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All the Blogging Advice I Have to Give

Here is all the advice I have to pass along about building blog traffic or getting people to write about your product in one not-quite-succinct post.

This post may negate the comment from yesterday where I was told that I have the patience of a saint (thank you, IF Crossroads!), but I can say with absolute certainty that I have found the worst PR firm in the world and I can’t stand them.  I would name them, but I honestly don’t want to give them even negative traffic.  For the last few months, they have been emailing me several times a week–sometimes several times a day–asking me to hawk pregnancy and baby products.

Perhaps they didn’t catch that part where I said that I’m infertile.

Actually, the part they’re missing is the “relations” part of public relations.  They are doing nothing to form a relationship with me and therefore, they are getting no response from me.

The FTC updated their guide this week stating that bloggers will be fined $11,000 per post if they do not disclose payment (monetary or itemwise) from a company.  In other words, if Colgin sent me a bottle of their delicious vegan Worcestershire sauce and asked me to write about it, I better make sure that I mention that Colgin sent me a free bottle of sauce*.  And these guidelines are going to make it even harder for PR firms to get bloggers to write about their products because…damn it…people are going to be forced to think about what they’re doing and saying.

My policy, as I state on my About Me page, is that I don’t do reviews.  This is why: the first time someone sent me a pitch, I was so excited.  And then they started coming 10 or so a day.  And now it’s hitting 50 or so a day.  50 or so times a day, I receive an email telling me that they have a wonderful beef-jerky-educational-toy-weight-loss-pill-fertility-test that they just know I’d love to write about.  They are certain that I’m the right person to write about their product, yet they seem to have missed the part on my straightforward “about me” page where I state that I don’t do reviews.

Public relation firms: this is a problem.  Your message is not being heard because you’re not actually building relationships with people, making sure you have their ear (and the proper ear at that), and then asking for the favour.  You are not even getting me to open your emails anymore therefore, you’re not only wasting your time, but you’re building bad blood when you flood my inbox in a spam-like nature.

I realized today that there are a lot of similarities between the tactics publicists should take if they want people to write about their product and the tactics bloggers should take if they want people to read their blog.  Because in both cases, you have an item that you want people to see.  And therefore, since I am asked not only to write about products I would never use, but people often ask me for tips on getting someone to visit their blog, I decided to write this handy, albeit long, guide of all the tips I have to pass along after over three years of blogging.  And just to be clear: though I am clearly annoyed when strangers ask me to hawk their product, I’m never annoyed when people ask how to connect with community or build readership or when a friend connects with me and asks for my help with their project.  This guide shouldn’t shut down the building readership conversation nor should regular blog readers and friends think this means that they can’t ask me to post about their etsy on LFCA.

And to start, let’s just get this out in the open, when people ask me this question, what they really want to know is what are the shortcuts–so I’m writing this first to say that there are no shortcuts.

I mean, yes, there are, but the shortcuts are uncontrollable. The point of a tipping point is that if there was a single formula, we’d all use it and there would cease to be a tipping point. So, let’s all agree that there are no shortcuts, and if that’s the only answer you’re looking for, I’d click away because the rest of this post is pointless. The idea of this post is that you’re going to have to do a little work and earn your traffic or attention. I know…bummer.

(1) Write good content: good content is subjective. I personally like reading about what someone ate for lunch, even though that is held as an example as the kiss-of-death of blogging topics. Therefore, stop trying to write something you don’t want to write and just go with your gut, with what interests you, with the types of posts you’d want to read. Really, I promise you, there are like-minded people out there who will come to read it AND people are drawn to a genuine voice.  In the same vein, if you’re a publicist, represent a good product.  If you wouldn’t pay money to buy it yourself, do not ask other people to spend their money on it.  See how these two things are related?  Don’t write things you wouldn’t want to read yourself and don’t sell things you wouldn’t want to buy yourself.  Simple.

(2) Drama does not count as good content: you may see a spike in traffic if you write something to provoke others, but once the brouhaha dies down, you will see those same readers disappear. It’s sort of the Aliza Shvarts effect. Don’t remember her name? I don’t blame you–she had her 15 minutes of enraging people and now no one cares about what she has to say. That’s sort of the problem with self-created drama–people quickly stop listening, even if you have other things to say down the line.  And publicists, if you keep spamming a person, that’s the equivalent to building drama.  You might provoke a reaction, but I promise you, it’s not the one you want.

(3) Get involved: the more involved you are, the more traffic you’ll likely see. And involved is jumping in and joining the game, not playing another game on the same court. What do I mean by that?  Well, let’s use this as an example: some people start reading blogs, leave comments regarding what is written on the post, and hope that people will see that they have left a thoughtful comment and come over to read their blog. That’s joining the game. Then there are those who start reading blogs, leave comments asking people to check out their blog, and wonder why no one stops by. That’s like going on a basketball court where everyone is playing basketball and starting to play football with the hope that people will join you.  And publicists, read the “about me” page.  Get involved by getting to know the people you’re asking to write about your product.

(4) Get involved, part two: a low-level of involvement would be adding yourself to a blogroll. A higher level of involvement would be joining an activity like IComLeavWe. An even higher level of involvement would be to set up a blog reader with blogs you like and read them regularly and comment from time to time. And to keep adding new blogs and expanding your world.  Publicists, do you really need me to hold your dick on this one?  Take a page from book agents who build solid relationships with certain publishers and then get that publisher’s ear when they have a book to sell.  Don’t spam every blogger–pick and choose the ones who are a good fit for the types of products you represent and build a relationship with those people.

(5) Just for bloggers: wait, you’re still writing good content, right?: it’s a lot of plates to spin at once, but in order to build traffic, you need to write your own blog, and read and comment on others AT THE SAME TIME. Which means that if you stop writing for long periods of time, expect that you’ll see a fall in traffic.

(6) Be okay with having loyal readers over a lot of readers: people get so hung up on keeping up with the blogging Joneses that they sort of miss the part where they have people interested in what they have to say and then get too cranky about the whole experience to write. You may never have one million readers a day, but 10 loyal readers who care about what you have to say is better than one million people who skim your words. Blogging is about making a connection–all art is about making a connection. Not numbers.  And the same is true for a product.  It’s better to have 10 loyal people buying your peanut butter week after week after week.  Those loyal people are going to do more for your product long-term than the fickle ones who pick up your peanut butter one week and never buy it again.

(7) Get people to link to you: this is usually out of your hands–people simply read something on your blog and decide to link to it from their own and that drives traffic your way. You can’t control that. You can use resources like LFCA if you’re in the infertility community, but here’s the fact about links: people only click on them if they’re interested. I had someone who wanted me to list their blog project weekly in the LFCA and while I can do that for them, they’ll see the most clicks the first time they do it because people are curious. And they’ll see considerably fewer clicks each subsequent time unless people feel a connection towards that blogger or project. For instance, people will click over for news coming from someone involved with community. Sometimes they won’t if they don’t know the name. Which is a long way of saying that links are nice, but they rarely bring the permanent traffic you’re craving.  And this is true for all products as well.  It’s fine and dandy to have someone link to your product, but unless the words leading up to that link can pique interest or build enthusiasm, it’s unlikely that people will click over.

(8) This one is solely for businesses–purchase ad space, do some homework, and try not to piss off people before you’ve asked for your favour: Can I just repeat that I get about 50 PR requests per day. Per day. People wanting me to review their product or spread word about their cause. It doesn’t matter whether or not I want to help because if I spent all of my time fulfilling the wishes of PR people, I would have no traffic because people don’t want to read about beef jerky and financial guides and whatever else people are hawking. Therefore, as I said, I put a blanket statement on my blog: I do not accept any PR requests. And still, they keep coming.

If PR people (or anyone with a business) wants to get a better response, try this: purchase ad space on a few key blogs in the community you wish to reach. Let people become familiar with your name and product so when you ask your favour, they know that you’ve been hanging out around the community for a bit. Consider it like squirrel monkeys peeing against a tree and having all the other squirrel monkeys recognize your scent (this analogy assumes that you are a squirrel monkey).

Then approach a few blogs, making sure you have done your homework and you’re a good match. Then ask them for the favour, admitting that you know that you’re asking for a favour and don’t try to make it sound like you’re giving them something great. And understand that they need to disclose that you approached them and asked them to write the post and paid them with a product.  And don’t approach me because you’ve already ruined it with me.  But there are plenty of other bloggers out there who are still open-minded and this approach would probably do wonders to get them to support your product or cause.

(9) Back to bloggers–number one piece of advice held until item 9–don’t quit: the number one reason why people don’t build blog traffic is that they don’t realize that the blogosphere ebbs and flows and that building traffic is about sticking around and being a solid presence. Don’t get frustrated if it takes a long time to build traffic. As I stated in the beginning, there are no shortcuts. It will take time and hard work and community participation to find your niche and see your ideas pass to other people. But if you’ve read to the bottom of this post, I’m fairly certain that you’re the type who will make that happen rather than walking away still wondering where the wormhole is that will take you to one million visitors overnight.

What other advice would you add for people wishing to build blog traffic or for business owners looking to have bloggers review their product?  What do people have to do in order to get your attention, hold your interest, or return to their blog over and over again?

*Colgin has never sent me a free bottle of sauce, but they bring endless amusement whenever we make Caesar salad and I whisper to Josh, “the world has been waiting for a delicious, hickory-smoked vegan option.”  I used them as my example because I truly love the gluten-free, kosher pareve, no animal by-products smokey goodness.

65 comments

1 tash { 10.06.09 at 9:01 am }

I’m wondering . . . do these new rules apply to publisher’s gratis copies of books for review? I’m guessing yes?

I’m discovering if I don’t write, people don’t come. (Hahahahaha.)

2 Kate { 10.06.09 at 9:15 am }

GREAT list, and sorry about the PR firm :(

I’ve been blogging in different venues for well over five years now, and I agree with you wholeheartedly one ach point you raised. I would take loyal readers over high traffic any day, but the most important part for me about blogging is that while readers make my day and comments make me happy, the most important thing is that I write for me, I write because I need to. Having the inner motivation keeps a person from losing steam.

3 Kate { 10.06.09 at 9:16 am }

Oh yikes, I hope not books :(

4 Hyla { 10.06.09 at 9:24 am }

I like to get replys for the comments I leave on other blogs. It makes me feel like the writer appreciates tha time I took to leave a comment and suffer through their CAPCHA. I frequently return to those blogs b/c I feel that I am building a friendship with the writer.

5 Hyla { 10.06.09 at 9:25 am }

By the way, great advice ;)

6 Stephanie { 10.06.09 at 9:27 am }

Excellent advice, especially to us newer members of the blogging community. Thanks!

7 niobe { 10.06.09 at 9:36 am }

Here’s something I’ve frequently thought — if you want comments on your blog, make it easy for people to comment. In other words, try disabling the captcha (or whatever it’s called), allow anonymous comments, don’t require the comments to be approved before publication.

Now, I realize there are lots of reasons why people might like having more control. But, honestly, unless you’re very popular or very controversial or very unlucky, you generally won’t get that many drive bys. And you can always delete any comments that annoy you.

And, while I’m on the topic, make sure your comment has a link to your email and your blog. That is, unless you don’t want anyone to send you emails or to find your blog.

Many, many times, I want to respond to a comment or to see what else the commenter has to say, but I can’t because the links aren’t enabled.

8 babymakingjourney { 10.06.09 at 9:55 am }

I think this is an awesome guide for bloggers! You definately have to develop relationships to have the readers. I would rather have the loyal 10 than a fleeting million. It is the connection with others that I crave, and why I reach out with my blog.

I really don’t have much to add other than to take advantage of LFCA, ICLW, Bingo and other things like that. (Although, I haven’t done Bingo, I can’t wait until I have time too!!) Doing these (especially ICLW) has connected me with so many friends.

For me- I have learned to include my website with my comment if it is someone that doesn’t know me. I don’t put my websites on my google profile b/c I have a ‘family’ blog- and I really don’t want my MIL clicking over to my IF blog where I rant about her son. I now realize I should have choosen a different venue (worldpress instead of another blogger blog), but I try to make sure people can find me when I comment on their blogs.

9 Guera! { 10.06.09 at 9:56 am }

I am so glad you don’t do reviews and hawk products. I think doing so takes away from the sincerity and geniuneness of your site. I always wonder if someone is singing the praises about a product because they really do like it or because they are getting free stuff if they do. I stay away from blogs that do that. You are to be commended. You have such a large, world-wide readership that the temptation must be great at times.

10 Kate { 10.06.09 at 10:07 am }

Great advice! I’m a fairly new blogger and some of this really rings true. I thing the thing that keeps my interest in a blog is that I’m reading about the true interests and thoughts of the blogger – maybe someone else’s insight can help me through a tough day…

11 Quiet Dreams { 10.06.09 at 10:14 am }

Great post. The connections I’ve made, and the support I’ve found in the blogging community has been amazing, and worth so much more than some random numbers game.

When I recently had to switch blogs, I had a couple of readers come out of the woodwork (they had never commented), asking where I had gone. (They emailed me at my old blog’s contact email.) It felt amazing to me that I had made that connection with people. And I don’t have high stats. And I don’t really care. (Anymore. ;) )

And nothing annoys me more than the non-comment of “come check out my new blog!” comment.

12 Alana-isms { 10.06.09 at 10:38 am }

Excellent advice. And I whole-heartedly agree with others before me:
1. I blog/write for ME. It is my outlet first and foremost.
2. The connection I feel with my blog-world friends and support network is MUCH more meaningful than the number of “hits” to my blog each day.

13 Katie { 10.06.09 at 10:56 am }

Great post! I’m also glad you don’t hawk products. :) Personally, I’m into blogging because it’s helpful for ME and in it I found a community of other women going through the exact same things. It’s good to know that you aren’t alone out there.

14 Caitlin { 10.06.09 at 11:34 am }

Wonderful post! I love my few loyal readers and would take them anyday over 1,000 readers who don’t connect with me. We’ve formed a bond and follow eachother’s lives. I actually care and look for their updates daily as I know they do me.

And KUDOS to you for not selling out. It is important that you remain *real* to the community. Keep up the good work Mel! You’re the best!

15 Denise { 10.06.09 at 12:42 pm }

Hiya Mel!

I will say it again, I really enjoy it whenever you blog about blogging.

When you asked a while back if bloggers would want to know why they were ‘unfollowed’ and if we follow bloggers that we suspect we might not like in real life, those questions really stuck with me. So my last post was about blogging. (What a trip.) Your post today could have been written in answer to mine. Thanks for validating my instinct that it’s worth not quitting.

I find that I go in a circular path … I blog/write for myself, but I can’t help but hope to connect with others (a huge payoff above and beyond the work itself). Sometimes I feel disappointed at the lack of response, but in the end I always come back to blogging for myself, blogging as it’s own reward.

I second being glad that you don’t do reviews and promotions. I agree that the commercial nature of all that puts a drag on the quality of a blog’s content as a whole. The very fact that someone is being paid (in any form) to blog about a product, cancels most if not absolutely all of the attraction value in the writing itself, which is no longer free and spontaneous … NTM which may or may not be genuine. Fact: When we read blogs, we aren’t looking for a professional sales pitch, no matter how worthy or compelling the product nor how clever the writing.

XXOO

PS … You asked us to update all links to the blogroll in our sidebars … I have the ALI Badge which contains the (old?) links in it. It still works. Sort of. (?) Is there an update for the badge code?

16 Kymberli { 10.06.09 at 12:43 pm }

Write for yourself and not for your audience. This advice, obviously, goes against what most of us learned in English 101, which is to write with your audience in mind. For the type of blogging that we do here within the IF community, we need to remember that most of us are here for ourselves and for our own catharsis and *not* to provide entertainment for others in effort to raise our own popularity. If we write straightforward from our hearts, the connection will come on its own good time from other like-minded individuals. You put into it what you hope to get out of it and you take from it what you want from it – if your goal is to connect, you first have to connect with yourself and stay true to why you came in the first place. If you lose the connection to yourself, you can’t really expect to truly connect to others the way you want to.

Which, Mel, is why I think you’re so good at what you do – you are highly skilled at using your connection to yourself to connect to others and furthermore, you use that connect to get others to connect without you as a middleman. And that is something fine, indeed.

17 a { 10.06.09 at 1:08 pm }

If someone were to solicit me to review their products, I would find it amusing. They would find it less so, because at every job I’ve ever had, “honest” was always the word associated with me and it has never been a compliment. :)

Anyway, again, great job on community building! I think that’s what’s difficult for people to understand – blogging is a community, not just a venue to access the adoring masses that you know are out there waiting for pearls of wisdom to drip from your keyboard.

18 Palemother { 10.06.09 at 1:11 pm }

After I commented above, I kept thinking about why PR content on blogs bugs me. I thought … when you find a blogger with a voice that you love, each post is like a little gift. When a blogger accepts a paid review assignment … suddenly, it’s not quite the same kind of gift. For example … Homer Simpson once gave his wife Marge a bowling ball with his own initials on it (Marge doesn’t bowl). So in our house, we jokingly call gifts that have something in it (more or less) for the giver “Homer” presents. PR blog posts are like that … like a bad re-gift … or a self-centered gift … or something you just plain don’t want.

Gee honey, you shouldn’t have ….

XXOO

19 Elizabeth { 10.06.09 at 1:15 pm }

excellent advice for a newbie–thanks!

20 Jendeis { 10.06.09 at 1:32 pm }

My advice is to tell it like it is. Speak with your own voice. This is your life, not anyone else’s, so don’t worry if you don’t sound like the great writers and/or famous bloggers out there.

I could write a diatribe on people who don’t proofread or spell check their work, but I think that will send me into the Crazy for too long. :)

21 Jen { 10.06.09 at 2:38 pm }

Mel – I think this is why you are so successful! You are open, honest and real. Love that about your blog and all the fun things you create for us to have a community.

22 Tiffany { 10.06.09 at 3:11 pm }

Thanks for the advice! I’m still fairly new to this game, and it’s always great to pick up some veteran knowledge!

P.s. I just read your book, and it was AWESOME! Thank-you so much for writing it and putting it out there for those of us who struggle with IF.

23 Hevel { 10.06.09 at 3:17 pm }

With the new rules I’m glad I’m not American, don’t live in the States either.

Not that I ever got anything free or got paid for advertising something.

I really like your outline, they are what I have seen to work since my first blog in 2002.

24 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 10.06.09 at 3:58 pm }

I think you covered my big one with your item #1– write good content. Yes, it’s subjective, but if I joined a community of Christian missionary workers and then blogged endlessly about how much I dislike organized religion, I wouldn’t expect to have many readers. If you join a group of smart, sassy women, and you are too timid to display smartness or sassiness (and randomly throwing the word “fuck” into a post where it isn’t contextual doesn’t make one sassy…), you should expect that you may not have quite as many readers. (And if you blog among people who find harsh language to be impolite, a peppering of “fuck”s in your post will probably alienate you a bit…)

Likewise, if you join a group of infertile bloggers, and you aren’t exactly infertile, you can’t expect the ranks to come flocking to you. And that’s one that I know from personal experience, on both sides. While I was the textbook definition of infertile when I started my blog, the fact that I wasn’t really doing much about it meant that I didn’t have much of a story to share early on, at least not one that appealed to someone who had been through the wringer. And now, when I read the blog of someone just starting out, I have a harder time developing a relationship because I know what it’s like to have a sucky, real, no-baby-without-IVF-for-YOU! diagnosis, and I blog more about the specific path that I’m on, not the “oh, dear, will it or won’t it happen for us this month???” (which I wrote plenty of early on, I think). I can see it from both sides and I know why it is that my readership grew slowly at first and has had little bursts since then as we’ve progressed further into our infertility journey. I’m certainly not saying that we don’t need to read the stories of those early in their infertility journey, but rather that blog relationships are not too dissimilar to real life ones, where there needs to be at least *some* common ground as a foundation for a real deep relationship. And sadly, I find that I have less common ground with someone early in their journey now.

I guess what I mean is that (within reason) you should know your intended audience and appeal to them. But above all, remember that “good” is subjective. What I like may not be what you like, even if I am your intended audience. Some people read someone’s blog because the story is attractive to them, in spite of grammar/usage errors, and for some people, even if a story is attractive, they won’t read it if there are too many grammar/usage errors, because it drives them crazy. Which I sort of understand. Though actually, I’ve taken the tack that as long as the lack of grammar-suave-ity isn’t to the point that it is impossible to decipher the intended meaning, then it’s not such a big deal to me (though I do notice it). Of course, I can’t say that I can think of any blogs that I read solely because they are devoid of errors, so I guess that’s not something that drives me toward a blog, but it might eventually drive me away.

So yeah. Write interesting stuff, write stuff that you’d like to read, and if you present a strong perspective, expect that some people just might not agree with your perspective and thus may choose not to read your writing. Find your community, find your niche. If you’ve got regular commenters, check out the blogs that they have in their blogroll, because you’ll likely find stuff of interest there, too, and you may be someone that they would like to read about as well. That would be my advice.

25 Corey Whelan { 10.06.09 at 4:15 pm }

Melissa darlin’, I hope you’re as rich as you are smart. You are truly one in a million.
C

26 Michelle { 10.06.09 at 4:15 pm }

This is so so true! I so value my readers and I would much rather have LOYAL readers, people who I have a connection with then 1 million readers that I do not even know their name. I feel I have a connection with every one of the readers on my blog and I love it and do not know what I would do with out.

A completely off topic funny thing. My DH was looking over my shoulder, which he has done several times and then he says “oh, oh I so get it now.” I say “get what?’ He says “stirrup queens”. I saw the name many times and I just figured out what it means”. That cracked me up!

27 Luna { 10.06.09 at 4:58 pm }

Two words: paragraph returns
only half joking.

Brilliant advice, Mel, all around.

28 Kristin { 10.06.09 at 5:27 pm }

Wonderful advice. The fact that the PR folks don’t read the about page was made glaringly clear by the group that told Cecily her sons would love toy x.

29 Hairy Farmer Family { 10.06.09 at 6:20 pm }

You are my absolute favourite wise woman.

And, whilst I am here, I just want to tell you that NTLOIF surfaced on my To Read pile this week, and it is utterly superb. I have particularly enjoyed chapter 5, even more than a ten-ton heap of chocolate!

30 Barb { 10.06.09 at 8:03 pm }

I like #6, and it’s kind of my personal code too. I would advise also to not do a blog if you’re ONLY writing it for others to read and comment on. It’s only going to be successful IMHO if you’re also writing it for YOU. Otherwise, you’ll never get past the stage where it’s so hard to build ANY traffic.

31 Barb { 10.06.09 at 8:05 pm }

Oh.. and one more.. Respect your readers enough to try to write to the best of your ability! In that I mean, spell check, try to improve grammar, and try to get your facts straight before you state them. (also CITE SOURCES!) If you aren’t sure of the facts, but want to talk about them anyway, be HONEST and say that.

32 IF Crossroads { 10.06.09 at 8:34 pm }

Well Mel, that was awesome advice. I love reading your take on the blogging world. I really feel like you are so connected to the artery of the art of blogging (because it’s really an art, isn’t it?) and your summary rings so true.

Previous commenters have mentioned this and I think it bears repeating. I’d love to read some blogs of some of my in-frequent commenters/readers, however, the links are not always active.
Rule #10 – make sure you know your own blog address!

It’s funny, since I started blogging over the summer I’ve noticed the traffic trends. But I really blog for my own outlet and I hope that people find it interesting or, if nothing else, helpful.

Oh, and FWIW, I still think you have the patience of a saint. Anyone who can spend the weekend with HTML code deserves major kudos … or at least a big bottle of wine ;)

Thanks for the mention! Your whole point of people-will-come-if-they-find-it click-worthy was proven in the fact that out of my 98 viewers today, 4 came from your direct mention/link.

33 Rachel { 10.06.09 at 8:37 pm }

Foremost, I would like to thank you for including my website in the Friday blog roundup a couple of week ago. It meant a lot to me.

I started blogging back in April, but didn’t make it public until recently. Your list will be very helpful to me in the coming months as I venture out into the IF blogging world! Thanks again!

34 geohde { 10.06.09 at 8:43 pm }

I only get the regular kind of spam, not the PR kind.

Oddly enough, in my line of work, PR stands for per-rectum, i.e. involving the bottom. Kind of appropros for advertising diarrhoea sent without thought :)

g

35 Mo { 10.06.09 at 9:35 pm }

Mel,

As usual, great post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on blogging. And boy those PR people sound super annoying!

Mo

36 once a mother { 10.06.09 at 9:59 pm }

Great Post… although to be honest I really WAS in the mood for a review of a wonderful beef-jerky-educational-toy-weight-loss-pill-fertility-test

j/k keep up the great work and the great site. You never fail to come up with new useful bits of information.

:)

37 Lollipopgoldstein { 10.06.09 at 10:23 pm }

Melissa quietly whispers to herself after reading some of these comments: “I have a lot of type-os. I have a lot of errors. They are talking about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”

And for the record, I just did correct a type-o before writing this.

38 Vintage Mommy { 10.06.09 at 11:35 pm }

I was actually thinking of starting a blog called “my strange lunch” – really! I eat the weirdest stuff sometimes . . . anyway, I like your new look a lot, and your post echoes everything I’ve read about “successful” blogging. And in life in general, most rewarding pastimes/hobbies/jobs take hard work, no? You work very hard and it shows!

39 Tammi { 10.07.09 at 5:32 am }

Excellent advice… I love reading your blog and it is on my blogroll of course.

I write for myself and my boys and for that alone. It is a diary of their, and my lives. Including my health struggles which resulted in my barrenness. Which resulted in our traditional surrogacy journey after losing 3 children. So, while wanting to write for “me” and the boys… I still hope to inspire and share meaningful content. I am and was a professional writer, so I can’t go a day without writing. It is part of who I am. Though I am a SAHM, I consider my blog my life’s work now. I pray the boys will read it when they are older, laugh, and understand why we chose traditional surrogacy, with all its difficulties and loveliness combined.

Oh and I write for all the parents of twins out there. As a twin, I have a unique perspective and understand twin psyche very well. My kids are super close and not competitive. I use what I learned as a twin, and write about it, to help others who are parenting multiples (note, don’t ever dress them alike, even if it is cute… if you can help it. Halloween is ok).

40 Lynne Marie Wanamaker { 10.07.09 at 10:31 am }

One of my blog readers sent me this link because she knew I was interested in building readership. What a wonderful list. I will book-mark this and return to it again and again.

My favorite thing is your focus on creating good content. I blog because I am a writer–not to drive traffic, build an audience or sell products. The writing comes first.

I started writing when I realized that I like reading about other people’s ordinary lives, parenting adventures and spiritual paths. Then I realized that I too have an ordinary life, parenting adventures and a spiritual path. So I started to write about them. I hope my essays touch people–my loyal readers think they are funny and thought provoking. I have loved getting to know other bloggers through their comments and links.

When I start to think, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have more people reading my blog?” I will come back to this post–for your concrete advice of how to make that happen, and for your reminder that good writing and loyal readers are the core of the project.

41 Lyrehca { 10.07.09 at 11:07 am }

Fantastic post.

42 Kir { 10.07.09 at 11:17 am }

love the list, it’s so true and right on..as usual. :)

43 Willow { 10.07.09 at 2:08 pm }

Thank you for this fantastic post! As a new blogger, I really appreciate having so many helpful tips in one convenient location!

44 Lavender Luz { 10.07.09 at 4:22 pm }

This just in: enrollment in Publicist Schools just shot up.

“Publicists, do you really need me to hold your d!ck on this one?”

Truly a great post. Pass the worcestershire?

45 Flying Monkeys { 10.07.09 at 4:59 pm }

I’m catching up, nice new digs and great post!
Content is completely subjective. I had no outlet while I was going through IF, clomid hell, IUI, IVF and preemie panic…I wish I would have. I’m on the other side now, there will be no more attempts for us unless God throws us a Hail Mary with 10 seconds to go we’re it. The 4 of us. Some days I struggle with whether or not discussing them is okay? Is it okay since I’m still nosing around the IF blogosphere (heck I just found it!) and since I comment on IF blogs there’s a chance they will come back to mine, I don’t want to write anything that will sting them. On the other hand I don’t want to defend that I was once “there” to anyone, because I was. IDK. Some weeks my only post is recipe because I wonder if it will be embarrassing to tell people that my 2 year old thinks tampons are band aids and offered one to his dad when he hurt his finger. (I was on the spot and wanted to be brief.)
Anyway, that was a lot of blah blah blah about not really knowing my audience because I’m not sure who it’s supposed to be.
Thanks for another great post!

46 lynn @ human, being { 10.07.09 at 7:50 pm }

I love # 6 and #9 in particular. I’ve been writing on human, being for about 10 months now, and my traffic is growing by a few more unique views every week or so (now holding steady in the 50s-range, which is great by me). And I occasionally get comments, which is the BEST indicator (in my mind) that I’m doing something right. And even REPEAT comments, which means that people are getting engaged with something I’m writing.

I also follow about 75 blogs in my Google Reader and try to leave about 100 comments a week, not *necessarily* to drive traffic (anymore, but that’s what I did at first) but because I am engaged in the conversation, and I’ve come to look forward to certain bloggers’ posts.

I love reading your blog, even though I’m not in the IF community. It’s so sassy and smart, and I really love Show and Tell. And posts like this.

47 Kami { 10.08.09 at 7:25 pm }

I am amazed at how many unsolicited solicitations you get. How do you find the email you want to read?

Thanks for the advice too. It’s nice to know I am doing what I can and willing to do at the moment. That is, I don’t have a huge readership, but I think some loyal readers and the amount is proportionate to the amount of energy I put into blogging / commenting these days.

48 Battynurse { 10.11.09 at 1:58 am }

Ok, I’m still a bit stuck (and freaked the hell out) by the whole idea of an 11k fine. Yikes. Just because you said something about something on your blog???
These are all great tips Mel. Sadly I doubt many of the PR people will bother. They are too busy spamming good peoples e-mail inboxes.

49 Baby On Mind { 11.23.09 at 3:10 am }

Hi Mel,

This is a great post! I have JUST starting blogging. After 6 years of struggling with IF I have decided to blog. It is more of an avenue for me to vent and also help keep track of my thoughts, appointments, etc. A journal of sorts. I wish I had thought about doing this much earlier when I started the TTC journey. I supposed I never thought it would that this long!

I am struggling what to put on my blog, not so much content, but how much info to put in there. Maybe because only a few people know about our IF and I am not sure who may read it in the future, and if I should tell friends about my blog (it’s anonymous right now) Any suggestions?

50 mash { 03.27.10 at 8:14 am }

I wanted to thank you for creating this community. You are the glue that binds us together, and it’s hugely inspiring! I’m thinking of doing something similar for family members of homicide victims, or put it this way, I’m TRYING to do that, but it’s difficult to find the people that are affected by it. I suppose once I get a small community started, then it will snowball. My dream is to put people in touch with each other, so that there is always online support available.

If you are on a traffic-to-blog mission, then tags seem to help a lot. In fact, I’ve noticed that when I tag stuff, I often end up on the top of a Google search. Having said that, my IF blog now has a nice readership of people that I really like, and I couldn’t be bothered about chasing traffic!

6 months ago, I didn’t even know what a blog was. I thought it was a type of online forum. Discovering blogging has been like finding gold to me, I love it so much. It’s going to be an interesting tool to look back on one day, when I am a mom, and I will be a mom.

51 Felicity { 06.10.10 at 3:06 pm }

Thank you for the tips, and for the laugh.

Perhaps this goes hand-in-hand with “write good content,” but I think “read your writing before you hit ‘post’” deserves its own line item. Everyone makes spelling and grammar mistakes, but why show yours off to the whole world if you can avoid it?

52 Kate { 07.09.10 at 4:56 pm }

This is excellent advice and I’m happy that I’m already following most of it. I agree with Felicity above when it comes to good grammar, proper punctuation and your best writing when publishing a post.

53 Amanda { 07.28.10 at 3:10 pm }

I like the basketball/football analogy. You’ve got to play the game. But I hate the ads and product reviews and extra junk littering blogs. I’m not much of a comment person –I don’t comment just for a comment’s sake as I’m picky and only want to comment when I really like a blog which is rare –but if it will help get the word out or get me more comments, then I can maybe try harder to find ones I really like, as I love comments on what I write. Thanks for the advice!

54 Jennifer { 08.06.10 at 2:19 pm }

This is fantastic. I found this through the link on BlogHer, and it’s very sound advice. Thanks!

55 Sharee { 09.24.10 at 2:39 pm }

You have no idea … this advice is right on time. I needed a little friendly “pop” on the head (if there are such things as friendly pops on the head!) … and found it! Thanks!

Thanks!

56 Melissa Ford – Blogging and Books | Bell Bridge Books { 02.16.11 at 1:28 am }

[...] enough for your taste and walk away.  Finding your tribe takes time. I write often about how to build your blog traffic or how to leave a good comment, and while there are general guidelines you can follow (and [...]

57 Guest Melissa Ford – Blogging and Books | Riding With The Top Down { 02.16.11 at 6:51 am }

[...] enough for your taste and walk away.  Finding your tribe takes time. I write often about how to build your blog traffic or how to leave a good comment, and while there are general guidelines you can follow (and [...]

58 JENNY { 02.22.11 at 10:16 pm }

I appreciate the tips! I just started blogging consistently about a month ago and I have been searching for some advice to help me keep going.

59 TM { 03.31.11 at 9:15 pm }

Thanks so much for these top tips. Very handy for a novice blogger. Cheers!

60 Ann marie Houghtailing { 07.21.11 at 3:10 pm }

Thank you for reminding people to be patient. In think there’s such an insane drive to make things happen yesterday that we’ve all lost our sense of time and reality. The Internet has made writing more accessible and created space. It’s a democratic tool, but it doesn’t mean that you will developing a following from making a couple of comments about life outside your window. It takes time and commitment. I appreciate the honesty!

61 Sonia Lal { 04.29.12 at 5:33 pm }

good advice! wish I could have read this when I started blogging. LOL Still.

62 Molly { 09.08.12 at 12:27 pm }

Holy Good Advice, Batman! As a new member of the blogosphere (as well as the Technologically Impaired Club), this could not be more valuable. From the underbelly of the Interwebs, I thank you!

63 Juli { 11.24.12 at 9:22 am }

I’m reading this post and the comments several years after you have written them. And they are very helpful to me (and for my hubby also). I’ll pass them along. Thanks for taking the time to share.

64 Amy { 01.03.13 at 9:39 pm }

Reading this a few years down the line. Have been blogging almost 2 years. Have spent a great deal of energy on how to “get myself otu there” I am so glad I read this post and comments so as to keep my small loyal readers and not trade them for wrinkle cream.

65 Lisa K. { 08.06.13 at 1:16 pm }

Great advice. I’m about to start a second blog–a chapter two of sorts–and I’m determined to do things differently this time. I’ve been blogging for three years and had a love-hate relationship with my last blog. Because I was writing things that were controversial, I wasn’t always received well with other bloggers in the same niche I wrote in. I also wanted to write about other things that weren’t niche-related, so I’m happy to start a new blog that’s more central to my every day life (photos, writing, outdoors, etc.).

I also love the fact that you blog under a different name. I wrote my first blog under my real name and really don’t want to do that this time. Of course I will keep my current audience informed of my new adventure and post on social media, but for the most part I don’t want my personal life to be picked apart by anyone (family, coworker, etc.) and it’s safer for me to have that (maybe false) sense of security and privacy.

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