Connecting with Bloggers: A Confession Wrapped in a Tutorial

It takes effort to get noticed. Thousands of articles discuss what bloggers need to do to succeed. They must be tech-savvy, practical, personable, hard-working, strong communicators, perpetually learning how to optimize their activities to keep the traffic flowing.  It’s not easy, and a lot of talented bloggers don’t get much attention.  Just look at all the abandoned blogs.

I am doing alright for a beginner, not because of my content (although I think my paintings are nice), but because I connect with other bloggers.  Connecting is one aspect of blogging where I feel completely at ease.  It’s fun. It’s easy. It’s a good learning experience.  It brings more readers back to my blog than anything I’ve tried.  I get to meet a lot of interesting people from around the world and from various walks of life. Some of my best article ideas come from my responses to other people’s ideas.

Most bloggers are easy to talk to.  By trade, they are open, accessible, and willing to take on in-depth conversations with complete strangers.  I am careful not to underestimate the people behind the gravatars.  They are real people, after all.  What am I asking of these people before I comment?  Am I commenting just to get my name out?  That is kind of the name of the game.  I just try to be personable, despite the lack of face-to-face contact.

I have a few other traits that work for me.  First, I am interested in people. I don’t rush the process of coming up with a point of view, making observations, and asking questions.  I take a step back and allow myself to feel the content and the person who created it.

I don’t always have the best manners. Maybe I have an agenda, and I think many of us do. I just try to be respectful, try not to trample over someone else’s points. And if I do, whoops, it happens to the best of us. Things come out wrong. Sometimes, I get a little too excited, leave one too many comments, only to discover later that I said something off-tone or out of context.  I don’t sweat it.  Some people find my mistakes charming.  Most bloggers are patient, tactful, even caring with visitors.  After all, they, too, are playing the numbers game, and they don’t want to drive visitors away.

Mostly, I try to focus on blogs similar to my own, where my thoughts will resonate, but sometimes I venture into uncharted territory.  Lately I find myself immersed in techie-blog articles.  By the time I reach the end, I think, hey, I’ve been here this long, I am going to say something, even though I have no substance to contribute. I just chime in and speak my truth.  Why not, right? Someone has to wake up the nerds.  What are they gonna do?  Click on my site, possibly.  Not saying this is the best strategy; it’s just something to try at least once.

Comments reveal personality, perhaps more than articles. That is one reason why it is so hard to get people to leave comments at first, because the reader only sees the post, not how the host interacts in the comments.  Once a few exchanges have taken place, then it seems like more bloggers will feel comfortable and start chiming in, but only if they like the tone of the discussion. If a blogger strikes me as unkind, I leave, no comment.  If I like what I see, then I am likely to let the person know.

Funny, isn’t it, how commenting compels us to take up conversations with random strangers?  Then, there is that permanent record of the exchange that anyone can come back to at any time, possibly even years later. I imagine that nothing in history compares with this form of communication.  It enables a wide range of people to cover a wide range of subjects over a long period of time. I don’t know what to make of it. The scheme is too complex for me.

There is a lot to love about getting to know other bloggers. They make me laugh, they make me think, I’m pretty sure none of them can make me cry, although some of them scare me a little bit. The fun part is finding people who resonate with me, whose demeanor and interests are compatible with mine. That is the unexpected payoff that not many bloggers talk about.

The pros might say that if I am interested in numbers, then I am spending too much time connecting with individual bloggers, but do I have to sacrifice quality connections for the sake of numbers?

After working at this for a few weeks, I am pleased that I now have a core group of bloggers with whom I am starting to interact with some frequency. Some of these bloggers attract tons of visitors, others are just learning the ropes like me.  Some are trying to make money, some are just doing this for fun or for some other reason.  I hope some of them are making money.


Blogging is like Gardening: Don’t expect instant gratification.

So, you have a blog, and you kind of know how to use it, but you are not sure how to get the results you want?

First of all, don’t expect instant gratification.  Blogging is like gardening.  If you’ve never tried gardening, I highly recommend it.  Gardening is a humbling experience full of life lessons.  Start preparing the soil now, keep tending your garden, and you might be lucky enough to see a bloom or a harvest in the months ahead, no guarantees.  Neglect your garden, and your efforts will yield little or nothing. Forget instant gratification, and start enjoying the process. Engaging deeply in the process itself provides a much deeper satisfaction than instant gratification. The more time spent tending the soil, planning, and envisioning, the better the results.  If you don’t love every step of the process as much as you enjoy reaping the results, there truly is no point in trying.

Once you have decided to invest in the process, it is time to set priorities.  Many gardeners think about personal desires first, considering what flowers would look nice next to the porch, or what kinds of vegetables would taste good.  Thoughtful gardeners consider how they will nurture the soil.  What kinds of nutrients and fertilizers does the soil need to be happy for years to come, not just this year? Raw organic materials are collected for composting. Beans are planted to fix nitrogen into the soil, even if the gardener does not like beans.  Soil is a good metaphor for the raw content inside of you that you would like to share with the world.  Think of it as a combination of your imagination and your soul.  Your inner soil needs certain things to be happy, so give it what it needs.  Maybe you truly want to see your blog go viral, but right now your soul just wants to enjoy the morning sunlight, so balance work with activities you love.  You didn’t get into blogging in order to become a slave to it.  If you commit all your spare time to blogging, do you really think you will have anything interesting to share?

Your inner soil is also the raw, organic matter that you will use to generate content.  It is composed of your experience, your knowledge, and your desires; it is all the stuff that you feel compelled to share. It is going to take some commitment to figure out what you want to say and to put it into words. Take your time with this, and enjoy every moment of your process.  It’s all yours!  There will be flashes of inspiration, moments when the ideas will flood in faster than you can record them.  That is good, but there is still a lot of work to do.  Don’t expect your writing to come out perfect on the first try.  Free write.  Find a comfortable place with a great view and turn on some tunes.  You don’t have to be by yourself. Try surrounding yourself with inspiring people. When you get a flash of inspiration, write it down.  Search your soul.  Experience life.  Write. Writing is the planting of seeds. Save everything you write.

Once seeds have been planted, they immediately start to take on a fresh new life, and the same will be true for your writing.  Look over your ideas from time to time. As you compile more material, you may find yourself gravitating towards certain topics.  You may find some ideas outside of your scope for now.  That could change in the future, so set them aside someplace where you can find them. Keep nurturing those ideas.  They are alive.  Like the plants in your garden, they are communicating with you.  Patiently nurture those ideas, and your writing will take on a richness that first drafts rarely attain.

Where it goes from here is highly subjective.  Gardeners and bloggers alike adopt unique approaches and techniques; everyone relates to their work in a personal way.  Just a reminder, tune out the egotistical part of your mind that wants instant gratification, and get in tune with the process, until you find yourself struck by your own level of insight and know beyond all doubt that you have something valuable to say to the world.