Want to ensure your site not only grows its audience, but also engages it? (That was a trick question – what business owner doesn’t have these goals?)

The anonymous voice behind the uber-popular Femme Frugality blog has a few thoughts on what’s made her site so successful.

First and foremost, she attributes her readers – without them, she says, all of her efforts would be for nothing. Many of her readers are fellow bloggers from networks she’s joined, and FF says these networks are where she was really able to build momentum. Actively participating in these networks by both supporting others and asking questions of more experienced writers when she hit roadblocks was instrumental when she was first starting out and is still important.

Finally, she says, just sticking around makes a big difference.

“Most blogs don’t make it to the one-year mark, and mine is now three,” she says. “Over those three years, I’ve built and engaged my audience by trying to actively understand where they are in life and what might help them.”

FF talks to her readers directly as well as focusing her time and energy on the one or two social media platforms (follow her on Twitter and Google+) she’s found really works for her rather than spreading herself thin over every platform in existence.

The personal finance blogger was kind enough to share some of her sage advice on smart strategies to use to grow your site. 

What sorts of strategies are you using on the back end of your site to help new readers find you?

I’ve done a pretty good job of naturally hitting a chord with SEO optimization without even trying. Lately I’ve been using a plug-in to amp up my efforts, but only use it to supplement what I’ve already written. I’d rather keep my dedicated readers than get 10,000 three-second hits from a search. I want to engage people, not alienate them in an effort to create a charade of statistics.

Can you share the story behind Femme Frugality…what made you start the site?

At one point, my now-husband and I were trying to make it on an extremely limited budget. We were earning as much income as we possibly could through traditional jobs at the time, but we had to get creative about managing, saving and earning more money. I was finding out a ton of ways to think outside of the financial box. I related them to everyone I knew, because who couldn’t use more money? I found that most people in my immediate circle of friends just didn’t care. Blogging was an outlet where I hoped I could reach people searching for answers beyond just “spend less than you earn.” (Though that is some sound advice.)

Why does frugal living excite you? How has it changed your outlook on life?

I’ve always been pretty frugal, but since I started blogging I’ve realized that there are so many ways to live a fuller life on a budget. When we’re able to find ways to save money on the things that are necessary, but not that exciting, it frees up resources to do the things we are truly passionate about. On top of that, there are some really thrilling things that can be done for free or cheap if you are actively searching for those opportunities.

There are so many personal finance/living frugal/life on a budget blogs out there…but we don’t get the impression that you’re all competing against each other. Why do you think it’s good to foster relationships between like-minded sites – how do you help each other out?

I love my fellow personal finance bloggers! We definitely don’t view each other as competition; we’re there to help each other. We all have different voices and perspectives, so no two of our blogs are alike. Helping each other is essential. When you’re starting out, there’s almost no way to get noticed without the support of those bigger than you. We mention each other on our sites when a post really strikes us. We tweet and share each other’s content because it interests us. When one of us hits a stumbling block, we all swoop in to solve the problem. If someone has a new product that would be great for our readers, we promote it. We host group giveaways and go to conferences together.

This isn’t a field where you can make it by yourself. While you may be working independently, you need to support others who are doing the same.

What marketing strategies have you tried but found didn’t work well for you?

Facebook wasn’t my favorite. I left it after a while because of serious privacy concerns, but also because of the fact that since I didn’t pay for advertising on their site, even my shared posts would pop up on people’s walls very sporadically. I haven’t been on it for a while for personal or business affairs, so the landscape may have changed. Regardless, it’s not a platform I’m overly eager to revisit.

What types of content do you think your readers respond to the most? What seems to fall flat?

My biggest successes have been with outside-the-box ideas.

In the past, I have done things like rehash budget basics for the 40 millionth time in the personal finance blogosphere, but bringing up issues and finding solutions to problems that people aren’t exposed to on a routine basis has really piqued interest.

One of my most popular posts is about self-uniting marriages, or a marriage without an officiant. Cutting out the officiant can save you on your wedding bills, but it also resonates with many people’s attitudes towards love, commitment and the controversy of religion in our era.

Tying money into emotional subjects is key, because so much of our spending, saving and earning potential is deeply tied to our feelings.

How important has social media been to building your brand?

It’s been instrumental. A lot of my traffic comes from social media. I even have a couple of posts that bring in the elusive Pinterest wave of traffic (which is a big deal when you’re not a great photographer or crafty person/blogger!). Social media doesn’t just bring me traffic, though. It allows me to connect with other bloggers and readers. It allows what could be a very one-sided conversation to become a vibrant discussion.

What blogging trends or innovations are exciting you the most these days?

A little over a year ago, I started a link party for the personal finance community. As far as I’m aware, it was a first for the niche. Now we have at least four of them! They’re all growing quickly; it’s a wonderful thing to witness. It’s so exciting to see bloggers not just sharing, but truly engaging with each other as we have found a new way to build community. It’s not a replacement for networks or social media platforms, but rather an expansion that’s added to those constructs.

For more from Femme Frugality, visit the blog.