We’ve heard your requests for more informative blog posts, so we’re starting a series called Blogging 101. In this series, you’ll find how-to guides, information, and tips from other 20sb members who might call themselves experts on these subjects. If there’s a topic you’d like to see covered, please send a suggestion to email@example.com!
See the first part of this two-part roundtable series here.
Renee: Nah. Honestly, after nearly five years of maintaining my blog, I no longer care who reads it or how many people read it. It’s my little corner of the internet and that’s enough for me. I’ve never spent a dime on my blog (not because I don’t want to, but because my grad student budget keeps me strapped for cash), and I’ve been overjoyed with my (free!) blogging experience.
Jenn: Nope. I think it depends on what your goals are. I can see why specific niche bloggers can benefit a lot from advertising. I’ve been able to promote myself and my blog through various social media channels and offline networking events (although BlogHer does cost money, but I’m not sure if that counts).
Erini: No. My site is an outlet for me, not a revenue source.
Lacey: I have advertised on other websites previously, but have never really found that the investment was worth it.
6. Do you keep an eye on your stats? When do you see them go up?
Lorraine: I do not for my personal blog but I do for the Snark Squad. Keeping an eye is good, but trust me that a lot of valuable time can be wasted on stat-obsessing.
In the past what lead to the most spikes in stats were other people blogging, tweeting, or dropping my link. I realize that’s sort of beyond your control and probably not very helpful, but when other people are excited about the content you create, trust that they will spread the word.
Jenn: Out of curiosity I do. I’m interested to see how people find my blog (hint: blog about an irrational fear of Tom Petty) and which posts are resonating more than others. It’s hard not to care about numbers, but I’ve gotten better about not sweating the small stuff.
I’ve noticed spikes on the more personal posts I publish. While funny posts (a la Tom Petty) get a steady flow of traffic over time, posts that have to do with specific moments in my life tend to pull in more immediate traffic.
Erini: I don’t use Analytics, but I have WP Stats installed. I mostly check them just to see what topics get the most hits. I’m still pretty much going to write about what I want to write about… but I’m always curious as to what my readers like.
Lisa: I think most (or at least very many) personal bloggers go through a phase when they suddenly start getting readers beyond their offline friends. It’s exciting! And there are lots of benchmarks like 100 subscribers, 1000 page views in a month, and things like that. It’s fun, but after a while we realize that how much we enjoy creating content goes down when we blog for the hits. Then we all mellow out and ignore the numbers almost entirely. I’d advise everybody to find a different metric (other than hits) by which to measure their success.
Lacey: Yes, but mainly for Google search terms. That’s the fun stuff!
7. What advice do you have for new bloggers who are searching for readers?
Renee: Become a reader. Go to meetups. Get really active in the 20sb forums and on Twitter.
Jenn: I second what Renee said. Building a community won’t happen right away and it does take work, but some things are worth working for. And never underestimate the power of offline blogger meetups.
Erini: Be patient. It takes time, but you have to be willing to put in time to build your community. This means commenting, tweeting, facebooking, gchatting, skyping, and meeting in person.
Lacey: Don’t try to be like any other blogger. If readers wanted every blogger to sound the same, that would be boring, wouldn’t it? Your niche and readers are out there somewhere. Just be patient and stay true to yourself. And also – comment away!
8. Does responding to comments work in your favor in terms of maintaining readers and relationships? Do you email or respond in the comments section?
Renee: I’ve only recently started responding to comments, so I can’t speak to how it’s helped maintain readers or not. I do think it’s help build relationships already, though. I respond via email, and not to every comment, but the ones that are thought-provoking and make me want to continue the conversation further.
Jenn: It depends on the comment. If I have something valuable to add, or if I want to continue the conversation I will reply. Usually I respond on the post itself, but some comments might off-shoot and not add anything to the post so I’ll leave my reply in an email instead.
Erini: Yes and no. I tried to respond to most comments, mainly because I am really terrible at commenting on other blogs right now. So I want to at least make sure that those who do comment know that I do appreciate it. Mostly I respond on my own site, unless it’s something a bit more personal. But I do want to say, that just because someone always responds to your comments or always comments on your blog… doesn’t mean you’re going to be BFFs. However, I think the engagement is definitely worth the effort.
Lacey: I have a plugin for WordPress that allows me to comment back on my blog and sends an email to the writer of the comment at the same time. That way they don’t have to check back on my blog to see if I’ve responded. It makes it easier - and then we can continue the conversations via email, or on my blog.
Have a blogging question you’d like us to answer? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!