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?

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34 thoughts on “On Blog Traffic and Engagement: How I do Engagement

    • Glad to hear it. I should have added, I communicate in other ways than comments. I know a few bloggers who I use likes to communicate with. We rarely comment, and when we do it tends to be very short comments. But we like one another’s post so often, it’s a form of communication.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree about the use of likes as a form of communication. I tend to do this even when I don’t leave an actual comment (when I don’t have much else to say than “great post”), to show appreciation for it.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. This is a great post. I’ve been doing this for about 5 months and I love engaging with other bloggers. It hit me that a lot of engagement activities are sort of “being the change you want to see”: I want people to comment, so I comment on others (the same goes for sharing, and I’m now starting to share posts on Twitter more often when I enjoy them…which I’ll be doing with this one!!). I also love to engage with people in the Daily Post Community Pool.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I find you to be excellent in all the points you mention. One thing I really appreciate about your whole network is that when I read a post I like, or that has a degree of interest to me, and I comment on that post, you acknowledge that. At the very least this shows good manners. One of the main reasons I started a blog, other than the fact that I can engage in communication with people I would never meet in my day to day existence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, exactly. We talked about the importance of answering comments early on. I hate leaving a comment on a blog and just having to wonder whether or not the blogger even read it.

      We were so happy when we figured out how to turn on comment likes, because that’s another way to acknowledge a comment.

      Like

  3. This genre of posts (including the twitter ones) are really great Gene’O, I like to see how others run their blogs and how they function. Articles like this give us the behind the scenes of blogging. Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m glad you’re enjoying them. They’re fun to write and I like to have them archived so I can revisit them later and see how my methods have changed over time. Also hoping at least some of this stuff is helpful. I’ve expended quite a bit of mental energy on it at this point. Seems selfish not to share it.

      Like

  4. I’ve enjoyed these too. The biggest challenge for me is social media. You and Diana are great with that, and it’s fun interacting with you guys all over the place. I use social media to engage in conversations about once or twice a week and that may not be “enough” but it’s all I’ve got. They can be sketchy with using text to speech software. I’m usually lurking/reading/keeping tabs on folks while I work, but the blog takes up several hours a day between reading, writing up posts, and trying to comment on things. I usually save my comment times for stuff like the feminist Friday discussions, or socially relevant topics I care about, but I worked hard to make sure I’m at least liking posts on blogs I read regularly. And then I have to tend life offline. Also, Twitter loads for me about every 4th time I try to get on if I’m lucky and if it’s going to waste that much of my time, it’s not worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My wife has a simliar problem with Twitter. It seems to be something to do with her computer. We use the same internet connection, and it always loads for me. And I understand about the time issue. I always have a lot going on offline, and always at least one thing to write that’s time-consuming. It’s a juggling act, always. It’s why I barely use Facebook for posting and liking any more. Not enough social media exposure for the time spent writing a post or going through a feed and liking things.

      I’m lucky to have contributors and a job that allows me a bit of free time on a predictable schedule. If it weren’t for those 2 things, I wouldn’t seem so good at the social media.

      Like

      • LOL I was just typing “Gene’O” somewhere else and this hit my email inbox. I can share stuff to twitter from here, but when I go to reply to tweets or load it directly, it gives me a “site unavailable” page. My computer’s a bit old…that might have something to do with it.

        I know what you mean about Facebook too.

        I’d do better if I could count on a predictable schedule, but migraine episodes and things like that tend to derail me and then I have to play catch up a lot. (That’s what I spent this weekend doing.)

        Like

        • That happens to me when I’m counting on a few hours to work on the social media and something comes up I can’t help. Funny you were typing my name. I was just starting a careful read-through of your series when this one came through.

          I’m at the halfway point now. I’m focusing on the posts, and just scanning the threads to see how many comments they got and from whom.

          If you don’t have a message from me by the time you quit for the evening, you’ll have one in the morning.

          Like

    • I have the same problem.

      Even with a pretty good laptop, page loading is a real problem for me. Waiting for pages to load has probably consumed a day or two of my life in the last six months.

      And I just know so many good bloggers.

      Like

  5. You are a nicer person than I am. Or maybe my job stress is starting to diminish my pleasant demeanor; I dunno. I’m pretty sure I’ve driven away at least one person in the last couple of weeks because I lost my ability to put up with nonsense. 🙂

    Like

    • Lol. I do have my limits, and I’ve demonstrated to more than one person in the last six months that refusing to take an out when I offer one is a stupid thing to do.

      But I get the sense, just from the differences in our styles, that I might have a teeny bit of an edge on you in the patience department. 😉

      Like

  6. Thanks for the clear and concise summary, Gene’O.
    For me, time is the great enemy, leading me to be selective about what I Follow. Because if you do follow someone, it seems only polite to occasionally read and comment!

    Like

      • Where writers/blogs cover diverse topics (or for music blogs, diverse styles), I guess I watch out for the ones where I think I can connect or have something vaguely relevant/interesting to add to the commentary.

        Yours is a great example. Given space, I’d read assiduously, but given the limitations, I join in using the above criteria. I think perhaps you might employ the same tactic for Vinyl Connection!

        Liked by 1 person

        • lol, yes, I do that with a lot of blogs. I have a handful I try to read every word of (and I have to stress the “try”). And a lot more I’d read every word of if I had the time. I don’t read any blog every single day – not even my sister’s. What I do is have visiting times where I go and catch up with as many blogs as I can. And sometimes when people comment or ping one of my posts, I think “gee, it’s been too long, let me just go see what they’ve been doing.” 😉

          Keeping up is a real problem for me. I’m always looking for ways to make my visiting more efficient so I can do more of it. Working on a bookmarking system right now so I can load blogs 5 at a time in my browser and read them one after the other. The reader and the blogrolls just aren’t a good way to handle a lot of blogs, if your goal is to spend an hour actually visiting the blogs themselves and reading them.

          Like

  7. I tend to do a bunch of stuff when I have time and not much at all when I’m busy with school or whatever, so my engagement is haphazard in terms of growth. I always try to respond to comments (although I miss some, and I blame WordPress). I’m small enough that I can visit everyone who comments, likes, or follows, and I try to at least like a recent post. I try to comment if I have a thought, and if my main thought is “This post was really good!” I try to say so in a way that is actually helpful and indicates that I really did think it was good. If it’s a blog I want to engage with in the long term, mostly if they’re discussing things I want to discuss, I’ll leave a more detailed comment to that effect and continue commenting until they know who I am.

    For growth, I check blogrolls, roundups, etc. Every time I post I also try to check the major tags related to the post, and like or comment on blogs about the same topic in hopes of starting a discussion. I don’t always have time, my first priority is keeping up with the bloggers I consider my friends and the blogs I really want to read every day.

    Like

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  11. Wow, your criteria are similar to mine. I often find new blogs by going through the blogroll of other blogs I enjoy. Something I consider when discover a new blog is the presentation. Is it thoughtful and well-laid out for what the blogger is wanting to achieve?

    Also, I do discriminate against blogs that reblog a lot of content. I want to read new and original content; if more than twenty percent of posts are reblogs, I generally won’t follow them, and instead follow the person who is writing the original post.

    Like

    • That’s interesting. I think “reblog blogs” can be useful if they’re reblogging tons of blogs instead of just one or two. We don’t reblog very much – usually we do it when we need an update, or when someone we talk to often has a post that’s either very good or important to them.

      I do more reblogging at my writing blog – usually one or two a week, all writing-related, because I don’t have time to update that one enough.

      I don’t follow blogs who reblog posts by the dozen in rapid succession, because it clogs my reader in a way that I find annoying.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

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