I’m a new blogger. I started about a year ago. I’ve tried different things. I’m still experimenting. That’s one thing I like about the blog format. You can do whatever you want. But if your goal is to increase your readership, there are a few things you shouldn’t do.
My dad’s memorial tree.
When I started danerickson.net in April, 2011, I had no idea what I was doing. I started posting articles espousing my views on Christianity, writing poetry, and writing my first book online. I had no goals or focus, but my original intent wasn’t to increase readership. My original intent was to use my blog as an electronic journal for myself, friends and family. If other people read it, that would be okay, too. However, writing a book online, and more recently publishing it changed everything. Over the past few months I’ve started the journey of promoting my blog, intentionally trying to increase readership. It’s a learning curve and I still have a long way to go, but I’ve already learned a few things NOT to do.
How NOT to grow a blog:
1. Don’t have a plan or a specific purpose. If you don’t have some kind of focus, a specific purpose and refined subject matter, you will struggle to find readers.
2. Don’t consider your potential readers. If you don’t know your potential audience, you won’t know how and where to promote your blog. Know your audience.
3. Don’t write articles that offer helpful advice or life-affirming stories. Readers like to learn something new. They want to discover better ways to write, to live, to love. Your blog needs to offer helpful material. However, don’t forget the personal touch. I’ve found that articles about, or posted by other people tend to get higher response.
4. Don’t build relationships. Blogging and social media in general is about building relationships. Learn about your readers and offer them material that works for them. Be considerate, kind, and understanding. Ask and answer questions.
5. Ignore the technical aspects of blogging. Okay, I’ll be the first to admit this is my weakness. I don’t have strong computer skills, and I don’t have the finances to hire out. I force myself to learn. I’ve recently started learning about plugins, SEOs, analytics, metrics, and more. I make a point to learn and apply something on the technical side every couple weeks.
6. Obsessively promote yourself, your product, or your service. Yes, we operate blogs to promote something, but you need to find a balance. Too much promotion will drive readers away. Continually offering the same links and products can also appear as spam to search engines.
7. Never use pictures, video, podcasts, or tags. I’ve recently started using tags. I was surprised at how well they work. My Google appearance in a search has doubled. I also started using pictures. As an artistic type, I’ve decided to take my own pictures and post them in black and white. This may not be the best strategy and I might change to color in the future. Video and podcasts will also increase your presence. This is also something I hope to do in the future. Remember, as an independent blogger and writer one only has so much time. Don’t push yourself too hard. Learn the basics, then move up to the next level.
8. Ignore or snub your commenters. As a blogger, I’m also active in reading and posting comments on blogs that I find helpful or interesting. One of the blogs I post on started removing my comments. I’m not sure why, but I can guess. There are several reasons a blog may remove comments, but only two are valid if you want to grow your blog.
Reason #1: The comment is obviously spam. It has absolutely nothing to do with your post and only promotes a website that has nothing to do with your topic.
Reason #2: The comment is blatantly rude and uses foul language or is libelous toward an individual or organization.
Reason #3: The comment, although on topic, includes a reference to the commenter’s product, service, website, or blog.
Reason #4: The comment disagrees with your post in one or more ways.
I would not post a comment based on the first two reasons.
But as a blogger, and especially if your goal is to grow, I would recommend posting all other comments. If the comment mentions the commenter’s product or website, so what? It’s a two-way street. As bloggers we can work as community and support each others’ goals. If the commenter becomes too aggressive about posting their own information, I would email them and ask them to lighten up before I consider deleting their comment.
If a commenter disagrees with my post. Hallelujah! I’m not always right and I don’t claim to be. As bloggers we can learn from each other. Open debate, healthy disagreement done in a respectful manner helps us to grow socially, intellectually, and spiritually. If we ignore possible alternatives we live with blinders on, only focusing on our own point of view. Unless the commenter is continually bashing or bantering other commenters I would never delete respectful disagreement.
This leads to a recent experience. Out of professionalism, I won’t mention the name, but after commenting on a motivational blog for a few weeks, my comments began to be deleted every day. I did occasionally mention that I also operate a blog, but I didn’t post my blog address regularly. I also respectfully pointed out some alternatives to some of their points. The blog was positive and upbeat, which is good, but I occasionally mentioned that life is not always “perfect.” In one post the writer said that everybody has the power to change their life. Having been a child victim of abuse I made the point that there are millions of people that are restricted and do not have the power to change. The comment was deleted. Frankly, I was disappointed at the lack of open-mindedness and respect and will not be participating on that particular blog anymore.
Questions: When would you delete a reader’s comment and why? What are some things you WOULD do to grow your blog.