How to Get Me to Read and Like Your Blog

I was working on a post on how to get thousands of people to like and follow your blog.  While doing the research and carefully outlining all the steps you need to take, I realized that I have no idea how others are going to react to your blog.  I can only tell you how I respond to your blog and what you might do to attract me as a reader.  I offer the following as my rules for reading, following  and liking a blog.

There is the theory that there are other people like me, and if you get me as a follower, you might get others like me.  So, this post could either be a guide to getting more readers, or serve as a warning of what not to do.  The choice is yours.

First thing you need when writing, is to know your audience.  Here’s the kinds of blogs I like to read:

1. Personal essays, humorous stories of life, memoir, glimpse of the past and its impact on today,  overcoming adversity, and the occasional cute cat story (they have to be really good, because my cat stories are cuter than yours).
2. Woodworking, especially projects you are working on, with pictures.
3. Prostate cancer personal experience blogs of those dealing with it, or supporting someone who has it.
4. Poetry, good poetry with images and metaphors that make me feel an emotion, picture a scene, or tell a story.
5. Writing blogs that focus on creativity, inspiration, challenges of being a writer, or general experiences of the writing life.
6. Faith based stories that are from my “radical middle of the road” perspective.
7. WWII history and remembrance.

Next thing you need to know about your audience is how to get your words in front of their eyes.  Now, there is a chance that I might be doing a Google search or checking out blog recommendations on WordPress and discover your blog.  Odds of that happening are remote as I rarely do that.  Here’s how I most often discover new blogs to read:

1. Someone starts following my blog.
2. Someone leaves a comment on my blog.
3. Someone likes a post I’ve made.
4. I read a post on someone’s blog that mentions another blog that sounds interesting.
5. When reading another blog, I read an interesting comment and decide to check the commenter’s blog out.
6. A friend emails me about a blog they read.

When I do discover a new blog that falls into my interests, I’ll go check it out.  What I’ll do when I get there is:

1. Read the “about page” if there is one.  I like about pages, they can be fun.
2. Will read one or two posts and see if they’re interesting to me.
3. Will check see how often the blogger posts.  I like fewer, high quality posts.
4. If I like what I see and I can find a “follow” button, I’ll follow the blog.

Once I am following a blog, I rely on email to inform me when there is a new post.  Yup, old-fashioned email.  I get a lot of email in a day – work, blog stuff, ads, spam…

Here’s the hard truth, I don’t have time to read each email in detail – I have to pick and choose.  I timed myself one day and I spend on average about four seconds per email (less if I can bulk delete things).  I wish I could tell you that I am looking for gems to follow-up on, but in reality I am looking for junk to throw away. There is a long list of things that annoy me about people’s blogs and any one of these will cause me to click away from a post.

I was going to list all the annoying things, but I don’t want this post to devolve into my personal rant on what I dislike in the blogsphere.

If I am still reading a blog after four seconds, I’ll likely finish reading the and then I’ll decide whether or not to click the like button on the post.  Provided there is a like button.  Lately  I’ve been surprised at the number of bloggers who’ve removed or haven’t enabled the like button for their posts.  Liking a post is very much a choice I make, I don’t blindly click like.

Some final points:

1. I prefer quality over quantity.  I’d much rather get one outstanding post in a week than five posts a day.
2. I like playful humor, especially where a writer takes a small incident and turns it into a humorous essay.  Something like: you ran out of clean socks and all the problems that is causing you.
3. I appreciate skillful and clever use of language.
4. I love it when poets take time to record themselves reading their poems and post the audio file along with the text.
5. I like to learn obscure facts.  The more obscure the better.

and one thing I really dislike is numbered lists – you know posts that list the “Top five ways to …”

Humm, guess I won’t be liking my own post.

Till next week,
Andrew

Posted in Writing | Tagged , | 51 Comments

Woodworking – Thought Experiment

Albert Einstein famously used a “thought experiment” while working out his theories of relativity.  One of the more famous of those is the experiment of the twins where one stays on earth and the other flies away to distant starts at the speed of light.

What does that have to do with woodworking? Not much.  Except that about all I’ve done this last week in the shop is think about it.  I did sit down at the computer, start up SketchUp and start the drawings for a new project I want to start.  Here’s what it looks like so far:

Got this far.

Got this far.

I know it’s hard to tell from the little bit I drew, but it’s going to be a cart for my shop to hold the air compressor, nail guns and double as a movable out feed table for my table saw.

Well, most of it is still in my mind.

If you need me – I’ll be in the shop,

Andrew

Posted in wood working | Tagged | 10 Comments

Being On-line

This is my 300th post on this blog.  It’s been an interesting journey and while I have some idea where I’d like to go, I am not fully sure where I’ll end up.

One thing I never thought I’d do is start writing for another blog, but here it is my first post on Today’s Author.  This introduction describes my writing journey so far.  Please click over there and check it out.  I am working on my next article for them.  I’ll let you know when that is posted.

On the rejection front, I received another rejection this week.  Bringing my total number of rejections to 6.  Currently I have two poems under submission.  Doing the math, it looks like I am behind schedule.  Personally I am blaming that on Today’s Author derailing my rejection plans with a kind acceptance.

There were two blog posts this week that got me thinking about how I am approaching this blogging thing and the community that gets built between blogs.  First was Jacqui Murray’s post, How to Talk to People Online, where she points out the problems we encounter online and some ways to deal with them.  Then there was Jamie Lee Wallace’s post, Truth and Blogging Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips, where she explores how much of our real selves we expose online – noting that some people seem to share “grievously sparkly accounts of their perfect lives.”

Both posts got me thinking about how I approach writing my blog, how I engage others on their blogs, and what I do when someone leaves a comment for me.  The phrase that popped into my head, and wouldn’t leave, was, “Rules of Engagement.”  Yes, it sounds a bit military and warlike, but there are times when I feel like I am fighting while doing this blogging thing.  There are rules I follow and I thought I’d list them all out for you.

This is where writing takes a funny turn.  When I wrote out all those funny and clever rules that were in my mind, I didn’t like the way they were hitting the screen.  Rereading my words made me feel pompous and self-important, which generally I am not.  I’ve deleted two full approaches to the subject.  If I were following all my rules, I’d quit right now and just post a picture and go out the living room to work on the jigsaw puzzle.

Still I feel the need to try to answer the three questions I posed.

How do I approach writing my blog and do I wear a mask?  Most of my blog is a personal essay style that borders on stream of consciousness, except I edit heavily before pressing the publish button.  If you met me in real life, I’d talk about and share the same things as I do on-line.  The only differences is that in person you wouldn’t get the edited version.

My general writing rules are simplistic:
1. Be honest.
2. Be short.
3. Use playful humor, avoid jokes.
4. Write a lot, edit a lot.
5. Have at least one good point.
6. Try to use proper spelling and grammar.
7. When necessary, ignore the rules.
8. Avoid talking about future writing plans.
9. When the blog writing isn’t go well, post a picture instead.

How do I engage others on their blogs?  Gently.  If I like your post I’ll click ‘like.’  If you follow my blog, likely I’ll follow  your blog.  If I can think of something to say to your post, I’ll leave a short comment.  My mother’s advice is applied at all times, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” There are things that annoy me about other people’s blogs and when I run into those, I just stop reading and move on.  Some blogs I follow because I get something from them and some I follow because I’d like to encourage that blogger to keep writing.

What do I do when someone leaves a comment on my blog?  There is a little mental rejoicing that someone took the time and effort to comment.  Then there is this little moment of fear that the comment might be something wacky and/or derogatory.  I try to respond to all comments.  My stats say there are nearly 1,500 comments on this blog and I know that at least 725 are me replying.  I do have spam filters in place so most of the wacky stuff gets filtered out before I see it.  I rarely get negative comments or trolls.  When I do, those comments are just quietly deleted without comment and the offending accounts blocked.

I’ve enjoyed this blogging journey so far, even if it is difficult at times – both in the writing and the responding. Where it goes from here isn’t always clear, but you’ll likely be hearing more about me writing in other places in different styles.

Saying more would violate my writing rules…

Till next week,
Andrew

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Wednesday Woodworking – of cats and contractors

I haven’t been in the workshop much as I’ve been doing extra writing this last week, but we did ‘outsource’ some work around the house.  These aren’t the best pictures of the project as my backyard isn’t deep enough to get it all in one photo, but here are two photos of the sun room/cat room the contractor is building for us.

Two of the three windows.  There is another to the right that I couldn't get in frame.

Two of the three windows. There is another to the right that I couldn’t get in frame.

It's a long narrow room, 18 feet long by 6 feet wide. Yes, that's a cat door built into the wall, just under the window.

It’s a long narrow room, 18 feet long by 6 feet wide. Yes, that’s a cat door built into the wall, just under the window.

Originally this was going to be Heather’s art studio, but after the kitty invasion we’ve adjusted plans.  Heather’s art studio is being moved to the guest room and when completed this will be the kitten’s new apartment.  It will feature a private entrance, custom cat furniture, three litter boxes, and it’s very own exhaust fan for the more odorous events.

If you need me – I’ll be in the shop

Andrew

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