The Well Maintained Blog

large merton quote pride & humility

Think about these stats for a second or two. There are over 402 million people viewing more than 4.1 billion pages on Word Press each month. A whooping 39.3 million posts are put up each and every month. There are 61,140,001 sites worldwide. (check out this Word Press stat page – just watching the map for a few seconds is mind-boggling) The above number will almost certainly have jumped up when you go to check it out. People are signing up to create new blogs on the Word Press site as you read this.

At any given moment, veritable hoards of bloggers are publishing posts filed under hundreds of different categories. All of these bloggers are after the same things I am – having others visit their site, getting people to press the like button, hoping to have produced something interesting enough for someone (out of those 402 million people who view posts each month) to make a comment on. I imagine those other bloggers want to be followed just the way I do. There is a lot of competition in the Word Press blogosphere, so getting these things to happen takes time, patience and a lot of work.

In today’s post, I’m going to describe a bit about what I do to try and draw people to my site and in turn, I’m hoping that some of you will share what you do.

First and foremost, I try to write something that will be worth reading. I’m asking other people to take time out of their own busy schedules to look at my blog. That means careful attention to a variety of topics, rewrites and proofreading. I always include a photo that links up in an interesting way with what I’ve written. Basic stuff – most everyone is probably doing these things, too.

I had been blogging on Word Press for well over a month before I learned about categories and tags. These are essential. I also learned, through trial and error and a query to the wonderfully helpful Word Press people, that to appear on the Reader you may not have more than a combined total of 15 categories and tags. Believe me, you want your post to appear in the Reader so your followers and the entire Word Press community can find you (remember that number from above – 402 million people looking around at posts every month on Word Press).

I learned early to have Word Press automatically link my posts to Facebook and I have recently added links to Twitter and LinkedIn. I also link each post up to a board I created on Pinterest. I’m very new to Twitter (I promise an upcoming post soon on how that is going) so every now and then I go back and link an older post up to my Twitter feed.

OK – my post is out in the blogosphere world and I’ve spread the word that I posted onto social media platforms. Now what?

My next step has to do with paying attention to the people who have come to my site. I check out the blog of each person who has liked one of my posts. I’ll read an about page or a recent post. If I like what I’m seeing, I’ll press the like button. I may make a comment, if I can think of something useful or witty to say. I do the same thing when a fellow blogger decides to follow my blog. It goes without saying that if I write a post that is interesting enough to generate a comment, I make sure and reply to that comment and check out the blog of the commenter.

I really try to keep up with the posts that the bloggers I follow have written. These are all listed on the Reader, so all I have to do is scroll down, go to the post and enjoy. This is getting harder as the list of people I want to follow grows, so sometimes I do have to pick and choose.

When I have a free moment, I try to check out some of the bloggers that the people I follow haven chosen to follow. (It’s nice if you feature a spot on your blog where others can see some of the blogs you follow.) I’ll also occasionally check out the people (through their gravatars) who have liked the same posts I’ve liked. We might just have something in common.

What about all the rest of the 61 plus million bloggers? How do I tap into some of them? I call my attempts to do that, trawling around the Word Press world. I go to the Reader section of my Word Press page and I do a search for posts in the categories of writing, or self-publishing, or indie publishing, or blogging, or art, or architecture – or anything I feel interested in at the moment. I read posts and if I like it, I press like and once again, comment if I have something of value to say.

For the record, I just want to say that I never press like without reading a post all the way through. No one would know one way or the other, right? It’s a personal thing. Integrity is how you act when no one else is looking.

The stream of blogs being posted at any given moment can seem overwhelming (remember that number from above? 39.3 million posts each month). I have developed a personal strategy for deciding which ones I will open and read in their entirety and the ones I will pass over.

When it comes to passing over – unless I am absolutely gripped, I won’t open a post over 1500 words. I’m sure there are some great lengthy posts out there – but let’s be realistic here. We only have so much of our lives to spend on Word Press. If the words – sorry, I haven’t written in a while – appear anywhere in the opening lines – I pass by. For some reason those words turn me off. They strike me as a bit arrogant – like, oh sorry I haven’t been around, but of course you’re still out there looking for me. I also pass over anything that appears to be a piece of fiction that has had no introduction to what the blogger wants to achieve by posting it. Actually, I hardly read anything that is being serialized on Word Press. Hey writers out there – you don’t need to give your work away for free, but if you explain why you’re putting up a piece of your writing, that’s different.

I am drawn to blogs that offer interesting, creative, moving posts and these can be related to a wide range of topics. Something funny in the first few lines can usually get my attention. A beautiful photo that fits with a title or gets me thinking about what the connection could be between the two, will have me clicking to open the whole post.

The work of maintaining a blog is time consuming. I would love to hear the maintenance work you do to bring visitors, viewers, commenters and followers to your site.

10 comments on “The Well Maintained Blog

  1. lly1205 says:

    I was pretty glad to see that I’ve covered most of what you mention here. Thanks for such a well laid-out post.


  2. olivertidy says:

    This is a thought provoking post with some stats that boggle the mind. My personal blogging philosophy has evolved to this: I essentially blog for me (that seems weird). I blog when I have something to record towards the reason that I began blogging – my self-publishing venture. My blog has become something of a public online diary, something for posterity that I like to visit and reminisce over. It is also a place that I have detailed as a link in my books so that down-loaders might have a point of reference if they are interested in finding out more. Attracting hoards of followers is not my aim. That said, I do appreciate others dropping by and making a comment. I always reply. But I have not been good at visiting the blogs of others and I that is remiss of me because I have come to understand that there are a lot of people out there like me – aspiring writers – and I just might have more than that in common with many of them. Look on this as a new leaf turned. Best, Oliver.

    • I like the way you are able to be so clear on what your objectives are for having a blog. Without that clarity, I think there is the very real danger of allowing the blog world to eat up way too much time. So true about the many aspiring writers – I would never have found Romney and Marsh, if I hadn’t looked around a bit 🙂

  3. Gemma Hawdon says:

    Hi Francis. Thank you for the informative blog – those stats are mind boggling, and even more so since I seem to have disappeared from Reader (WordPress are trying to fix this but it’s been weeks!). I try to keep my blog about personal experience with the writing world and especially writing a novel. I tend to use humour for interest, although sometimes I can’t help get sentimental. It’s extremely creative writing a blog and, as writing can be lonely at times, it’s always a pleasure to connect with other writers 🙂

    • I’m so sorry you are having issues getting profiled on the WordPress Reader. When a glitch happens and I don’t go out on the Reader, I see my stats just plummet – so it certainly matters! I really do agree on the connection part of the blog – it wasn’t something I understood at the beginning and now it has become the most important part.

  4. tracycembor says:

    So many of your rules are similar to my rules. When I’m looking at a new page, these are my criteria: 1. “I’m sorry” anywhere on the page – pass. It can only come across as wimpy or passive aggressive. 2. Post length under 100 words or over 1000 words – pass. Either your effort or my effort will not be equal to the exchange of information. 3. Posting schedule is irregular or there are unexplained breaks – pass. If you always post once a week/month, then I’ll follow. It doesn’t have to be updated every day. If you explain a break with “back from my amazing trip” or “the operation was a success,” then I’ll follow. If the breaks are unexplained, it looks suspiciously like laziness – double pass.

    • I like your take on the ever-popular “sorry” issue – who said, never apologize, never explain? That’s the way blog posts should be written. Blogging means never having to say your sorry – or is that love – all the same. Thanks for stopping by and writing such a great comment.

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