While some of the craziness of getting picked up by Blogs of Note is beginning to die down a bit – I’m currently only getting about 700 visits a day rather than 5,000 – I’m still trying to work out the best way to deal with the change in circumstances.
Sitemeter visitor stats for the past 4 weeks
It took me 4 years to build up to having 40 followers, and in less than 2 weeks I now have in excess of 750.
How many of these new followers will stick around has yet to be seen. In fact, there are some bloggers I know who I’m pretty sure at this point would make a game of how quickly they could lose them all again by being as offensive as possible (yes you know who you are).
And while I have to admit a certain temptation…
One of the things I seem to have been overwhelmed with is the vast number of new bloggers asking me for advice on how to create a successful blog and/or to visit their sites and comment. But there are 2 problem areas here.
The first is the obvious logistics of it all, if I still want a life.
As I’ve built up my blogging connections over the years, it’s been done in a slow and steady fashion: one or two at a time; several visits, several comments back and forth and eventually deciding whether I would add them to my sidebar to make it easy for me to find those who were beginning to make an impact on my thoughts and outlook.
But I simply do not have enough hours in the day to spare to take this approach with hundreds of newly connected bloggers.
I have made several random clicks and left a few comments here and there, and already I’ve found some fascinating people, but it’s going to be quite some time before I manage to properly build up any relationships to the point of regular visits and sidebar listings.
The other problem area is the sense that many new bloggers seem to think this massive influx of visitors implies I know what I’m doing. But in a way it reminds me of an old joke a Ukrainian friend once told me:
A millionaire from America returns to his native village in the Ukraine for a visit. He is welcomed warmly and invited to tell his tale of fortune and success.
With the village all gathered round, he beings…
“When I left here, I was not a rich man. I met my wife on the boat to America, and when we landed at New York, I had but 5 cents to my name.”
“How did you survive?” asks one of the villagers
“Well, with that 5 cents, I bought a dull and dusty apple. I cleaned it and polished it and managed to sell it for 10 cents.”
All the villagers lean in a bit more, and one asks, “and then what happened?”
“Well,” he continues, “with that 10 cents, I bought 2 more dull and dusty apples. I cleaned and polished them both and was able to see them for 20 cents”
The villagers are now on the edges of their seats, as one of them asks, “and then?”
“Then, my friends, in the true spirit of the American Dream, my wife’s uncle died and left us 4 million dollars!”
However, there are 2 pieces of advice I consider the most important (others may feel differently), which I will pass on to any new blogger wanting to create a blog worth visiting more than once:
The first is practical:
try and make sure your blog is easily readable
- - Small paragraphs are much easier to cope with than large swathes of unbroken text
- - avoid having vivid backgrounds like red, or complicated images behind the text
- - avoid moving images on the page – they just pull the eye away from the text and are irritating
The 2nd is to ask yourself,
What is anyone who reads this going to gain from it?
Assuming you are wanting strangers to find your writings interesting, leave comments and come back again (if not, then none of this applies anyway), then you need to give them a reason.
Is your post educational, entertaining, informative, amusing, goading, containing insights, looking at things in an unusual or unexpected way?
Why should anyone care what you’ve written?
“Me and Tracy, right, we went to the shops today and bought some magazines. I saw Gary and ignored him.”
So what? What’s the story? Where’s the insight, humour or pathos? Why have you shared this with me? What response are you hoping to get? Can you write it in a different way to help you get the response you want?
(UPDATE: Broken Down Barman has taken that line and turned it into a post of insight, humour and pathos - well, humour anyway - well, if you share that kind of sense of humour... Click here )
Experiment, play, explore, spew forth. Your blog is a place for you to write whatever you wish.
But if we want people other than our close friends and family to read our blogs, we do need to make it easier for them.
Other thoughts on what I've learned about blogging over the past 4 years can be found here: 500 Posts