Blog Mechanics: Give me your secrets!

Hey you– person scrolling through your reader, I need you to click and comment on this one, even if you usually scroll right past me. According to WordPress there are 160 of you who “follow” this blog. In reality, most of my clicks come from reposting on my personal or writing Facebook, (thank goodness for stats), so I realize followers don’t automatically mean clicks.

This morning I filled out an application to blog for Wanderlust Festival this summer in exchange for free admission. As I described my writing attributes, I realized my blog is no longer growing at the same pace it was a year ago, which is why I need your help. At some point, I stopped caring so much about building a platform and started writing just to write. I hit that sweet spot of enough regular readers to be happy with my little blog community.

However, the more I put myself out there in other writing forums, the more I realize the numbers matter to someone– you know, the people deciding who to blog on their behalf, the people willing to give me cool stuff and help me get out there on other platforms. While I may not need droves of readers for my own validation, I apparently could use them to help launch myself as a writer in other forums.

So, I want your insight–

What types of posts are you most likely to click on when I blog? (Teaching, writing, yoga, life…)

Have you noticed any similar patterns for your blog in terms of larger numbers of new followers in the beginning and then fewer as time goes on? Last summer I would get 1-2+ followers per day, now I’m lucky to get a couple in a month. I pick up more when I like/comment on new blogs, but I used to have people find me regularly on their own. Does WordPress expose you more in the beginning? It is possible my writing has changed over the course of a year, but in general I feel my content is pretty similar.

These questions may sound silly, I just want to understand what I am working with here. I notice frequently that other blogs don’t show up in my reader until much later, often causing me to miss posts, which makes me wonder whether the same thing happens to my blogs. Likewise, I notice many bloggers come and go, so I assume some of my followers are now abandoned blogs. At the end of the day, all that really matters is that I like doing this, but I would also like to better understand the dynamics of platform building.

Happy blogging and thanks for your thoughts!

Blogging for Wanderlust would be pretty amazing...

Blogging for Wanderlust would be pretty amazing…

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16 thoughts on “Blog Mechanics: Give me your secrets!

  1. good2begone says:

    I wish I had a concrete answer but I don’t. Here is what I have found with my blogging- if I don’t blog consistently the stars show it. For whatever reason photos draw lots of traffic ( short attention spans?), WordPress is the only platform I use….I don’t tweet or stumble upon or any of the other platforms, I have received close to 500 followers in the year I have been blogging and consistently get maybe 10-15 likes or views per post. It doesn’t add up….but I blog because I enjoy it not for stats. Good luck with your application! It sounds like a great opportunity!

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience– I definitely see how photos make a difference and it’s interesting to hear how your blog grew organically. Also like that you blog because you enjoy it, not for stats. I generally do too, I’m just beginning to realize that sometimes stats help for other gigs… Keeping my fingers crossed, even if it’s a long shot!

  2. For the past year or so, it seems like I have gotten a few new followers with every new post I make–when I was making an effort to post daily, they really accumulated, even if the comments never reflected it.

  3. jeffo says:

    I am much more likely to comment on your writing and teaching posts than the yoga posts, but I pretty much read them all. Lately, though, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed, and my commenting everywhere is a bit down.

    As for followers, it’s hard to say. Commenting on other people’s blogs tends to bring them (and, sometimes, their followers) to you. I follow the people who interest me, and, while I don’t subscribe to the ‘follow me and I’ll follow you’ approach, I always try to check out new followers if I don’t already know them (and I periodically try to check in on blogs of followers that I don’t follow). The problem is there are so many blogs out there you could spend all day, every day, reading and never get anywhere in your life.

    I do know that participating in blog fests and the like tends to bring in followers, and when I’ve been a stop on a newly-published author’s blog tour I get a couple of new followers. I’m occasionally surprised to find unexplainable spikes in numbers, like when I got 1200 pageviews last month (though it didn’t garner huge numbers of comments or more than a few new followers). I still haven’t figured out what I did, but my numbers will be much lower this month.

    Hope that helps!

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Haha, yes, I don’t expect everyone to love all the yoga words, (although it’s funny, the yoga posts have opened me up to a lot of readers in my larger Facebook community who I didn’t have before). And, I definitely relate– life is already full, so it is difficult sometimes to give blogging (both our own and others) a lot of attention.

      I agree commenting makes a difference. I think I’ve fallen into a pattern of mostly commenting on the same blogs. I probably need to branch out if more followers is important to me. I’m not sure it really is, I just want to reap the benefits of having a larger audience when it comes to spreading my writing to other places. I’ve hit a similar wall in only being able to read a certain number of blogs without my reader feeling like it’s going to explode.

      Thanks for the tips about blog fests, etc. I will have to contemplate my next moves. On the one hand, I don’t want to devote a whole lot more time to blogging, on the other, I am excited by some of the possibilities…

  4. Covetotop says:

    Hi Olivia. This particular “person scrolling through his reader” is a loyal follower of your blog, hence I’ll try to answer some of your questions the best I can.

    I follow very few blogs -including yours-, and usually I read every new entry in all of them. I deem those bloggers some kind of “virtual friends” -including you-. The blogs I follow deal with any of these three topics: writing, art or music -classical nerd-, and all of them are pretty good -if not, I don’t follow anything-

    As far as your blog is concerned, I like very much to read your musings and struggles about to self-publish or not to self-publish, to review or not to review “Expecting happiness”, to begin or not to begin a new work … I face similar Shakespearian dilemmas very often …
    I’m not in facebook (I tried once to set up something for “Covetotop”, but it’s blank) tweeter or anything like that …,

    Neither I click “likes” or comment very often in blogs I don’t follow (except in really good stuff)

    I have no idea of the so-called SEO technics and am not interested at all in any other task than posting whenever I feel like posting (which is an irregular phenomena). My only problem is the damned English grammar …

    Audience: in my opinion, “TAGS” is important. Whenever I use a general tag (“musings”, “humor”, “culture” etc), nobody visits my blog. Whenever I use a more specific tag (“Romanesque”, “Dalí”, “Middle Ages”), chances are somebody will visit my blog.

    By far, the greatest boosts in audience come when your blog is featured on any other media. I guess this is some kind of lottery. Last year my blog was featured on three different American digital media (including WordPress’”Freshly Pressed”) and I began to think I was about to be rich and famous. Sadly, one or two weeks later (in each of the three cases), Covetotop was again the lonely and scarcely visited blog it used to be.

    Blogging is funny. Don’t pay too much attention to the stats page. I think the key is to keep blogging just for the joy of blogging. Who knows … Perhaps one day an important publisher discovers by chance one of our blogs and … Rich and famous! 🙂

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Yes, you are definitely a loyal reader, thank you for the kind words. I also deem the blogs I follow regularly to be friends, which is partly why I’m hesitant to really try to grow my blog. I don’t know that I can keep up with much larger of an audience, but I am interested in all those other lovely perks that come with more readers…

      Good to know you like reading about my struggles as a writer, I certainly always have something to say about that. 😉 Also appreciate your tip on more specific tags, will definitely have to give that a shot. I agree, the stats page isn’t as important as the joy of blogging, it’s just sometimes tempting to care…

      The famous part I could do without, but I wouldn’t mind a few riches here and there for all our words, (even if those riches were just a free pass to yoga festival, hehe).

  5. kingmidget says:

    There are a handful of bloggers (OK, maybe a little larger than a handful, but close) who I will read every post. You’re one of them. Not sure why, but your thoughts and words so frequently relate to something I’m feeling as well. As we’ve discussed, I feel frequently like we are twins separated not just at birth but by twenty years.
    As for what to do to increase your followers/readers, I’m not sure. Other than to read other people’s blogs and follow and like those that you like. My follows slowed down quite a bit as well and I was fine with that. Then I got involved in National Poetry Month in April with a couple of new bloggers I started following in March. Through that effort, with a lot of likes and re-blogs flowing back and forth, I’ve probably picked up another 20 followers in the past month and a half. Not that I was looking for them, but they’ve formed a second WordPress community for me — a very active and supportive poetry and short story writing community.
    Only problem is this … there are far too many posts in my reader now.
    Good luck with the Wanderlust Festival.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      It’s such an interesting balance between maintaining a manageable community and building a writing platform for other endeavors. I read your posts regularly too, but I can’t keep up with everyone in my reader anymore. I generally scroll through and click on whatever catches my eye + my regular reads, but I’m sure I miss blogs in the process, (especially since some magically appear later…). Getting involved in specific communities is good advice should I choose to actually pursue a larger audience… In a way, the one I have already feels like more than enough. Thanks for the comment, the advice, and the ongoing connection, it is funny how the same themes run through so much of our writing/lives despite the difference in years, gender, and life circumstances.

      • kingmidget says:

        “catches my eye” exactly what describes my “reader” habits. Just had a thought — your desire to write for the Wanderlust Festival — is it important enough to you to change your approach to this?

      • oliviaobryon says:

        Nope, and that’s why this post has been useful, helped me realize it’s not worth chasing if it messes with what I’m already doing that works fine. We’ll see. No one said you had to have a million followers to get the gig… Amusingly, another blog I follow this week talked about how someone asked her why she doesn’t put her site stats in her sidebar, alluding to her credibility in getting other writing jobs. Putting all that out in the open feels transparent to me. There is more to this than numbers. Thanks for helping me remember 😉

  6. I have used three different platforms since I began to blog in 2009. Word Press is where I get the most traffic, but I think it’s because I use a lot of tags. I went to a writer’s workshop last fall, and three big pieces of advice were: blog often, use a lot of tags so a word search will bring them to my blog, and re-post on my facebook page AND my personal account.
    I’ve also noticed that my poetry was a big hit, and blogs that I follow show lots of likes when a photo is involved.
    In the end, the wordpress blog is my platform to get people interested. The other site I post on is for serious writers who have offered great advice and the kind of constructive criticism I crave, since I have not yet found a writer’s group.
    It’s flattering to see the numbers grow, but I write because its my creative outlet and I enjoy creating.

    Also, I enjoy reading your blogs. The yoga ones are interesting but I’ve loved the teaching posts, since I am a teacher, too!

  7. I read most all of your posts! I especially enjoy your posts about teaching. 🙂

    I signed up for the WordAds program at the beginning of the year, which is a WordPress-hosted ad program…it really doesn’t make much money (I have netted about $10 in 5 months), but somehow I feel like it has helped direct traffic to my site. I know that doesn’t make sense, since the program just puts an ad at the end of your posts, but I have started to see a site called “adfeed” referring a lot more people to my blog, and I have noticed a lot more people following me on WordPress since signing up.

    Another thing that has been helpful in directing new followers to my blog is providing ways for people to follow that aren’t WordPress specific. I have a link to my RSS feed so people can add my site to their Google Reader, and I also have a link to follow me on Bloglovin, another website that functions as an RSS feed reader. This helps if you are interested in attracting followers who may not necessarily have a blog themselves, but are still faithful readers!

    • oliviaobryon says:

      That’s all awesome advice, thanks Katie. So funny about the WordAds, too. I’ll have to look into that this summer. I definitely agree about giving people who don’t use WordPress ways to regularly follow, I think that makes a big difference! Look forward to reading about how your weekend adventure turned out 😀

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