Produce Good Content
Although this technically isn't directly related to growing an audience per se, without great content that is sharable and provides insight or opinion, you won't get very far. If you just wack something up on your site for the sake of it, or swatch a new lipstick and say 'oooh pretty' then your readers will get bored very quickly. Ensure every piece you write provides something worth reading: whether it's an opinion piece on what's going on in the industry, an explanation of the latest trends, or five different ways you can wear the new MAC eyeshadow. If you're writing about the same product as 50 other people, how can you make your piece different and how can you find a unique angle? Making your content great will naturally make it shareable, which in turn will bring new readers to your blog.
Use Social Platforms Regularly
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram should be used, without a doubt, as an extension of your blog. Readers don't just want to read your posts; they want to know and understand the person behind them. Tweeting what you're doing on the bus may sound boring, but it provides commentary and insight behind the blog and makes you more relatable. Snapping pictures of your beauty collection, what's new in Boots or your Starbucks provides a conversation starting point too - give potential readers something to question you about or to get involved with. When starting out it's best to adopt a few social networks that you can utilise and manage effectively, rather than trying to run seven at once. This will also allow you to dedicate more time to them, getting involved with conversations, rather than panicking that you haven't uploaded anything to Google+ in three days.
Become An Information Source
One of the easiest ways to grow an audience is to become an information source that people go to for advice and support. Maybe you want to become an expert in hair, or the one that knows about what the celebrities wore to the latest film premier. Perhaps you want to have all the news on what product launches when and where you can get it from... What you're an information source in doesn't matter, as long as you continue to push it out to people that want to see it. (I like to talk about new products, celebrities that have been signed by brands, offers, events and beauty news.) Sharing photos and links also encourages people to like, favourite or retweet your content too. Your social channels shouldn't be completely self-indulgent, so make sure you're giving something back and giving a reason for people to follow.
Monitor And Use Hashtags
Hashtags aren't just for Twitter anymore - they're used across other social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram too. Monitoring hashtags that are used will give you an indication of what conversations are happening, what people are searching for and what can open doors to new fans. Popular twitter hashtags include #bbloggers and #fbloggers, which readers and brands often search to find new and interesting content. If you're on Instagram, search for popular topics such as #TBT (Throwback Thursday) which encourage users to upload different types of content and discover new accounts to follow. If you share a photo, make sure you hashtag it with around five different descriptions, (i.e. #makeup #nailart #LFW) to enable your content to be discovered. Twitter parties or chats also open a lot of doors to other bloggers and brands, so keep your eyes peeled for scheduled slots where you can take part.
Offer Competition Prizes
It's a cliche, but it works. People love winning things and it ensures your site is extremely shareable. Offering a handpicked selection of goodies or something limited edition will get your audience excited and keen to share. There are plenty of handy tools, such as Rafflecopter, that help you run competitions and can also encourage people to follow you on multiple social platforms as an entry mechanic. Although competitions are a great way to get attention, the key is not to turn into a spammy site that's just offering free stuff for the sake of it. It may be that you tried a new mascara that you loved and therefore want to give five away; it may even be that you've collated your favourite products from the last three months into a hamper for a reader to win. A lot of brands are also willing to offer competition prizes free of charge to support a review, so why not ask one of your favourites if they'd be willing to donate something that can be given away to a reader?
These are just a few ways in which you can grow an audience, but there are so many more. Do you have any top tips on growing a blog audience? Next in the series: Managing Your Social Media.
(Missed the first post? Check out 'How To Start A Beauty Blog'.)