“I like your blog!” read the comment. “Please come visit mine!”
There was a blog address and nothing else.
Another time, a fellow blogger left comments on my blog post for five days running.
“Visit my blog!”
“Visit my blog!”
“Visit my blog!”
“Visit my blog!”
“Visit my blog!”
I did, finally, visit both blogs, because I know what it is like to be new to the blogosphere, to want to reach lots of people, to look at the number of followers creeping up way too slowly, and to wish for more.
Neither blog, it turned out, talked about things that meshed with my interests, and I didn’t follow either one.
But I have followed other bloggers because they visited my pages and commented on my posts. Their comments made me realize we had something in common, and, unbidden, I went to visit their sites and liked, really liked, what I saw.
And I have discovered other sites and been energized and excited about what they have to say. I have commented on posts and seen the comments grow into discussion. And the discussion has led to me following their blog, and then sometimes, to their following mine.
Commenting can lead to connection, but there’s a more enticing way to do it than the examples I gave, above.
If we didn’t want people to read our stuff, we’d be putting it in a notebook or a private file. But the first thing we have to do is make sure it’s worth reading. Our posts should be planned and thoughtful. They should be complete, illustrated if warranted, and say what we want them to say. And they should align with the purpose of our blogs—what is it, after all, that we are addressing out here in the wilds of the Internet?
So our first job is to plan and organize, to get some posts up that we’re proud of and that really represent us. We need a plan to continue that trajectory, to keep on posting quality essays or photos or poetry or short stories…a continuous feed that represents us with creative integrity.
And then we can go looking for readers.
The exciting thing I learned about the blogosphere is that it’s not a monologue being received; it’s a dialogue being shared. So when I go looking, I look with my eyes toward others.
The first thing I want to do is target my audience. If I’m blogging about books, I’m not going to visit a popular blog about robotics just because they have 10,000 followers…unless, of course, robotics is just something I’m interested in. But other book bloggers might be interested in what I have to say, and so I will seek them out. WordPress provides wonderful search capacities, and I am sure other blogging engines do, too.
When I find a blog that looks promising, I read two or three posts—read them thoroughly, think about what they say and how they say it. If I am drawn to the blog, if I think I’d like to come back and read their stuff again and again, I leave a comment. I try very hard to have my comment show the blogger that I have read, considered, and appreciated what they wrote.
…copy a quote from their writing that really struck me and tell them why it hit home with me. So, when I have been thinking that I’ve been reading books that are light and fluffy, and that I really need to read things that make me work and think a little harder, a little more deeply, I find a blog that says something like this: Not all our reading should be easy and pleasant and give us a warm, contented feeling. Sometimes, our reading should demand our close attention, push us out of our comfort zones, make us turn off the TV and the phone and concentrate.
I paste that passage into my comment box, and I write, “Thank you for this. I have been feeling lately that I need to ramp it up, to get a little more muscular in my reading. You’ve described exactly where my hazy thoughts were going. And after reading your last post, I think I’m going to start with Cutting for Stone. Your description makes me want to read that book.”
Now the blogger knows I’ve read his work and really thought about it. I might get a response; it might just be, “Thank you!” But it might also be a thoughtful reply, a question, a recommendation, a personal anecdote. That invites a conversation, and that leads to new connections.
…relate the post I’ve just read to something happening right now in my life. “Your description of unread stacks of books really pinged with me! I have two stacks—a library stack, and an acquired book stack—and their looming presence saps away some of the enjoyment of reading for me. I’m going to return all the library books and limit myself to one a visit. I’m not sure what I’ll do about the books I own. Any suggestions?”
Again, I might just get a “Hey—good luck figuring it out!” response, or I might get a lengthier, more thoughtful reply.
…write my comment and then include a link to a post I made on a very similar topic. I might say something like, “I’ve been pondering this, too, and I recently wrote a review of two books on the topic. Here’s a link, if time allows a visit…”
Because the blogger is interested in that topic, and because you have taken the time to comment thoughtfully and demonstrate that you’ve read their blog, they may well pay you a visit.
Of course, making a thoughtful comment doesn’t guarantee anything. You might hear nothing or just get a breezy, one-word reply. Or you may open up a conversation that leads you to a blog you love to follow and leads that blogger to follow you.
If you are a WordPress blogger, there are free courses available to you that provide commenting activities and help you make connections. And you can search out wonderful bloggers who hold salons—places where you can share a link to your post and meet like-minded others. Again, I can’t paste my link and sit back and wait for responses. I need to read and respond to others; I need to share the salon link on my blog.
When I first started blogging, I had the hazy feeling that there were millions of people out there, waiting to read the sparkling bits of genius that only I could share. Ha! For most people, it’s a matter of, “So much to read; so little time.” If I want readers and followers, I need to make it worth their while to visit me. I need to pay them the same respect.
It’s work, meeting and cementing relationships with other bloggers. Reading their blogs demands time and attention and thoughtful, well-written comments. But it’s so worth it. Our followers grow, but the truly satisfying thing is that our relationships grow, too. We meet people from all over the world, and some of them become wonderful friends. And it often happens because we took the first step and left a comment that revealed our understanding.
I look forward to hearing about what you’ve been writing. Happy blogging, my friends!