As my second blogging anniversary approaches, I feel like I am finally getting the hang of this process. It took me a while.
I am certainly no expert; there are many bloggers with bigger followings, more attractive websites, and prettier photography than me but I do have a few insights I would like to share.
First and most importantly, I believe blogging is a community endeavor. Comments are an integral part of the process.
My policy is to respond to every comment made on each post. When I see another writer’s post with lots of comments but no responses, that is a red flag to me. It’s like going to a party, telling everyone all of your stories, but not allowing anyone else to speak up, ask questions, or tell their own stories.
Of course, it may be the blogger has not yet had time to respond to comments when I read the post, so I will give the benefit of the doubt, but if I leave comments several times and get no response, I will probably stop commenting on that blogger’s posts.
After responding to comments, I also will visit the commenter’s blog, read a recent post, and leave a comment there. I always comment back if possible.
As a blogger, one thing you can do to help readers find your blog is to be sure the link to your blog is working when you leave a comment.
Sometimes the link back to your blog doesn’t work or it takes you to an old site you no longer maintain. This makes finding your blog difficult for readers who want to comment back.
One of these days, I would like to design a button for bloggers to put on their websites to designate that you are a blogger who comments back.
Photography has never been my strong suit. In fact, my pictures are a long-running family joke.
In ancient times, when we had to wait for the film to be developed to see photos, I was invariably disappointed when I picked up my pictures. Heads were cut off, lighting was too bright or too dim, I moved as I snapped the shutter, making the whole picture blurry. As a photographer, I was a disaster.
Digital photography has made a huge impact on the quality of my photos and I have been consciously trying to improve, but I am still no Ansel Adams. It’s a work in progress.
My biggest problem now is remembering to take pictures to document events I want to write about. Many of my posts are about running and I don’t carry my phone when I run. I sometimes have to go back and recreate a scene I want to describe or take pictures before and after a race.
Luckily, there are websites filled with royalty-free photos. Some of the sites I use are pexels, pixabay (my favorite), unsplash, and kaboompics. Some photos on Wikipedia are also royalty-free, but you have to check the license (it’s easy to do).
Statistics are tricky. Bloggers typically want to get some type of response to their writing. If we didn’t care whether people read our posts, we would be journaling rather than blogging. Concentrating too much on numbers, however, takes some of the joy out of blogging. It’s best to find a balance.
When I first began blogging, I wanted to build my numbers of followers; now I never look at my statistics. I am satisfied with the number of readers I have. Everyone must find their own level of comfort.
In an attempt to build my number of followers, when I first started blogging I created a Facebook page for my site and got on Twitter. I used to post on both platforms regularly; now I post only sporadically. They are fun but I would rather spend my time on my actual blog than on social media.
One of the best aspects of blogging is the connections I have made with other writers. Even though I have never met another blogger in person (except that one very brief time after the Marine Corps Marathon when I met a fellow running blogger in the line for food, but that almost doesn’t count because we were both still post-marathon delirious).
There is a tremendous amount of talent out there in the blogosphere. And some very friendly, helpful people.
Some advice I have seen tells bloggers to develop a niche. I don’t have one. Or maybe I have more than one.
I follow a lot of running and fitness bloggers, whom I really enjoy reading. I visit these blogs for inspiration in my own running and fitness endeavors.
I also follow many faith bloggers. These faith bloggers have taught me so much about my own faith and have made me ask myself a lot of hard questions, which I appreciate.
Some of the most interesting blogs I read are difficult to categorize; these bloggers write about whatever strikes their fancy at any given time. Topics might include trekking in Iceland, Radical Gratitude, autism, feeding squirrels, or life in the mountains of North Carolina.
My advice to anyone writing a blog is to be open to making connections. You can learn a lot about the world and about yourself.
One of the best ways to meet new blogging friends and reconnect with familiar ones is to add your posts to link-ups.
Here is a list of some of the link-ups I join:
- Coco from Running With Perseverance and Deborah from Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Ultimate Coffee Date
- Fairytales and Fitness for Friday 5
- Coach Debbie Runs, Running on Happy, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Mile by Mile, Runs with Pugs, and Fauxrunner for the Runners’ Roundup linkup
- Debbie at Dare 2 Hear
- Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown
- Heather Gerwing for Four Somethings
- Marcia’s Healthy Slice for our monthly Runfessions
- Loopy Laura for Global Blogging
- Random-osity for Little Things Thursdays and The Good, The Random, The Fun
- Anita Ojeda for Inspire Me Monday
- Worth Beyond Rubies
- Crystal Storms for Heart Encouragement
- Embracing the Unexpected for Grace and Truth
- Reflections From Me for A Blogging Good Time
- Purposeful Faith for RaRa
- Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday
- Lyli Dunbar for Faith on Fire
- Knit by God’s Hand for Thankful Thursdays
- Welcome Heart for Let’s Have Coffee
- My Random Musings for Anything Goes
- Life at 139A for Post, Comment, Love
- Raisie Bay for Word of the Week
- Kooky Runner for Tuesday Topics
- Soaring with Him for Recharge Wednesday
- Esme Salon for Senior Salon
- Natalie the Explorer for Wellness Weekend
- Denyse Whelan Blogs for Life This Week
- One Liner Wednesday with Linda Hill
- Mandy and Michele Legacy
- Carole Knits for Three on Thursday
I have enjoyed these past two years of sharing my life and stories with fellow bloggers. Thank you, writers for all of the inspiration, fellowship, and advice you have given me. I look forward to more of the same in the coming year.