On Blog Traffic and Engagement: How I do Engagement

Last time I posted one of these on a Sunday, it got us our best Sunday ever. So I’m trying it again. This post is about how I do engagement on the blogs. The connection to traffic is that engagement leads to traffic. If you don’t have money to spend on marketing and you don’t start with a huge network, there’s no substitute for interacting with people.

Here’s a method I’ve developed for interacting with people on WordPress. I don’t often have time to a lot of networking here. I have to set aside time for it and do it as efficiently as possible. First, I have a few personal rules:

  1. Be nice. That means polite and positive to everyone, if at all possible. If I run into a situation where I can’t do that, my first instinct is to disengage. I try to keep negativity rare to nonexistent. Sometimes negativity is unavoidable, but I dislike it.
  2. Answer people when they comment. I’m not perfect with this – I miss comments sometimes. But I’m diligent about trying.
  3. Visit peoples’ blogs when I see them liking my posts frequently. Sometimes it takes weeks to get around to this. But once I get so many likes I recognize a person’s gravatar, they’re getting a visit from me eventually.
  4. Visit blogs recommended by friends. I find more new blogs reading roundups, award posts, and follow fridays than any other way.
  5. It goes without saying that once I form a friendship with someone, I keep up with what they’re doing and make an effort to like their posts, even when I don’t have much to say, and even when I’m too busy to really catch up.

How I Read a New Blog

  • Is the quality of the content good? This means well-written and presented. It doesn’t have anything to do with subject matter. I appreciate good blogs just for being good blogs, whether I’m interested in the topics they discuss or not. And “good” does not mean “perfect.” Everyone’s on their own journey, and people use blogs for a lot of different purposes. I know good when I see it, even if I’m not very interested in the subject matter.
  • Is the content shareable on my own blogs? Lots of reasons it wouldn’t be. Neither mommy-blogging nor wine blogging really fits here. But I know bloggers who do both of those things, and I respect them. I don’t reblog them, but I talk to them on Twitter, retweet their links, and sometimes comment on their blogs. There’s also the question of safe for work to think about. Posting NSFW content doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t visit your blog or interact with you. It does mean I won’t link to you, though. Because I have a strict SFW policy for anything that runs under my name.
  • Is the blogger interacting with people? This is important to me, because I’m looking for people who interact. If I see readers commenting and not getting responses consistently on a blog’s  threads, I typically don’t leave a first comment.
  • Is the blogger using other social media? This is important for me because I spend a lot of time on Twitter, Diana maintains a public Facebook feed just for blog fanpages and a Pinterest account, and we publicize to Tumblr even though we don’t do much else there. We like to interact with people across social media.
  • How many followers does the blog have, and how many likes/comments are they getting on average? I don’t make distinctions about following/not following based on network size, but I do like to get an idea of a blog’s reach. Here’s why. I’m not building a network just to make myself Internet-famous. I want to build followings for as many friends as possible. That means I need to know something about relative sizes. If you’ve got a good blog that’s share-worthy and only 100 followers, I can probably help you out a bit. If your network is three times the size of mine, my ability to help is more limited, but I’ll be happy to do what I can, and try to learn some tricks by paying attention to what you’re doing.
  • How long has the blog been around, and how often does it publish? Again, I don’t discriminate based on these things. But if you’re posting only once a week, and I really want to keep up, I’ll likely follow by email. If you started the same month I did, and have done a lot better, I’m curious. If you’ve been doing it for three years and I’ve been more successful in six months, I want to share what I know with you, if you’re interested. This is just the way I think, when it comes to blogging.
  • Even though it’s taken so many words to explain this process, it’s something I can do in less than 10 minutes. I ask the questions and draw conclusions. Sometimes my conclusions are wrong, but that’s ok. I work quickly and without much information. If I think it’s a good bet to spend a little more time, I check out the blog’s pages and think about commenting.

How I Comment on a Blog for the First Time

I leave two kinds of first comments.

  1. Short ones that say I liked a post and what I liked best about it. These are three sentences. I leave them on blogs when I’m not sure whether or not I’ll get an answer, or when a post really grabs me but I don’t have time to take a closer look at the blog.
  2. Longer ones that introduce myself and invite a conversation. Usually I leave these on the about page and include feedback on the quality of the page.

If the first comment starts a conversation, I let it run its course and see what happens. If we hit it off, I typically follow the blogger with all my social media and let them know I’ve done that. If not, and I really want to talk to the blogger in question, I comment on a couple of more posts over the next week or two. Once I get the idea people just aren’t ever talking back, I move on. I may still read the blog if I love it, but I don’t leave more comments once I make this call.

That’s my basic method. I’m interested to know, from those of you who are making an effort to interact with other bloggers with an eye to forming positive relationships: How do you do it?