious, all made from fresh veggies, spices, and chicken or fish  for the flesh-eaters.  An easy, cheap way to feed a band.

  • Tdgang1

    The road is hard enough without having to feed/cook for others…. I’d rather read about how to make more money to just feed them at a resturaunt.

  • N O Vativemusic

    I haven’t been able to even get into the blog tag on my website…I actually posted a blog but is unable to get in.

  • Rusty Locke

    Chris: As a writer myself and musician I concur with all this very good advice. I live 180 degrees due east of you and a day cannot carve itself into night without my putting something on paper. I have several blogs started already and my problem is an over abundance of sites (HostBaby, Facebook, BanjoHangout, etc.) I need one place for the stuff I can stretch out on. Long stories – bits of books I’m in the midst of writing -”old guy” philosophy and so on. Hostbaby sounds like a good place to hang my cap. And so, as Homer Simpson would say…”Don’t mind if I do!”
    Thanks
    George

  • http://blog.hostbaby.com/ Chris B at CD Baby

    Woot!

  • http://nomadicpolitics.blogspot.com/ Nomad

    Other things I would add are:
    Provide interesting content
    Watch your language. It’s one thing to be carefree but it’s another to be vulgar.
    Check for any spelling mistakes or grammar (within reason, I mean.)
    Having a means of subscribing and becoming a follower.. that’s important too.

    Another tip would be to add some kind of “related posts” feature at the end of your post. 

    Every blogger should also have a stat counter to keep a record of who visits, for how long and which posts they found interesting and where they came from. 
    One more thing to keep in mind is that is it is very unlikely that you will get a large number of followers immediately. It requires patience. The posts you archive the most likely that people will be attracted to your blog. 

  • http://twitter.com/PTheWyse Praverb Dot Net

    Great post. Videos, pictures, charts, and lists are a great visual aids to assist the readers. 

    Number 4 is definitely something that I have been doing more of lately. I have expanded outside of my comfort zone and read blogs on various subjects. Content is king! Writing attractive headlines is also nice. 

    Thank you for this post Chris.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robbyronmusic Rob Byron

     Hostbaby is for your website,its like your outpost,but you need people to arrive there

  • http://www.facebook.com/kindweed Jimmy Weed

    i like the idea, this would definitely be for people on the road and on a budget. the only down side is the topic of food distracting from topic of music.

  • D4B4

    tks for the info!

  • http://www.rickywade.com/ RickyW

    Hey,thanx for the tips. I’m a muti-tasking musician who spends a lot more time working on my talent and on projects then interacting with the public. My daughter suggested that I start a blog to interest fans so I did. So your info is right on time.

  • http://nomadicpolitics.blogspot.com/ Nomad

    I would also add that you should make your blog as readable as possible. The format should be simple, the font and the font colors should be clear. Make sure it’s not too busy. I have been to blogs where I love the writing style, the information was useful but there was just too much going on or the background was competing for attention with the text. 
    I think that having a “Click to Read more” link can be helpful if you tend to write longer posts. People generally do not like to scroll too much unless they are very interested in the topics. Having lots of different topics on the main page is probably a better strategy. (Your first paragraph should also be more of a teaser since that may be the only part a visitor will read. Actually that first paragraph could be the only thing that makes the visitor decide to read more.It’s a good idea to look at your blog stats and decide when the best time to post is. Advertising your post with twitter at three in the morning is not going to get much response. Respond to comments but never try to defend your posts unless absolutely necessary. And when responding it one rule is helpful: Asking people what they think- rather than trying to tell them what to think- is always better.

    Balaboy mentioned pics. Yes, but be sure you make some kind of attempt to respect copyrights- if you can. Maybe not 100% but when you find a particularly interesting or creative photo why not give people a little credit. 

  • Eunike Chandra

    Thank you for the tips! =) I always thought before that blogging is only for people who post about fashion. I am a musician and have just currently started my own blog and it’s helpful to know that there is other interesting ideas on what to share in the blog, other than photos.