Hey hey all! It is GORGEOUS here today!!! Whooooo! I am so stinking excited to mow the grass later – isn’t that ridiculous? I’m so happy for the warmer temps. :)
I mentioned a couple times I recently took a quick trip out to Salt Lake City to speak at the Snap! Conference. It was lovely and I was so happy to get the chance to see bloggy friends I knew and meet new ones too!
I spoke with two lovely ladies – Amy from The Idea Room and Desiree from The 36th Avenue on basic blogging tips. We thought it would be fun to share some of our session with all of you! Well, those of you who are thinking about blogging, just starting blogging or have done it for a while anyway. If you aren’t a blogger you can read on for a peek into how we think. ;)
I wanted to speak about engaging readers because it’s near and dear to my heart – I feel like I have connection with you all and I don’t know if that can be explained into nice little bullet points, but here are a few tips that I think help!
Here’s the thing – you can’t blog in a bubble. If you want to put stuff out there and welcome the emails, comments and responses – you need to be prepared to respond. And it will take waaaaay more time than you ever imagined.
I’m sure people who don’t blog still laugh a little to themselves when those who do talk about it being time consuming. It is. (Don’t laugh at me!) It’s FUN time consuming, but it can be busy. But it is so important to let your readers know you are listening (and appreciate them!).
I do my best to respond back to questions in my comments section (the “reply” option in Blogger makes that even easier) and most of the time will respond to that same question via email. So I’m answering it twice but I want the person who asked to see it and readers in the future. Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not. There is only so much time in the day. But I make a concentrated effort and I think that’s important.
Social media adds a whole other level to this though – don’t forget Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all that good stuff. I LOVE interacting with my readers on Facebook and I am pretty good at responding to questions there (it may take a couple of days but I do). It’s easier for me to respond there than to emails for some reason.
So respond – interact with your readers, let them know you’re there. Say thank you. Answer questions (as many as you can). You would be blogging to an abyss in the world wide web without them. :)
The linky party has become HUGE in blogland. If you are a reader and you don’t know what that is – an example is the before and after party I host at the beginning of the month:
I like it because it’s a chance to give some traffic to other bloggers. You link up and visit each other and hopefully find inspiration and new blogs to get hooked on. ;)
I like linky parties that have a theme but with that you may not have quite as many link up. I mean, recipes would be hard to link up to the before and after party, you know? (Well, now that I think about it maybe not!) I know of some bloggers who do them once a week and some only do them a few times a year (or never!) and the timing is up to you. I would say be careful about having them too often because you’ll have a CRAZY amount of outbound links on your site which isn’t a great thing. You want to keep that somewhat under control to keep the SEO stuff in your favor. ;)
So here’s the deal. I operate my blog in a way that I would want to read one. Does that make sense? So if I get an offer (and I get a lot) that feels spammy or whatever, I don’t do it, even if they are offering a ton of money. If it would feel weird for me to read it on another blog, I don’t do it.
So the same goes for just letting your readers know what to expect – as human beings we crave some consistency. So decide how often you want to or can post and try to stick to it. (Try is the key word – I know life gets in the way.) If you want to post once a week you CAN! Just don’t post five times one week and then once a week for three. Readers will get hooked but then may fall away.
I post four times a week on average. During the summer it will probably go down to three – but I think consistency is key. No, you don’t have to pick certain days and stick to them. Just keeping the frequency the same week to week will help your readers know what to expect from your blog.
OK, here’s the thing – this next part is a struggle for me. My kid is cute people. I mean…Cute with a capital C. Precious!! But I decided long ago when I started blogging that I didn’t want to put many pictures of him on my blog. It’s absolutely a personal decision and there is no wrong or right one – it’s just important to me to have a bit of my life just for me since I share so much here.
That being said, sharing your family and precious pictures of your kids definitely creates a bond with your readers. Sometimes I wonder if I should just because my readers feel like friends and I want to share him with you all – but there’s a little nagging voice in the back of my head that still holds me back. (And if you’ve read for a while you know I do share pics of him, just not often and usually not a full shot of his face.)
(In his book nook.)
Sharing personal information is a tough one – I still struggle with it. I want to write so many things and don’t because I don’t know if I want the world to know. (And that’s the thing – if it’s out there the world will know. It may be a smaller piece of the world if you’re just starting out, but you never know when your blog might blow up.)
I have tried to strike a balance because I know sharing our struggles in life ultimately HELPS so many. We learn from these things and come out with knowledge and experience that will be useful to someone else. That’s why I touched on some of my personal history last Thanksgiving here and of course I have shared our debt free journey here.
I did hesitate to share both of those but now the debt story especially has brought me great JOY – just the other day I got an email from a reader who won one of the financial peace packets we gave away and she was telling me how she’s paid off another debt and it is the BEST feeling hearing that.
So…you have to figure out what’s right for you. I love reading personal stories about bloggers I love, but there is a fine line where it’s too much information. Only you can decide where that line is for you and your family.
I also talked about partnerships during the session, and a lot of what I discussed when it comes to advertisers I covered in this post.
But there is something I want to emphasize to bloggers – please don’t be afraid to share the love. When I started blogging I would hesitate to link to someone else because I was afraid my readers would see their awesomeness and forget all about me and never come back. And I would have cried. :)
But the longer I blog the more I realize you need to become friends with other bloggers, share with other bloggers, link to other bloggers – you get the idea? ;) As a reader of blogs, yes, I only have so much time in the day to read the ones I love. But if you have me hooked I’m going to keep coming back to you, and I’ll love you even more for introducing me to new sites I can fall in love with.
One of the BEST things people ever say to me is that they found “so and so” through my site – I love hearing that. As readers and bloggers we all share a sweet connection and I love how we remember things like that – who brought us to who.
So there you go – a little insight into what I think makes for a great blog. I’ve been at this five years and still don’t know html from whatever, but I do enjoy creating a connection with my readers and other bloggers. I’ll keep focusing on that and keep ignoring the html as long as I possibly can. ;)
And as always, thanks to you all for coming along for this ride! I couldn’t do it without you!