8 Jul 2011

How Does Your Blog Grow

I am often asked blogging questions by my readers…all sorts of questions…including how to attract more traffic to their sites. I am not a technical whiz kid nor am I a computer genius and what I have learnt about blogging is simply through my own experience.

Blogging is a way to express creative energy.

This is my internet home and my presence on the world wide web;  it is where I talk about many things French and some things not so French. If I imagine that my site is like my house then naturally it is a reflection of me, my taste and the things that interest me. I think this is the most important factor when starting a blog – make sure your blog is a mirror image of you, your personality and the message that you wish to spread.

*Create a format that you are comfortable with and that you and others can navigate easily

*Make sure that the fonts and the colours are user friendly (as much as I adored my old black background I had to admit defeat and change to a neutral colour)
*Design your blog in the way that appeals to you and expresses your message
*Add interest with relevant widgets and photographs
*Provide links to your other content that might remain of interest for your readers
*Make sure your site loads quickly – beware of too much content in any one post that could slow down your loading time
*Advertising is essential for most blogs but it must not overpower the writer’s content and be relevant

*Most importantly, make it a place that you enjoy spending time because many hours go into creating a successful blog

Blogging is about connection.
This website has enabled me to connect with like-minded souls all over the world and for that I am so grateful. I feel as if I have made good friends with so many people although our paths may never physically cross. Blogging is so much more than what we say on our own blog; blogging for me is more about what I learn from others.

*Search for blogs that have similar interests to yours
*Take time to read other blogs
*Comment on posts because you mean it and you want to contribute to the discussion
*Comment because you want to say hello not because you want to attract traffic. Traffic will automatically come to your blog if you leave comments but the idea is to engage your readers and encourage them to visit often
*Comment when you can – it is not always possible to respond all the time. Blogging should not be a pressure and I believe that the blogging community understands that.
* Make it easy for readers to comment on your blog

Blogging means having a purpose.
French Essence started because I wrote a book about moving to France. I am an accidental writer and because of that I am a blogger. Now I could not imagine my life without the blog and even though it is a great way to gain profile for my books, it has become so much more than that.

*Know why you are blogging
*Blogging takes time. Be prepared to commit
*Choose your topic  – it doesn’t matter what it is – be passionate about it
*Link to like-mined blogs
*Visit similar sites and let other bloggers know you are out there

Blogging means sharing.
Guest posting is a great way to raise profile and be introduced to different readers.
*Write as much for other blogs as you can when starting out
*Link your blog into group events
*Invite others to participate on your blog if that is appropriate

Blogging means posting.

* If you want your blog to grow you must post regularly
*Don’t disappear without reason – readers become attached
*Post a mixture of content – photographs and words
*Post varying lengths of content to keep it interesting
*Be original

Blogs are read in various formats.
Readers can ‘follow’ your blog or they may prefer to subscribe and read by email. French Essence has web followers and email subscribers so I try and be sympathetic to both. If I post too many images in one post then that is often harder for the email subscribers to deal with although my blog site would be enhanced.

Blogging means keywords.
One way to attract traffic is to use significant and popular keywords.
*Post titles should be succinct and to the point
*Post titles should be catchy to attract attention
*Post titles should use keywords words that will be picked up by google and help direct traffic – for example France, French and Paris are excellent words for me to use in my titles.To grow your blog traffic needs to come from multiple sources not just other blogs

The most important thing to remember about blogging is to blog from the heart.   If a blog is sincere, well thought out and of interest then it will naturally gain attention. Blogs are living, changing works – they have personalities and they have moods. They have ups and downs. Blogs gain momentum and loose momentum. Like the tide, they are in and they are out. Blogs are never static; constancy is not a word we can equate with blogging.

How does your blog grow? xv

VA In Your Inbox

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In This Post:




Thank you for this excellent post full of pertinent information Vicki. Blogging is a lot of work but when you love the work and are passionate about it, it is so worthwhile. I have been wathching my Blog grow for the 2.5 years that it exists and it is so much fun to see the progress.

I wish I had many more hours in the day so I could comment on all the blogs I find interesting, and reach out to my readers and followers. I have met so many amazing people through HiP Paris and Haven in Paris. The Internet is quite the adventure and I love watching social media evolve and being a part of it.

The enchanted home

This was superb! So comprehensive, its like a bloggers success course 101 all in one post! I am going to bookmark this for future reference…well done!!

Mary Stein

Thank you, Vicki. I actually printed your blog out for inspiration later when I get discouraged about the time it takes vs. readership. I love your succintness (word?)as well as your beautiful photos. Your blog is always a nice lift in my day. (My personal blog is trappingsandgatherings.wordpress.com and I have a blog on my website – huntingandgatherings.com)

Vicki Dreste

This is a great post. You have listed all the reasons I have a blog. Your writing is clear and concise. It's also open and friendly. Not everyone can do that, you do it well.
Thanks for the inspiration.


Spot on Vicki. I couldn't add a thing, except that blogging has opened the world to me. I now have friends around the world, many whom I"ve been lucky enough to meet in person.


Fabulous piece! I often try to explain why I blog, and why I do it five times a week without getting paid. The reason is fully explained in the dinner that I am having tonight. Two bloggers, from two different states are both in town tonight and we're having dinner. I'd never have met either of these two people without the blog, and my life will be richer for the experience.

Can't wait to meet you at some time, Vicki!


Your post was so timely (for me personally), thank you for giving some tips on how to grow a blog site. I have so much fun posting, you are so right, it's an outlet for creative energy.
I always have fun reading your posts and gain inspiration by your thought provoking posts.

Anne in Oxfordshire

Such an excellent post. I look at my blog and think it needs changing, but not sure what looks good . I have lots of posts to do , but just not feeling up to it at the moment.. but my readers do know. I have been laid up with a broken ankle .. so not been out and about , I do have more of Italy , Paris and Rouen to post about..so things to be done.

White Rabbit

This is great information – thanks for posting!

It's hard to attract and keep traffic to my site I find because I don't have a specific topic – it's just a personal blog.

I know I have Readers because I see the stats and a few of them comment but it's definitely nothing to the scale of other blogs I've seen.

Natasha @ Northern Light Blog

Hi Vicki, GREAT post!
While I do not consider myself a novice at blogging anymore, we can certainly all learn from your post, and I did! I know keywords are important to drive traffic, and I should – like you – use them more often, however, blogging should be about inspiration and a positive attitude! I try to live by those words, writing and posting about what catches my eye. I see plenty of blogs that started around the same time as I, with far more followers, but I am HAPPY with my blog, and wouldn't change it! I love it when people from all over the world leave comments, however short or long (Thank you for yours!) and truthfully those are what make my day! The fact that someone out there took the time to write a little something….

LOVE visiting France through French Essence :)

helen tilston

Hello Vicki
You have been very generous with your knowledge on blogging. Sincere thanks.

I am an artist and started a blog some years ago, which remained essentially inactive for some time, due to working commitments.

I very much enjoy your blog and I definitely have my top ten list and then more. I love when I find the character of the person in the blog, that is so charming and sincere.

Thanks again for all this excellent advice and for your generosity

Helen xxx


Dear Vicki,
I love your thoughts today about blogging and growth. I am so thankful for my blog and blogging contacts. They are few but are connections of kindred spirits.
Some I feel I could go and see in a heart beat.
I am currently traveling and the very reasonk I huave had such a wonderful time is largely due to the connections I have made here. The suggestions have been my lifeline.
I am often asked why I blog. I feel it is like my morning coffee. My time of connection and discovery.

X Suzi

Hong Kong Badger

That's really helpful and interesting! I've only just started out blogging (about a month now) so I'm learning about it all as I go along…Posts like that really help in making me think about aspects of blogging I might not have considered so far, such as the importance of keywords in titles.

I have to admit at this point I'm still finding my feet and voice so I'm not too concerned about building traffic yet – at the moment I'm discovering (and enjoying) the whole creative process! But this is definitely something I'll be coming back to once I have laid the foundations of my blog so to speak.

So thanks for sharing this!


I loved this post, Vicki, as you covered some very good topics within blogging and gave some great advice. Very insightful, yet your signature warmth and personal touch keeps it from seeming like a boring informational article. Thank you! xo


Great article. My favorite point is to write about what you love and how this blog is an extension of who you are. I completely agree.

I don't think I'd be able to write as often if it wasn't a subject I was passionate about.

Bella Vida by Letty
Have a great day.

peggy braswell

Soooo helpful! Although I knew most of these points,I do not always practice them whilst writing my blog. I will mark this post + keep it handy so as to remind myself..Myself wants to forget quite often. Thank you Vicki, greetings from LA, CA xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

hostess of the humble bungalow

Hi Vicki,
If you were to host a seminar on blogging I'd love to attend.

Blogging is really very personal and I feel vulnerable at times.
When the audience responds negatively or when people stop following I wonder if I should revamp but as you say it is a personal space and I need to be authentic.

You have been at this much longer and I notice that you have a large number of followers. (which is very impressive!)
These are great points Vicki, I'll attempt to tweak my blog and see what happens.

Thank you,


Hi Vicki, This is exactly what I needed to hear. About 2 months ago I had my tech guy design a blog page for me and for whatever reason (probably fear of failure), I have not even entered a single post. Now I will have to get busy. Hope that all is well. Mary

Mademoiselle Poirot

Bonjour Vicky, thanks so much for your comments on my blog, I really appreciate it.

It took a moment to read through this post and it was really interesting. Unfortunately I seem to "get lost" as soon as I try to remember things like keywords, google, varying posts and pictures. I generally end up right at the end of your post: I blog from the heart. About things that are of interest to me, that I like and that inspire me. My blog has changed over time and become more personal and I think that's the way I like it – though it's obviously nice when people respond, comment and follow too ;-) Love from London xo


Wow, I am learning a lot of different ways to improve. I do love your blog even if I don't get to visit all the time. I love the new background way over the black. And you are my connection to a part of the world that I really like. xo


This is a great post and very succinctly put. I often find that people don't understand why people have a blog (especially in England). I blog to share my discoveries on food and customs that I encounter in my day to day life in Provence. I love the discipline or writing and learning how to take better photographs and I hope my readers enjoy it as well!


Great thoughtful piece Vicki. I think there are many different reasons for blogging and many different approaches but the ones that are the most meaningful and interesting to me are the ones that have original content and clearly as you say are from the heart through either personal or journalistic pieces. I love discovering new people to read and follow but must admit do not appreciate being constantly solicited – like the kid in the front of the class constantly waving her hand to be called on. There seem to be too many blogs of late becoming too aggressive in their marketing attempts for my taste. Yours is so justifiably popular because you are gracious with great original content written beautifully with terrific visuals. Keep up the good work!!


Great post! As I'm just starting out in the blogging world, and reading as much about blogging as I can, this was a timely post for me! Thanks so much :)


What great advice. I started blogging for fun and was amazed at how quickly it grew, well it was about growing tomatoes, so it had to!
I now have a business blog and expected the same growth. The problem was that my new blog had to also have unique post to draw traffic, which is finally happening.
To new bloggers, keep posting, you will get there. However, this blog is rather special so it well take a lot of time and effort to reach this standard.


Juanita in Ohio

I often consider blogging because I am passionate about the USA, France, Italy and many other places. Since I was a child I have LOVEd fashion, knitting, crocheting, sewing and shoes, lol. Due to my health I am unable to commit to anything, except reading blogs like yours. I thank you, from my heart, for all of the awesome photos and wonderful words.


Wonderful post. I think my blog's raison d'etre is because my computer does not have eyes to glaze over, like my husband, when I talk about design. Hahaha.

bee bon

Well no beautiful photo's and a long blog that kept me riveted! I'm still the new blogger on the blog and I learned lots today. x bee

24 Corners

Thank you Vicki…I love when bloggers talk blogging…especially when done in such a well said manner as you've managed to here. The reading of it was so soothing actually, and the length was a pleasure, I wouldn't have minded one whit if had been even longer.
After blogging now for a little over a year, I'm still figuring out the direction of the blog as there have been several twists and turns along the way that have changed it's orginal intention, but it's been one of the best experiences of my life and the people I've met have been very special, it's so nice to meet kindred spirits.
Thank you again and I'm off for a second, inspirational read!
xo J~


There is so much great advice here. I completely agree that your blog must be a reflection of you, and people with similar tastes and interest will naturally follow or visit. Thanks for the tips!!


Vicki, a really wonderful posting, and I thank you from my heart.

I have ended up with my blog not supporting my own artistic endeavors, though that is how it began…..now as a way to give back to others. I love to promote the arts & artists, entrepreneurs of all kinds.

I realize that to honor my readers and friends that balance is in the key for marketing my sponsors as well. I have had so many tell me how happy they are to know when I have a giveaway.

Lots to consider.

Art by Karena

Beth C

Thank you for this helpful post. I've recently started bogging and love the creative expression it allows me, but I've been a little discouraged that I'm not getting more readers. I've been doing just about everything you mentioned here, so I suppose I just need to be more patient.

Ingrid Mida

I had to laugh when you called yourself "an accidental writer". Your writing has such clarity and is always engaging and thoughtful.
These tips are good reminders for me as lately I've been thinking about why I blog. I've been spending a lot of time researching and writing for other purposes and have not been as eager to write for my blog as I used to be. Plus many blogging friends who were there at the beginning have now fallen away. I guess it's time to find some new blogs to follow and to recommit to my blog because it has brought many good things my way.

Dumbwit Tellher

Greetings Vicki; Well thought out advice and all so true. Your last paragraph, excellent. Blogging truly is what comes from the heart and about connecting. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and advice with your readers.
You are a woman/writer/blogger I respect deeply.
x Deb


I am instantly turned off blogs that are started just to make money or to hunt for a book deal. It is obvious when someone is blogging for fame and not for passion.
I just create posts that interest me, I write for my satisfaction and I think that then interests other people.
Blogs were people just make lists or moan are another turn off.
Great article – hope you don't mind me linking to it – more readers for you!


Vicki~ Thank you for this very helpful post! I am going to copy it so I can refer back to it often for assistance. I have been blogging since November. I really do love it and I love all the blogs that I follow. I am struggling though with the fact that I don't have many followers and that I get very few comments back if any on my posts. I am very good about commenting on other people's posts and giving very attentive responses. But I have not received the same back. I plan to keep trying and hope that things will improve in the future.
Thanks you again, and I do love your blog and your books!
Best to you~


What a comprehensive post! I could not agree with you more, surely the essence of every blog should be heartfelt…whenever I find maintaining a blog is becoming another thing on my checklist I take a step back and remind myself of why I started it in the first place!!!

Natasha in Oz

Brilliant post! Thank you so much for this. I am bookmarking this and will no doubt be constantly referring to it for quite a long time!

Best wishes,

PS Thanks so much for popping by and visiting my blog recently. It really made my day!

Down that Little Lane

100% agree, essentially if you are doing it purely for flattery and praise and not yourself you will never be happy…the bloggy world is such a fabulous place with endless support for those that are genuine. Thanks for sharing xx


Great post, there was not one thing I could not connect with. I have only been at this for 6 months now and had no idea how blogging would fulfill me. I am nowhere near to evolving into what it will finally become, don't know if I ever will, but as you suggest blog from who I am, what I see, what interests me and hope somewhere I will connect with people. I have met some wonderful people through the experience, and it is them that now keep me going. Great post!
Warmest wishes from Wales


I agree, my little blog is growing slow but sure, leaving comments is something I need to do more often. I do enjoy visiting your blog. thanks for all the helpful tips.

Tammy at The Drill Hall Emporium

Wow! Thank you so much for your advice and thoughts on blogging. I must admit, I would love more followers and visits to my blog but I have not really attempted to change this. I am looking forward to putting some of your ideas into action through my next posts…and I may have to look at my background (it may be just a little too busy!). Thank you once again, have a great day. Tammy

Jenna @ Sequined Sunsets

Thank you for this post! As a newer blog, so far for me it has been a place to connect with people but mostly it has been a place for myself that I can enjoy the creative part of my life. And I was just talking to my husband the other day about what direction I want to go with this as I've found I really, really enjoy the creative outlet and people blogging as given me. The question is, how do I "take it up a notch?" and your advice has really helped. I'll definitely be re-reading and re-reading this post as I figure out. Thanks as always for being a great inspiration!



Great post your give very great tips and reasons why you blog. You are completely correct when you say a blog should be a mirror image of yourself. A blog is the one place where you can write whatever you want and have people respond. I recently launched a site http://www.whyiblog.com to connect bloggers to share their story and learn about others. I would love for you to check it out and add something of your own, thanks!


This is such an excellent post! And I beleive that at the end of the day your blog should be about you and for you. Although there are some very successful bloggers out there they did not get there overnight and they do work very hard.

I am with Yonks in the above comment, I am new to blogging and have no idea where it will take me but I do it for myself because I enjoy it.

Thank you for shearing your advice.



Vicki, this is priceless information. I write my personal blog and also write blogs for our product lines at work, and you've covered everything important and then some for blogging! Such a generous sharing of knowledge. I'm printing this out and putting it in my blog folder at home for reference. Thank you!


As others have already said, this is an excellent post, Vicki! When I first started blogging 2 1/2 years ago, I was completely overwhelmed by how huge the blog world is–and how small and insignificant my own blog seemed in the midst of it. However, over time, as I made online friends and found like-minded souls, I realized that starting to blog is a lot like moving to a new city. You eventually find a neighborhood where you feel at home, and you put down roots. While blogging (and flickr) have greatly increased my freelance writing, teaching, and photography work, I started blogging for fun, and that continues to be my primary reason for continuing. Little did I know when I started that I would meet so many fascinating people, like you, who would inspire me and open my eyes to possibilities I'd never imagined. I always love hearing from friends who have meaningful things to say in comments, or who drop by just to say hi. I also love when friends visit and don't leave a comment, as I often do myself. If it ever began to feel stressful or pressured, I'd stop doing it–or I'd seriously change my approach/attitude. Too much of life is stressful. Blogs like yours are where I come to be inspired and rejuvenated.

Thanks, as always, for being so thoughtful and for sharing your insights.

xoxo Gigi

Alcira Molina-Ali

This is a wonderful post Vicki — not only informative but sincere and heartfelt.
You've not only answered some of my questions and assuaged some of my blizzy-bloggy fears, but you've also encouraged me to soldier on.
Cheers and bises, Alcira



Vicki, I found these comments enormously helpful and thankyou for your kind advice and wisdom on this topic. Thanks too for visiting MY blog.

Erin Moline

What a great post. Informative, to the point, and stressing heart, enjoyment, and creativity. Blogging is an accidental pastime that began to augment my psychotherapy practice, but I love it and end up spending a lot of time there. You nailed how I feel about it with your post. Merci!

French Heart

Thank you so much for these generous tips, Vicki! Am SO glad you mentioned time consuming–so it's NOT that I've suddenly grown inept! Committed to posting daily. But w/research, fact checking, an image or link/quote search it is amazing how much time evaporates–even while committed to a schedule!

It's SO much fun….and look forward to improving as time goes on. Am AMAZED at the talent and creativity of women's blogs. It gives us our own place and voice. MANY do a better job with their blogs than entire multi-billion dollar networks. Seriously.

Thanks again! Printed off as a guide!

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd.

Great post Vicki. I agree with every word and am thankful for a few reminders. Blogging is one of the best things that has happened to me and our business. The biggest thing for me has been the friendships. Renay Moore,(you may know her)will be in Little Rock on Monday and we will meet for the first time in person. I'm picking her up at her hotel for lunch and to visit my home. I feel like I'm going to be seeing an old friend from college and we have never actually met. For me, the relationships have become the most important thing. It's crazy. I have never met you but listened to your Skirted Roundtable interview and feel like I know you. Keep doing what you do. We all benefit from it. Mona

Blooming Rose Musings

Vicki, this is such a wonderful post. I love your first point of "express creative energy"…I think you could give us all lessons on that topic. Your creative energy is amazing and inspiring. The second point that really stood out to me was "to blog from the heart". I think when we read blogs we can instantly tell when the post is done from the heart or just to get something(anything)posted.
Thank you for your wonderful insights.


Thank you for writting out this great article. I've been blogging for about two years, but I haven't put my passion in it. It's starting to change now, and I think what you write about the blog being our online "home" makes sense. I definitly will follow that advice

Vanilla House

Hi Vicki, I really enjoyed that article because I have just started out on my own Blogging adventure. My only problem is thinking that other's won't really want to read what I write but I so want to just let go and go with what is on my heart at the time. So reading your blog has inspired me to just do it!!
Also I have had great success in selling your books from my store. My customers love them. Congratulations on living the dream.. xx Ruth


What a very generous post. I too have just started blogging – about gifts and wrapping, so this was invaluable. I will certainly try to keep writing from the heart!

Lisa Chiodo

Funny I didn't find you through your blog, that came later…

First came a travel bug from birth and a passion for photography,

Then an Italian husband, a trip to Italy, a renovation, and it was love! (for both I mean)

Came home to Oz with thousands of photos and words and thought of a book… found Italian Joy and through Carla I found you!

It feels like we've been "friends" forever, so who else to look to for advice? No more going round in circles doing the blog thing (trying to get it right)just share my passion!!! And I have plenty of that.

So thank you not only for the excellent information but mostly for the advice from the heart!

ciao for now
Lisa Chiodo
Renovating Italy


Damn good post girl, damn good post! You & MOTH must be in cohoots 'cos he's always at me to take The Hedge to the next level (whatever that is!!) & you are a source of encouragement just at the moment I need it the most ( which is right now!) You might be on the other side of the world physically, but it's like you've been perched at our kitchen bench tonight giving me your take on this whole thing over a glass or 3 of a perky little Adelaide Hills Pinot. Thanks Mate, you're one wise Aussie chick.
Millie xx


Ah, Vicki, now can you please step outside my head?! You and I are of the one mind. Brilliant post and so generously shared. You're such a treasure, Vicki – a shining light in Blogland's firmament. And I'm so delighted to have befriended you in it. J x


This is a fabulous post Vicki and will be a great help to new bloggers especially. When I started my first blog, so long ago, there were fewer blogs and it was more simplified – now there are so many beautiful and interesting blogs and it's impossible to follow all.

My blog is basically for me. My readership has dropped off since everyone seems to have a blog now! This doesn't concern me. I'm not interested in advertising or joining numerous daily or weekly blog parties. I just want a way to journal, show my photographs – which I love taking during my travels and treasure hunting, and keep up with several bloggers around the world whom I've met in person through blogging, and whom have become dear friends. I like to consider it my creative outlet (I once worked in art and advertising and miss it now I'm retired).

I'll probably keep blogging – it is of course an addiction – but the only one I have, lol!

Hugs – Mary


Thank you for this post Vicki. I have only recently started blogging. I have been writing a newsletter, as part of my business, for well over 12 months but only recently launched a blog. Your blog was actually one of the very first I started reading. It was just after I returned from a trip to Saint Remy and went out and bought your book. From there I Googled you and discovered your blog. You're one of the reasons I considered blogging. I love the way you write and describe your life in France. I aspire to engage my readers as you do.

My blog is still evolving. I really just wanted to get it out there and start working on it, and then from there I plan on tweaking it over time. I liken it to undergoing a home renovation. I think you need to live in it for a while and get a feel for it, and then slowly adapt it and change it.

These tips you've provided in this post are invaluable. Thank you.

Warm regards,



This is such wonderful advice, Vicki. Thank you so much. I've had to cut back on blogging a lot lately as my writing has to come first and as you know, it's so time consuming! I always admire the way you manage your Blog and I really appreciate all your comments to me on my bog as I know how big your blog is. Recently I moved from Google to WordPress as I found I was so overwhelmed with the Google blog and feeling the pressure that I had to return comments etc when I was so time poor. I always find time to comment on the blogs I love and follow and of course French Essence is one of those! I guess I have downsized when it comes to blogs but I'm reluctant to stop altogether as I've met so many wonderful people. I cannot believe how generous people are in the blogging world. I've been sent several beautiful gifts and made real kindred spirit friends. I think blogging is wonderful but with me my books have to come first as the deadline is always looming. xx


Thank you! Well said & succinct! I am new to the blogging community, although I've been a silent reader for sometime now and I enjoy your wisdom & wit.


thank you for sharing this valuable information you have learned through your experience. I have just discovered your blog through dress design & decor links… lovely!!

Francesca Muir

Thank you Vicki – this is just wonderful for those new to blogging such as myself. A trip to your site is de rigueur for me on a daily basis now and I am loving working my way through your archives. I have devoured your books in the past and now I devour your blog – an inspiration. Thank you Francesca


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