EDIT: As of June 1st, 2018, some of the below points are no longer available. The Daily Post has halted CP, FF and Daily Prompts. Other suggestions still apply. I will try and research new/ more ways when I have some free time. You might want to check out my friend’s new site https://swimmersweek.wordpress.com/ for all sorts of community events for the time being.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to get a single view on this blog. This blog was born to help ME, so when I hit “Publish” for the first time, and did not get a comment or a “Like” for a while I did not really care. I was new. This was normal. But then I wrote another post and waited a few days, and then wrote another post… and it just seemed like not only was I the sole writer, but also the sole reader on this blog. “Is that what blogging was supposed to be like?” – I asked myself.
Regrettably, I do not remember what got me my first view, my first “Like”, or my first comment. But things have picked up a bit. Nothing crazy like thousands of followers, hundreds of “Likes” and comments a day, but sufficient enough that I started to feel connected to other fellow bloggers. Every now and then I learn new nifty ways of discovering new blogs, and so I thought I would share those tricks with you to encourage YOU to widen your blogging reach.
Disclaimer: This IS a lengthy post, but you do not have to read the whole thing. The idea is that you scan through the sections in bold (+bullet points) to see if you know about it or not. Once you encounter something you would like to read more about, read the entire paragraph. I also included “bottom lines” for those with strictly limited free time.
First Friday. (I believe once you register your blog, you automatically start to follow The Daily Post, so these posts can be found in your Reader’s feed.) This is a recurring post published by The Daily Post. As you might gather from its name, it happens every Friday (possibly with some Holiday related exceptions), and it is a fantastic platform for brand new bloggers. The general idea is for the newbies to post a link to their first post, which should have been published in the last 30 days. But this is not just an event for the newborns. Blogging veterans can get in on the fun, too. Let me break it down for you.
- New bloggers gain exposure by posting a link to their first post. By doing so, they put themselves out there so that other bloggers can check their writing out, and maybe suggest some tweaks (ex.: adding an “About” page, editing a “text widget”, or deleting the first default post). This creates an opportunity for a mentorship program of sort. It is the best time to ask questions and polish the visuals of your blog. I often encourage these first-timers to visit the links posted by other bloggers in the very same situation. That enables them to connect with other fellow beginners and they can mutually help and encourage one another. Also, if the newbie plays their cards right and finds an “in” with one or more of the more established bloggers, it makes it possible for them to speed up their network building process. The more you interact with a powerhouse, and he/she returns the favor, the greater the chance of you getting noticed by others. Bottom line: visit blogs of other newbies, as well as those of the people who offer their help. “Like”, comment and follow them IF you choose to do so.
- Established bloggers can gain a lot from this event as well. First and foremost, to me, it is a way of giving back. I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned, that I wish to pass them onto others, so that they can make the best of this blogging experience. You are potentially helping someone succeed. You are able to mold these new bloggers into something you wish to see. By helping, you make this blogging world a better place. They come in and a lot of the time do not know what the etiquette is, how people interact, what kind of posts draw the most attention, etc. If you put time and effort into nurturing these chicklettes, they will grow and blossom. (Wait, an animal and then a floral analogy in the same sentence? I am too conflicted to pick just one and stick with it.) Not only will that give you a sense of pride, but it might also increase your numbers. Number of people who follow you, and whom you follow. Bottom line: visit blogs of newbies, and maybe even of those more established bloggers whose helpful comments towards newbies inspire you. “Like”, comment and follow them IF you choose to do so.
Community Pool. (I believe once you register your blog, you automatically start to follow The Daily Post, so these posts can be found in your Reader’s feed.) This is a recurring event hosted by The Daily Post every Monday (possibly with some Holiday related exceptions). It is a place where ANYONE can post a link to ANY of their blog posts. While First Friday mainly focuses on the first steps of the child, the Community Pool is more for kids who are now beginning to run. (Yay for a consistent analogy!) By posting in this thread you increase your chances of gaining exposure and traffic towards certain posts of yours. If people like what they read, the might end up browsing further, leaving feedback, “Liking” and maybe even following. Now, this is not a one way street. You do not just post your link and then leave, hoping you will just get all the glory with no effort. The point is to leave a link to your own post, but to also visit other bloggers. To critique their stuff. Maybe even to relate, “Like”, comment and follow. I know these things can be time-consuming. There are times when I am determined and I go through EVERY link. It takes me a few days to do so, but it is very rewarding. However, sometimes I do not have much time, so I device different techniques of choosing the links I click on. It makes me feel terrible about the blogs I miss out on… Bottom line: share a link to one of your posts and visit as many other links as possible. “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
Your own blog. I have made it a habit of mine to reciprocate. If someone visits my blog and leaves feedback and/ or follows, I take the time to check their site out. There are many people that I do not follow, but who read my posts and comment on a regular basis. I do not let that go unnoticed. When this happens, I go and catch up on their latest postings and “Like” and/ or comment when applicable. It is important to me that I keep that communication line flowing and that I do not close myself off. What I am guilty of, however, is that I do not respond to random “Likes”. There was a negative situation in the past in which I was involved, and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. Some people spam “Like” on random blogs just to get traffic to their blogs. While it looks like it works for some, I am not a big fan. If we have an established relationship, I appreciate it when you “Like” my posts, and I will “Like” yours (and most, if not all, of the time I will leave a short appreciative comment with it). But if it is a random “Like” by someone who does not say anything, someone whom you will never see again, it feels disappointing to me. I would rather focus my time and attention on the more engaged part of the community. Bottom line: reciprocate. Do not just bask in your own glory. Go and spread some light on other blog sites. “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
Other blogs. There are a few ways to discover new blogs through the sites of people you already follow. I am aware that not all blogs have these options, but I sure make full use of them when they do. Once you are done reading new posts, make sure you scroll/ look around, and if possible, give these options a chance. The following actions might catch their attention and they might come to check out your blog in return. It might lead to a great, new friendship.
- “Blogs I follow” (or something similarly named), is usually a section located at the bottom of every post. Take advantage of that. If you and the person you follow have similar taste (you should get a feel for that sort of thing after a while), chances are you will also like the blogs they follow. Bottom line: When you have a moment, visit those, “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
- “Posts I like” (or something similarly named), is also usually a section of one’s blog, which you can locate at the bottom of every post. Pretty self-explanatory and similar to the point above. It shows you the last few posts the person you are following “Liked”. Bottom line: Check it out. “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
- “Recent comments” (or something similarly named), is also found towards the bottom (or to the right) of a post, and contains the latest comments on this particular blog you are visiting (not for this particular post, but for the blog in general). Now, granted, it does include the author’s comments, so you might not always be able to see third party comments, but sometimes you can. This allows you to see if they commented on a post that was interesting to you. And you could make a split second decision to give THEIR blog a shot. Bottom line: read their comments and if they are in line with your thoughts, or if they just peak your interest, check their blog out. “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
- The comment section. This is an expansion on the point above. Once you read someone’s post, do not just “Like” and/ or comment. If you have more time, and would like to network a little, make sure to scroll through the comments. See if someone says something you find interesting, or something funny, or something confusing. Anything you have a reaction to, really. Feel free to “Like” their replies, add to it, and maybe follow them to their own blogs. If they follow the same people you follow, and if they have similar thoughts on the subject at hand, it might be a strong indicator that the two of you could connect. (I have more on this subject later. An additional option. I saved the best for last.) Bottom line: scroll through the comment section and check out the blogs of people whom you find interesting. “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
- Avatar collage. This is not something I currently have, but am considering for the next time I customize my theme. Some bloggers have a mishmash of avatars on the right hand side of their blogs. It depicts those whom they follow. Bottom line: take a look at those every now and again, and see if any of those images tickle your fancy. Go to their blogs, “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
- Award posts. I find this option vastly underused. Admittedly, it can be hit or miss, but in my opinion, it is worth a shot. You know these “Liebster”, “Sunshine”, “Versatile”, etc. blogging awards? They are so prevalent and they serve as a great opportunity to meet new bloggers. If you are one of the nominees, make it a mission of yours to visit other blogs that were nominated in the same award post. Not only does it allow you to size up the competition, but also to connect with your fellow nominees. Bottom line: check out other nominations, “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
Social media blogging groups. Not too long ago, I joined a couple blogging groups on Facebook, and it surely helped me discover new bloggers. I have not had a lot of time to nurture this recently, but I will pick it up again once I have some more time. There were two drawbacks to it though. One, not all of the blogs are WordPress based, which means it is harder to follow them without having to subscribe with an email, you might have to log in to post comments, and they might not show up in your Reader feed. Secondly, there are so many bloggers, which can get quickly overwhelming because of all the links posted. Bottom line: if you like social media and have the time, search for blogging groups, join them, discover new blogs, “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
Prompts. The Daily Post hosts these daily prompts, which are single words meant to inspire your original posts. They also have various photo challenges for anyone to participate in. If you follow the rules correctly, your posts will be featured on that day’s prompt page, making it more visible for other participants. Because I am not a daily blogger, I do not usually participate in these. However, I do like to participate in a weekly flash fiction challenge every now and then that is hosted by the Carrot Ranch. I make it a habit to read through ALL submission once all is said and done and discover new blogs that way. I also encourage others to use the prompts I use in my creative writing weekly post and to create their own pieces. Some have done so, and I could not be happier. Bottom line: if you participate in a prompt (or any other challenge) challenge, be sure to review other submissions, “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
Reader. There are a few options in this menu that I would like to discuss.
- Discover. This is a site you are also automatically subscribed to, once you create your blog. It can be found on the left hand side of your Reader. “A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress.” Supposedly. I encourage you to check it out. Since there is just one added every day, it does not take long for you to check it out. However, I have not really had much luck with that. Bottom line: check out the post for the day, “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
- Tags. If your blog is about a limited number of things (i.e unlike mine), ex.: fashion, be sure to add “fashion” to your tags. What that allows you to do is view other posts containing that very tag. Bottom line: add some tags you are interested in, check them out, “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
- Search. This option enables you to type in a word or a phrase and lists posts and sites, which somehow relate to your search item. This is different from tags. The “Search” menu does not look through tags. It was explained to me that there are different mechanisms involved when browsing through tags and plain content. Hence, the separation. I have found a secret, which helps me discover new blogs this way. In the search bar I type in “ALL”, and then sort by date, which enables me to see the latest posts published on WP. That way I do not limit myself to tags and search phrases. It allows me to find new blogs I would never think to search for. Bottom line: search for what excites you, “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
- Conversations. It is a relatively new option, available to us. While there are some things I wish I could change/ tweak about this feature, I sure am making the best of it. Remember the section in which I discussed other blog sites and the comments under their posts? The Conversations are a second part to that. My OCD pushes me to view any new post from the people I follow ASAP. Yes, I have a life, yes, I have a full time job, yes, I have a ton of personal issues, but I like keeping in touch with my blogging community. So, when I do have the Reader in front of my face, I cannot just skip a new post. However, I noticed that by commenting so quickly after they are published, I miss out on interactions with other commentators. People usually come by that post a few hours, or even days later. This is where Conversations come into play. There, you can find all of the posts you commented on, and they are updated (brought to the top) as someone new responds to that same post. How can that help you discover new blogs? Say you commented on a controversial blog post last week and there were not many (if any) other comments below. Chances are you were overloaded by other new posts and forgot about it quite promptly. Conversations serve as a reminder. You can easily see what you said and what has been happening in the comment section since you left. Again, because of this, you are able to read other interesting comments. You can choose to unfollow a conversation if you do not find it interesting to clear up your queue a bit. But I found that sometimes no matter how many times I do so, the conversations are still there. Bottom line: It also keeps the conversation flowing. Feel free to reply to other comments. Check their blogs out, “Like”, comment and follow IF you choose to do so.
If you were to take one thing from this detailed post, I would like it to be reciprocity. I do not mean “follow for follow”, but more in terms of “interaction for interaction”. It is not really tit for tat that I am encouraging, but a sort of etiquette. It is discouraging to people when they get invested in your blog and leave constant feedback but you never check out their domain. It makes them feel like you do not care. And if you do not care about them, then they stop caring about you.
Do you employ the above-listed tips in your blogging adventure?
Do you have additional ways of connecting with other bloggers that you would like to share?
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Disclaimer: The picture used for this post is not my property. Source.