I’m going to focus in this article on five dimensions in which your blog should be growing over time. We tend to think of a blog’s growth in terms of readership or page views, but there is much more to growth, long term, than statistical increases. Your blog needs to grow in other ways too.

I’m not speaking to major news blogs here. This concept is tough for large, multi-author blogs, which is why personal and single-author blogs have an advantage on this dimension of growth – you can be known. I don’t mean “known” in the sense of popularity, but intimacy. People can get to know you. That’s powerful.

Brand Yourself

How then do you create warmth on your blog?

Be You

I can’t emphasize this enough. Blogging will be less and less enjoyable until you finally find the “you” in your voice. Decide what kind of blogger you are and be that with full confidence – let no one convince you otherwise.

Light A Fire (with Passion)

Blog with fervent heat! Write off the cuff, from the hip, and most importantly, from the heart. I almost never edit my blogging. This is different when you’re writing a research paper, course material, or perhaps even a book. But for a personal blog – edit less.

Design With Warmth

I once met with a client about designing his corporate website. I expected he’d want the typical elements of a corporate online identity but he surprised me. “I called you because your design makes me feel like I’m sitting by a warm hearth – that’s the feeling I want to capture.” Wow.

How do you do that with your design? For starters, don’t make it look like an advertising junkyard. This is not a rant about running ads – I’m cool with ads. Just make them feel like pictures hanging on the wall of your home, not trash thrown onto the front lawn.

Connect with Readers

Respond. Reply. Encourage. Help. Visit the “homes” of your readers once in a while. It’s part of being knowable.

You might think of this post as a post about community-building, but it’s not. I’m primarily focusing on making your blog feel like home. I’ll get to the community-building in a couple of days.

The big question of this post is simply what can I do to make my blog a warmer place? That shouldn’t be too hard. You are awesome, after all, aren’t you?

Let’s face it, a lot of blogs in existence today are simply shallow. They claim to offer great “content” but it’s really all the same elementary principles re-hashed or the same very basic how-to stuff that gets scattered out for the mere purpose of ranking high and gaining traffic.

I want to challenge you to use your blog not only as a vehicle for traffic and marketing products, but also (and really first and foremost) for the purpose of stimulating creative and even critical thinking. Make people think. Take them deep. How?

Leave Your Article Incomplete

When you edit an article before publishing, you’re likely to spot all the details you’ve left out and then add them in before pulling the trigger on your post. Being thorough and well-researched is a good thing, but spoon-feeding your listeners has its disadvantages too. You may end up cutting the resulting conversation short.

Write Something Slightly Off-Topic

You’re in a niche, most likely, and I can respect that. But every niche has its bordering disciplines, and I can almost guarantee that tackling something a little off-topic now and then will not only stretch and deepen you as a writer, but will also stimulate the interest of your readers.

Brainstorm Often

I recently read an interview of Seth Godin who was asked how he came up with so much to write. His reply was classic Godin, “How can we, as marketers, not come up with so much to write. We are thinkers.”

Tackle the Ominous Subjects

Don’t fear the subjects that seem controversial. Granted, a wrong opinion can hurt your credibility on occasion, but I would argue that avoiding controversy will do so even more.

Let me put this challenge as simply as I can: Stop dumbing down the blogging industry. And I feel strongly about this. Make me think. Make me uncomfortable. Make me come back for more!

So we’ve talked about how to grow warmer and how to grow deeper with your blog. Further we’re going to touch on how to grow stronger in your blogging.

I want to expand a bit here on a subject that means a lot to me, but seems to be highly controversial in some circles – personal branding. I think making a blog stronger is simple – better hosting, better design, and better articles. But I think our focus needs to be on making the blogger stronger. Why? Because you are bigger than your blog and even though people subscribe to your feed, they’re really subscribing to you.

In other words – improve your personal brand and your blog is sure to grow along with it. I want to be careful here because I realize that there are some grave dangers when it comes to ego and personal branding, so listen to this disclaimer loud and clear – you are not “all that.” You haven’t arrived. The universe can go right on without you. Don’t forget this and don’t get full of yourself.

With that off my chest, let me explain how I think your blog and you can grow stronger through personal branding…

Authenticity Matters

We grow stronger in our personal brand (our “identity” as others perceive us) as we open ourselves up and become public, with sane limits. I don’t think anyone cares if you put ketchup on your eggs this morning. I do think people care about what you’re involved in, what work you’re doing, and most importantly, how you can help them.

There are limits to how much detail about our lives should be shared, but the goal is to allow the world to get to know the real you. Why? Because you’re the center of the universe? No, I already corrected that above. It’s because of the word trust. People trust whom they know intimately.

Blogging affords a nice way to show people the real us. So when I say authenticity makes you and your blog stronger, I’m primarily referring to your sincerity, truthfulness, and willingness to be open about the “real you.”

Being authentic comes with a cost. You’re going to have to field criticism instead of ignoring it. You’ll need to reveal your faults and errors along the way. And even in the details, you need to be honest in the content and monetization of your blog.

Authority Matters

There is a single reason why I recommend that every business in America, small or large, have a blog run by someone within the company. It’s because your blog is your sharepoint with the world around you – the place where you get to become the authority on some subject.

I have a friend who is starting a blog about the retail industry to support his company that trains people within that industry. When his firm is seen as the authority on retail, he’s bound to attract more clients.

Your blog grows stronger as you do, and you grow stronger as you increase your authority. There are several ways to do this and I hope you’ll suggest more in the comments, but here are three highly important things to remember:

Listen and learn. Monitor your niche or industry. Subscribe to valuable blogs and take in inspiration and information.

Publish great content. I know this is elementary, but it fits into the flow here. Every post you publish says something about your brand and one post might be the first (and only) that a potential reader has from which to assess whether your blog is valuable or not.

Be a resource provider. This is a combination of the first two. Take what you find of value from your industry, combine it with your own quality content, and push it out to the world for the benefit of others.

Traffic isn’t everything. Grow personally and grow in your skills and expertise. When you do, influence is sure to follow!

For the most part, your blog is a rifle. You take aim at your niche and pull the trigger. Either your spreading a message or marketing a product, but you know your ideal potential consumer. This is a good practice.

Sometimes, however, you need to broaden the scope of your blog with shotgun inaccuracy. Shotguns use shells filled with shot which spread apart out of the end of the barrel. Less precision means the ability to hit a rabbit running across your path in a split second.

There are thousands of potential readers out there who would probably enjoy what you have to offer, but you must be creative enough to find them. Sometimes that means thinking outside your niche long enough to throw something their way. Here’s my challenge:

Study and read something beyond your niche today, that you don’t normally read. It can be related, but don’t let it be something you would normally find on your own blog.

Meet someone you wouldn’t normally meet and converse about things you don’t have in common.

Write about something you don’t normally write about and pull the trigger, see what happens.

I’m not encouraging you to go too far off subject or you might be viewed as irrelevant. I just think we need to broaden our horizons on occasion.

I want to close this article by sharing the aspect of growth we focus on most of all – how to grow larger.

There is one distinction I want to point out up front in my philosophy from others. Many people look at growing a “larger” blog in terms of inbound statistics – pageviews, subscriber counts, bounce rates, etc.

These are important, but they don’t always tell the full story. I believe the most important aspect of growing larger is the idea of growing in influence.
The Basics of Statistical Growth

Let me start with the basics. How do you grow larger in terms of statistical reach? In other words, how do you attract more visitors and subscribers? Here are some of the ways I work on this aspect of growth daily…

The Basics of Statistical Growth

Let me start with the basics. How do you grow larger in terms of statistical reach? In other words, how do you attract more visitors and subscribers? Here are some of the ways I work on this aspect of growth daily…

Network. Make friends. Be real, genuine, and generous. Meet new people.

Get your content to your target audience, which means, spread it around everywhere. Join social bookmarking sites and submit your posts. Find sites with community links sections. Put your videos on multiple networks with your url in the description.

Practice good SEO. Have strong titles, good keywords in your post, and properly SEO’d page structures.
Guest post.

Comment. Don’t just leave comments hoping for clicks – truly interact and connect with people through commenting.

Write good stuff! This is the #1 factor, by the way. The rest is just a matter of helping people find it.

If I were you, I’d establish a routine. I have a cycle I go through when promoting my content so that I rarely leave steps out. Decide which networks you’re going to utilize.

Growing Your Influence

This is bigger. It’s more important but harder to understand and apply. By growing your influence, I simply mean that the growth of your blog isn’t dependent upon writing a great post, it’s more dependent upon being consistently valuable to people.

As your writing improves, so does the value of your blog in total. People tend to give you credibility as you establish your authority on a given subject matter. I’m often asked about WordPress and web design issues as well as ministry leadership because those are two subjects I address consistently on my other blogs.

Be a helper and encourager. Let goodness ooze from your being!

Author’s Bio: Darren Carter is an expert marketing consultant and is associated with an SEO and marketing agency. He is a proficient freelance writer who works for many online publications where he covers online business related topics. He also offers his knowledge, particularly on SEO, social media marketing and many more.