Bestselling Author Shares 3 Tips for Building Your Blog Audience

After moving from New York City to Chicago and getting married, Rachel Bertsche realized that her new life was missing one crucially important thing: a local best friend. So she decided to go on one friend date every week for a year, and she documented her quest on a WordPress.com blog at MWFseekingBFF.com.

But before Rachel even started the blog, the 27-year-old writer put together a book proposal based on her search for a local BFF, and successfully pitched it to agents, and then editors. She says, “After I sold the proposal, I decided to start a blog so that I could have a place to document my journey and some of the research I was finding. I also wanted to start building a community and to engage with readers.”

It’s now been over two years since Rachel first launched MWFseekingBFF.com. So did she accomplish her blogging goals? “Absolutely!” Rachel says, “When my book, MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, came out, I had a whole audience for the memoir that wouldn’t have existed without my blog. And I made new friends through blogging — I’ve met some of my readers, and other bloggers, in real life. My book ended up becoming a National Bestseller and hitting the NY Times Extended Bestseller List. I continue to update the blog because I enjoy it, and also I have a lot of loyal and wonderful readers who seem to enjoy it.”

Rachel says that the discussions generated by her blog posts were a great aid to the book writing process. “Blogging also helped me uncover what issues surrounding friendship were most interesting to my readers, and brought me new ideas. Readers said things in the comments that would switch on a light bulb for me, or they often alerted me to new research on friendship. While my book is very different than my blog (it’s not a compilation of blog posts by any means), writing my posts made me feel like I had a platform to bounce book ideas off of.”

We asked Rachel to share her advice on how to grow your blog audience. Here’s what she had to say:

The first thing I did was to read and comment on other blogs that I thought had a similar audience to mine. Leaving thoughtful comments with a link back to your blog is a great strategy. But you need to actually engage, and respond to the post. Readers are smart. Comments that are clearly only self-promotion will be obvious. Don’t write, “Great post! I think you and your readers might also be interested in my blog [link here].” Instead, get into the discussion. Respond to the issue at hand.

When you go to leave a reply, don’t post your blog link in the comment. Readers understand that they can click on your name and I think leaving the link in the post reeks a bit of self-promotion. (To change the link, go Users → Personal Settings in your dashboard and find the Website field under Account Details.) If you regularly comment on someone’s blog, that person will likely eventually stop by and read your blog, too. I’ve found the blogging community to be one of the most inclusive and generous out there.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. When I started out, I emailed some of the bloggers I most admired. I told them I loved their blog and asked their advice on how to find success. They were people who had clearly cracked the nut and each had their own tips for what worked for them. Then you can pick and choose.

Finally, give credit where credit is due. When I read a blog post that I love or that spurs an idea for my own blog, I always reference the post and link back. Blogging is about community and sharing, and this sets the tone. Just recently, I wrote a blog post inspired by a post on 1000AwesomeThings.com. I linked back, and hopefully turned a bunch of new readers onto the site. Because there was a decent amount of traffic sent to his blog, or maybe because he received a pingback, Neil Pasricha then came and commented on my blog! This is the author of two #1 International Bestselling books! I was so thrilled. I emailed Neil to thank him, and that began a back and forth, where I was able to ask him his blogging tips.

The bottom of line of all these lessons is to engage. Blogging is about community. It’s most successful not as a solitary endeavor but when you enlist the help of others, and in turn help them, too.

Learn more about Rachel and her book at MWFseekingBFF.com.


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Erica

491 Comments

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  1. christine

    Brilliant. Bravo for successfully pitching the proposal pre-research and writing. That is pretty fantastic.

    Cheers!

    Like

  2. Fiona @ lifelyricslemoncake

    I see a pattern in writers who have gained a decent blog following before their book hits the shelves. It’s what inspired me to pick up the wordpress mantle. I love blogging and sharing :)

    Will go off and check out Rachel’s site, sounds wonderful! Thanks.

    Like

  3. Jacob

    It’s a great post! Just shows how crucial the community aspect of blogging is.

    Like

  4. thecaptainpower

    Good job!!! Working on my first book : )

    Like

  5. Alexandra Román

    Reblogged this on Alexandra Román's Mink and commented:
    Advice that can give you some help on building an audience!

    Like

  6. socialloveaffair

    Awesome tips, I’ve been struggling to get a following on my blog although people are responding positively on the facebook page that I created for my blog. I guess there is hope yet

    Like

  7. Mikalee Byerman

    These are exceptional tips. Blogging is so much about building relationships, and she clearly supports that idea through all of her suggestions. I have been fortunate enough to build a wonderful, active community by employing many of these tips and cultivating exceptional relationships — though I do wish someone had created a list of tips like this BEFORE I started my own blog. ;)

    Now I can’t wait to check out her blog, too!

    Like

  8. Perianne

    I have found that it not only builds community but opens my heart. I read about so many people doing and being amazing, then having the generosity to share. This raises my energy and fills me with inspiration for my own writing.

    I love the idea of seeking a best friend. That is one way of filling your life with love.

    Like

  9. myspanishtranslator

    How wonderful, you have inspired me to keep on blogging. Thank you for your insights :-)

    Like

  10. brain injury self rehabilitation (BISR)

    I’m new to blogging and appreciate your tips to be successful. I’m enjoying the experience and learning from others as I read their blogs. Maybe they’ll learn something as I provide simple tips dealing with TBI and about my nearly two-decade incomprehensible journey following traumatic brain injury. Thank you for the tips on blogging.

    Like

  11. Doug Bruns

    Really helpful, Erica. Thanks for a terrific post. Rachel’s first point, of commenting on posts of a similar nature is a lesson I’ve just recently learned. After many years of writing a blog I now also enjoy the pleasures of getting to better know other bloggers, their writing–while also building my audience. Thanks.

    Like

  12. stevieouioui

    This is great advice. I have been struggling myself to build and audience. A struggle that can sometimes make you wonder if you’re talking to yourself. And then it hits you…you’re actually talking to yourself!

    Once you accept that people don’t owe you to read your words but rather that you owe it to yourself to reach out and offer your words to them, the struggle becomes a challenge.

    Congratulations to you Rachel. Well deserved!

    Like

  13. essentialsfromnature

    Great post, I’m new to blogging and will follow the advice. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  14. sliceoflondonlife

    I think after reading this blog post, I should comment! It’s true that blogging is a community and it is a great community for discovering a world outside the mass media, for finding out the opinions of ordinary people, reading about things that have happened to people that make you laugh and cheer you up for the rest of the day, or make you reflect, or even make you angry.

    As a photographer, I trawl photography blogs. It is a good way to see some stunning imagery. And photo blogs are better than flickr for getting a sense of a photographer’s style and favoured subject matter. Photobloggers tend to be more serious about their photography than a lot of flickr users and those photographers who comment on photoblogs give more useful and constructive feedback than the “nice shot” kind of feedback.

    And then there are the phototips blogs and the opinions of photographers about their art, the current state of photography, the photography market and of course, cameras. To read everything I want to read, I would have to give up sleeping and eating! But at least my mind would be richer for it :)

    Like

  15. myspanishtranslator

    Reblogged this on My Spanish Translator and commented:
    Bestselling Author Shares 3 Tips for Building Your Blog Audience

    Like

  16. ggbella3

    Awesome.

    Like

  17. colee112

    Great post, Blogging is so much more than just having people to ‘follow you’ as some people seem to think its about. Sure it is lovely to have people read what I have to say and get the opportunity to express myself, but it is just as much about sharing experiences and building relationships than it is about having admirers.

    Like

  18. awesomegig

    Really very inspiring, it’s tough for new bloggers when it seems no one is reading your blog, this is great advice!

    Like

  19. CouponBlessingsNow (@CouponDivaAndi)

    great article – now I know what my next step is…. :D

    Like

  20. istayinshape

    Thanks for the tips.

    Like

  21. wongeats

    Thank you for the great tips, especially having just started a Restaurant Blog 6 weeks ago. Your comments were apropos! Hopefully I can put them to use soon.

    Like

  22. debiherren

    Very helpful and informative. I myself am an autor, well soon to be– it is in the publishing stages now. I am just beginning the adventure of using a blog. Reading this post was a step in the right direction. That is awesome… the rise of your success. I am curious to read your book. Thank you for the useful hints. Best of luck in future endeavors, Debi

    Like

  23. jant1951

    Great post and really good tips. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    Like

  24. Armand Rosamilia

    Great and practical tips that anyone can do! I’m of the ‘writing is 25% writing and 75% promotion’ mind, and so far it is working… continued success!

    Like

  25. lifeandallthingslove

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom on blogging! I am new to the blogging world and every little tip helps! Congrats on all your successes!!

    Like

  26. susielindau

    This is great advice and congrats on your platform and book!
    I probably wouldn’t put my link in my comment since WP has that awesome Gravatar feature.
    Thanks so much for sharing. it makes me feel like I am on the right track!

    Like

  27. wineonmymind

    Great tips. Thanks. Blogging is a community thing. You are right thoughtful comments and pinging back are wonderfully helpful. Still learning all of these things.

    Like

  28. rantingchef

    I appreciate the advice in building a stronger audience.

    Like

  29. Aleister Nacht

    Building an audience is challenging and takes time but more than that, the writer must satisfy the readers every time.

    A Blogger is only as good as their last blog post.

    Thank you for sharing the information.

    Like

  30. Nicole Glover

    Congratulations on your book! And thank you for the good advice. I will certainly use it!

    Like

  31. thelightwithinyou

    It’s so awesome to read post of inspiration from others. Thank you Erica! This helps so many to achieve their goals in blogging. Setting the stage as a blogger can be a challenge with so many with different views out there. That’s where the beauty lays, in all of the differences of others. That’s what makes each of us unique in every way. :-)

    Like

  32. Grant McDuling

    Very inspiring, Erica. You have given me fresh hope so I’ll press on with my writer’s blog with vigour. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  33. Frank J. Casella | Pictures People Listen To

    This is truly great inspiration and advice ( and from a fellow Chicagoan) . I will be returning to this article from time to time to keep me on track. Thank you so much!! God bless you for sharing.

    Like

  34. Bobolouli

    Thanks for the advice. The online community is honestly really fun. There are so many awesome people out there, I could rant on. But I’d sound like a bloody love everyone hippie. So many talented people out there, artists, illustrators, it’s awesome. School ain’t the only place you can learn.Ha.

    Like

  35. Joe Pineda

    All of these tips are super valuable, and even though some sound really simple, you may forget them because of your excitement for keeping a blog.

    Like

  36. thomashyndman

    I can’t believe it…

    Today was the first day i started a blog. Don’t have a clue.

    The next thing I know is that I get this email. Go figure.

    Thank you very much for your insight.

    Like

  37. mydestiny2011

    Reblogged this on MyDestiny2011 and commented:
    Thank you for this great tips. Loving them.

    Like

  38. bluepearlgirl's world

    Your journey sounds like it was such an organic osmosis but i think you are quite a savvy and smart modern business woman. I wish you much success which i think you already have found. Bravo!

    Like

  39. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    I enjoy the blog world 50/50 – commenting as much as posting. So your thing about commenting is easy to do! There is some amazing talent out there, truly. Congrats on your achievements :)

    Like

  40. annstanleywriting

    Your post is very similar to things Kristen Lamb says. I sometimes forget to get involved in the discussion, or feel I don’t have anything to contribute, so it is good to be reminded to jump in and at least say hello and thank the author when I like their blog.

    Like

  41. msjenniferwalker

    Such an inspiring story! I hope that I can touch the lives of people with my year long detox and get them thinking about their health. Now I’m thinking I should’ve pre-pitched too! lol A big congrats to Rachel!

    Like

  42. Francisco Abad (EC)

    Reblogged this on emprendesocial and commented:
    Awesome tips!

    Like

  43. blastedgoat

    I have recently been more active with my blog and I can see a difference. The notification prompts help me keep up on all the different posts and people I like to read. I’ve started telling everyone I know in real life that they need to get on WordPress :)

    Like

  44. premalb

    Thanks , great write-Up. Will be very helpful, thanks again

    Like

  45. walterdoege

    Erica, thanks…reading your warm text inspired me to go on

    Like

  46. truelove4unow

    This is splendid, Thank you very much for encouraging me. God bless you.

    Like

  47. palmtreelifestyle

    Hi!

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! We certainly do learn alot from blogs and its great that people actually want to share there knowledge with others.

    Have a beautiful day.

    Like

  48. mrwilliams1987

    Awesome post!

    Like

  49. AuditCo 401(k) Auditing Firm

    Reblogged this on Auditco and commented:
    Great, great article! Helpful for us new bloggers! :) Being a former bookstore owner, I truly appreciated that aspect as well! Thanks!

    Like

  50. lisingnumbers

    Thanks for sharing. I am a liitle more confident of taking the first plunge.

    Like

  51. iphonebrkr

    Great post Erica! Thank you for sharing these tips with the blogging community here at WordPress. I believe that you are a very talented writer and will have much success. Thanks again and I will continue to follow your blog for more tips and advice just like this.

    Like

  52. ittoolsfornewmedia

    Thanks for the tips Rachel. I am just starting out on WordPress, and I love the way that blogs are a way to share experience/experiences. I blogg on a couple of other sites but those have been a way for me to express a trauma. They have helped me to find a way out of darkness, while I am not totally healed I am much better, I believe from blogging. The humanity in the blogging community, the support, the facts that I found out by using those sites, opened my eyes to the fact that I was not alone, I was not the only one. For me, it is a kind of miracle, and there is so much to learn, so many ideas and I find a very uplifting community that seems to live in a greater evolved state when it comes to kindness and getting the truth out there. Thanks for sharing your ideas. K

    Like

  53. catsgeesonexaminer

    Thank you Erica, I really did need the advice you gave. I know it will be a big help to me, as I am trying to build a group of ‘Best Friends’ I can exchange views and just be able to have good discussions with. Karen

    Like

  54. xjhmatthew

    Rachel, I’m inspired by what u had mentioned. I read ur blog on WordPress. Keep it up !

    Like

  55. jrinlove

    This makes sense, and I’m going to try it out, now!

    Like

  56. wildlifewatcher

    Thanks Rachel for the great tips for increasing my blog’s readership and helping me create a truly outstanding blog. I so appreciate WordPress! I am glad that Erica highlighted Rachel’s story today. Thanks again!

    Like

  57. anannya25

    thanks for such a nice tips

    Like

  58. 360hcopa

    Yes wordpress is a social network, keep this always in mind. Share your thoughts in comments and you will harvest.

    Like

  59. Finally... Wendy Wanders

    Thank you so much for the great advice! As a newbie blogger I am always looking to find new ideas on how to create and mantaiin a successful blog. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. :-)

    Like

  60. Samantha

    Reblogged this on inspiremewithwords and commented:
    What an awesome read!

    Like

  61. abullyfreeworkplace

    I just finished reading your post. It did give me ideas as this is just my second night attempting to write a blog.
    You made it seemed so easy. I liked the part about inclusive.

    Like

  62. klparry

    Awesome tips!

    Like

  63. becomingthebeacon

    This is very eye-opening, thank you. I’m new to the whole concept of blogging and online contact, but now I feel more prepared.

    Like

  64. Yamadipati

    These advices rings true, especially being a blogger in the Japanese Figure Realm which is not much of an audience as some major topics, per se.

    And yes, engaging with fellow similar topic bloggers does bring a lot of fun, audience being one of them.

    Like

  65. erumsuchistan

    Thanks for sharing such useful tips… It’s been around two and a half month i started my blog and like all other new bloggers, I am struggling to build the bond and create the loyal and like-minded readership which is very much active on Facebook and hardly bother to check and discuss anything on my blog. Any suggestions how to direct the FB readers & friends to my blog without being sound ostentatious :) Awaiting, Erum

    Like

  66. Vanessa Chapman

    Thank you. I completely agree with your comment about the blogging community being one of the most inclusive and generous out there – people write incredibly supportive comments on each other’s blogs and seem genuinely pleased for each other about personal achievements. There’s something about people giving little glimpses of their life that makes you feel privileged to be part of it and a lot of mutual respect is shown. It’s so different to a lot of forums where people seem to flare up into unpleasantness over nothing. When someone leaves a lovely comment on my blog, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy all day!

    Like

  67. sulamirela

    Thank you very much for sharing these special tips. Very useful.

    Like

  68. princessprattles

    Some very profound ideas that we can all work on. Thanks for the inspiration. I must admit I was inspired to blog in the first place by the novel “Julie and Julia.”

    Like

  69. semprives

    Getting a substantial audience is about engaging and getting people engaged. Thanks for pointing out.

    Like

  70. take2shots

    I think your blog idea is brilliant – well done. i would also like to start a blog have seen the very inspiring story of Neil 1000awesomethings.com.

    Like

  71. Marc Phillippe Babineau

    Some great tips here! Thanks…

    Like

  72. leighgoodstuff

    Totally agree: Community. involvement and interaction is the key to an engaging blog.

    Like

  73. mrbricksworld

    You have some superfantastical tips for any blogger to use. Thanks for sharing!!

    Like

  74. Briteites

    Thank you for useful tips. Three helpful reminders. My favorite is “Blogging is about community.” Connecting is a good thing.

    Like

  75. Anne Grace Crowder

    Your success speaks for itself and I appreciate you sharing how you did it.

    Like

  76. Louise

    Great tips, thanks.

    I”m curious to see what advice you would give when commenting on blogs that aren’t wordpress. Do you think its still ok to leave your blog address in the post then? Sometimes I try to comment via the reply with ID section and my address isn’t compatible. Am I doing something wrong??

    Like

  77. Darren Poke

    Awesome, well done Rachel on such a terrific achievement and thanks for sharing your tips.

    Like

  78. martingysler

    A very interesting post. The advice from Rachel are logical but sometimes it’s useful to read this kind of reminder to understand that social media are nothing other than a great community of people that search all the same thing “recognition”. Thank you for the share.

    Like

  79. rajuda (@rajuda3)

    Agreed. But does it really work? What I discover and continue to do so, is the fact that hardly anyone reads now-a-days. The attention span is short; the uptake is shallow; responses generally uninspiring! I am searching for THE reader- honest, sensible and demanding ones, who can bring out the best in you.

    Like

  80. majaschwarz

    Some of the tips are already well known, but it’s like: You know you need to have a back-up of all your data, but you just don’t create the back-up files regularily. I like the article, especially for re-highlighting the community aspect! Thanks!

    Like

  81. Eposure

    Hi Rachel
    Thanks for th tips – great advice, i will print them off and put them on my office wall as a reminder.
    Using point one already!

    Like

  82. ivomadaleno

    Very smart pitching the agents with just the idea… congratulations to Rachel!

    Like

  83. Kopskuif

    Thank you for sound advice. We cannot hear the “give credit where credit is due” part enough. The “do unto others …” axiom has to be applied in our community building and sharing efforts. Well done!

    Like

  84. cobbies69

    Some very useful information, enjoyed the read and hopefully put it to good use. ;)

    Like

  85. sallysdaughters

    Thank´s for the tips. It is a whole lot work behind a succesfull blogg, but it is also a very rewarding jobb. You meet so many new people and thoughts, that you had no idea they existed.

    Have a nice weekend everybody!

    Like

  86. Heide Kley

    Some months ago I started with blogging. Your advices are extremely helpful to me. The most fascinating wealth of blogging to me is to getting in touch with people all over the world and learn to know their ideas, interests and point of views.

    Like

  87. ClaireMcA

    Couldn’t agree more, I read similar advice when I first started from Myne Whitman and the most important thing I picked up was don’t just visit and look, engage with other blogs. Doing that in a genuine way is a natural extension, its more fulfilling for both the person writing and for the blog owner.

    I’m curious to know if Rachel found her local best friend.

    Like

  88. mariathermann

    Thanks for sharing your blogging experience with us. You are absolutely right, the blogging community on WordPress is really helpful and friendly; it’s quite easy to engage with like-minded individuals and receive great advice on all manner of writing and techie issues. Wishing you ocntinued success.

    Like

  89. quepeaz

    After reading the above comments, I feel corny adding mine to the group. Seems like I am following the crowd. This was very insightful and sparked some ideas for me to put in place for my blog. I just recently started blogging, and though I do get some readers interested in my topic, most of them only look at the musician I wrote about and they don’t comment. I enjoy blogging a lot, and I am always thinking of ways to better engage an audience. I will employ your tips in my strategy and see how things progress. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  90. Jennifer Lilley

    So refreshing to read three strong, helpful points rather than a head-spinning top 50 : ) Congrats on all your success; what a creative, fun idea to combine your moving experience/BFF quest with your writing expertise. Thanks for the tips; I’ve already printed this post and am keeping it by my side for my own checklist.

    Like

  91. Frank Burns

    Great thoughts about the art of blogging. Unselfish interest in other people and their blogs has to be a key factor in your own success. I must remember that at all times.

    Like

  92. nicolaasengelbertus

    Being new to blogging this is wonderful. I would like to connect to people who may be interested in living a stress free and happy life, something I write about in my blog and my book. I look forward to finding other blogs like mine and become part of a wider community. Much appreciated your sharing.

    Enjoy your day :)(:

    Like

  93. digthroughlife

    This was really informative, Erica ! I’m new to all this so I appreciate any advice. I’ve heard it said that in becoming a writer, one should remember to continue to read a lot and I think there are a lot of good writers on here to take in and learn from. I’m going to go back and read your older posts, too. Thank you very much !

    Like

  94. 421queen

    Thank you for sharing the 3 tips, I appreciate it so much. I’m just learning the skills in blogging, a real beginner. Hope I can improve for the better, I really want to make my website attractive and full of wonderful informations so that many blogger will like to visit my blog. Thank you and more power!

    Like

  95. Life of an American Muslim Convert

    First off congratulations on your best selling book! Thats actually a very clever idea. Did you actually find your BFF through your experience? I agree with blogging as it should be a community. I just started out and don’t have much traffic. I use Facebook to promote but that hasnt gotten me far. This is a great blog with tips that are practical. I found this very useful. Thanks for posting and many more successes in the years to come!

    Like

  96. lizardyoga

    Useful comments on linking blogs without self-promotion. Readers may also be interested in my fascinating and insightful blog, which you can find here…
    JK
    LOL

    Like

  97. Rashmi Kamath

    Reblogged this on Rashmi Kamath.

    Like

  98. kibbleart

    It is useful to read how others go about the blogging business. Seems easy enough, but I am having trouble getting the ‘look’ right for an art blog. I understand the importance of engagement, otherwise a blog exists in a vacuum. Apart from appearance and engagement it seems that key is ‘issue’. A unique viewpoint or approach gives the whole effort a sense of usefulness.

    Like

  99. hannahreadfilms

    Thanks! Just started a blog to help me promote my filmmaking so this has been really useful for me. Congratulations on your book!

    Like

  100. Linda Apple

    I’m copying this and pinning it to the wall by my desk. Thank you for advising people to not obviously self-promote. When I read something like that it makes me uncomfortable and I feel bad for the blogger. Loved the idea for the book too. Now that is original.

    Like

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