O best beloved blogger,
As soon as we write our first post, to the day we write our last, we are part of a community that shares the same heartbreaks, anxieties, and dreams. There are things we can do to be better– to grow, get closer to our goals, and reach further into the world. As I child, some of the most important questions to the workings of life were explained to me through tall tales, myths, fables, and fairy tales– so, today, I bring you some stories from the far reaches of the Blogosphere.
May they push you further, or make you smile, or both.
Don’t be the grumpy bird.
This should go without saying, but when you start a speech or article with the idea that it’s going to be awful, you set the frame of mind of the listener. Try not set yourself up for failure.
Sometimes, it’s quicksand.
I’m a middle child and with that comes the constant reminder that not everything is about me. Sometimes big sisters cancel because they really like their new date, not because they don’t want to watch Nickelodeon with you. Sometimes little sisters get married and grow up because they want to, not to just to remind you how old you’re getting. And sometimes people don’t comment on your blog because of things happening in their own life, not because of anything you did or didn’t do. Take a deep breath, and try again tomorrow.
If it’s necessary (or just important to you) that someone reads your posts in a certain order, you have to tell them. So, bind your book– make it obvious with “Start here” signs so that people know what to read first. On that note, don’t set your homepage to your About Page unless you have an awesomely intriguing about page. It’s like putting your prologue on the back of the book.
Tip: If your about page says something that someone needs to know in order to read your blog and make sense of it, consider adding that bit of information to the header.
Create the ocean.
If people can’t find you, they can’t read you. Link back to the challenges you participate in! Tag with the appropriate words! Be sure to categorize it correctly on your own page and tag it appropriately.
Build a boat.
It’s not just about the ocean, you have to build a boat, too. Reach out to people! Find others who blog about things you’re interested in, or things you blog about, or – hey – even stuff you don’t know anything about. Participate! There are daily prompts, weekly challenges, photo challenges, monthly events, blogging awards, etc. Some are hosted by WordPress and some aren’t, but doing something that reaches outside your blog is how you let people know that you’re even there.
Time is the boss of you.
Sometimes it’s time to water your ocean and wait patiently, but sometimes it’s time to quickly build a boat. You have to pay attention to the cues of your website to see when it’s time– and let that guide you. Plus, don’t get disheartened if you aren’t at your end goal after just a small amount of time. It took generations to grow the ocean!
I know, most people don’t nerd out over numbers the way I do, but read your statistics! Don’t just click on page views– really delve into the numbers. WordPress gives you all the information you need to see if your posts are better received in the mornings, in the afternoons, or at night. Do shorter titled posts get more reads? What is your most read tag? What time do most of your followers comment? Use that information to help you work smarter, and give your posts a better head start.
Almost every template can handle fairly extensive customizations, though– make use of them! Add images. Give yourself a tagline. Do something so that when someone stumbles across your page, they can recognize it’s yours.
Put yourself in Grandfather’s shoes.
I’ve read a lot of blog posts with bloggers asking why they haven’t been Freshly Pressed. Like Grandfather Wind, they have understandable, well-known limitations. WordPress also offers lots of articles on this, and your chances are much better if you stand out, make yourself known, and follow their rules. And lastly, if they don’t pick you– oh well. You’re still awesome, you still wrote something great, and doing all those things wasn’t a waste because they’re guaranteed to help more people find you.
Ask the right questions, and if you can’t do that– at least ask something!
I read and talk a lot. On those grounds, I submit to the court that I am an expert in what is required to get someone to reply to your post the way you want. It’s really simple. Just ask me. If you don’t ask for feedback, I probably won’t give it. If you ask for too specific of feedback and I don’t have an answer, or my answer is too long for a comment, I will probably skip it. So I suppose I should say, ask the right questions. Let’s say you just wrote a post about one of your favorite jokes and why you love it. If you want other people’s jokes, try open ended questions. “What’s your favorite joke?”. If you’re just trying to see if people are reading, try a simple yes/no question– “Do you have a favorite joke?” If you want feedback on your joke, ask for it, “So what do you think? Do I have a terrible sense of humor is this joke hilarious?” If you want feedback on your analysis, ask for that, “Did I overthink it?” or “Do you think out your jokes too?” or “Do you think we’ll ever discover the statistical nuances of humor?” Or, stack questions. There’s no rules against it and one of those is likely to inspire thought in a reader.
Be grateful, gracious, and kind.
I’m not saying you have to be happy all the time. Many of the bloggers I follow live permanently in the doldrums, but they’re human enough for me to relate. They are grateful for their followers and likes, and they make sure I know it, which always reminds me to come back and visit again.
Here ends the stories told today, O best beloved blogger. I am grateful for you, and inspired by you. Are there any fables known in your corner of the Blogosphere that you would like to share? Go ahead, comment with anything– a single word, a picture, a joke, a fairy tale, a tip, or response– I love your style because it is quintessentially you.
And we all lived happily ever after.
Weekly Writing Challenge: A shift of perspective: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/narrative-mode-challenge/ While you’re at it, check out the recent post about the grammar of perspective (narrative modes)– it’s one to bookmark! http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/narrative-mode-challenge/