A Blogging Hangover

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Yesterday I hosted a blog party to celebrate my two year anniversary. I had been looking forward to it all week, and had put some time into promoting it across the blog and my social media accounts. With the response that I had received from eager bloggers wanting to participate, I expected it to be quite busy.

However, I didn’t expect it to be THAT busy. Over the space of about fifteen hours there were hundreds of links shared from bloggers all over the world, I had received over 600 comments, 2000 views and lots of people embraced it wholeheartedly, following, commenting and sharing each others posts. It was fabulous, and I’d like to say a massive thank you to everybody who took part!

I fell asleep with square eyes and a mild headache after staring at my phone and iPad screen for so long. I had to charge both of them up overnight as the batteries had been exhausted. When I awoke, I excitedly checked the page, to discover that the party had been continuing in my absence, and I had a whole new set of comments and links to go through. I have a blogging hangover.

It’s been said that the best cure for a hangover is to have another drink – ‘hair of the dog’ so to speak – so today I’m going to do just that! My Twitter party, #SundayBlogShare is in full swing already and I’m looking forward to jumping back in there and reading lots of posts, as well as working my way through the wonderful links that were shared on here yesterday.

Want to carry on sharing with me?

I am going to leave the blog party open, so that anyone can join in anytime they like. If you wish to share a post on the blog party, click on the image below:

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Want to share your posts with the hundreds of people participating in #SundayBlogShare? Click on the image below for the rules and then get your tweet on!

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Don’t forget that there are also six very interesting and exciting blogs in my sidebar – give them a click and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

You can find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and feel free to visit my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks and give me a cheeky like!

 

Blog Advice 2: A Comment On Comments

Blog comments

I remember receiving my very first blog comment. I was absolutely elated that someone had not only read what I had to say, but had taken some of their time to be able to let me know that they had enjoyed it. While I always, and will continue to, write for myself, it inspired me to keep going.

Since then, the comments that I have received from so many people across the blogosphere have helped me through some extremely difficult times over the last few years.

Comments, in my opinion, are one of the driving forces behind building a community – they forge connections and relationships and can be instrumental when increasing traffic to your posts. Last year, when things were particularly busy, I was pretty awful at replying to comments and I lost followers because of it. This year, I made a promise to myself that I would try to reply to as many as possible, and I’ve done my best to keep up with it.

I am often asked questions about comments:

1. How can I encourage people to comment on my blog?
2. How can I find the time to reply to comments that I receive?
3. How do I deal with negative comments?

However, before I begin, I would like to point out one thing: comments should be in response to something that you have written, not the basis for how you blog and what you blog about. It is your space of the Internet and at no point should a reader dictate the content of your posts.

Encouraging and responding to comments

I like to encourage discussion and as many comments as possible on Suzie81 Speaks, and I do this in several different ways:

I ask a question at the bottom of my posts: What about you? How do you feel about…? Have you ever had to deal with…? This is an open invitation for others to leave a comment and share their personal experiences.

I read and appreciate all of the comments I receive, and I try to reply to as many as I possibly can, often asking questions or requesting advice.

I read a twitter conversation a few months ago between two bloggers that focused on comments and how often they responded to them. Both were in agreement in that they shouldn’t reply if all they were going to do was just say ‘thank you,’ because of the length of time it takes and the fact that they were just too busy. I clicked on their blogs, expecting to see hundreds of responses, only to find that one of the bloggers had received two or three comments on their posts, while the other had maybe ten or fifteen.

On an average day Suzie81 Speaks receives thirty to fifty comments, and sometimes this will increase to nearly a hundred at the weekends. That doesn’t include tweets, facebook messages and emails. In the last month this little blog has had over 1,100 comments, including replies I have left.

While it is hardly setting the blogging world on fire, I try to respond to as many as I possibly can, depending on how busy I am in my work schedule. I may not reply on the same day, or sometimes in the same week, fortnight, or even month (!) but I personally feel that if someone has responded to something you have written, they deserve your acknowledgement and gratitude for doing so, even if it is just a simple ‘thank you.’ Wouldn’t you expect the same? If you are inundated with comments and want to reply, then you need to find the time. I have found that I have had to create one less post a week and then use that time to reply to comments instead.

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Leaving comments on other blogs

There are two reasons to leave a comment on another bloggers post: sharing your thoughts about the subject they have discussed, and increasing your own traffic. I usually only leave comments on blogs that I follow – using the comment section purely for traffic boosting purposes is not wrong in any way, but isn’t particularly genuine.

Rather than discuss how to leave a comment, I thought that it might be fun to create a list. There are several different types of commenters that I have seen within the blogosphere over the last two years. Which category do you fit into?

The Conversationalists: These are my favourite! They have thoroughly read the post, formed an opinion about it and wish to share what they think with you. They may want to know more, or share their own experiences of that topic. They are polite and respectful, even when they disagree with something, and offer support and advice when needed. Their comments often result in conversations and the development of relationships over a period of time.

The Minimalists: These usually consist of short, seemingly supportive but generic sentiments. Good post! Nice job! Good luck! Well done! I like and appreciate these, but can only really respond with a simple ‘thanks!’ in return.

The Cryptic: These usually consist of a random question or quote from a dead celebrity that bares no relevance to the content of the post. When asked to explain their meaning, it’s rare that the commenter will reply.

The Wrong-End-Of-The-Stick-ers: These skim, or only read a section of your post, they have taken it out of context and will then proceed to rant in outrage in the comment section. They will usually back down or change their tone when the context is explained, but I often get frustrated with these as I have to waste time almost justifying what I’ve written, which I hate to do.

The Traffic Builders: These are generally people who have seen that a post is doing well, they will write something short and generic such as ‘I really enjoyed this,’ and will then leave a link to their blog with a demand for you to go an read it, for the sole purpose of building their own traffic through yours. I often reply to these comments last, and usually just with a ‘thank you.’ If I don’t have a connection with that person, it is also rare that I will visit the link.

The Antagonists: These people can’t quite be classed as trolls, but are not far off. These are the people who are consistently argumentative with whatever is posted. There are two or three people that I have seen doing this on several blogs, including my own, and it always leaves me wondering why they follow them in the first place? Of course, everybody is entitled to an opinion, and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with everything that is written all the time, but surely if our content is not to their taste, why do they not just unfollow? My response to these sorts or comments is to be as polite as possible and not take it personally unless they turn nasty. Then I simply ignore or send to the trash.

The Trolls: These don’t require much explanation. Their comments are specifically designed to hurt and should be ignored and placed in the trash folder. This is really important to remember: don’t respond, ignore, send to the trash and blacklist their URL in your settings. If it persists, report them to WordPress. I had to do this with one individual, and they were wonderful.

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Want to know more?

Here are the Do’s and Don’ts of comments, either on your own or on other people’s blogs.

1. If you don’t want to deal with comments, turn off the comment option on your post.

2. Ask a question at the end of your post. Encourage others to share their thoughts with you.

3. Set your comments so that you have to moderate it before it is published. This way, you can check it first and have to option to send it to the trash folder if it is inappropriate.

4. When leaving a comment, don’t leave a link to your blog demanding that someone ‘checks out your post,’ unless is it relevant to the topic. Your blog can be found through your Gravatar and blog name if you have linked it correctly.

5. You don’t have to write an essay, but at least try to be a bit more expressive than ‘nice post.’ You’ll probably get a ‘thank you’ in return to a short comment, but it isn’t likely to build a connection.

6. Reply to comments as often as you possibly can. I love receiving replies, and I know others feel the same.

7. If you find that you are struggling for time, write one less post a week and take the time to reply to the comments instead. You don’t always have to do this, but it might mean that your following grows and your community becomes stronger.

And most importantly…

8. Don’t change your blog or it’s content based on the comments of others. If you’re happy with it, keep doing what you’re doing!

What about you? Have you got any advice for developing the comments that you receive on your blog?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to hop on over to my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

The Wonderful (and Sometimes Weird) World of Social Media Communication

Warning: bad language is used in this post.

Since the beginning of Suzie81 Speaks I have received almost 14,000 comments on this little blog and it’s associated social media links. I love them and encourage readers to share their thoughts at the end of most of my posts. When they do I read every single one, even if I don’t have time to reply to them at that point. These comments have formed the basis for not only the development of my blog, my levels of traffic and my introduction to lots of different bloggers in the WordPress world, but they have created friendships with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met, and these friendships are proving to be ones that I value very much. With the exception of a handful of people, I’ve been lucky to have found support in most.

I took some time today to revisit all areas of my social media accounts in search of comments that I have received over the last eighteen months.

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I get quite a range of comments and messages from an awesome group of followers – thankfully most of the comments are friendly (or at the very least, respectful) that make me feel good, make me laugh and that make me feel positive about my writing. They also show me a little bit of their personality and their world in their comments.

The sarcasm in this post has convinced me that sarcasm font does in fact exist.

Too many people seem to equate “enjoying life” with being irresponsible. There’s no reason that has to be the case.

I’m just picturing a barking seal with a rucksack on a train now, lol.

When you’re feeling down and out, and when you’re feeling blue.
Remember that the mighty Oak, was once a just a nut like you.

(In response to the question ‘what would you tell your younger self if you could?’) The pull out method doesn’t work! 

 If you keep up this positive outlook and embrace each day, your life will be fulfilling and satisfying. On my 50th b-day I wanted to do something different to celebrate the milestone. So, I decided to have 50 new experiences over the year…new paces, things, foods, people, skills…whatever. I got pretty close to that goal at year’s end. The point being, life is an adventure full of possibilities. Enjoy the journey!

(In response to an article about beauty) Frankly, I think we, as a society, need to start minding our own business. It is absolutely NOT okay for someone to come up to me and tell me I need to exercise or for someone to tell your skinny friend to eat a cheeseburger. Anyone making inane statements like that without knowing a person’s struggles is ignorant. Let’s judge each other on character and not appearance, mkay, people?

(In response to a post about apologising too much) Yeah, this is me to a tee. I apologise a lot in general. It’s just a reflex action. “Hi, how are you?” “I’m sorry.” “O… kay.” It is a bad habit, I know. On the plus side, I’m invariably lying.

If you were stuck on a CD, what desert island would you take with you? 

(In response to a post about a job I had in the fast food industry) If you put plastic striped straws into the french fry grease, they twist into amazing shapes. We decorated a whole Christmas tree with them. Every last other thing you said is true. But it isn’t everything… (There may have been spit-rounds where the whole staff could participate if an unpopular customer came in. Or someone who was dating your ex. Or it was a slow night…) I lasted until the manager told us we’d have to sing the restaurant jingle whenever he rang a bell. For some reason, that was the last straw. (See how I did that? Came full-circle back around to straws? Can this woman write or what?) Good times.

It took me years to realize that I did not have to live up to other’s expectations or give them everything they want. Understanding this at a young age can prevent a lot of heartache and disappointment. 

I don’t think people understand the true damage a few “simple” words can say. That old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, is a load of rubbish. Words do hurt. No matter how much we deny it, one wrong comment can ruin your whole day no matter how much of a happy, positive person you are. WORDS HURT!

I love these people. They’re kind-hearted, supportive and they make my day.

 

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I get quite a few spam comments, and comments that seem to make no sense:

Love you for writing this post Suzie. All true. Its sounds so skeptical at first but seriously the bullets can murder the people who actually do all this self absorbed stuff. I am definitely inspired and I shall use my Facebook and Instagram accordingly now.

income coming from my blog yet. far from it – but i am on the way, and i’ve been taking enough time to study and pay attention to those who have become successful bloggers in a very real sense to have some insights which i want to pass

I’m not Mexican. Erm… Thanks for clarifying that – although I hadn’t actually asked or made any presumptions about your nationality.

Harassment everywhere.

(Inbox message on Twitter) Bagels? Lots of Bagels? 

(Inbox message on Twitter) A foot by any other name would taste as sweet. What?!! Eww – my feet would make even the biggest foot fetishist run screaming in terror.

 

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Unfortunately, I have also received a few from people that had clearly misunderstood (or don’t see the point in) what I had written and have sometimes become enraged by it:

(In response to a post about being a professional writer and a hobbyist) Too bad that so many people seek to define others by their current jobs. That was the point of the article – to discuss it!

(In response to a post I created about the metaphorical lies that exist within the teaching profession) Wow. I’m not certain why you would tell them any of these lies. You probably aren’t a bad person, but, only knowing that you tell such lies doesn’t leave the best impression. I don’t actually tell anyone these lies!

(In response to a post I wrote whilst travelling on a train) Why are you writing about trains? Because I was sitting in one!

(In response to a photograph I posted for the Weekly Photo Challenge that was about snow) Why are you showing me snow? I don’t want to see snow. It’s hot I want to see the sun. That’s what the subject of the prompt was about!

I sometimes imagine that if I were talking to these people in real life I would have this expression:

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And even though it’s rare, I’ve have received a few where the commenter is rude and sometimes just downright nasty.

(In response to an article about why Justin Bieber is a poor role model) Adults should have compassion and more to do with lives than jump on the bully bandwagon.

(Again, Justin Bieber) Lol, you’re such a stupid bitch… 

(And again, Justin Bieber) You’re so full of shit. He is my king.

(Professional or hobbyist again) Bit of a snob aren’t we?

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And the most epic, angry comment of all?

(In response to a list I created about things I feel I am allowed to do) Hitler would have benefited greatly from this list, given all the grief he’s probably gotten. Just kidding, sorry you wrote this list, it is terrible. It’s literally not even relevant… It’s some thoughtless, aimless nonsense about your dumb feelings you wrote on a blog…

Hitler would have benefited? Really?

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When reading things like this I am always torn between sending an equally nasty response, which would undoubtedly lead to an escalation of the situation, or just ignoring it and moving on. I usually end up doing the latter, which sometimes secretly leaves me with a sense of frustration as I feel that they have been able to get away with being rude to me without reason or provocation. I adopt an inner fake smile and pretend that my feelings aren’t hurt when really I’m resisting the urge to hunt them down.

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It’s always important to remember that some people are just arseholes. I have been trying to adopt my inner Jack Nicholson both in the real and online world recently, and so far it’s serving me well.

However, when I was going through previous posts to find comments to include, I realised just how many of them I hadn’t replied to. It hasn’t been intentional and I’ll endeavour to change this – I think that it is important to reply to as many people as possible and thank them for taking the time to visit, even if it is a few weeks after their initial message.

 

What about you guys? Have you received comments that have made you laugh, cry or scratch your head in confusion?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

 

Too Young to Blog?

This evening I posted something on the Community Pool – one of my more recent posts entitled ‘Karma’s a B*tch, Right?‘ I love the opportunity to meet new people and I was really pleased that I had the time to read through the other links that appeared.

One of the first comments I received was from a girl who chastised me for swearing. It was obvious that she was very young, I’d guess about 11 or 12 years old, and in an effort to be polite and humour her I explained why I had used the offensive word in that particular context and the connotation that it had. Continue reading

On Being a Snob

The last few days have been rather busy. I ‘hit the ground running’ at work – I was ill the week before half term and so I have been attempting to catch up on a monumental amount of individual tasks that need completing by the end of the week.

I’ve also tried to read through all the comments I have received on my blog recently. I normally do my best to reply to every single one, but the sheer volume of them has made it virtually impossible.

It has proven to be an interesting read. Some have agreed, others haven’t. One was so furious that he decided to write his own post in response, which I actually enjoyed and gave me an opportunity to discuss the topic with him in a more detailed manner. In general, most of the feedback that I gained has been useful, respectful and I have appreciated the points that everyone had to offer.

There was one, however, that immediately irritated me. Instead of offering her opinion about the subject, which she is perfectly entitled to do, she began her comment by saying: Continue reading