The internet is a fickle place. One minute you're hot, and the next minute… well, let's just say people move on quick. Building a loyal following can be difficult in a time where everything changes so quickly, yet, most all successful bloggers have a dedicated audience. A small, yet loyal following is worth a thousand times more than a large transient following. Whether it be for building your traffic, using your affiliate links, attending your events, loyal readers convert because you've built a relationship with them. Sure, big numbers sound great, but when it comes right down to it, they can be bought. How much is a large following worth if they don't actually follow your lead? Not much.
So how do you build a loyal following?
1. Know what you stand for
What are you values? Are they clearly communicated on your blog? While some people tend to think that there are no values in fashion, I beg to differ. Eco fashion, luxury, DIY (crafting), working with what you have, body image, modest fashion… they all have a sets of values which can be applied to their niche. You have your own unique set of values which comes out in your blog content whether you intend to or not, so knowing what you stand for helps your readers identify you values and gives them a chance to align with them.
2. Create meaningful content
Do you create content that's meaningful to others? Do you give them something they can take away, or are you just asking for them to give you attention. Think about Oprah, no matter what, her content revolves around enriching the lives of her followers. “Meaningful” can manifest itself in your content in many ways, does it make people laugh, does it educate, does it inspire? By creating meaningful content, you continually give your readers a reason to come back.
3. Develop a strategy
You know what you stand for, and you create meaningful content, great! You are well on the way to building your loyal following. But what's your plan? How are you going to grow? Developing a strategy helps you identify what works for your blog and what doesn't. Your plan might go off with out a hitch, but chances are, it will be in constant evolution. Knowing what you want to achieve, and mapping out a plan to make it happen will help you stay on track.
4. Be consistent
One day you're talking about the joys of fast fashion, then the next you're criticizing it. One day you're working with a lot of brands, then you write a post about not wanting to work with brands anymore, then a week later you're working with a brand again. Yes, I've seen this a lot. It's hard to be 100% consistent 100% of the time. We all evolve, but there is a line. Stick to your values, your direction and show up on a regular basis. Readers love consistency so make sure you are there for them.
5. Give your followers a name
I've not personally done this… do you all want me to give you a name? But I have seen this done, Lady Gaga has her “Little Monsters,” Leandra Medine has her “Repellers,” Clare Sulmers has her “Bombshells” and it's cute, it's catchy, it gives your readers base a sense of comradery and belonging to something larger than themselves.
6. Make your followers feel special
Always ask yourself what can you do for your followers. Whether it's making you followers feel smart, cool, or just plain good about themselves, do what you can to make your community feel special when they come to your website. This can be done with clever content, opportunities to do cool things, or win prizes, speak to them in a friendly tone. However most rings true to you.
7. Engage with your most engaged
Some people advise to engage with everyone who comments on your site or tweets at you. I have tried this, and it works for a while, but there becomes a point where you have to decide if you want to spend your time engaging with everyone or spend your time creating quality content. Since a majority of your readers are silent (even the most loyal and engaged can be silent lurkers) do not sacrifice your content for engagement. However, you can engage with your most engaged, you most loyal followers, the ones that speak to you, or create meaningful interactions. You certainly want them to feel special!
8. Promote your followers
There are a lot of ways you can promote your followers. Here at IFB, we have Links a la Mode and the IFB Project, two things that help promote our community. You can do an interview, post their thoughtful comments to the rest of your following, promote them on social media… there are loads of ways to share your audience with your audience.
9. Give your followers what they don't know they want (yet)
Sometimes it's good to ask your readers what they want to see on your blog. I've tried giving readers what they say they want… more often than not, it's not what they really want. What always surprises me is when I put together something that hasn't been tried yet, and it goes extremely well. The readers never asked for it, and probably didn't know it was what they were looking for. Chances are, if your readers are asking for it, the information can be found a million other places on the internet. Your goal is to be the one who surprises them with something they never knew they wanted, until they came to your blog.
10. Don't be afraid to drop what doesn't work
Maybe calling your readers a name goes terribly wrong. Or inspiring people is just not your style. Maybe your readers hate it when you feature another reader, or worse, they don't care. If it's not working for you, drop it. Try it again with a different angle, or better yet, try something new. Building a loyal following takes time, and it continually evolves. My only real advice is to continually think about what you can do for your followers and put it into action. You'll be surprised how that alone will build a loyal following.
Lovely advice!! 🙂
xoxo Aimee of Bows&Beau-ties
Truly is a great article. Bottomline: Be genuine and consistent 🙂
What a great article. To me having loyal readers is the most important thing. I agree with point 9. I think there has to be a good balance between communicating with your readers but to make sure that you leave enough time to keep working on good content.
Thanks for this post, I’m coming into my fourth month of blogging and I was feeling like I was coming to a crossroads in terms of what I was about as a blogger, this and your other posts today have really helped to gain some clarity. Thankyou.
Lots of great tips here as always.
I find just taking a few breaks in the day and engaging in conversations helps so much. Better than just sending out links all the time!
This is such a great post – I loved it! Having a loyal following is something that I’m eager to build, more efficiently thanks to your post. Thanks for sharing!
Hmmmm….trying to think what I would call my followers…..’racers’? ehhhh no. ;D No.5 is a nice little tip though.
I loved this. How fun to call your readers something unique and spunky. Now I just have to think of something…!
This is a very helpful article! Everyone wants a loyal following and this definitely gave me ideas on how to build mine. Thank you so much for sharing, lovely! x
This is what I needed! Thank you so much! (:
Very helpful advice! I’ll start applying them to my fashion and art blog asap. Thanks! xx
Awesome advice! I’ve written it up in GIANT letters and it’s now the first thing I see each morning when I sit down in front of my computer 🙂 Thanks for sharing this x
Very useful information! I’m glad calling your followers isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ever since I started blogging, I call my followers “Hunter” because it fits well with my blog site name- A.Hua HUNTER but of course there’s meaning behind it too. (: http://ahuahunter.blogspot.com
Great post with great ideas – I try to write to my readers as though they are all my friends and family, and out of everything that goes on on my blog, this is what they like the most: being yourself, and not being afraid to do so!
Ooo I think I will come up for a name for my followers, though i am not very creative, but I think it might help connect. And the promos for followers, I had always thought that promos were what tumblr blogs have – blog rate, likes and dislikes, screenies etc. but I think that the interview would be really fun! Thanks for this great post.
wow, what a great post. I recently started the style blog “the style people” and these ideas will really come in handy.
They are some great tips as always. Thank you IFB
Tip #7: Engaging the most engaged answered a question for me. I’ve wondered how people manage when their readers and comments increase. And you DO want to spend your time creating content. Thanks for clearing up something I was wondering about. And a BIG thanks for the creative and helpful content at IFB. Debbie @ ilovemylemonadelife.com
I’m just not inspired enough to know HOW to inspire. I’m drained and feel like everything I do isn’t working out the way I want it to. :-/
I’m really enjoying engaging with people who are interested in talking in the comment section of my blog .. I visit their blogs as well .. click on their links .. buy and advertised product .. give them support 🙂
And I know who those people are! The ones that just stop by for a quick comment, want a ‘follow’ and don’t bother to return – I know who those people are too and so .. I’m less likely to visit their blogs.
thank you so much for some great advice! my biggest fear is that one day im going to wake up and see that ive lost all my followers!
I’m trying hard, but not even my friends read my blog unless brutally forced to. What’s wrong? 😉
this is such great advice! I think you nailed writing about this hard topic and in 10 steps!
It is a hard thing to do I know it but I think that is what blogging is about, building a community (before anything). Numbers to me …. not so much lately. I appreciate followers that read my blog and leave interesting feedback, the same way that I find it better to respond to an interesting post in an honest, intelligent comment.
I think fashion bloggers are very used to the ‘images’ and completely discard the text. which is sad because fashion blogging is more than pretty outfit pictures. Of course if I visit a blog that only has pictures and I like what I see I let them know but I think reading is very important. If I don’t feel like reading the blog I am visiting ….. well, I move on, not for me. And about consistency, Yes! complicated to be 100% consistent. I focus on being honest about what I say at the time I say it.
Love the tips and ideas you post, very helpful.
Some sound advice. I would definitely rather a few real followers than be one of those people that follow for follow. Quality, not quantity rings true here.
I like this, I have a lot of readers who continue to come back every post and give me their feedback. I think I can improve this with these tips.
This is a brilliant post. I learned a lot.
Hello! I have a question about gaining traffic. It may have been answered somewhere but I maybe just missed it or totally didn’t get it 🙂 I have a blog that has been a work in progress for some time. I use WordPress which I love but I notice a lot of the traffic I get is really mostly from WordPress which is great I love my wordpress following. I know that I need to amp up my blog so that it stands out and make sure it’s consistent, but how does one (me) go from getting only wordpress likes, follows etc. to others. Does that make sense?
Any help would be great 🙂 thanks so much!
Thank you for the great advice. As a new blogger, it is greatly appreciated.
Wonderful advice! I’m not a fashion blogger, but these ideas speak to everyone. Consistency is something I struggled with when I was personal blogging. Instead of being “useful”, I found myself using my blog as a ventilation station…which is definitely not the best system.
I have found my personal way of giving something useful is with my scrapbook supplies, and paper crafts.
I don’t have a large following, which is most likely because I had never been able to settle. <—lack of consistency.
Since then, I've settled on just maintaining our website, and keeping the projects, groups, and freebies, as fresh as possible. 🙂
Thanks for your great articles! Always inspiring.
These are all great tips, and I appreciate the sincere place from which they are offered. Number 5 is something I’ve never even contemplated, but it makes sense – people like to feel a sense of identity and belonging. I really like the idea, and have completely unintentionally been doing it already with my own readers already. Now that I recognize the value of naming my readers, I plan to make it more of a habit.
I’d say never be afraid to try something new (when it’s not about content, it must always be in one style), a step in the side can be a huge jump up. There’s a bunch of thing to do that will potentially bring you some new followers. Try to settle a giveaway or a contest, then sell ads on fiverr.com, then steal the competitors followers on zengram.net, then give a shoutout to your favorite follower… The possibilities are numerous.
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