Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ten for Tuesday: Of Blogs and Bloggery

Thanks to everyone for weighing in on the cover debate yesterday! It was interesting reading all the responses and seeing everyone's reactions to the two different covers.

Today's Ten for Tuesday will be something a little bit different. In the past two years, I've read a lot of blogs and slowly come to figure out what makes a blog 'work' for me, and how to grow your following. I'm no expert so please feel free to chime in with your own bloggery loves and hates; I'd love to hear them!

1. If you want to increase your followers, follow others! This may seem like a no-brainer, but I'm always surprised when people ask me how to get followers. Follow blogs, and usually people will follow you back. Which brings me to my next point: if someone follows you, follow them back (unless, of course, it's something you don't agree with on a philosophical basis). If you don't want to add the blog to your Google Reader (which happens automatically now if you follow with a Blogger account), sign in and follow using a Twitter account. I think it's just good blog etiquette.

2. Comment on other people's blogs, and return comments. I have two blogs: one that I started almost two years ago and this blog, which I started in March. On my other blog, I don't usually return comments and I don't comment on other blogs (I didn't really 'get' the importance of it at the time). After almost two years, that blog has 108 followers. When I started this blog, I made a decision to comment, to return all comments, and to proactively follow blogs. After four months, this blog has 340 followers! A massive difference!

3. Make your blog posts short and try to limit them to one subject. I have a Netbook and I hate scrolling through screens and screens of text. I understand posting extracts of work every now and then but if your blog posts are long all the time, I may resort to skimming. I also find myself more drawn to those posts that keep to one subject and pose a question I can answer in the comments. Make it easy for people to comment.

4. Use easy-to-read fonts on plain backgrounds. One of my blogs is white text on a black background and I got emails from readers complaining it was difficult to read. I must admit I hate struggling to read text when it's faded or covered in swirly designs. Also, be aware that if people read you in Google Reader, using a strange-coloured font (i.e., pink, yellow) will show up as pink or yellow in Google Reader, making it very difficult to read.

5. Have a 'Followers' gadget! I'm amazed that some people with Blogger blogs don't have this! I want to follow you! I could be wrong, but I think Wordpress lets you have this gadget now, too?

6. Put your 'Followers' gadget towards the top of your page. I don't want to scroll through loads of awards to find it.

7. Make your page easy and quick to load. If you have tons of videos and heavy photos sometimes it takes ages. I don't like waiting.

8. Turn off word verification! Argh! I know, I know, there are spammers out there, yes. But how many do you really get? And it is possible to moderate commments that are older than whatever date you choose, so you can eliminate the threat of spammers on your older posts. I detest word verification. If I'm returning 40-70 blog comments each night, it just takes SO much time to type in those silly silly words.

I have failed yet again to come up with ten, but I probably sound curmudgeonly enough without any more! I'd love to hear any other tips or pet peeves others may have!


  1. These are all right on the money.
    also, the more you comment on other's blogs, the more comments you get in return.
    blogging is all about tit for tat (tee hee. tit)

  2. Oh you must hate me cos I love word verification!! LOL!!! I should be tarred and feathered and given pie! (Vegetable or apple with custard only please)!!!

    Take care

  3. Falen - Snigger snigger! :)

    Old Kitty - Because I love your posts, I suffer through the word verification for you.

  4. Hear, hear! Good tip on the Twitter follow--auto following is something that I don't do myself, only because I can only follow so many blogs and keep up with the content actively. I feel like it's unfair to follow people and then never comment. But that's just me.

    I've had word ver off for months now, and have yet to get more than one spam comment.

  5. I agree about all 8 points, I'd add this: music players in the sidebar. nothing annoys me more than a sudden outburst of some (usually terrible) music when I open a page. sure they don't work in google reader but no one uses reader in 100%, sometimes you browse blogs in the 'normal' way.

  6. Great tips! I took off word ver a few months back and haven't had any troubles either.

    Blogger wasn't working for me yesterday so I'm off to check out your covers now :)

  7. You know, I follow a blog -- I'm one of only a handful who follow this particular blog -- and the blogger has whined about not having more followers.

    Now, if you take a look at the lists of blogs she follows, it's harldy any. Heck, she doesn't even follow mine back.

    Also, she's mentioned an unwillingness to leave comments and it just makes me want to smack my forehead with an open palm and exclaim "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING??" at the computer screen.

    (Of course, doing so would only lead my co-workers to think I'm weird... or, more accurately, "weirder than they probably already do.")

    I'm not sure why I haven't un-followed yet. Maybe it's because I'm weird. :)

  8. Great tips thanks, Talli.

    Still trying to get to grips with the easiest way to keep up to date with blogs - blogger does seem to have the advantage over wordpress on that one - but everything else makes perfect sense :)

  9. Turn off word verification, huh? I suppose I don't get enough traffic to make it worth it. Ha!

    I also really hate the music on the side bar. There's one blog I follow where the music player is at the Boooooooottoooooom of the page, and there's enough other graphic nonsense to make it difficult to turn off. Admittedly, I find this much more aggravating than the word verification :)

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  10. I agree with everything you've said. It really bugs me when I have to go out of my way to find a way to follow someone. Get the gadget already.

  11. Great suggestions. I especially agree with the keep it short advice. I sometimes come across posts that I simply don't have the time to read, they are so long, and so I move on. I really think the nature of blogging is short, engaging posts.

  12. Love this advice, Talli! Oh and I totally agree with Misery on the music thing!

  13. Great tips, Talli!

    I've got to admit that I have yet to get the balance between writing and blogging right, so I'm still sporadic in updating my own blog and reading those of others. I tend to do both in batches with gaps in between. I still feel guilty that they're taking away writing time.

  14. Great tips, Talli.

    I think I may have word verification on mine, but don't mind it when others have it.

  15. Awesome list, you are right on the money!!! I take the time to comment on all those who comment on my blog, I think it's really nice, not to mention you could miss out on some awesome psots if you don't.

    I hope you don't hate me but I have to keep the word verification on my blog, if I don't I get tons of that spam mail and it isn't pretty. I do make it easy to control though having it all on one page!

    I'm proud with the progress I made in 6 months :) Everyone asks how to get bloggers but the best thing is to visit those who stop by! I try and follow all those who follow me and I've recently done the twitter and facebook route. The thing is I love everyone but you can only have so many people on your blog roll, they make you stop! Can you believe it??

  16. Loving the comments, everyone, thank you!

    I hate the music thing, as well. It's SO annoying. Luckily I haven't run across it very much.

    One thing I forgot to mention - some people leave comments and their profiles aren't 'shared' - so I can't get back to them to return the comments. :(

    Kath - I hear you. It is a balance, and it's hard to get right. I have to set very specific hours for blogging to make sure it dosn't encroach on my writing. Writing always comes first!

    JM - Unfollow! Unfollow! :)

  17. What lovely simple tips for everyone to follow! Now... how do I find time to visit all the blogs I subscribe to? Has the time machine been invented yet??

  18. I agree with all your points.

    I've taken that word verification gizmo off comments now too. Okay, I finally figured out HOW to do it. I'm so technology challenged sometimes.lol.

    Oh how I've missed blogging while I've been away *sniff*

  19. Great tips, Talli and I agree totally about annoying music, flashing icons etc. Best just to keep it bold and simple I feel x

  20. I'm still new to this blog thing. It's building slowly as I find my voice.
    I'm too curious not to follow back.
    That music thing is so-o-o irritating!
    That's for the tips. You're always so helpful.
    Giggles and Guns

  21. Amen! To all of these. :o) Thanks, Talli, for eliminating ignorance 10... er... 8 points at a time. LOL!

  22. Hi Talli,

    This post was really helpful. Sound advice for blogging. Thanks.


  23. I LOVE this post!!! I agree with most of it...especially having the followers widget near the top.

    I would also add that they make sure their little follow picture when clicked on has a link to their blog. Sometimes it doesn't and if they don't leave a comment, I have no way to follow them back.

    And...music players that automatically start playing! Please don't. If I want to hear it, I'll click play.

    Happy Tuesday, Talli, my sweet friend. :)

  24. Wow. This is a complete list! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and I totally agree! I'm sorry you weren't happy with the word verification when you visited my blog...I'm just having second thoughts about switching it off as I did experience spam comments before and it was really bad. I totally agree with everything you said and I also don't like music when I visit a page! :-)

  25. So true! I fear I lack the dedication necessary - by the time I've blogged, twittered, Facebooked, commented on blogs I follow... when do I write the damn books? And still, here I am, commenting on blogs.. I'm my own worst enemy, aren't I?

  26. Some very good tips Talli! I always love to read about what makes people 'like' a blog :)

    And, oops I had word ver off for a long time then got 15 spams in one night!! I put it back on, but I may take it off again, just for you;)

  27. Word verification is a tricky one, I know! But you can moderate comments after any date you choose. So... maybe you can turn off word verification for the current week, then enable comment moderation for any posts older than a week?

    Jane - I hear you. With all the social media out there, it's hard to write!

    I recognise some people are content to let their blogs grow organically (like my first blog has). But if you want more followers I really think you need to be interactive.

  28. Hi Talli & one (341) .. you're right and I fall out in at least two categories .. too long, too involved .. but my posts are my asset base.

    The word verification is a pain I agree, and some of us have it set up one way, and others another ..I must say I do hate hitting the button more often than I need to ..

    Good points - and thanks for the eight highly sensible pointers ..

    Enjoy the week .. Hilary

  29. [Hurriedly leaves a comment]

    The word verification thing is better than making people wait for an email verification, though, and some people suffer from unwanted spam. Most blogs I frequent use it. Not an issue for me. ;)

    I'm terribly lazy at making sure I'm following people back. Must. follow. back!

    Thanks for the nudge!


  30. I get tons of spam at Raw Light, btw. Something almost every day.

  31. Funny how some blogs seem to get loads of spam and others none! Bizarre. If spam is an issue I *will* make an exception for word verification. :) :)

  32. Terrific tips, Talli! :D

    I took word verification off of my blog after having to type it in to so many other people's. And while it can be humorous sometimes to make up definitions for the verification word, most of the time it's just obnoxious.

  33. Great post, Talli! I think you've hit it on every one of these. I wish I was better at following more blogs, but as I always find myself reading every post by the bloggers I DO follow, it's probably just as well I don't follow millions more or I'd never do anything else! On the other hand, I always make a point to return every comment I get, so I do know and appreciate just how important etiquette is!

    Oh, and yes: sorry about the word verification :-) I've been thinking about getting rid of it for weeks now, but shall get around to it eventually...

  34. These are all wonderful! I agree with everything you just said. And sorry about some of my really long posts lol! Yes, I hate word verif too! It makes commenting take twice the time. I did turn it on for posts older than 2 weeks, not cuz I was worried about spam, but I didn't want to miss comments that came late.

    Thank you for sharing your amazing blogging success tips with us!

  35. To me the most important thing is communication. I like to interact with other bloggers, so I respond to comments and try to comment on other blogs as often as I can. Sometimes, it's really hard to keep up but that's what blogging is about. The only thing I disagree with in your excellent post is word verification. I hate spam, especially when they put links in them and you don't know if some poor reader will click and wind up in a bad place.

  36. lesson #2 is what I really need to get better at. I follow and read but don't often comment, and thanks for the verification suggestion. I will figure out how to shut that off and do it.

  37. YES! Thanks Talli!!! These seem like no-brainers but I think they're often overlooked.

  38. Your tips are right on the money. Who wants to say "HI" to someone who doesn't say "HI" back?

    I'm trying a blog experiment. My posts are short but in a 24HOURS type scenario. I'll either entertain or go down in flames.

    Could you come check it out and let me know if I've completely lost my mind?

    (Provided as a courtesy only) :


    Thanks, Roland

  39. Great tips Talli! I think I have turned off word verification on my blogs, please tell me if this is not so :)

    I still think good posts are needed to grow that following which you have certainly done in record time! Four months 340 followers I wish :)

  40. These are great tips. I didn't know wordpress had a Followers widget. I'll need to check that out.

    I totally agree about the annoying word verification.

    I don't usually pose a question in my posts but I've noticed that people who get lots of comments usually have so it's something I'll have to consider.

  41. The text on my blog is way muddy, but it came with the template which means blogger won't let me change it unless I know how to do CSS... which I absolutely do not :-P

  42. Such a great post--all things I've learned with blogging this last year. Though...*whispers*...I do have word verification. But it's all in one window, so it's not a separate step at least. *runs away* :)

  43. I agree with most the points of your list (actually, I agree with all of them, but there are a few I fail to follow). I never seem able to stick to one topic (but then that would be contradictory to my own blog title). I do try to limit my rambling so that my posts don't end up too long, but I'm not always able to. As compensation I sometimes don't post at all, though ;)

    I have, not ten minutes ago, finally caved and turned off my Word verification thingie. I've noticed this is a pet peeve for many bloggers, and since I seem to get spam comments anyway, I might as well give it a go.

    Personally I don't mind it on other people's blogs, and I don't mind the "author approval" thingie either, but what really makes me shake my head is when there are blogs who combine the two. What's the point of that?!? If you're going to approve each comment before it is published anyway, what's the point of making the commenter also use the word verification?

    And I agree with those saying it is annoying with music players on the blogs. Usually this serves no other purpose than reminding me that I don't share the blogger's taste in music... Only once - once - have I liked this, and it was a blog I otherwise might not have bothered following but that it later turned out I really loved. It's still one of my favourites (but the music player have been tucked away in a tab, so you don't end up listening to it by accident anymore).

  44. I think the only one I'm guilty of is a lot of pictures. I did remove some recently though!

  45. You're so right. Especially on number one. I can't believe some people don't get that.

  46. I agree with your whole list! The only thing I'd add -- (and I'm sure others have already mentioned this) -- is to not have music automatically load with the page. I often listen to music and have to go in and shut off the auto music player. Arg :D

  47. Brilliant post! I hope this zooms around the blogosphere. Not that I think I'm a perfect blogger by any means, but the biggest issues I've seen lately are long blog posts and hard to read font (including excessive CAPS and large font size, both of which hurt my eyes.)

  48. I've been thinking of getting rid of that annoying word verification on my blog and I think you may have sealed the deal for me, Talli. :3

  49. All perfectly good advice and i agree with all of it Talli, sorry about the word verification but i did it because i had a couple of stalkers that just drove me up the wall, so hope that won't deter you from coming down my home :)

    Wild Rose~

  50. I've broken quite a few of those rules, especially today with a whole story posted in parts! I truly love your blog, and Jen's and Kim's and there several others that I feel loyal to. Others I think I never bonded with and so have lost the momentum I could have had.

    I think Jen (as well as yourself, of course!) is a great example of someone who keeps the momentum rolling. She follows and comments and keeps it all streamlined in a way I could only wish. If she wasn't such a beautiful writer, she'd make a great lit agent, haha.

    Great tips. I think pictures, without being too large, are great ways to draw people in. Clever titles are great too.

  51. 40-70 comments a night? You are a blogging goddess!

    I love your tips. My philosophy is: if you want followers, then follow; if you want comments, then comment. Most fellow bloggers will return the favor.

  52. All of these are great tips. I try to comment on everyone's blogs when I can, however, lately, I've been focusing on working on my WIP. The advice still stands though :)

  53. I agree. But is it so wrong to want to be read without having to return the favor? Sometimes I want to be a rock star, not just a another musician in a huge jam session.

    That said, I do love my readers and try to support them in what they do.

    Google reader is the best way to keep up with multiple blogs.

    Thank you. Now please let me "borrow" a couple of your followers.

  54. Talli, I can't think of anything to add. I think you've covered everything. (And I too don't like word verification--just takes more time that could best be used making comments!) I'm printing this out for future reference. Thanks!

  55. Great post and helpful tips. The word verification is a pain for me. Every time I turn it off I start getting spam. It's like they're lying in wait just to pounce. LOL

    Thoughts in Progress

  56. I hate word verification too but I kind of understand why people have it. What really bothers me is I usually get the word wrong the first time and have to wait for google to tell me it thinks I'm a bot before it lets me try again and that really slows down the commeting process.
    I agree with all of your points here. Thanks for sharing this list.

  57. I would add:

    Put contact info somewhere at the top. I've often run across authors I wanted to interview or bloggers I wanted to contact for other reasons, but was unable to find a way to get in touch with them beyond leaving a comment.

    Make it easy for people to comment - Allow people from various platforms (or none) to comment. I would MUCH rather be able to sign my blog comments using my name and website, rather than a google / blogger / twitter / livejournal / openID account. (OpenID sucks.) I know many folks are afraid of allowing Anonymous comments, but like spam and word verification, how big a problem is it really? If a blog requires a wordpress.com ID for example, I just don't comment.

  58. Good advice Talli though Ive had endless comments from Japanese contingent so have just put word verification on t see if that makes a difference. Apparently the comments weren't - er - what I would ike to read if you get my drift!

  59. Number eight was interesting for me, as I'd never thought about the amount of time word verification takes up.

    You are spot on when it comes to attracting followers. Follow others and they will follow you. Also, don't see it as a numbers game. Hopefully, you're attracting like-minded followers, and what you'll learn from each other will be invaluable.

  60. I did turn off word verification and started getting spammed - except it was on old comments and so therefore moderated so I could reject them, no biggie. And then they found my latest post and started whacking crap on that as well - just one person, but rather persitent with selling nasty shoes. So I had to turn it back on - will probably leave it a while until shoe-man b*ggers off and then try it without again!

  61. These are all great tips! I think commenting on blogs is key. I noticed I receive more hits on my blog on days when I've commented on many other blogs.

    I'm sorry about the word verif; I removed mine awhile ago and got so much spam! I have no idea what it was about my blog that encouraged spammers. So I had to put it back up. But I think it's the one where you comment and then immediately type in the verif, right? I don't like the one where the word verif doesn't come up until you think you've submitted your comment. But either way, I always do it. If I want to leave a comment, an annoying word verif won't stop me!

  62. brilliant - sensible down to earth advice. THanks, Lissa

  63. I think every single point you make is valid. I also wish more people shunned word verification because there really aren't that many spammers out there. I encourage everyone to give it a try for a few days to see how few spammy comments they get.

    Talli, I admire how you always take the time to visit so many different bloggers. You have no idea how much this means to the writer. So I'm sending you a big thank you! :)

  64. First, thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog today :-) I'm now following yours as well!

    Very good points, all of them.

    Actually, I don't get any spam and I don't have word verification or comment approval turned on. I just don't allow anonymous comments. I figure I'm not losing much anyway because usually anonymous comments are mean spirited (not always, but I've heard so many stories). voila! no spam. :-)

  65. Great tips. I'll have to give the word verification some thought. I moderate comments anyway, so I guess it's really like a double blow to have the nonsensical words. :]


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