Maintaining a Small Blog with Pride

By Tiffanie Turner.

Work from my blog has had a lot of exposure in the past year through larger blogs and outlets, yet my readership is still pretty low. I've learned to really appreciate contributing spots and being featured elsewhere. It's validating to get that kind of opportunity, and it can carry you through your moments of doubt, or when you feel like you deserve more attention than you're getting.

Here are some of the things I've learned in this past year that have helped me keep it together, and keep my chin up. First the practical:

FINDING EXPOSURE FOR YOUR ORIGINAL IDEAS

  • Submit relevant ideas to blogs who solicit work from others. Blogs actually seeking content are more receptive when it comes to featuring work you've already published on your blog (although some blogs want work that has never been seen before, so think about submitting ideas before you post them to your own blog). 
  • Build relationships with writers and editors. That person who featured your work might be back to mine your blog for more good stuff. 
  • Selective sponsorship. Experiment at different blogs; one well placed advertisement a month can make a big difference. 
  • Think about scale, too (big fish in a small pond vs. small fish in a big pond). 
  • Highlight your expertise/create a series. A series gives readers something to grab onto and share. When you highlight an area of your expertise, it can create energy and interest, beget more ideas, and give you and your readers something to look forward to. 
  • Sell your wares. Makers can blur the line between using a blog to promote wares and wares to promote blog. What have you made for your blog that could be a sellable item? 

METHODS TO FORGE AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER CREATIVE BLOGGERS

 Being featured or pinned is great, as is getting reader comments. Also great is the support of a few good friends in the field. Our roundtable group had a lot of ideas in this area:

  • Join established online blogging communities. A few specific ones mentioned were BlogHer (especially the communities in the NaBloPoMo exercises), Facebook, Twitter chats, monthly meetups, ALT classes, blogbrunch.com, and the ten-on-ten photo project. 
  • In real life, attend workshops and conferences (like ALT!), and join co-working spaces and societies. 
  • Use of social media judiciously. Use it slowly and wisely to find your people. 

And then there is the deeper stuff to help put some perspective on things. We did some soul searching at our roundtable based on the following: 

HOW BIG DO YOUR WANT YOUR BLOG TO BE?

Adjust your expectations in the name of joy. If you reflect on what you are looking for, you might find yourself more content with where you are. That, along with the validation you've received from your online community and exposure, will buy you time to let your blog grow organically. There is something to be said for sitting on your laurels. Validation tells you to keep on keeping on, which helps me to do my most authentic, true-to-myself work.

Ask yourself questions like this: 

  • Why did I start my blog? 
  • What are my real intentions? 
  • What am I doing that deserves big attention? 
  • What am I doing differently from the next person? 
  • Am I looking to/prepared to be a celebrity? 
  • How many people need to be interested in me and my work for me to feel fulfilled, or even okay? 
  • Where do I go to find them? 
  • What do I want to be known for? 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON MAINTAINING A SMALL BLOG WITH PRIDE

These are things I see repeated over and over, and find it kind of ironic that they need to be said at all. But since it took me time to come to understand these things myself, they bear mentioning:

  • Your blog is your very own online gallery, and no one can tell you what to hang there but you. You are running the show.
  • The very format of the blog creates, in most cases, an unavoidable template, absolutely requiring YOU to fill it with unique content. Unique = you. 
  • When you find your voice, the stats mean much less (but will probably climb more). 
  • Blogging is a tremendous creative outlet for most, and has a way of changing your thought process from reactive to proactive. Go with that. Your most authentic and original (to you) posts will be the ones you are most proud of, whether anyone reads them or not.