Thursday, February 16, 2012

Grow Your Blog-Advertising and Giveaways

Grow Your Blog

Welcome to the 5th day in a fantastic series called Grow Your Blog. Myself and six other fabulous bloggers were recruited by Kelly over at Live.Laugh.Rowe to put together a knowledge filled week with tips on how to grow your blog.I hope you've been following along, cause the posts this week have been incredible! Yesturday's post by Carolyn at Homework, had some great tips on how to use Pinterest to grow your blog! Today, I am sharing my blogs growth story with you and talking about two things that have worked in my favour, Advertising and Giveaways. The common thread between these two...extra exposure!!
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I started blogging about two years ago. At first, it was just my own little space to document the things that made an 'imprint' on my life. Fast forward a year and I had grown a small following of about 30 people, some friends and family and some people who I never knew. It wasn't until the fall of 2011 that I truly started looking to 'grow' my blog. Along with networking with other bloggers, my first 'growing' step was through Advertising.


Back then I had been advertising my Etsy shop on a couple of higher traffic blogs in hope of driving up traffic to my shop, and then one month as I was purchasing an ad space, I noticed that this particular blogger offered Ad Swaps (just in case your not familiar-an ad swap is when you and another blogger swap each other's blog button-for free-for whatever given time agreed upon). I thought, what a great idea! With hopes of introducing paid advertising in the future, but not really 100% on the whole thing, ad swapping sounded like the perfect opportunity to get my feet wet. So I took the plunge and that following month I introduced an Ad Swap program and it has been a huge success since! What's important to remember when growing your blog is to help other's out too...we are all in the same boat. The friendships you form through swapping with other bloggers is priceless. They have your back and you have your back, kinda thing. All in all (excluding a few negative experiences that I've had) the blogging community is really a supportive place! I highly suggest all blogs, big or small, to look at Ad Swapping, it's such a great way to gain a little extra exposure and to boost readership. Then, once your ready to start charging for Ad Space, it's just icing on the cake :)

One of my first steps when I started offering Ad Spots on my blog was approaching my favorite shops on Etsy. Some of them I had purchased from and had a great experience with, and some were shops that I had been window shopping at {a lot!} Either way I pretty much 'cold emailed' them. I introduced myself, shared a bit about my blog and what they would gain from advertising (extra traffic, exposure). I didn't dwell too much on my stats at this point, but gave them if someone asked. Plus, the advertising I was offering was free, and some of it involved no was just me wanting to promote their shops and if I was lucky I would maybe get my button on someones sidebar. You really just have to wing it and hope for the best!

Having sponsors kind of opened up the door to hosting Giveaways. I already had some great shops on my sidebar, and I was building relationships with them (networking!). As part of my ad packages, I offer everyone the option of participate in a giveaway. I think this provides amazing exposure for them and increases traffic (more opportunity for a sale!). I know that I try and participate in a giveaway for my own shop at least once a month. Just getting your name out there is yet another reason to do it, you don't want people thinking you dropped of the face of the earth, do you?

Giveaways are fun! People like to have fun and who wouldn't want to win something? (Have you checked out the giveaway I currently have going on? Go here, haha, sorry, I couldn't help myself!) I remember the first time I won a giveaway, it was so surreal...and yes do actually get the prize, LOL! Giveaways are a great tool for growing your 'numbers,' obviously you want to have one of the mandatory entries be that the entrants must 'follow' your blog, through whatever source you feel is best for you.  But I want to point out a tiny little thing about Giveaways- as much fun as it is to see your numbers go up while hosting a giveaway, don't be measuring your success by these numbers! I am sure that more times then none, someone will come across your giveaway, follow your blog and never look back. They just followed to be able to enter. Or else they entered but never really followed!!  I always verify all winners that are selected to make sure they have done what they said they did! Mean? Nope, just keeping it fair! So yes, during a giveaway, your numbers will be rising, and it will make you happy, but don't get to tied up in it and think you need to host giveaways three times a week. I've seen some blogs go from pretty cool, to giveaway overload and then it's like they are neglecting their blog and I don't want to read anymore. The people that truly 'follow' you will want to read your regular posts too, not just hope to win something! I see Giveaways as a chance to give back to my readers, like a little bonus!

A few last words...Don't go chasing after every single person that has a shop-be selective and showcase the people/shops that you feel relate to your readers and the feel of your blog. Same goes for advertising. AND once you get your giveaway up and running, submit it to Etsy Giveaways-I get a huge response from this site-extra exposure!!

All in all, if your looking to grow your blog you have to start somewhere and start small and Ad Swapping is perfect for this! The best part of Ad Swapping for me now, is just to showcase new blogs to all you guys. I can't believe the talent out there and I wish I could read everything! I have met some wonderful ladies and grown some fabulous friendships through swapping and helping to promote handmade shops! If your just starting out, go ahead and ask one of your favorite blogs...what's the worse that can happen? They say no? That's ok, try again later or ask someone else...or ask me, cause I would love to swap with you!!! ;) Go here, for all my advertising info (haha, couldn't resist again!)

I am so happy that my blog is where it is today, but I really couldn't do it without all you guys, my readers that visit on a daily basis, and without all those fabulous bloggers and shops on my sidebar!!! Go check them out, cause they are awesome! Tomorrow's post over at I Am Along for the Ride is all about engaging your readers and building a community, so make sure to take a little visit on over there! The whole week will be concluded on Sunday with a good ole' Blog Hop hosted by all 7 contributors, so be sure to come back on Sunday to link up your blog and network to your hearts content!!!

Blog Hop


Adrianne Surian said...

Spot on with the idea that if people aren't coming back, they're not really "followers". Even if your blog is "small", you should measure your personal success by how many quality comments you get. I visit 100-follower and fewer blogs who will post, and get 6 or 8 or a dozen comments from people who actually bothered to read the post and say something nice.

Great post, Lish!

Ashley @ First Home Dreams said...

I really enjoyed this post! I started blogging merely for the sake of journalling our house reno, but it's turned into a hobby instead. And I can't believe how many people I don't know read and comment - craziness! I'm off to go and check out your shop now...I didn't realize that you had one before. Ha!

Unknown said...

So grateful for your swapping, Lish. :)

xoxo - kylie

Live Laugh Rowe said...

Hey Lish!

Thanks again for being a part of the series :)
I appreciate your contributions and speaking from the heart!


ohAmanda said...

I've never thought about Ad-swapping before! Great post! :)


bonbon said...

I love this post and this idea for a series. Thank you for being willing to share all of your ideas. Alot of this stuff I have had to just kind of struggle with and figure out on my own, but it's so nice to know that someone has been willing enough to get all this information together. Wish I had found all this info when I first started blogging!


Deidre~ said...

Im so confussed now as I wanted to start blogging to talk about things that were important to me and maybe do a few projects but everyone {other bloggers} told me not to as no one really wants to read that stuff and that you shouldnt put your personal business on the internet.I so long to belong to a "group" of blogger ladies and friends,what am I doing wrong here?lol

Kate said...

Thanks so much for this! Great tips - I'd love to take the step forward (haha, super shy when it comes to this!).

Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead said...

I really like the idea of ad swapping and haven't really heard much about this from other bloggers. I think I am really going to have to see about exploring that more deeply as I establish my "tribe" (as Amanda put it). Thanks for the post!

Melissa said...

So I'm a little behind, but I'm just catching up on this series and it's so stinkin' helpful. I love the idea of swapping ads, especially if you are tiny, like me:) Thanks.

Skylar Magazine said...

Excellent post and tips! I just started getting into selling advertisement and sold my first space last week! I was so excited, even though I only made $5.00... well, less than that, because I use passionfruit and they take a little out, but I was thrilled. I have 3 sponsors so far, though one just opted to host a giveaway with no ad. I love doing giveaways, they are a lot of fun. So, so far I'm off to a good start, I'm working with some truly awesome sponsors too. It's great because I'm getting to know them and friendships are already developing from it.

I've had some bad experiences as well. Being a noob, I don't always know what I'm doing. One of the people I approached on Etsy reported me and I got a warning from Etsy for soliciting (as if they never solicit!), but it was worth it because one of the people I contacted was excited and agreed to host a giveaway.

Some of those Etsy sellers can be mean! There is even a thread in the forums for bashing blogs, which is really stupid on their part, because it just makes them sound like jerks and nobody wants to buy products from someone with a bad attitude. I call them blogger bullies, lol. They may think they are more superior, but they aren't. According to them we just want the goods and want to sell ad space. Well, duh, of course we want to sell ad space and of course we love freebies, but we do it because we love it and want to support small businesses. And, how is it any different from what they are doing.

Anyway, sorry for the babble. These are excellent tips, I'm going to save the link, because I've learned a lot that I wasn't aware of before.

Love your blog! My blog is Skylar Magazine, feel free to stop by any time!


Unknown said...

Thanks, Lish... Lots of new ideas to chew on!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the pointers. I'm a newbie and am a little stumped at how to monetize. Google adsense, ugh. Amazon affiliates...nada. Oh yes, I need more traffic but after 2 months, I have about 30 to 40 followers. How do you do give aways.?

We may have met by chance...but we become friends by choice.

Unknown said...

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