So by now, you’ve gone out and registered yourself a fancy lil’ domain name under the platform of your choice. (I realize I forgot to mention Tumblr as an extremely popular option for a blog platform in my last post, but, to be honest, I don’t really take it into account when thinking of blogs–sure, it has a wonderful community aspect, and so many things on there are hilarious, but it’s more than a little too zany and usually not professional in the slightest. Whatever floats your boat, though.)
Even after your initial ego-boosting baby boom of followers is long over (anyone have an explanation for this phenomenon?), you’re left hunched over your laptop, yearning for your stats meter to climb up day by day as you slave away over your content, painstakingly drafting each post over and over and peppering each sentence with little scraps of ingenuity. Your blog, you’re thinking, is the single best place on the internet and you can’t understand why the masses aren’t flocking to it. You’re happy with your site’s layout, you’re on a regular posting schedule, your wells of inspiration are practically overflowing and you’re spending all day at the computer jotting your many ideas down for new posts, just so they won’t abandon you.
I don’t think, even if you plan to eventually make it a career, you should start your blog as a way to make bathtubs full of money to wade in as you bask in your fame and adoration of the public. (Spoiler alert: this doesn’t even happen if you’re a highly successful professional blogger. [Not that I would know–just a hunch!]) But growing your blog and maybe earning a little cash on the side isn’t too bad a gig, if you can get it. This takes focused, professional approach, though–you have to actually work for people to want to read your work.
At this point in your blog’s development you should be reflecting on why you originally wanted to start your blog. Shall I do this now? Hmm, let’s see…
Why I started TGITO
1. I’d been struggling with self-worth and identity issues for up to a year prior, and I read the works of a lot of bloggers whose sites tackled that very subject. I thought that creating my own little internet niche and gleaning support and wisdom from others in the blogging community would help me work through these issues–and, lo and behold, it did! While I still can’t say I’m a beacon of self-love, I’ve definitely made a lot of progress in self-acceptance and self-discovery, and I credit my decision to start TGITO (and everyone who’s interacted with me through it) for that.
2. I’ve always loved writing, passionately, and I knew that starting a blog would force (in the best way possible) me to work on my writing skills on a more regular basis. The style and medium are both a far cry from my usual poetry and novelling endeavors, but I figured fleshing out my expository voice a little bit more could only be a good thing. Even if you’re a writer who’s regularly inhabiting the heads of other characters, I believe that truly unearthing your voice will help you immeasurably in your fiction–and blogging is an awesome way to do this! (I didn’t expect the medium and community to also inspire me in my fiction as much as it did–this was a happy surprise!)
3. I’d kept a journal for four pensive years, and, to be honest, I kind of liked what I was putting down. My thoughts on daily life, musings on famous quotes and things in the news, a few lost poetry lines scribbled in the margins…I wondered if the rest of the world would, as well.
Glad we cleared that up. 😉
Keeping the values from your list in mind–your blog “mission”, the reason for it all–keep churning out content in keeping with your values and awesomeness. If you write good stuff, people will notice–most times…
The World is Not a Meritocracy After All
I hope Kerri Majors won’t mind me borrowing the title of one of the chapters in her amazing book/writing memoir, This Is Not a Writing Manual–as compensation, I shall link to it on GoodReads here (links to buy the book in the bottom–B&N, Amazon, + Indiebound if you dig that). This chapter in the book deals with the frustrating fact of life that the quality of your content may not reflect on your number of followers or blog hits, and vice versa. I don’t want this to come across wrong, but…I think my blog is better quality (well-thought-out, worded better, etc.) than some other blogs I’ve seen out there that have a gajillion followers. (Keep in mind that my version of a gajillion is something like 200–I have jealousy issues, sometimes…) So why do people flock to some blogs and not to others? Why is it that some people have infinitely more success at blogging than others who may work harder or have more at stake…is it simply luck of the draw?
It’s true, but I think part of the phenomenon, at least, has to do with Social Media & Marketing:
If you have a blog you want people to read (which you don’t have to be shy about or anything–it is Point of Blog), get on social media. Seriously. Growing up in the Pacific NW, the heart of hipster-ville, on principle I was initially kind of opposed to the whole idea of social media, but the act of getting yourself an account on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter is like steroids for your stats meter. Put a nice little description of yourself in your profile (original, but don’t try too hard to make it witty–that’s annoying) and keep your profile picture pretty much consistent across platforms. (And make sure your url is clearly visible when you first visit your profile!) If you’re promoting your own awesome stuff while also offering some other “exclusive” thoughts and things people can only see by checking you out on social media, it’s a huge intrigue for your site.
Also, take the time to thoughtfully read and comment on other blogs! It’s great to foster connections and relationships with other bloggers, and, as an added benefit, get your site some more cred on the internet! The key word here, though, is thoughtfully–lots of bloggers suggest to “Go Forth and Comment with Abandon!” on other sites, but it’s blatantly obvious and, frankly, really annoying if you drop a comment somewhere reading “great post…hey i just started a blog about my life and stuff it’s thegirlintheorange.wordpress.com you should check it out!!!!111!!!1! anyways haha yolo lol luv ur site by the way! 🙂 😉 😛 <3<3<3 hugzz!”
This isn’t even a shameless self-plug, which I’m incidentally a big proponent of if you can pull it off with a certain humility. This is sloppy and unprofessional and says that you care more about pageviews, and followers bowing down to your capitalization errors and mass-marketed posts, than genuine blogger-reader relationships. Like I said before–when commenting, offering feedback and fostering a strong blogger-reader relationship is the primary goal, and if it gets you more readers out of the deal too, then huzzah!
Engage your readers! A blog is nothing if not a community. Yeah, this is going to take a little extra work on your part, but this hobby is work! Facilitate comments, and make it easy for your readers to contact you. Reply to most, if not all, comments you get (the above thoughtfulness rule still applies here, though!). The first few months I ran TGITO, I got a lot of comments from people I didn’t know (name of the game, girl!) and for some reason this paralyzed me! It was a rare thing for me to actually reply to a comment, unless it was from one of my irl friends. I wonder how many potential readers simply drifted away because of this blunder, this failure to connect…*head desk*
Lots of bloggers (make that most bloggers) always leave boldfaced questions for their readers at the bottom of their posts–this is another great way to facilitate discussion, but for some reason, I never got into it hardcore. I dunno, it just felt insincere, like the noncommital “follow me” comments–to me it seemed like an annoying little “comment on my site!” gambit. I don’t think this when I see other bloggers doing it, it’s just never been my thing. However…
I don’t always include bold-faced questions, but
when I do… I felt this post called for it: Any other marketing/sincere blog promotion strategies you can think of, or that you utilize? Thoughts on creating quality content? Explanations for the non-meritocracy phenomenon? Technological aspects of WordPress.com blogging you want explained? I’m all ears.