Ok, so I’ve only been back from my whirlwind weekend in Baltimore for about 15 hours and I’m already chomping at the bit to implement all of the knowledge that I gained! I seriously have a nervous feeling in my stomach right now because I’m fully aware that I need to put this stuff in place while it is still fresh in my brain. I’m also fully aware that my total-stud of a four year old is ALSO fully aware that his mama was away for the entire weekend and he absolutely intends to cram every single minute of Lego action that I missed the past two days into these first few morning hours. I’m hoping I can squeeze this post out before he decides that he’s totally had it with me and dumps all of the contents of his Lego bin onto the floor in order to prove a point.
First and foremost, this past weekend was nothing short of incredible. All blog-related tips aside, the absolute best part of the trip for me was finally getting to meet some of the amazing women who I’ve formed such great connections with since I started blogging in October. I’m resisting the urge to go into some big long hoopla about each and every person I met and how they fully lived up to their awesomeness (and don’t even get me started on my bloggy sister). Instead, I’m applying one of the first things that I learned at boot camp. If I want people to actually read my entire post instead of giving up after the first paragraph, then I need to quit trying to write a novel with every post and use the space bar a little more often.
Since it wasn’t that long ago that I was a newbie blogger, I thought that the best way to go about this post was to highlight the key topics that I think are most beneficial to bloggers who are just starting out. I’m hoping to take some of the guess work out of blogging for those people who know that they want to move forward and dive a little deeper into the blogosphere but aren’t sure what they are supposed to do and what they are not supposed to do.
Here goes nothin’.
KNOW THE EFFECTIVE WAY TO COMMENT
This one may have taken me a few months to get the hang of when I first started blogging, and after this weekend I was so pleased to learn that I had figured it out somewhere along the way. Basically, here’s the lowdown.
- It’s a total give and take. If you want to get comments, you have to give comments. You can’t just start a blog and throw a post up and expect for people to come out of the woodwork and discover you. You have to visit other blogs, follow other blogs, and leave comments regularly on those other blogger’s posts if you want to see some love in return. Reciprocity is key in the blog world.
- When leaving a comment, make it authentic. Basically, if you’re going to take the time to leave a comment, then take the time to READ THE POST FIRST. If you say something along the lines of, “Great post!”, or “Thanks for stopping by MY blog!”, or “I’m here from such-and-such!”, without any sort of reference to the post you are commenting on, then you are pretty much giving away the fact that you have no idea what the actual post was about because you didn’t read it. You are basically saying, “I really don’t care about your post and I don’t have time to actually read your post, but I DO want you to come back to my blog and leave a meaningful comment on MY post.” Again, it’s all about reciprocity people! Honestly, I have left comments thanking people for stopping by my blog, but along with that I always include some feedback for the post in question. I think a good rule of thumb is: If you can’t manage to come up with an authentic comment, then it’s best not to leave one.
- Turn off word verification! I can’t stress this one enough. I had it for about a month on blogger, and then someone advised me to remove it. And you know what? I got WAY more comments after I took it off. Don’t question this one. Just DO IT!
KNOW YOUR BRAND
- Be clear on who you are. This is one area where I think I’m on the right track (or at least I hope I am)! One thing that was too funny at boot camp was the fact that no one had any idea who I was when I introduced myself with my first and last name. And I pretty much had no idea who anyone was when they introduced themselves with their first and last name either. When you brought blog names into the mix however, it was a whole different story. I heard a lot of, “OH YEAH! I KNOW YOU!” If people can immediately picture your blog in their head when you give them the name, then that is a good example of branding.
-Be clear on what you do. Make sure that when readers visit your blog, they easily get a sense of what exactly you write about. Taglines or phrases in your header are an easy way to do this. At the top of my blog, I have my title, The Mommyologist, and underneath I have my tagline: “Analyzing Motherhood with Laughter and Honesty, And Trying Not to Lose My Mind in the Process.” This lets my potential readers know that I write about being a mom and that I use humor as my delivery method. I think it’s pretty clear from my header that they aren’t going to find posts about gardening on my site. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Gardening is great, and I wish I had the patience to do it. But if I was going to write a gardening blog then I’d be the Flowerologist or something to that effect.
- Pick one or two Memes and stick with them. I won’t go into the whole debate over how the word Meme is actually pronounced (for the record, it rhymes with dream…Scary Mommy filled us in). If you have one or two memes that you participate in on a consistent basis, then your readers know what to expect from you. They will start to anticipate those posts and actually visit your blog without thinking about it because they are actually looking forward to your meme post. I do What the Heck? Wednesday and I try to keep up with it every week when I can. I even have a button for it now and I’m hoping more people jump on the bandwagon with me (hint, hint, wink, wink, shameless plug). I also have a new series that I’m working on that won’t be a weekly thing, but hopefully it will become something that people associate me with.
KNOW YOUR WORTH
- It’s ok to say NO. This was a big one for me. I have just started to get into the whole review and giveaway thing on my blog, and to be honest it can be a little overwhelming at times. It is so exciting when the emails from PR reps start rolling in and you start getting offers for giveaways and reviews. I was so happy to finally be getting noticed that I found myself saying yes to pretty much every inquiry that I got. And you know what? I started to get stressed out. I started to get overwhelmed. I started to get snippy with the people around me as a result of being overwhelmed and stressed. And that just isn’t good. Blogging is supposed to be fun and it is supposed to be FOR YOU. It is ok to set boundaries on what you will and won’t review and/or giveaway. It is ok to speak up and ask for more when you feel as though you aren’t getting what you need in return for the advertising you are going to provide for a product. And it is ok to say no.
KNOW THAT YOU HAVE SUPPORT
- There are plenty of people who are willing to help you. One of the very best things that I ever did as a blogger was to join SITS. Putting that adorable leopard print button on my sidebar was one of the very first things that I did when I started my blog. I didn’t even really know what it meant when I added it, but I do now. I had the pleasure of meeting Tiffany, one of the SITS founders, this past weekend and her energy is absolutely contagious. She is truly passionate about what she does, and she offers an incredible support system for women bloggers. The SITS motto is, “The Secret to Success is Support.” I don’t think that it gets much more true than that. If you aren’t a member of SITS yet, then head on over and join today. You won’t believe the amazing connections you make.
Well, there you have it folks! I didn’t touch on everything that was covered at Bloggy Boot Camp because that would’ve been virtually impossible to do if I ever intend on finishing this post. With that being said, please feel free to email me at themommyologist(at)gmail(dot)com with any other questions you may have about what went on in Baltimore. I am more than happy to share!