Growing a Small Blog Through Collaborations

July 3, 2014 — 11 Comments

growing a small blog

Speaking at Alt Summit at the end of June was an amazing experience! My panel worked so hard on our presentation, and we really felt like our hard work paid off! The room was packed, we got lots of questions from the audience, and heard really terrific feedback. We mentioned during our presentation that we’d make the material available shortly after the conference, and today is the day. You can click HERE to download the slideshow and worksheet we used for our presentation, and each panelist is doing a more in-depth recap of their part of the presentation on their own blog, so there’s lots of great info for you today!

And my part: growing a small blog through collaborations…

alt summit summer panel

When you ask most bloggers what they like best about blogging or why they blog, the answer you hear most often is that they love this community. Collaborating with other bloggers is my favorite way to feel like part of the blogging community. Brian Eno has said that, “Every collaboration helps you grow.” We can certainly see the truth of that in blogging! Working with other bloggers on projects, posts, and events is a great way to get new blog readers and increase your traffic!

alt summit summer

Collaborating has lots of great benefits:

  • It’s fun! Everybody likes to work with friends on projects.
  • It’s a great way to network and strengthen relationships relationships with other bloggers in your community.
  • It keeps things interesting. I know I tend to get in a bit of a blogging rut; I’m very strict with what I post on what days. Collaborating with other bloggers helps you think outside the box, and injects fresh ideas into your editorial calendar.
  • There is strength in numbers. As much as we don’t like to admit it, there are times when your blog stats matter. If you want to work with brands on sponsored posts or series, your pageviews and social media reach are important. If you team up with other bloggers to pitch an idea to a brand, you can add your numbers together. By collaborating, you can work with much bigger brands than you could on your own.
  • You can easily increase exposure. This is the best benefit of all (at least traffic-wise), and what I’m going to focus on: collaborations increase your exposure and grow your blog. The key to growing your blog is getting your blog noticed. That’s essentially what our whole panel was about: different ways to get your blog noticed. You want it noticed by more readers, bigger brands, and other bloggers. PJ and Mariah both talked about how important it is to get on other bloggers’ radar. When they are familiar with you and your blog, they’re more likely to share your content with their readers. We all want our posts to go viral, to be all over Pinterest, and to be featured on weekend round-ups and “Best Of” posts, but that’s really out of your control. Unless you collaborate with another blogger on a post. By collaborating with other bloggers on series, projects, and events, you can guarantee that they’ll share your content with their readership, because it’s their content too. By collaborating with other bloggers, you can increase your exposure without increasing your workload. You didn’t have to do any extra work, but now you have more people noticing your blog.

alt summit summer

So how do your collaborate with other bloggers? Here are a few collaborations I’ve noticed or participated in that have without a doubt increased blog traffic:

  • An interview or feature series. This is a great entry-level collaboration because you don’t have to know the people you want to work with super well, and it isn’t a lot of work for anyone. Email other bloggers/artists/makers that you admire a list of questions and photo requirements, and spotlight them on your blog. That’s it! Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY likes to be in the spotlight, regardless of the size of blog. And everybody likes to mention when they’ve been featured on another blog. It won’t happen every single time, but most bloggers that you spotlight will help push your post by retweeting it, pinning it, mentioning it on FB, and even linking to it on their blog. And it’s a great way to get to know other bloggers in a really low-pressure, easy situation.
    Example: In My Kitchen on Lulu the Baker–I started this feature series almost two years ago, and I love using it connect with new friends. I email the person I want to feature to see if they’re interested in participating. If they aren’t (which doesn’t happen often), it’s no big deal. If they are interested, I follow up with an email that includes the info I need them to send me (a brief bio, a headshot, a photo for their feature, etc.), as well as a due date. I also send them a link to previous In My Kitchen posts so that they can see what one looks like. When they send me their stuff, I literally just cut and paste their answers into my post and plug stuff into my photoshop template. It’s really easy for both of us and is lots of fun!
  • A one-time collaboration. Start with a great idea and approach the perfect blogger, or start with an awesome blogger that you want to work with and come up with an idea that is fun for both of you! It helps if their blog is about the same size as yours so that you both get the benefit. Both of you create a post based on the theme or topic you agree on, usually on the same day (or week), and you both link to and help publicize each other’s posts. You’re still only creating one post, but it is being publicized on your blog and social media platforms and theirs too–bonus! If you are approaching a blogger who you aren’t closely acquainted with, use the same tips you would in emailing them about a guest post (see Mariah’s post for more on that).
    Example: The Party Hop coordinated by Sara of Confetti Sunshine–The Party Hop involves about a dozen bloggers. You really get a lot of bang for your buck with that many participants, but a collaboration with just two people is great too. Sara, the organizer, picks a party theme, color scheme, etc, and sends out a google doc. Everyone involved signs up to write a post for the party (like party favors, printable invitations, party games, centerpieces, etc.). We all post our projects throughout the same week, and we link to everyone else’s Party Hop projects. Last summer, I made star-shaped rice krispy treats covered in white chocolate for a summer star-gazing party. And instead of just my readers seeing it, all 12 sets of readers saw it!
  • An ongoing collaborative series. This is the same as a one-time collaboration, but it happens on a regular basis, like once every week or once every month. Have a logo or graphic that you can use in your sidebar or include in each post, create a unique hashtag, set a schedule.
    Example: Endless Summer Projects on Lulu the Baker–This is another large-group collaboration. This summer, five of us have teamed up to create a summer project every week from mid-May to mid-August. Every Wednesday morning, a different blogger posts a project, and the other four of us link to that project on our blogs and help promote it on social media. This is a great example of strength in numbers. We have nearly half of our 15 posts sponsored by major companies like Wayfair, Minted, and Bing, and I’m pretty sure none of us would have been able to snag those sponsorships alone. But because we teamed up on this series and pooled our numbers, we were able to get pretty amazing sponsorship deals! Again, you can do great collaborative series with just two bloggers; you don’t need five people.
  • Local Workshops or Events. You don’t just have to collaborate with other bloggers. Local meet-ups, workshops, and events are huge right now, and can really help grow your local readership, regardless of the size of the blogging community in your area. Partner up with local businesses and local artists to host a fab workshop or party for the people that live in your city–no other bloggers necessary!
    Example: The Crafters Bash hosted by Thuy from My Paper Pinwheel–Thuy launched The Crafters Bash just under a year ago, and has already hosted four local workshops with four more scheduled in neighboring cities. She said there’s a noticeable increase in blog traffic every single time she hosts an event. Check out the downloadable PDF to see a list of other bloggers who regularly host local events in their area. They’re excellent resources if you are thinking of hosting events.

People don’t always realize it, but blogging can be tough. It’s a ton of work to publish a blog all by yourself (the content! the photos! the emails!), and it can feel very lonely and isolating. Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Get active in that big, beautiful blogging community, and team up with other bloggers. Not only will it grow your readership (something every blogger wants!), but it’ll make blogging so much more fun!

alt summit summer

growing a small blog

 

photos by Brooke Dennis/Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit; graphics by Ciera Holzenthal