Widening Your Blog’s Appeal

….Also known as “The Post Which Makes Me Sick at My Stomach With Nervousness”.

I have had several people ask me recently to write a post of advice on how to gain more readers for their blogs and how to take their blog to “the next level”.

Now I must say that writing “How-To” posts make me VERY uncomfortable. I always feel like I’m going to come off as a know-it-all or an expert, neither of which I am in any way.

I have literally been writing, throwing it away, editing it, trashing it, and re-writing this post for months because it makes me so squirmy. So to make myself feel better, I had to add some tongue-in-cheek-ness to this post, so PLEASE don’t take this post all that seriously.

And, I would just like to say, that there are HUNDREDS of ways to grow a blog – these are just some of the things that I personally have done to grow my blogs, very meager though they still are.

Now that I’ve fully disclaimed and disowned this post, here are some pointers that I’ve picked up on:

  1. Comment, comment, comment on other blogs!! There is NOTHING that motivates most of us bloggers more than getting comments (seriously – you’d think I was a total freak if you knew how obsessed I was with comments), and most bloggers will appreciate your comments and go to your blog to check out who you are and read your work. Also, their other readers will start to get to know you through your comments, and they’ll want to see who you are also.But don’t lose sight of the greatest benefit of commenting – the friendships you create by reading each other’s blogs. I have some amazing friends that I would have NEVER met had it not been for our blogs! Commenting back and forth will help you grow friendships and has the side benefit of helping you grow your blog, all at once. If you simply read someone’s blog without commenting, you’re getting to know them, but they’re missing out on the opportunity to get to know you. We all thrive off of knowing our readers!
  2. PARAGRAPH SPACING. Blogs are unbelievably more eye catching and easier to read if written in the shortest paragraphs possible. If a blog post is one long paragraph, it appears to be torturous to read. And don’t just have paragraphs, put whole lines of space between each paragraph. It really eases the strain on the eyes and the mind. Add wide open spaces!
  3. Consistency and commitment. Blogging daily or nearly daily is important to keep interest. Also, Edit, edit, edit. Read and tweak your posts at least three times before hitting publish.
  4. Think in Bloggese. Ask yourself as you go through your day, “How can I make this entertaining/interesting to blog about?”
  5. Pay attention to other bloggers, learn from them, and incorporate tips into YOUR writing style, but don’t sacrifice who you are to be like them. Be yourself and don’t lose sight of that while trying to grow your blog. People are attracted to genuineness.
  6. Don’t write your blogs in a format like you would tell your husband about your day. “When we woke up, we did this. . .and then at breakfast, this happened. . . and then at two p.m., we went here…”. Instead, weave a story. Interlink all of your points. Draw it all together in a nice, neat package to maximize the appeal of your post.
  7. Never show pictures of your kid’s poop. Diapered or otherwise. You can blog about it, you can describe it in disgusting detail (like I have been doing a LOT of lately), but just don’t ever show it.
  8. Take pictures of the craziest stuff (Except the aforementioned poop, of course). Random pictures add interest and humor, and help your readers draw a visual of your story. Also, if your post doesn’t inherently contain pictures, add silly header or footer pictures. Header pictures or illustrations draw your reader immediately into the blog post. Example here. Also, you can use a footer picture to end your post with a last laugh, such as here.
  9. If you are blogging about something negative (mildly negative – I’m not talking about tragedy here), use humor and be self-deprecating to let your readers know that you are, in fact, emotionally okay with the events and not, in fact, using your blog to whine or vent. Of, if you can’t be humorous about it, be sure to wind the blog up in a positive manner, telling what you learned from the event. Example here.
  10. When your kid says something cute, don’t preface this by saying “today, so-and-so said the cutest thing. He said “….”. Isn’t that ADORABLE?”. Instead weave what they said into a story. Draw interest without stating the obvious, which is that you think your kid is adorable. Your readers all think your kid is adorable too, but the story will be a hundred times better if you stage it. See example here.
  11. Use creative ways to add humor and interest, such as using strikethrough on your “real” thoughts and put after them your “politically correct” thoughts. this adds humor. Another way to do this is to use over-the-top, obvious exaggerations, like the “I have re-written this post 684 times because I was so nervous about writing a how-to post” (although that may not be an exaggeration).If you don’t know how to do strikethrough, all you do is put a bit of HTML in your post. Directly before the part you want to strike through, type <strike>. Then right after it, type </strike>.
  12. If I haven’t stressed this enough already, think creatively – don’t just tell a story, but try to come up with original ways to frame your posts, like letters, analysis, rhythm, repeated phrasing, etc. Example here.
  13. Respond to some comments – people do this in different ways – some people respond with another comment, some people respond with email. I have started responding with email when I can, because I realized that I rarely remember to go back to a post I commented on to check for a response.
  14. Get involved on blogging networking sites, especially ones that will link you with bloggers of like-interests – such as 5 Minutes for Mom and their specialized sister sites, Alabama Bloggers, Blogher. . . there are TONS of them in all sorts of specialized blogging niches. Find yours, interact, comment, participate, and become a part of a community! You will be amazed at the number of new relationships you will form by doing this!
  15. If you have a very short anecdote that you want to share, build it into a larger story by adding context, analysis, and humor. Example here.(Some people would disagree with this philosophy, saying that blog posts should be as short as possible to keep the readers attention. I agree that this has merit also. I just can’t seem to write anything short.)
  16. Use blogging tools – there are tons of free programs out there to help you maximize, analyze, and optimize. I blogged about my favorite blogging tools here at Alabama Bloggers.
  17. If you use Blogger, here are some specific tips:

  • Don’t use word verification for your comments (some people have major issues with these), unless you have an issue with spam commenters. I’ve never used it and have never gotten a single spam comment until the past week.
  • Use the Full-Page or Pop-up comment system rather than the embedded – although Blogger won’t admit it for some reason, there are MAJOR issues with the embedded form – I often get error after error when trying to comment, as does everyone I’ve ever asked. I know for a fact that I missed out on a lot of comments when I used the embedded system. (This setting can be changed under Settings –> Comments.)
  • If you insist on using one of the above Blogger features, just please please PLEASE don’t use both. The embedded system doesn’t show that it’s going to make you word verify, so often I will have closed down the page before it comes up to verify, and my comment is lost. It’s a really stinky system – Blogger could really do to improve it.
  • Allow full blog feed. More people will read your posts, and I don’t think it keeps the people who would comment from commenting. (This can be changed under Settings –> Site Feed)
  • Be sure to have your email address in your Google Account so that it shows your email address to the blogger when you leave a comment. Many bloggers (including me) respond by email to comments, but if your email address isn’t there, they can’t respond to you.
  • Regarding music – I personally find it very distracting. I can’t listen to music and read at the same time, so I always mute blogs with music. But I may be alone in that preference, and I can always use mute, so don’t change your music preferences for my sake!

And once again, I stress, COMMENT. Building relationships with other bloggers is the Number One way to grow your blog, and, in my opinion, the most fulfilling part of blogging!!

Please let me know if you have ANY questions – I will attempt to answer them!


Okay…I did it. And…now I totally hate myself for writing such a how-to-ey post.

 

Ick.

I all of a sudden feel the need to write the silliest, most pointless, inane blog post ever to cleanse myself from this post.

Quick! Somebody do something ridiculous so I can blog about it!