A Denver Home Companion | denver bloggers' association

photo by @frankiebushell

the fine people behind the denver bloggers’ association asked me to speak at their most recent meet-up about how my blog has gotten to where it is since i first started it in 2009. it was interesting for me to reflect on my little space on the interwebs and rather exciting to speak in front of an audience (i haven’t done that since college!).

below is the gist of what i spoke about.

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my blog has always been a space for documenting personal experiences and thoughts — it started out as a place to dump photos and update family members who didn’t live close by. as i got to know the blogosphere, i discovered a whole other world and realized that the sky was the limit as far as what i could write about, what blogs i could read, how i could make my space unique, and who i could connect with online. not everyone knows my blog, obviously. it’s a little thing i have going on over here. but i’ve seen my readership steadily grow, had some great opportunities come my way, met really wonderful people halfway across the world, and have even made a little bit of beer money — all while still being able to continue documenting my personal experiences and writing what i want to write.

here’s how i think you can do it too:

1. invest in a website you’re proud of.

  • your website homepage is the first impression you give to people who visit. when people land on your site they get an immediate idea of who you are and what you are trying to convey. make sure that your website is showing and telling people who YOU are. because, especially in personal blogs, your personality IS YOUR BRAND.
  • i wrote for the longest time on a basic, free wordpress theme (and on blogspot before that). this was when i was writing for myself and family members. but as my audience grew and i realized i could be doing lots more with my claimed space, i started to understand that i could actually lose readers due to the blah-ness of my site. it wasn’t me and it gave people no reason to want to get to know me. sure, i was proud of my content. but attention spans are short and people, quite frankly, want to dwell only in beautiful places.
  • you can learn code and personalize a website yourself or you can hire someone to do it. i went the latter route and contracted the kin collective to make me something well-designed, intuitive, and distinctly me. together we went over what i loved about blogs i enjoyed reading and what turned me off on various websites. they put these things together, added their expertise, we all tweaked some things and, voila!, my new space was born.

2. find your voice. 

  • people come to your blog bc they want to hear what YOU have to say bc they most likely like the way you say things. so speak honestly, write what you want to write about, have confidence in what you have to say, and stop trying to please people. 
  • on that note: you cannot be something for everyone. so don’t write to please the masses. write w one specific reader in mind and you’ll likely capture the attention of lots naturally.
  • i write about my daughter, my husband’s and my businesses, denver, bragging rights, our backyard farm, places i’ve eaten, my favorite products, whatever the hell i want to write about. i write about these things bc they are interesting to me and what i want to fill my blog with — otherwise i wouldn’t want to blog. but i know full well that there are lots of people who don’t want to read about this stuff and couldn’t care less about my life. but then the fun part is that there are some people that do care! and they keep coming back and reading and affirming me in what i’m writing about. and that is really cool.
  • not everyone will love you and that’s ok! it’s more important that your space is your space and it’s a place you like contributing to.
  • do not be afraid to promote promote promote yourself.

3. make internet friends

  • don’t be anonymous! comment on blog posts you enjoy. reach out to bloggers you admire. make some friends.
  • give shout-outs: favorite products, places you enjoyed, props to people doing cool things, a well-curated blog roll of must-read blogs.
  • guest posts: offer to do them and ask people to write them for you. a nice exchange happens wherein both blogs plug the other and people get introduced to new sites worth reading.
  • broaden your reach by utilizing other social networking platforms such as twitter, instagram, pinterest, and facebook. but a rule of thumb? stick w just three and do them well. in addition to my blog, i use twitter and instagram. reach out!: like people’s photos, leave comments, respond to comments/questions left on yours. engage w other people in a genuine manner.
  • attend local blogger events and get to know some people in real life. who knows what best friend you might make or what collaboration you might discover!

any suggestions or inputs you’d like to share on ways you’ve grown your blog?

9 Responses to HOW TO GROW YOUR BLOG

  1. Amanda says:

    Fabulous tips Emily!

  2. Briana says:

    Great tips! Blogger isn’t my favorite but I’m too scared to jump ship onto a self-hosting platform! Maybe I should make the leap…

    (love all you have to say, BTW)

    • emily says:

      i still use a wordpress platform to do my blogging. it’s just now under my own domain name. i’m pretty happy w it as it’s relatively intuitive and easy to use. anything i can’t do i beg for help from my designers (who are, conveniently, friends)!

  3. Thanks for coming out on Wednesday night! Alexandra and I really appreciate it. And, I have a date with my BFF to finally check out Crema tomorrow morning. “Baby A” is already excited.

  4. Alli says:

    Such great tips. I never realised how important it was to comment on other blogs & I’ve found that in the past year as I have commented on more blogs, my blog has grown & I’ve met some great friends, like yourself 🙂

  5. katie white says:

    Hi Emily,
    This is Katie, from SecondLove. Hope you’re well! I’m currently living in Scotland and currently blogging! For the first time ever! I just happened to go to your blog today and to my surprise you are giving advice on how to grow a blog. Just the insight I was looking for. So thanks for the tips. I am in the process of what I want to use my blog for, so it’s pretty bare bones…as are my coding skills. But check it out when you get a chance. Take care, girl.
    Katie
    http://differentfromimagined.blogspot.co.uk/

  6. love this! so helpful. I only started The Dappled Waistcoat five months ago and it’s definitely a hard road figuring out how to brand myself and what vibes I want to give out. you’re an inspiration <3

    Anne

  7. Thanks for posting this. I just started a food blog in January and I thought this was helpful. Love your blog!

  8. Simply Bike says:

    Great advice!

    I’ve also found Twitter and FB to be great avenues for connecting to more readers and having them find my blog. I tend to share links to most new posts on both Twitter and FB and anytime someone shares that you’ve got an instant connection with a host of new readers out there.

    I really enjoy your site, especially the posts about backyard farming (something we’re aspiring to do) and the Ramona posts 🙂 (she’s about the same age as my daughter). Keep up the wonderful work!

    S.

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