I wrote this post a while ago, and as I reread it in anticipation of posting it, I sensed an in-your-face tone. Sorry about that. Maybe it was my attempt to be funny while writing this. I’m not sure. But I do want to share some of what I’ve learned over the last year and a half of blogging.
1. Don’t be afraid to follow a blog with only a few followers.
I’m not afraid to follow a blog that has only four followers. If I like the writing, the content, and the style, I will follow the blog. I don’t need a bandwagon to jump on. I saw this with my own blog. For a long while, I hovered at fifty-some-odd followers, and I was proud of that, so I made sure that the numbers were displayed on my home page. That may have been a mistake. I’d get views, but no new followers. Then, Freshly Pressed happened and suddenly my followers (and views) exploded. I was grateful for this. But it seemed that once people started following me and the numbers grew a little, nobody felt afraid to push that looming “Follow” button. It wasn’t uncool anymore because, hey, hundreds of others were doing it. If your friends were jumping off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff too? (I know I sound like a parent, but I just couldn’t resist.)
2. Be considerate when commenting.
Be polite and considerate when commenting. I’ve never had an overt problem with this. It’s been a pleasant surprise to me on WordPress and in the world of blogging. A few years ago, I tried a citizen journalist site in which many articles that I posted were met with criticism, derision, epithets, and sarcasm. Needless to say, I quit that pretty quickly. Along these lines, when commenting, do not post links to your own blog! It’s uber annoying. I can’t stress this enough. And although there have been a few of these that I’ve let slide because the way in which it was done was tactful and tasteful, most of the time I feel annoyed.
Here’s an example. A woman visited my blog, commented on one page, and then left. But no. That was not all. She came back. Twice. And kept pasting links to her posts, saying, “ I see that you are interested in _____. I wrote about that. Here’s a link to my post on it.” Or, “I wrote a poem about _____ and I can tell you would like it. Here’s a link to my post on it.” I did not click on either link, nor did I approve her comments. They were asinine, pushy, and full of assumption. What makes you think that I want to read your poem? I’ll read it if I want to read it. I’ll read it if I come across it while blog surfing. Otherwise, back off!
3. Like as many blog posts as you want, but be prepared to follow the blog, too.
There’s an interesting post about liking blogs that I came across on Freshly Pressed last year. I’m not sure if I agree with all of the author’s ideas. She claims that you should comment if you really liked it, and that liking a blog is tantamount to just pushing a button in order to get somebody to notice you and follow your blog. I take offense to that because I have actually read the posts that I like and I genuinely like them, and sometimes I just don’t have anything extra or intelligent to add to the conversation.
My pet peeve with liking is the random person who likes posts every few weeks, but never bothers to become a follower. In that case, I sense some sort of game being played with trying to get noticed or to get me to follow their blog. I don’t mind this, if it’s a good blog.
4. As a blogger, respond to your comments!
We all know this one. It’s touted by everyone as the way to become successful. Success aside, I am touting it as a way to have meaningful conversations on a blog. I mean, that’s why I started my blog. I wanted to actually interact with people on the subject of books. It’s fun. It’s fulfilling. It’s part of blogging.
Maybe I’m too critical, but I get annoyed when a blogger doesn’t respond to my comments. I’ve noticed this with a few blogs. One blogger used to be on top of this, but has since seemed to have lost interest. I have no idea what this blogger’s life is like, and perhaps something major is going on, but I sense this distance, and the blog isn’t as fun to follow anymore.
Additionally, when bloggers claim that they cannot respond to every comment after being Freshly Pressed, I only see them admitting that they have no interest in their followers. Freshly Pressed is where it’s at. It’s what gets you connected with your new virtual “friends.” It is the way to connect with hundreds and thousands of people through the written word. I think bloggers should respond to each and every comment. It is a lot of work, but, for me, it has been worth it because I ended up building relationships. No excuses. Just do it.
5. Don’t steal images.
I was guilty of this when I first began blogging, but I have changed my ways and gone through each post to make sure that my images are used correctly. I realized my error by reading this post written by a blogger who was sued for using copyrighted images. Yes. She. Was. SUED! That was enough to scare me straight.
But think about it. Would you want somebody copying and pasting your words and putting those on their blog? No. I didn’t think so. So take your own pictures, or use images in the public domain. There are also plenty of images that others share on Wikimedia Commons. The post I mentioned above has other good ideas. I liked her suggestion to just start taking your own pictures and filing them away for future use.
These are the major issues that come to mind when I look back on what I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, from blogging. What have you learned?