Feb 13, 2012

Posted by in Question | 19 Comments

Question – What Makes a Blog Successful/Popular?

I got two emails in the same week asking me the same question.  They were from two lovely ladies who have been blogging for less than 3 months.  Their question was:  “What can I do to ensure my blog is popular and gets tons of traffic?” and “What makes a blog successful?”

Well, my answer to that was:  *blinks at screen*  *crickets chirp in the background*  *keeps blinking at screen*  *crickets eventually leave because their bored from waiting*

Yeah…  Those are some loaded questions.  I had a few simple answers for them such as “network through social media” and “comment on other blogs you like”.  I also told them to make sure they are having fun and to do what they feel fits them and not to worry too much about numbers until you ‘find’ your blogging voice.

Seriously though, I wasn’t sure what to say.  Personally, I follow a blog if their content makes me smile and if I enjoy what I read in their posts.  Also, they have to read the kind of books I like to read and have similar tastes in books too.  I mean, why would I follow a blogger who bashes all my favorite books?  But when I look at the ‘bigger’ romance/urban fantasy blogs (Babbling About Books, All Things Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Haven, etc…) I love them, follow them and admire them but I can’t quite put my finger on why exactly I feel that way.  So I’m turning to you guys for help.

Bloggers:  What makes a book blog successful or popular?  Readers:  What makes you want to subscribe to a blog and visit them every day?

By the way, I love getting emails from new bloggers looking for advice or support.  I may not be able to help all the time, but I will always do my best and try.  The romance/urban fantasy book blogging community is FILLED with amazing women who are more than happy to serve as a support system to new bloggers who don’t know what they are getting themselves into who need a bit of advice or encouragement.  Watching a new blog grow and flourish is one of my favorite parts of being a blogger.  I feel lucky and blessed to be part of such a wonderful group.

  1. This is a really hard question for sure. I havent been at it a year yet so I am just trying to figure it out myself. I can tell you what I like and what makes me go to some of my favourite blogs.

    I like clean blogs. When I click to open up and look at a blog, if my eyes are darting all over the place and the background is super busy, I just want to shut it down. Also plain font is a good thing. I don’t mind different coloured font at all but I find I can’t really read when someone chooses a script font. Also for me personally, I don’t think I follow one blog where the background is black and the writing is white. It hurts my eyes.
    So that’s my thought on cosmetic.

    For content, I like books that they like or have great reviews that make me want to try new books. *cough UF* (sound familiar Julie)
    I don’t mine the occasional meme but if that is all that is being posted, I probably won’t return.

    I like something that sets apart the blog from others. For instance on this blog, I love these Monday questions, on Under the Covers I love their Author of the Month or Parajunkee’s Blog101 posts. That is really hard to start something original and then maintain an audience. I know because I keep trying with my Guilty Pleasure posts on Wednesday’s by authors. Gotta keep at it though.

    I like how you touched on the social media in your post. You can’t expect people to flock to your blog if you don’t go out there and comment and build a network on other’s people’s blog. And never never visit a blog and comment “Nice blog, come visit mine” *cringes*

    Be conversational on Twitter and not just a feedstream of posting links to your blog.

    I love how you also said to blog for yourself. You have to be true to yourself. You must blog because you enjoy it and not just be determined to get follower numbers. If that is what you want, just stick to Twitter or Facebook.

    Lastly, Blog Hops. I love them. I only participate in a few a year on my blog but I hop a lot. I have a ton a free books and gift cards to prove it. I have also found some fabulous new blogs by hopping. I am picky when I’m on a blog hop and the mandatory requirement is to follow the blog. I truly only follow if I think I am going to return.

    Well those are my opinions. As usual, great question.

  2. I agree with a lot of what Michelle said, especially regarding the the visual aesthetics of a blog.

    For me, personally, I want a blog to be consistent. I don’t care if there’s a new post everyday, but I want there to be at least several per week. I hate following a blog and then getting…nothing.

    There’s my two cents.

  3. Obviously, I have no idea on this question, since my blog is still tiny. I am commenting so that I can follow the responses. I can’t wait to hear what everyone has to say. I know that, for me, I follow a blog when I like the books that the blog author is talking about… smiles!

  4. Rain Maiden Jen says:

    For me as a blogless blogger, I enjoy the reviews. I’m always on the hunt for that next great read. I also will stick around if the blog is posting often. Keep it fun, positive and mix it up.

  5. Since I don’t blog myself and don’t know what makes a blog successful, I can only offer what makes me frequent certain sites. First, thoughtful reviews that give me enough information to base my reading decisions on. I don’t have to agree with the reviewer, but as long as I can get the info I need, I’m happy. Second, a good layout is key! Some bloggers are great reviews but their sites are so hard to navigate and read, that I don’t bother visiting them anymore (FYI, Julie, I think you have one of the best layouts out there). Third, I prefer the special features that are interesting and not just ‘because’. Some author interviews are great, but some feel like pulling teeth. Finally, I prefer blogs that post regularly, almost daily. I know that’s hard for a lot of bloggers, but I tend to visit sites everyday and if nothing new comes up, I stop going to those sites, then eventually forget about them. I also read extremely fast, usually a book every two or three days, so I’m always needing new ideas!

    My two cents 🙂

  6. Wow that’s a hard one.
    I agree with all the other commenters, the layout and easy navigation is key. Also diversity, I want to read reviews but I also love to learn about other bloggers, authors, books news and such.
    Dedication is very important, I know how difficult is to have a new post everyday, but at least I expect a post every other day.

  7. Such tough questions you ask 🙂 And I have no idea. Sometimes it just happens, sometimes it does not

  8. I saw the title of your post & thought ‘ooh. I’ll get some good tips.’ Thanks for the shout out!

  9. Julie, that’s kind of you to say about my blog 🙂

    I don’t think there is a correct answer to give. The same goes for why are certain authors and their books more popular than others, or why some TV shows have high ratings while others don’t?

    The same goes with blogs. But someone’s success is subjective and as long as you enjoy what you’re doing in the blogsphere, it will be a better experience. I recommend new bloggers don’t concern themselves with becoming “popular” and just go with the flow and have fun.

  10. Michelle – I hadn’t thought about the layout or the colors of a blog. Good point and great answers! 🙂

    CdnMrs – I’ve seen that many times in my Reader. All of a sudden I see the blog’s name and think “I don’t remember reading anything on that blog for a while” only to look and see they haven’t posted in 5 months. lol

    Rain Maiden Jen – Fun and positive. I think that is great advice. I don’t like a blog that poops on books just to get a rise out of people and I think after a while, no one will take you seriously if you do that. Great advice!

    Sara – I am so glad you commented on this post! It’s great to know what a non-blogger thinks. It is, after all, who we blog for. Readers! I like how you said that you don’t have to agree with the reviewer but that their reviews have to give you enough info to decide for yourself. Very well said.

    BookaholicCat – Navigation is a good one too. I hadn’t thought of saying that but you are right. Nothing more frustrating than when you are looking for a specific review or interview and such and you can’t get around the blog.

    blodeuedd – I love how you put things. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. Very true. lol

    Abigail – You’re blog is really amazing. You work hard on it and you can tell. You are what most blogs should aspire to being. 🙂

    Katie – I speaketh only the truth 😉 You make such sense! A blog is like a book – to each their own. Go with the flow and have fun. Perfect.

  11. The most important thing to me is honest reviews. I’ll follow a blog for awhile if they review books I’m interested in, but if every single review is a gushfest, I give them up pretty quickly. There’s a reason Dear Author is probably the most popular romance blog out there. Those ladies are not afraid to express their opinion. I don’t agree with them half the time, but at least I can count on their honesty. Along the same lines, another thing that I don’t like is when the reviewer writes a gushing review, then gives the book 3 stars out of 5. If the book was really only average, why did you write such praise about it?

    On the visual side, I hate, hate, hate dark backgrounds and cluttered layouts. If the site has tons of Flash and loads slowly, that’s a huge annoyance. Finally, I hate “cutesy” cursive fonts that are virtually impossible to read.

  12. Great questions and comments… If you figure it all out, please let me know… I’ve been working at it for 2 years! 🙂

  13. Really great post! And even as a small blogger I still don’t know the answer to this one. Partly because some blog’s that are so successful I end up going ugh? to because they’re full of naked men and very short reviews. Yet some like your’s don’t receive half the attention they deserve and it makes me very confused! 😕 (that’s my confused face btw!)

  14. Great question Julie, and great answers. Everyone’s tastes are different. I dislike blogs with lots of meme’s, I like reading reviews which also tell me a bit about the story. Of course I love give away’s but they are not the main reason I keep coming back.

  15. JenM – Honest reviews. I totally agree with you there. I understand if most reviews are positive because why would anyone read a book they don’t think they’d enjoy, but all gushy gushy love…yeah…

    twimom – Your blog is great Jen!

    Ally – Naked men… *giggle*

    aurian – I understand meme’s at first to get you going. I never did them but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their place. But I agree with you where once the blog has a bit of a following, it’s time to do your own thing. If you like certain meme’s, keep them up. Just don’t do all meme’s all the time. Great point!

  16. Thanks Michelle, for such a detailed observation. Very helpful. I’m going to have a look at your blog now! 🙂

  17. Hi Everyone, I would truly appreciate you having a squiz at my blog and let me know what you think? What I don’t understand, is that I have a daily “audience” of 40+ checking my one blog out per day, yet I only have so few followers … it’s a bit strange because I do seem to get traffic to my blog but not many people following me? Any comments and suggestions would be highly appreciated. Thank you 🙂

  18. Elrese – You will notice that many of your readers are what we call ‘lurkers’. These are people who enjoy what you posts but prefer to stay anonymous. Just keep posting interesting things and eventually people will follow. You could also do a giveaway and ask that people follow your blog as part of their entry. Followers are great and amazing and super awesome but you have to keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable following and prefers just clicking on your link when they want to see what you have to share that day. 🙂

  19. Hi Julie, that makes sense! I never actually thought of that and I honestly could not understand why I had the same pageviews daily yet little followers. Thanks so much! And I will definitely be doing a giveaway soon, appreciate all your help!

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