Dear Beginning Blogger – Be Awesome

Six weeks ago, I wrote to you and shared most the things I wish I’d known as a beginning blogger.

One of the things I told you was

“for the first month or two, just focus on writing.”

It’s been a month or two. I figured it was time to check in and give you a wee bit more advice.

(Hint: If I could have squeezed in in, the full title of today’s post is “Dear Beginning Blogger: How to be awesome at social media and get lots of comments on your blog posts.”)

more advice for the beginning blogger

This is some pretty expensive advice. I attended Blissdom – a multi-day blogging conference at a fancy hotel to learn this and ran up quite a bill in the process.

But I’ll give it to you for free.

Are you ready?

I learned it from Scott Stratton of @unmarketing fame. His platform of choice is Twitter and he is awesome at it.  (It should tell you something that I linked to his Twitter profile and not a traditional blog.)

He sees Twitter as a microblogging platform, not just a space to share a URL to your blog post. He said the secret to success on Twitter is simple.

“Treat Twitter as a conversation, not a dictation.”

Beginning Blogger, that’s a profound piece of advice.

It’s not just Twitter.

Take that advice and apply the idea behind it to every Social Media platform.

It’s about conversation and relationship.

Even Pinterest.

(That’s a whole different post, I promise.)

the secret to social media is to be social

Everything that happens on your blog is part of a conversation.

Your posts are the opening statement.

The comments are a response from your readers – the second half of your conversation.

Stop thinking of comments as a scorecard for your popularity. Look at them as a way to extend the conversation and learn more about the people who read your words.

The whole thing about how important it is to reply to comments isn’t to drive up your own comment count stats. It isn’t to “trick” the reader into coming back and yet again boosting your page views.

It’s about continuing the conversation.

Be awesome at conversation.

Conversations happen when we feel welcome.

You know what makes your readers feel welcome?

  • Turning off CAPTCHA.
  • Allowing comments to post immediately instead of disappearing into nothingness to be “moderated.”
  • Giving your readers an EASY way to leave their credentials.
  • Providing your readers with control of how the conversation is continued.
  • Continuing the conversation.

I get it.  Spam.

When I first turned off CAPTCHA, I was terrified I would be overwhelmed with spam.  I’m not.  It’s not that big of deal to click the “spam” button a few dozen times a week. 

(Besides, spammers increase your page views… if you’re obsessing over that kind of thing then embrace the spam. JK…kinda.)

I get it. Cussing.

When I first turned off moderation, I was terrified that someone would drop an “f bomb” in comments or say something terribly rude and troll like.  In the two years since I quit having moderated comments, I’ve had only two cussing incidents out of 3,476 comments (to date). I edited one comment to swap letters for asterisks. I used the spam button on the other one.

I get it. Plug Ins / Widgets / Gadgets.

Yep. You need them. The native commenting for WordPress and Blogger are a wee bit lacking. Go find a blog that has a comment “thingy” that makes you feel welcome (or that gets a ton of active discussions).  Copy what they’ve got going on.

I get it. 

Really, I do.

But if you want to have a conversation with your readers, it’s best not to slam the door in their face when they knock.

One last thing —

Be awesome at leaving comments.

When you’re the reader, the one leaving comments, remember that you’re part of a conversation. You would never run into the middle of someone else’s party and yell “nice post” and run back out.  (Nor would you walk into a candle party and yell “hey, come over to my party and buy some plastic lidded containers.” Right?)

Be a considerate guest and make it easy to continue the conversation.

How hard is that?

Sweet friend, just go be awesome.

The world needs your words.

(And so do I. I’d love to hear what you think.  Leave me a comment and we can chat.)

(Note: this post is part of an ongoing series designed to provide encouragement to beginning bloggers.)

Get social:
Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. Barbara London says:

    Thank you for sharing these great encouraging words! I am one of those beginning bloggers, and am always open to read how to do it better!! I have read bits of your blog, and plan to go back for more great advice!!

  2. Barbara, I'm so glad that you found my word encouraging! That means so much to me. I love being able to take what I've learned and share it with others.

    I try not to blog about blogging too often because I know it's such a limited audience. It bores and frustrates those who don't blog. I think there are only a handful of posts so far. It's only in the past two months that I realized I actually had something interesting to share.

    I love that you've joined the Five Minute Friday community. I can think of no better group to cheer you on as you find your writing voice.

  3. Oh the irony. Friends, my comment system appears to be wonky today. I’m so super sorry. At the moment, I’m locked out of my own blog and hoping the network gurus can fix things. I am so super sorry for any inconvenience.

    Because I have absolutely ZERO spam filter on at the moment and everything is posting straight thru (I think) I’ll just apologize in advance for anything that looks spammy.

  4. Tara L Ulrich says:

    This was such a helpful post. I've been blogging for awhile but I still consider myself a beginning blogger. I love when I leave a comment and the post gets a reply. I know realize that I need to reply to the comments on my page. I'll be working on that this weekend.

  5. Thanks for pushing us new bloggers on! I actually have been blogging for a long time, but am just starting to take myself seriously as a writer. You and others have been so helpful. And I agree. It is much more satisfying as a blogger to engage my readers in conversation. As part of the 31 Dayers group on FB, I felt much more able to do it than not, because of our ongoing conversations. So, I will continue to engage, continue to try.

    • Leah, I agree. The conversation makes it really satisfying.

      I’m still learning and growing as a writer. I always will be. There are days when I take myself seriously as a writer and days when I don’t. Participating in the 31dayers group on FB awakened a passion in me to help and encourage other bloggers. I don’t claim to know it all, but I want to share what I have figured out.

  6. Tara, I think we're always learning and growing as bloggers. I'm like you, I love it when my comments get replies. In writing this post, I've felt the twinge of conviction as I thought of how many comments I've not responded to in a timely manner. Ouch!

    I'm currently shopping for a better comment management system for my own blog – I really DO want to make it as easy as possible to continue the conversation.

  7. I love this post, Susan, because it all comes back to the heart. Jesus cared about the condition of our hearts and as bloggers, we should too. If stats are all that matter to us, that will show up. When we truly care about the relationships we are developing with our readers, that is when our blog will grow and for the right reasons. Excellent advice – love it – Thank you!

  8. This was a great post and a lot of truth in it. I'm a beginning blogger and can definitely tell when I've had a day that I'm less social because my blog's pageviews and comments take a serious nosedive. I love conversation with those who read my blog, so for me, comments are a big deal and I try very hard to reply to each one. I totally agree about CAPTCHA. I'm seriously nearsighted and it just about gives me a headache trying to decipher those semi-blurred numbers and/or twisted letter and number combos.

    I have a question though. I've noticed that my pageviews seem to really dwarf the number of comments I get. For example, on a day that I get around 100 pageviews, I'll have maybe 10 comments if I'm lucky, but often less. I had my biggest pageview day (238) the other day and had 5 comments. Do you have any ideas of what might be happening? As I said, I love conversation and it's frustrating to think that what I'm posting isn't interesting enough for people to want to engage in conversation with me.

  9. I'm honored that you would find it helpful.

    The link between your own social media efforts and your page views reflects how long you've been blogging. As you write more posts and SEO them, you begin to get more traffic on older posts via google searches. There's not much you can do beyond being patient.

    I've written light hearted posts and gut wrenching posts. I written about my own battle with depression and my ongoing battle with anger. I rarely get comments on the gut wrenching stuff. I can see that it is being read, just not commented on. My assumption has always been that I was writing something that was difficult to comment on or that was perhaps too personal. When I admitted I struggled with yelling at my kids, I really didn't even expect many "me too" comments – it's a tough thing to admit.

    I'm guessing that's part of what you are seeing. I've read enough of your posts to know you're sharing your heart on a really tough subject. You do it well.

    If you're up to it, you can try looking at your analytics. The traffic I get from Pinterest rarely leaves comments. Neither does the tiny trickle of Twitter traffic. But people who arrive at my blog from Facebook tend to be quite chatty. I've talked with other bloggers that have different results. I think it depends on how effectively we market ourselves on the various networks.

    I'm prone to blog surf on my phone (in the dark, with the contrast turned all the way down) – the very worst scenario for CAPTCHA. That thing makes me cuss.

    Make sense?

  10. I'm so glad you commented. I hadn't seen the connection to heart condition. You are spot on!

    I've been viewing the comment/conversation thing through the lens of service. Each day, I'm focused on meeting the needs of those who read my blog. Approaching it with the "how can I help her?" attitude is such a game changer.

    Thanks for your insight! It's much appreciated.

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