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.