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.

I had no idea . . . Ten things I’ve learned about blogging

I’ve been writing this blog for six months – I’ve had over 2000 views on my site (an average day for some – but this is huge to me! I value every single view – even though I know some people got to my site searching for other things. To date the most frequently used search term on my blog has been – was Flight a good movie?) I have several followers who check in on my posts and I’m even starting to generate a few comments now and then.

On my six-month anniversary of being a blogger, I want to share some of the interesting things I’ve learned. All of these points should start with – I had no idea . . .

  1. How much fun blogging would be.
  2. How addictive it could become – like when will I not want to check my stats 500 times a day?
  3. That there would be an international audience and how really exciting it would be to have someone from Romania or Greece or France or Peru read one of my posts.
  4. How time-consuming doing something like a blog could be – writing posts, reading posts, liking and commenting on other posts, responding to comments – it takes a good chunk of time to do this well.
  5. That writing a blog would stretch me as a writer and cause me to hone skills I either took for granted or never knew I had.
  6. How much I would enjoy reading other people’s blogs and how much it would teach me about writing and life.
  7. I would simply love posting a well-thought-out comment on someone else’s blog and thinking about how they might feel reading my words and knowing I gave their writing serious attention.
  8. The scope of the blog world – that there is something about every single topic imaginable out there – all you have to do is look.
  9. How inspiring it would be to realize there are so many other people trying to write, caring about the craft, working to hone their skills and get their stuff out into the world.
  10. That my original motive for starting the blog (a means of sharing my self-publishing journey and eventually promoting my first book) would become a mere sideline to what my blog is really about.

I read somewhere that responsible bloggers should try to leave the internet a better place than they found it. Blogging is about producing a well-thought-out post that gives something of yourself to the people who take the time to check out your blog – something of value. These are the things I am trying to achieve with my blog and every day I read posts by so many great bloggers who are doing the same. I have no idea what the next six months of blogging will bring but I am excited to find out.

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 “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” (Winston Churchill)

I present you with this pic of our cutie pie granddaughter, Britney in her Halloween costume. Every time I look at this picture, I can’t help the biggest smile – maybe her little expression will give you a chuckle, too.