While I don’t consider Students with Birds Blog a massively successful endeavour, I do think it is doing okay for a small-timer, and I’m proud of it. Three-hundred-some followers, hey, I’ll take it. That number does seem tiny compared to those blogs with thousands of subscribers, but writing about a highly focussed, narrow topic like parrot care isn’t exactly a mass interest.
That said, parrot bloggers have to get creative. In honour of my 193rd post, I wanted to share what I’ve done to garner views for my site, little by little (and these can be used for any blog). Assuming you’ve chosen a place to write – like WordPress or Blogspot – here are my tips:
1. Work that social media: Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.) is an important tool for any blogger, but it is especially important for those whose topics are ultra-specialised. At first, you’re probably not going to get a lot of followers. Don’t be disheartened. By building your social media audience, you can basically sprout your readership. Every click from one of these sites raises your pagerank, too.
2. Have a presence on other blogs: Blogging is about cultivating friendships. Leave comments on blogs and forums of a similar nature. Just make sure that they’re genuine, that you’ve taken some time to think them out (and read what the posts have to say!), and that you don’t self-promote too much. Don’t be afraid to ‘like’ something you connect with. People click on those Gravatar images.
3. Keep writing: Even when it seems like no one is reading, keep producing quality, thought-out content. You’re a step ahead of the blogs that haven’t chosen a niche – people know to come to your parrot blog, for, well, parrot advice. Also learn how to format posts for easy reading:
- Bullets and lists
- Small paragraphs
- Varying fonts – bold, italic, etc.
- Align text to the left
4. Link out: Linking to other blogs and sites of a similar nature is a tool to be used sparingly. Too many links, and Google will write you off as spam. Done right, however, it will increase your rank in Google, and those other people may link back to you – so reference the experts where it’s truly relevant.
5. Do all that search optimisation stuff – keywords, accurate tagging, and good titles: Google is your friend. More people find Students with Birds Blog (see, keyword!) through search engines than they do through WordPress.
- Tagging helps search engines like Yahoo and Google find your blog, but it also helps readers find you on WordPress. Every now and then, find an excuse to tag something new. For instance, I whip out my camera and shoot some halfway decent pictures, then tag ‘photography,’ ‘amateur photography,’ and ‘Wordless Wednesday.’ These will bring in a fresh audience.
- Your title is important, but the slug beneath it is too. Go to dashboard and add a new post. There, beneath the ‘add new title’ is your permalink. You can easily change this. Try to keep key words in it. Mine will read ‘how to have successful parrot blogs.’
- Look at the search engine terms people use to find you, and write about those topics.
- Use your key words and phrases over and over again in your post as much as you can without sounding ridiculous, so that Google gets the idea that this is about parrot blogs.
6. Choose a good profile picture: Try to keep your social media profile pictures the same throughout all your various accounts. I use a picture of Ptak the parrotlet because he is easily identifiable, brightly coloured, and people find him intriguing. And cute.
7. Respond to activity on your own site: Reply to comments you get. I can’t emphasise that enough! Click on those Gravatar images and check out the other person’s blog. Follow people of similar interests. Simple. All this builds reader loyalty.
8. Branch out and follow some blogs that aren’t parrot blogs: There is a limited supply of parrot blogs. Sad, but true. Following some blogs that cover your other interests is a great way to ‘meet’ some new people, read some new posts, and possibly get more people interested in parrot welfare.
9. Guest blogging: Bringing a guest blogger on board gives both of you access to new audiences, plus adds to your credibility.
10. Don’t use block quotes, or copy word-for-word: Google does not take kindly to plagiarism. Basically, if you use a block quote or re-post something word for word, a search engine will take this as you copying without permission and will give credit to the original author. Thereby, your post won’t show up in searches.
::Bonus:: Blog because you love it. Be original. Be passionate. Your parrot blog may never be wildly popular, but you are making a difference by delving into this specialised subject. There are a number of mega sites out there who dwarf smaller sites like this one. I don’t care. I write because I enjoy it. If I happen to help parrots and owners along the way, that is great, too.
To conclude: If you tag your posts accurately, get involved with other bloggers, and churn out good posts regularly, your blog will eventually gain followers. All you need do is persevere.
I’d also like to thank my readers, who make Students with Birds much more rewarding. I do a happy dance at every like, comment, and view.