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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

How Do You Let Folks Know You Are Out There?

Today's answer comes from Clare.

A Problem:

Many Blessings to you!

I am almost 40, African American and new to the world of blogging. I like to do a little writing from time to time, and I like also to take pictures and edit them, so at the suggestion of a good friend, I put together a blogspace.

But I am trying to get a feel for how it all works.

I've had my site since last October, and sometimes it feels worth the upkeep and sometimes it doesn't. Not that it is something that I have to do, but there are so many abandoned blogs out there and I'd kind of like to keep mine current.

I've been posting a combination of poems and pictures , quotes, inspirationals, and commentaries...and sometimes I get feedback, and sometimes I don't.

I really enjoy it at times, but I guess I'm just not sure whether or not it's worth the effort I put into it some days. What is the purpose of blogging? Maybe I thought it would be more interactive. I don't get a whole lot of comments, but I enjoy the exchanges when they happen.

Anyway...I'm not sure what my question is directly...perhaps it has more to do with asking general advice/suggestions on blogging. If you want to bring people in how do you go about it?

One thing I do is go blog surfing from time to time, to see who/what else is out there. If I find a blog that I enjoy, I add it do my favorites and visit as often as I like. Other than that, how else do you let folks know you are out there? It's a little lonely out there. [smile]I appreciate any insight you have to share.


An Answer:

It's a funny old thing, blogging. I don't think I'm alone in finding a tension between (a) doing it purely to please myself, but (b) wanting to reach a wider audience.

The problem, of course, is that "wider" is never enough. You find yourself getting an increase in visitors, but still you want more. Personally I find it very useful to switch OFF any facility which displays visitor numbers. You just end up obsessing about it, and wondering endlessly about the silent ones (always the majority) who arrive and leave without saying a word.

It also seems difficult to identify what will encourage people to leave comments. Some blogs seem to get tons of them on every single post, some hardly any. It may just be a function of visitor numbers - the more you have, the more likely some will be chatty - and they're always the minority. Or maybe some blog styles are more informal and therefore less intimidating. I honestly haven't a clue. It all seems rather random.

As to what the point of it all is, it depends who you are. Some want an outlet for thoughts and feelings that would otherwise be bottled up. Some want to reach out and touch people, get a reaction, be validated in some way. Some just feel a drive to write, to use words, to express themselves. For most it's probably a complicated mix of many motivations.

I've had a look at your blog, and it's great. You're a good writer. I like what you do with words. Obviously this is a good start - a quality product in the first place.

But here are some other tips which should help you to make new blogging friends. As for how many, that's in the hands of the Gods. But follow these suggestions and you should definitely see some difference:

(1) Visit other people's blogs, find the ones you genuinely like, and leave thoughtful appreciative comments. For heaven's sake don't carpet-bomb people with generic messages like "Hi, I love your blog, come and see mine." It looks (and probably is) insincere.

(2) Link to the blogs you like, from your blog. People have ways of finding out who is linking to them. They like it. They might come and see what you're saying about them. But again, be genuine.

(3) Email people you like. But accept that a lot of people get zillions of emails, or are email-shy. They might not email you back. Don't be offended.

(4) Follow links from the blogs you like. Chances are you'll find other great bloggers with similar interests to you. Really the best thing you can be aiming for is NOT to be big and successful and popular, but to be making contact with people you have stuff in common with. These are the ones who will bring your blog to life. The internet is a fabulous place for making new amicable acquaintances.

I'm sure other people will come up with loads more suggestions.

Just remember: It's only the internet. It's only a blog. It's not real life. But it's great if you like having imaginary friends.

Clare's blog is Boob Pencil.

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