(Credit: CC Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com/Flickr)
Today I got an email from Elizabeth. She just started a blog and wondered if I could give her any tips on getting more readers.
I talked about this some at my chit-chat talk at the PURE conference back in February, so it is fresh in my mind.
As if my synapses actually functioned like that. My memory is so pathetic these days, I cannot remember squat about what I said. So I'll make it all up again from scratch.
The things I do for you, Elizabeth...
Here is my Two (or twenty-two) Minute Tip for getting "entrenched" in the blog world:
- Remember that this is a community. These are real people. I have made some dear, dear, dear friends in this crazy blog world. Way more than I've made in my real neighborhood. Which makes me sound like a freak but let's just not psychoanalyze it k? My point is, do unto others. Don't just go to other blogs and say "please come to my blog". It's just kinda, um, like saying, "Hi perfect stranger! Please come to my house! Please?" Eek. (Or maybe if I did that I'd have more friends in the neighborhood?) Be organic. Let the relationship naturally flow. And the way to do that brings us to number 2.
- Comment. Comment comment comment. When I first started blogging, I would find a blog I liked, and leave a comment. Then I would go to their blogroll, because if I liked them, I would probably like the people on their blogroll. When I first started, I would say, "Tonight I am going to comment on ten blogs." Or twenty. Or whatever. Leave a funny enough comment, and other commenters will pop over to your blog. I only comment, however, if I really like the post. I mean, I'm not totally fake. Not totally. I almost never comment if the blog did not interest me because I figured if I didn't like their blog, they probably wouldn't like mine either. Leave a for real comment, and they will pop over to your blog and comment, and before you know it, you have a BBF. I used to do this a lot - I am sad that I do not have time to do this now.
- Leave your email in the comment if you want an answer. I don't know why blogger sometimes lets y'all check to leave your email and other times doesn't. I don't know why Blogger does half the crazy things Blogger does. Blogger confuses me more than a high school boyfriend. But I usually reply to comments if I have an email, and I am sometimes sad when I cannot reply to y'all. Because I'm chatty like that. But if I am on my iPhone especially, it is too hard to pop back over to your blog and then someone screams or bleeds and there goes that thought. Point: leave your email. Let's fall in love.
- When people comment on your blog, pop back over and comment on theirs. I wish I had more time to do this now, but it used to be my standard MO.
- Do NOT leave negative comments. Oh my word. You are neither their mother nor their English teacher. If you can't type something nice, don't type anything.
- Post often, as often as you can. I am a big hypocrite for saying that, but I used to blog every day. I have no idea how I did that, but I did. Oh yeah! My kids used to nap! Hence the name of the blog! I need to change it now to "It's Almost Adolescence, Perhaps My Children Will Sleep Again."
- Make it brainless for people to follow your blog. Put a "subscribe by email" box, and make a feedburner account. If you don't know how to do this, just google "how to do put a subscribe by email box on Blogger" etc and the answers will come, grasshopper.
- Join blog rolls and blog lists. I don't actually know if this does any good, but it doesn't hurt. A couple of good ones are Christian Women Online. I'm sure others will leave more in the comments. I get a lot of traffic from Christian Blog Topsites, fewer from here.
- Link up your blog to your Facebook profile via Networked Blogs, whenever you blog all your friends will see it whether they want to or not. If you are on Twitter, link it up there as well.
- You can leave your blog at the bottom of your email signature with a service like WiseStamp. I have mixed feelings about this so I am constantly taking mine off and putting it back on.
- Make sure you join Technorati. Just do it. It's the biggest, most legitimate bloggy thing out there.
- Join carnivals, like Works for Me Wednesday, my personal fave.
- Spellcheck. Please. I'm begging you. I start to twitch after the two misspelled words.
- Put blogs you love on your blogroll - you don't have to ask if you can do this but a comment saying you did so would be nice if they are a small family blog who might not actually want strangers looking at their kids' pictures like the rest of us weirdos. DO NOT ask to be put on anyone else's blogroll. "Hi, you don't know me, will you put me on your blogroll?" NO, you creep. Ugh. It's a pet peeve of mine, can you tell? The people on my blogroll are people I either know personally (almost all of them) or whose blogs I have read enough to recommend them without worrying they are gonna start dropping f bombs or blaspheming the Holy Spirit or not spellcheck.
- Take the capcha off your comment section. I have never had one, and I almost never get spam. Some people think it's really, really, super duper way annoying (ahem) and usually unnecessary.
- I recommend not moderating comments. Impedes the conversational flow. In Christian blog circles, where most people play nice, it is probably not necessary.
- Make your blog cute. You don't have to spend $400 (yes, some charge that) - you can get cute backgrounds yourself for free, just google it. On almost every blog, their designer will be on their sidebar, so you can ask for a blog makeover for your birthday. If you are much smarter than I am, you can do it yourself but I think HTML is one of those foreign languages that people who are possessed by the devil spew at the priest. I tried to do mine and literally had to go get a massage. I'm not joking. I got so stressed out I could not move my neck. But maybe you're smarter. Man, I'm stressed out now just thinking about it. Ugh. You've been warned. And FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS PURE AND HOLY don't put light letters on a dark background. I will click away, click far away.
- Here is my biggest tip that I learned from the Swami herself: write in choppy paragraphs. Basically, throw out almost everything your English teacher taught you here in blogland, where the sentence fragment is an art form. A big long paragraph scares people back to work or laundry. Just artificially break it up into choppier sentence clusters (eg unlike this post), and it fools people into thinking it is a shorter post. Manipulative, and highly effective.
- Here's what I think made me get some of y'all to keep coming back: be real. You're not perfect, don't pretend to be. When I first started blogging the majority of my posts had a consistent theme: I'm the world's crappiest mom but Jesus loves me anyway. I wasn't trying to "build a following," I'm just the world's crappiest mom but Jesus loves me anyway. Evidently, there was a need for that message. I recommend you be a real blogger with a real blog who blogs about real life.
- My wise friend Lisa told me once: we don't work for the blog, the blog works for us. Tattoo that on your forehead. Or just memorize it, your choice.
That's all I can think of for now...got any more tips? Leave them in the comments.
Well my man just said, "Babe come on let's watch Toddlers and Tiaras now" and if that's not a mating call, I don't know what is. Good night!