One of the most important parts of getting your blog out there, is participating in the community. You may have the greatest content in the world, but no one will know about it if you haven’t introduced yourself. Last week we talked about how blogrolls function in your community, often times because it’s one of the first things you add to your blog, say after the first post, or even before your first post. But blogrolls are just a small part in building your community (thank god).There is a lot more.
When people ask me how to get their blogs ‘out there’ I always tell them two things 1. great content and 2. participate in the community. Getting in contact with other bloggers may seem daunting at first, but believe you me, that once you do, it soon becomes one of the benefits of blogging.
Here is the way I operate, and it seemed to work well enough to build great relationships over time.
There are many benefits to reading other people’s blogs, especially ones on the same topic as yours. They will inspire you, they will help you to improve your content in many ways. RSS feeders like Google Reader and Bloglovin’ make this very easy.
Leave meaningful comments
I know there are a lot of blogs out there, and it’s ok if you don’t comment every day… though some do. I like to have goals, where I post comments on at least 15-20 blogs per day. It sounds like a lot, but I have 200+ blogs in my reader, and I set aside a time of day to go through my reader. If you’re cramped for time, one way to go about it, is set aside a few blogs you’d really like to be in touch with, and put them in a special folder in your reader, that way you never miss a post to comment on. But do keep up on your other blogs, they have a way of getting better and better.
Copy-and-paste comments will hurt your relationship, not help it. Don’t even try it. You will likely have your address marked spam and if your future emails will be marked the same. It takes thirty seconds to write a meaningful comment. You should be able to dedicate 30 seconds to developing a relationship.
Send an email
When you send an email… be sure to address them by name. If they operate on an alias… you address them as such, but you can say, ‘I couldn’t find your name on your site.. what is it?’ once they tell you their name, be sure to address them by it from that point on. NEVER write ‘hey blogger’ or ‘dear webmaster’ those emails will get sent to the trash. Since my name is on all my websites, if I get an email adressed, ‘Dear IFB’ guess where that email is going?
Be sincere and be specific
Don’t just write ‘hey, I love your blog!’ Do you know how many spam emails say that? Refer to a specific post, or a series of posts that have affected you. You are writing to a human being, and humans have a funny way of detecting sincerity.
Keep the email short an sweet.
I am the queen of short emails… sometimes I’ve gotten in trouble for that, with my friends. But a lot of bloggers are cramped for time writing posts, researching, keeping up with other blogs… etc. So be quick to the point.
Have something to give
You don’t want to be a burden on another blogger who is probably already strapped for time. It’s always nice to have something to give them, it doesn’t have to be huge. A link to a website they may find helpful… like if they were posting about looking for a certain pair of shoes, and you happen to know exactly where to get them, it may be a good opportunity to email them to introduce yourself . Other nice things to give are positive feedback, an you can offer to do a guest post but don’t make this offer unless you are willing to fulfill it, a post where you had linked to them but don’t do this expecting they’ll post about your post, they’ll see right through that.
Ask, but don’t ask too much (at first)
When you are first getting to know someone, it’s ok to ask for things like… ‘can I be added to your blogroll.’ that takes 30 seconds to take care of, and a quick reply email… ‘sure.’ It’s nothing.
Try not to ask things that can easily be looked up someplace else. I get technical questions all the time, which can be better answered on a forum, and php code has nothing to do with what I blog about. If someone I don’t know starts off with asking me complicated things like that give me a headache, I’m not so willing to open the next email that comes from them.
Start out small...
In real life, you don’t ask someone to help you move house unless they are a good friend, well, the same rule of thumb applies on the internet.
Say ‘Thank You.’
It’s good manners.
While I don’t expect a thank you, it does affect my desire to build a relationship further. No one likes to feel like they are being used, and people generally like to know if they have helped. It takes two seconds to say thank you, and the effects of that are everlasting.
Keep in touch
You don’t have to write them a love letter every week… Sometimes I just do simple things like if I see a post in my reader that makes me think of someone, I’ll just forward it over to them, or write a little comment on thier Facebook status, Twitter makes keeping in touch very easy. Comment on thier blog… link to them in a post… all those things contribute to building a relationship.
The rewards of self interest
Once I heard someone say, “the best way to get love, is to give love.”
While at first reaching out may be out of self interest, but in my experience, it’s been the most rewarding part about blogging, even more than writing about fashion, which I love. Seeing other bloggers grow has become one of the best parts of blogging, and is probably the main reason why I stick around. I mean, how boring is it to just blab about myself all day?
pic via Square America