Why am I back on this issue? I recently had a significant increase in traffic on a post I wrote in May 2010 called “Blogging Tips: What I Know Now,” and most of the new comments focused on that specific tip—“Don’t expect your friends and family to read your blog.”
The boost in my post’s popularity occurred (I realized later) because the good folks at wordpress.com included it on their widely read blog THE DAILY POST, a site aimed at supporting new bloggers. Comments ranged from frustrated to deeply insulted at the TRUTH of what I said about friends and family not reading posts. People agreed with me and accepted the need to expand their audiences, but they still felt dismissed by those closest to them.
Listen people, expecting your family and friends to keep up with your blog is asking too much. Your blog is about you. Even if it’s about your hobby, your philanthropic endeavors, your children, your desire to have children, your travels, or your writing career, it’s still about you and your unique view of the world. And just because your family is related to you, it doesn’t mean they want to read about you all the time or ever for that matter. Same goes for your friends. Though your real life connections are a great place to start with a blog, if you want your posts to have an audience after those first months of excitement, then you’ll have to look beyond your inner circle. Unless of course you like talking to yourself.
I try to keep an attitude of shock and gratitude when people I know well or even peripherally mention they’ve read a post. Hey—if a friend or family member occasionally spends fifteen minutes catching up on a month’s worth of posts (I only about post once a week so that’s actually doable), then I consider that person a fantastic supporter. I’m delighted at any level of interest from the people in my life, and most importantly, I don’t feel entitled to it.
When you move beyond badgering your family and friends to read your blog, you’ll force yourself to find readers with genuine interest in your content rather than readers who follow you out of obligation.
SO WHY DOES MY BLOG HAVE AN AUDIENCE BEYOND MY MOTHER?* (A modest audience, but still . . . )
I regularly read other blogs and comment on posts. This is non-negotiable. There’s karma in the blogging world. You have to engage with other bloggers and leave thoughtful comments that go beyond the empty expression “Great post!”
I write about a variety of topics. This goes against some advice to find one niche, but maintaining variety works for me. Glance at the “CATEGORIES” column on the footer of this page. My posts about social media and writing often reach a different audience than the ones about friendship, parenting, and marriage. All the topics have one thing in common though—my voice. If you can develop a consistent, trustworthy, and likable voice, you can write about almost anything. For example, over time some of the people who found me via my posts on Twitter tips have stayed to find out why I’m letting my husband name our fourth baby and vice versa.
I write guest posts for other blogs. I’ve had guest posts on Scary Mommy, Writer Unboxed, Nameberry, and other sites that are infinitely more popular than my blog. I gave those sites some of my best and in most cases original “stuff,” and they gave me their wide audience. I also regularly write for Jewish sites, which allows me to discuss a favorite topic of mine—Judaism—without making it too much of a focus on my personal blog.
Twitter: I use Twitter to stay connected with my blogging friends and to make new ones. I support others’ posts on Twitter and make it a point to only forward links leading to content I think many people would find useful or amusing. In other words, I do not automatically retweet others’ posts, even posts by my favorite bloggers. For this reason, I think people trust my tweets, then me, and my blog.
SOME OTHER IDEAS
- Facebook: My traffic always skyrockets on the days I put a link to my blog on Facebook, which I do once week on average. If that’s the case, then why don’t I post on Facebook more often? I’m sensitive to over-promoting myself, and I’m sure some people find even those four monthly links annoying enough.
- Stumble Upon: I signed up, but I don’t understand how to use it. If I ever figure it out, I’ll report back. In the meantime, Eli Rose Social Media has a tutorial to get you started.
- Digg & Tumblr: I don’t get those whatsoever, but other bloggers seem to like them. I have too many kids at this point to take the blogging thing into the depths of Digg and Tumblr.
- Blogging conferences: I have never attended one, but I’ve read the tweets from attendees and always feel jealous.
What other ideas am I missing? I know I have blogging friends out there with far bigger reaches than ninabadzin.com. Will you share your secrets with us?
*Not that I don’t value your devotion, Mom!