‘I never see you on my blog any more…‘
I received a message from one of my oldest bloggy friends the other day.
The message hadn’t been sent in a nasty or malicious way at all – he was one of the first online friends I made I first started Suzie Speaks almost three years ago and we’ve kept in touch ever since – I value his opinion and it made me take a step back and think.
He was absolutely right.
And then, as if the blogging universe was trying to give me a sign, I read this post by the ever lovely Hugh from Hugh’s Views and News.
Indeed, over the last few months I have fallen prey to what I like to refer to as ‘the blogging bubble‘ – the point where bloggers focus solely on their own little space of the Internet and forget about the potentially millions of similar spaces out there, just waiting to be explored.
Three years ago, I was in a very different place. The blog was a way of coping with a very difficult time, and I churned out post after post of whatever was in my mind at a particular moment, mainly in an effort to mentally establish some sort of order in what seemed like a big mish-mash of nonsense that seemed to be permanently floating around in my brain. My writing was inconsistent and, at times, erratic, but it was solely for me and me alone.
And then, I discovered that people seemed to like my ramblings. I started to receive comments from people who related to a particular post, or who simply wanted to establish a connection, and over time, those connections became friendships. Every single time I received a notification, I felt excited. I started reading their blogs and finding out more about them and their lives – their families, hobbies, interests. I became friends with a trusted few on my personal social media accounts, something that I was extremely careful about. I’ve received Christmas cards from them. I started exchanging emails. I went a step further and met some in real life, at first in my local area and at various conferences, but then at the Bloggers Bash in London last year (which is still one of the scariest and yet most rewarding things I have ever done). I’ve spoken to a few in person via Facebook messenger. I listen to them on blog radio. I’ll be visiting one in May when I go on holiday. I’ve even spent the Eurovision Song Contest with two of my favourite online people in our own little Twitter party. The community has been some of the most supportive group of people I’ve known, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, getting to know them has been a life changing experience.
Establishing a blog and building a community takes an extraordinary amount of personal time, but the community has also been a huge influence on my posts, and even my stats, and this is something that is often forgotten when all the hard work finally starts to pay off.
As the blog has grown, so has the number of comments I receive, to the point where at times it is difficult to keep up with. After a bad experiences with a troll or two, I keep all comments in moderation until I can approve and reply to them (and I genuinely try to reply to them all), but this can sometimes take time and it irritates a number of people when they don’t get a reply for a few days. But how many posts have I read in the last month or so? Probably about a hundred. And commented on? Probably about fifty, which is nothing in comparison to the hundreds of comments and messages that I receive on a weekly basis across the blog and my social media accounts, many from the same people time after time. Comments that, admittedly, I have started to take for granted.
More importantly, I have certainly noticed that, while I know they still follow and read the blog, there are many of my original community that don’t comment anymore. I know why – it’s because our online relationship became very one-sided, and that’s totally my fault.
A community is not about the stats – my social media has grown to the point where I now receive a consistent amount of daily views regardless of how often I publish a post – it’s about building and maintaining connections with others, and avoiding the blogging bubble.
So, I’ve decided to try and get myself out of the little world I have created for myself and put myself out there… Here’s a few hints and tips that I am now going to start adopting more often into my own blogging activities:
1. Put time in your blogging schedule to reply to all comments as quickly as you possibly can, even if it’s just to say thank you.
2. If you follow a blog, take an interest in it. That doesn’t mean commenting on every single post, reblogging or sharing everything on your social media, but a meaningful and relative message every so often will let the author know that they have your support.
Note: if you adopt the ‘follow for a follow’ policy, it’s pretty much certain that you’ll be following far too many to keep up with.
3. Never take your readers for granted, and appreciate that they may be partly responsible for the growth of your blog…
4. Read a fantastic post? Share it with others on your social media!
What about you guys? Do you get yourself into a blogging bubble? How do you get out of it?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.