06 May 2012

April is the Bloggiest Month

This is an A to Z Reflections post, but I'm going to say some screamingly obvious things that might help non-A-to-Zers, too.

April's come and gone, and I'm onto a whole other challenge. However, I wanted to take advantage of the reflection post to share some insights that I had from this year's A to Z, which are probably super obvious but maybe important for us to remember.

Blogging works better if you read what other people have written and leave a comment.

Yeah. Super obvious, right? I think I'm fairly safe in saying that most people who blog want to get some kind of interaction out of it. I assume that if you wanted your posts to get zero attention, you would write them in your private journal and keep them private.

Maybe less obvious is that we are doing a funny thing here, we bloggers: we're building a social network out of individual sites that are not necessarily interlinked. We're linking ourselves up by hand. This is, in part, why A to Z is so great: because it provides a list of random people who are looking to network and who share an interest in blogging and maybe little else but possibly a whole lot else and you'll figure that out as you go along. Yeah. That is a long sentence.

Blogging works better if you link to other blogs in some way, add them to your reader, subscribe via email, or find some other way to stay in touch.

When we're not presented with a list like the one A to Z offers, we can sometimes go a long while without meeting new bloggers. I'm as guilty as anyone of failing to follow back, or really liking someone's blog and then forgetting to track it. I will follow you if you follow me and I will also most likely stick you in my sidebar so that I don't lose you in the morass that is my RSS reader. Develop routines around making sure you'll come again if you like someone's blog. (If you followed me and I didn't follow back, it was accidental, or because you didn't leave me with a way to find you, but more about that in a second.)

Find a way to repeat visit other blogs, and do so from time to time. Check in on your new friends and make a point of seeing how they are doing on an ongoing basis.

Blogger has a widget called "Blogroll." You can use it to make a list of people you know you want to revisit, or that you want to encourage others to visit. People enjoy being part of your blogroll. I always love seeing my name on someone else's blog.

If it seems that it is hard for others to find you, maybe it is! Make it easier.

This is an important issue. Have you left a comment on another's site, or followed them, but never received a return visit? There may be a reason for that. This is especially tricky for we Blogger users. Some of you new followers who recently joined my lists do not have a link to your site under your Blogger profile. I can click on your follower icon, and see only a list of blogs you've followed. Likewise, you might leave a comment, but clicking on your name leads me to an empty Blogger profile. To check this, leave a comment at someone else's site, then click on your name and see what information comes up. If you don't have a link back to your blog, no one can find you.

Another way to make it easy for people to follow you back is to leave a link in your comments. (If you already know how to do this, obviously this is not for you. This is for people like me who had to figure it out.)

I do this most of the time now and you should too. Under whatever brilliant comment you have to share, paste in this code:


Put your actual URL and your actual blog title or name in the spaces where it says to do that. The code I leave looks like this:


After you hit Publish or Comment or Post or whatever, it will magically transform into this:

Elizabeth Twist: Writer, Plague Enthusiast

I type the code out in a word processor or notepad, and have it ready to cut and paste any time I leave a comment. It is also handy if you want to link to another site in your comments - just substitute the URL and the description for anything you want.


Bottom line: you get what you give.

I'm focusing on this issue because too often I see bloggers complaining that it is hard to build an audience. My question is, how many blogs have you followed? How many do you promote in your sidebar or via your blogroll? How many comments do you leave in a day or a week? Are you friendly? A to Z reminds us that all of these activities are crucial to building an audience. To build an audience, you have to be part of one.

49 comments:

lily said...

Elizabeth, I love this post and agree with you on all the points you've made.

I've been trying to check out the blogs of those who have recently followed but there's either no link or a blank page, so it looks as though I haven't even bothered. It's a bit frustrating.

deathwriter said...

Amen. You only get what you give. Nice post. Like you, I didn't find you till the end of the challenge.

Mina Lobo said...

Yes, you absolutely get what you give. And I really am enjoying the social aspect of blogging that I didn't really "get" till I did the A to Z Challenge. It's great to know I'm not blogging into a vacuum! (And I'm sure others think it's great to know they're being read, too!)

Some Dark Romantic

mooderino said...

Excellent advice. I use google reader to keep up with all the hundreds of blogs I follow. I can see what each post is about and vistit the ones I want to comment on.

mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino
The Funnily Enough

Ute Carbone said...

Great idea on adding a link, Elizabeth. It's so true that it's sometimes hard to find the links to those leaving you comments.

Ute
http://ute-carbone.blogspot.com/

Jan said...

Excellenty idea as I may say, recently I put a link in my profile, but the idea of puttig a link in each comment sounds great to me. I'm gonna do so now!

Jan's place... if you like to visit me...

nutschell said...

Great tips here! I actually made a list of all the blogs that left comments on my blog so I can prioritize them for daily visits:)

Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Jay Noel said...

Excellent ideas. I used to add my link, but just kinda forgot about doing that. So here I go!

Writer on Fire

Andrew Leon said...

I do, actually, hate clicking on a commenter's name and finding that it leads to an empty profile. Especially if that person never comments again.

I wish I'd had time to visit more of the blogs -during- A to Z, but I'll keep working on them. For a while, anyway.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love this - "To build an audience, you have to be part of one." :)

Traci Kenworth said...

I've been trying to do as you say and visit other blogs with the hopes of others visiting mine in return. So far, it's working so-so. I definitely visit a whole lot more blogs than I get comments/feedback from. Hopefully time will change this.

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Elizabeth,

Thanks for that lesson re leaving a trackback in the comment box. I've come across that several times, where I want to return a visit but can't 'cause there's nothing that leads me back to blogger. A last resort is a Google search, which doesn't always help.

Alicia C. said...

Indeed! And turning off the human verification thingy :) Which I was guilty of until about halfway through. (Facepalm) Though in my defense I didn't know you had to turn it OFF! I thought you had to turn it ON! Sillyness.

Catherine Stine said...

Hi
Well, you learn new things when you visit other people's blogs too! I always wondered how to do that pesky link thingy, and now I know, so thanks! I'm going to test it right now, and let's see if I did it right. :)
Catherine Stine’s Idea City

Catherine Stine said...

OMG! You're a genius, Elizabeth. It works!

Elizabeth Twist said...

Always a good idea to leave a link or two or three. Mooderino, further down the comment list, leaves both websites and a twitter link for good measure. I think this is great.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I suspect it may be more accurate to say, "you only get if you give," since the return on visiting other people's blogs may be less than 1:1, as Traci points out later. However, if you are wondering why no one is paying attention, it is probably because you aren't.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I really enjoy other people's posts. There are some smart bloggers out there.

Elizabeth Twist said...

I haven't gotten the hang of Google reader, but I should.

Elizabeth Twist said...

It's nice to know how to find people, for sure. Your profile links to your blog, so good, but it's easier to just click on through.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Yay!

Elizabeth Twist said...

Didn't you visit ALL the A-Z blogs? Wow. I'll bet your site saw a bit of a jump in traffic.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Hoorah!

Elizabeth Twist said...

I did my fair share of visiting, but it is hard, especially as you run into some blogs that you'd like to revisit, like yours, Andrew.

Seriously, anyone who's looking at this, you have to check out Andrew's posts. They are amazing and really well researched, and of particular interest to those who like science or science fiction or both.

A to Z @ Andrew Leon's StrangePegs

Elizabeth Twist said...

Thanks, Madeline!

Folly Blaine said...

Great points. I read lots of other blogs, but I should be better about commenting. Guess I'll start... NOW!

Elizabeth Twist said...

I figure it's like publishing stories. For every story published, you've sent out a whole lot more that were not accepted or picked up on.

Elizabeth Twist said...

It's frustrating, right?

Elizabeth Twist said...

There is so much about blogging interfaces that is counterintuitive. Oh well.

Elizabeth Twist said...

Yay! Now you can leave one wherever you go!

Elizabeth Twist said...

:)

Elizabeth Twist said...

For a long, long, looooong time, I was a lurker. I read a lot of people's blogs but did not comment. I actually felt that maybe commenting was presumptuous, or something? Yeah. Anyway, people notice you a lot more if you comment, so my rule is, if I read the post, I try to comment. This leads to the occasional vacuous comment, but such is life.

Andrew Leon said...

Wow! Thanks for the nod! That was unexpected but much appreciated :)

Elizabeth Twist said...

You're welcome!

Mark K said...

Aunty Lizzy! I'm back! You've been sorely missed... especially your rock cakes :)

Yes, tis nice to be back amongst the blogites of the blogoverse, all warm and cosy. Regarding comments - I'd rather have the good AND the bad, at least that way I know I've got a balanced audience. Sometimes too much goody-goody makes me wonder how much of it is actually genuine? I'm mean, I've never done everything right in my life so far, and I sure as hell know that also extends to my blogging and content - typos and predictive iPad dickness notwithstanding :)

Julie Jordan Scott said...

Ohhhh, yes, we especially crazed ones who took the leap from A to Z to StoryaDay... I must love on those of us who did that... WOOT WOOT!

I wonder if I am the only person who comments on 99% of the blog visits I make. I think this is true, but I feel like if I actually read it and there is actually something half decent (as their usually is... somehow somewhere) I will comment.

Perhaps because that is a pet peeve of mine, too.

I have to improve on replying, because I figure "do people actually return and check?" I guess because I do NOT that neither do other people. Thanks for the wake up on that. I do visit those who comment but rarely comment back on my own page.

Good luck with StoryADay. I am having a blast there, too!

Julie Jordan Scott
Fellow A to Z Challenge Writer
twitter: @juliejordanscot
A to Z Recap Post
On a Mission to Spread Word-Love Throughout the World

Deborah Walker said...

I am not friendly.

Jocelyn Rish said...

Definitely some important tips here I wish I had known when I first started blogging and have had to learn the tried and true "hard" way.

I loved reading your interesting factoids during the challenge, and I hope you're having good luck using them in your daily story challenge.

Jocelyn

E.J. Wesley said...

A-Z certainly snowballs a lot of folks, E. Last year, I had tons of folks stop by after the fact just trying to get caught up. Part of it is just realizing there are too many for most people to get to everyone.

I tried to follow your tip: If someone made it to my blog, I'd make it to theirs. Then I'd throw in a few random folks if I saw a comment on another blog I enjoyed. Overall, I'd probably try to be more efficient next time.

Congrats on finishing strong! :)

Libby said...

It is difficult when people don't have their blog listed in their profile, mostly because I feel like a jerk if I can't at least visit them back. It was good to meet you through the A-Z!

Pish Posh said...

Oh this is excellent, must-read material for beginning bloggers especially. When I first started I could not figure out how to build a community!! This is great!

Now it's getting to the point where I don't even have time to write posts much less read other posts and respond to comments and actually I'd FAR prefer to do that than my job so I just hope everyone is patient :)

C.M.Brown said...

Some great points Elizabeth. I have also found that it is hard to reach some of the blogs of people who follow my site because they have not left a linked site on either GFC or the Linky link. It is quite annoying!

Barbara said...

Great points! I enjoyed this post because it just sums up everything that is important in the blog-world! I like the way you put it out plainly, with an explanation or examples for everyone to understand.
Congratulations on surviving the Challenge!

English Speaking Zone

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Excellent pointers, Elizabeth. The HTML code works great for not so subtle breadcrumbs left in the forest of blogging.

EvalinaMaria said...

Congratulation on finishing the challenge. I didn't visit all blogs during the challenge but, cross my heart, I'm visiting every single one with reflections post!

and let's see if that code is working...

Evalina, This and that...

EvalinaMaria said...

It does! Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

Evalina, This and that...

[Retro-Zombie] said...

Reflection is a good thing, You have done a great job on the A to Z Challenge...
Hopefully you were able to use one of my banners/badges for the Challenge, had as much fun designing them as seeing them around the blog world.

Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
A to Z Co-Host
My New Book:
Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

Jan said...

Hi again Elizabeth... I am passing the Kreativ Blogger award on to you! Please read about it on my blog!


Have a pleasant weekend.

Jan said...

... here's the link to it...
http://jannldwk.blogspot.com/2012/05/kreativ-blogger-award-this-is-great-im.html

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