I started blogging in August 2010, after stumbling across a couple of blogs that I liked, and thinking "I could do this!".
I didn't put any thought into it. I went to Blogger, signed up for a free blog, made up my blog name on a whim, and posted an introductory post.
Then, I waited.
On the blogs that I followed, there were always dozens of comments on each post. I thought that's just what happened with blogs, so why would mine be any different?
For the first few weeks, I had fewer than eight visitors a day. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting any comments when I was posting some awesome-to-me material.
I started commenting on a blog post or two, trying to find more blogs to read. I remember going through a couple of my favourite blogger's blog rolls and clicking on the blogs that had interesting sounding names. Sometimes, I'd add them to my reader and never comment. Sometimes, if I had a strong opinion, I'd visit and comment.
By December of that year, I had worked my way up to reading dozens of blogs, but only commenting on a few, and I had anywhere between 1-5 comments on my posts at any given time. Sure, my traffic had increased considerably, but was still fairly dismal. I remember posting about minimalism, and I got 12 comments on that post. I was ecstatic.
Also, my blog was FUGLY. I know that term is outdated but it's really the only thing that can describe how ugly my blog was.
Some of you may remember the atrocity that was my blog. It was a mess. I used ampersands instead of the word "and", and posted 100 word posts (if you could even call them that).
But, I persevered. And, needless to say, I have learned so much about blogging compared to what I knew a year and a half ago. Particularly these things:
Give and You Shall Receive
One of my biggest blogging lessons was learned quite recently. If you don't comment on other people's blogs, especially at the beginning, nobody will comment on yours.
I knew this before (not when I first started blogging but a few months in), but I guess I didn't really understand the extent to which this statement is true. I always coveted the 30 comments that were left on some of my favorite blogger's posts, but I couldn't figure out how to get there.
I suppose in some way I did know, but I didn't really enact the action of actually commenting on a lot of blogs. I commented on some, and I received anywhere between 2-15 comments on each post, but nothing like I get now.
Now (in March, 2012), as I write this, my average comments-per-post stands at 30. Some get more (weekday posts), some get less (weekend posts - link loves and spending reports), but in March, so far, I have written 20 posts and received 608 comments (I'm not sure if that counts my replies to comments or not, but since I don't reply all that often, it wouldn't change so much if it did).
What's changed with my commenting system?
I comment on anywhere from 20-50 blog posts per day. Except for on Thursdays. Because those days, I have school and have to go to work early so don't have time to comment before work.
I visit my reader's sites, and if I like them, I add them to my reader. I comment on any post that I have an opinion about, or that I like, or that I can leave something relevant about. It's extremely important to comment on other people's blogs; that way, they know you visited and are more likely to visit your site as well.
Commenting is powerful to gain readers who aren't bloggers, too. Blogging is a non competitive industry so that's how many readers find out about your blog.
Relevance is Key
On my Blogger blog, a year ago, I'd post 100 words on how I sold a textbook and made $60. I never posted how-to's, I never posted about interesting topics, and I stuck to what I knew: my life. I posted a lot about how I did things, why I did things that way, etc.
My life, and how I conduct it, is irrelevant to all of you. I didn't realize that early in my blogging career. Now, I do. I still post a lot about myself; if I got a job that I wanted or my spending reports, I'll post about it. My writing style is a lot more personal rather than general, but that's simply because I like personal blog posts and, also, because I'm anonymous.
I now look at the search terms that bring people to WLGYL, analyze what I can do to answer those queries or terms, write posts about issues that I think are relevant to most of my readers (though they may not be; that's for you to decide), and keep the "today, I ate oatmeal for breakfast" posts to a minimum.
Tweet or Die
Alright, I'm being a little melodramatic here, but when I first started blogging, and up until a few months thereafter, I didn't even know how to use Twitter, I just knew a lot of people liked it.
I decided to join Twitter on a whim, and am so glad I did. When I visit a blog that I like, and the writer of that blog does not have Twitter, something dies a little inside. I like conversing with bloggers and readers with which I have something in common, and Twitter is the perfect place for that.
Now, I just have to make my way to Facebook.
My first link love came about a year after I started blogging, and then I didn't do another one for months. I finally got into the swing of linking to other blogs (besides my blog roll, which I've always had) awhile ago, and it's paid off.
I think it's so important to promote other blogger's websites (if you enjoy them). We all want to be successful bloggers, so why not help others along as well?
I see some bloggers only promote those blogs that are more successful than theirs, and that makes me sad. There are a lot of amazing blogs out there, and whether they are new or old, they deserve some love too.
When I read a post now that I like, I'll Tweet about it, +1 it on Google+, and now even Stumbleupon it (though I don't know much about that site). Sometimes, I drop the ball on this, or forget to do it, but have found that if you promote other people's blogs, they'll help promote yours. Even if it just puts you on the map for other bloggers, you are gaining awareness and networking.
Furthermore, sharing other people's posts gives your non-blogging readers more material. Make sure you actually enjoy the post and would want to read it though, otherwise you could lose some serious credibility.
At the end of the day
I'm not the most successful blogger out there, so you can take all of this with a grain of salt, but my blog is growing very quickly with all of the efforts that I've listed above. Is it time consuming? Heck yes. But it's rewarding and fun, and I think blogging is a great hobby.
What are some of the biggest blogging lessons you've learned? Are you new to blogging, or a more "seasoned" blogger?
Starting a blog? You may also be interested to read some of my other posts about the subject:
- Why Should You Blog? I Have a Bunch of Reasons!
- If You’re Just Starting Out, You Should Start on WordPress. Here’s why
- Ways to Inject Personality Into Your Posts (because nobody wants to read boring stuff)
- A Post About Knowing Your Audience
- If You Want a Successful, Money Making Blog, You Should Outsource (or quit your job and blog full time)
- Make Sure You Are Running Your Blog Like You’d Run Your Business
Should You Blog Anonymously?
Feel free to email me with any blogging questions and I'd be happy to help!