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« Face Off Friday: Will Blogging Sell Your Books? | Main | Committing Murder: One Verb At A Time »

How to Win Followers and Influence People

Happy Crowd

Photo via Ben Stanfield

I love blogging. I love my followers. And I'm a total comment whore. Therefore, I feel very fortunate that I have you guys as part of my day. I never expected when I started this that I would discover so many great people and have such a great experience. I honestly was surprised when I hit my first ten followers. Like, really? Ten people want to read what I have to say? I would have never guessed that a few months later I would have eclipsed the 150 mark. So thanks!
I used to look at people who had over a hundred followers with amazement--like wow, how'd they do that? Well, now I realize it's no big mystery. So today I figured I would list some of the things you can do if you want to gain readership and comments. Some of these are obvious, but I wanted to cover all the bases:
1. If you want to be followed, follow.
--If you're just starting blogging, this is the best way to gain followers. Go find blogs you like and follow them. Many will return the favor.
--Once you start gaining momentum and those follower numbers increase, then the scale starts to tip and people begin following you first. So don't be a diva, go check their blog out and if you like it, follow them back.
2. Comment!
--I ♥ comments. The fact that someone took those few seconds to tell me what they thought makes me happy. So I try to provide the same for others. If all you do is lurk on blogs, you probably won't get many comments of your own (unless you're famous, already published, have already developed a base, or have some established platform.)
3. When people comment on your blog, try to respond to the comments.
--I try to do this most days--sometimes I run out of time. But in the comments section, I try to respond to each comment. That way it feels more like a conversation. And many people subscribe to comments via email or check back on blogs later--make sure you let them know you heard them.
--Some people also respond to comments individually via email instead of in the comments section. That is also effective, especially if you start getting loads of comments.
--Of course, we wouldn't have to do it in these tedious ways if BLOGGER WOULD GET FREAKING THREADED COMMENTS! Okay, I feel better. Maybe I'll start a petition.
4. Make sure that when people click on your name from a comment you leave that it leads to either your blogger profile or directly to your blog.
--I try to comment on every blog that left me a comment each day, so if I don't have that link in the comment email, I'm probably not going to hunt it down.
5. Ensure your google friend/follower button also links to your profile or website.
--Lately, I have been getting new followers, who, when I click on their little picture it just shows me who they follow, but doesn't list their website. So for those of you out there, if I'm not following you back, that may be why--I don't know how to find your website.
--To check this, go click on your follower picture on someone else's site. If it's not showing, change your settings.
6. Having multiple blogs can make it confusing.
--When I click on someone's profile and they have four blogs, I'm not sure which one is most related to writing or whatever our common ground is. I'm probably not going to check each one. And this will divide up your followers.
--So, if you have multiple blogs, I would suggest making the title clear enough that people can figure out the subject of the blog.
--Also, you can hide certain blogs from your profile if you want to funnel people to one instead of the other. For instance, I have a blog for my son, but it's for my family, so I don't list it in my profile.
7. Keep a regular blogging schedule.
--If you only post once a month, people will probably not remember to come back.
--It's okay not to post every day, just make sure you follow some pattern that people can expect. For instance, I blog M-F, occasionally I'll throw something in on the weekends, but that's rare. So you guys know that every day of the workweek, I'll have something new on here. (If not, someone send out a search party, I've been kidnapped.)
8. Write blogs that people care about.
--Remember, this is only if you want to gain followers/comments/etc. If the blog is just your outlet and you don't care if people are reading or not, then it's fine to do whatever you want.
--However, if you do want people reading, don't just have nonsense posts all the time. Figure out what commodity you are offering the reader--why would they want to come back?
--I've chosen a teaching/information sharing model. So if you come here (most days) I hope you are able to take away a little nugget of helpful information. For other blogs the takeaway may be humor or shared experiences or an ongoing story or book recommendations or contests.
9. Beware big blocks of text and posting large writing samples.
--I have to watch for this because my posts are long. So I try to break things into bullet points or lists or isolate different sections in a different color.
--Also, this is just my opinion, but huge passages of your fiction writing can also scare people away. Not because of the writing, but when someone follows 100 blogs and they hit a big story excerpt that
a)they have to read without knowing context and
b) have to comment on--which is precarious because it's like critting someone's work, they may just click by.
(However, if this is the purpose of your blog and what people expect, like public query slushpile, than that's okay. Your followers have signed up for that.)
10. Ask a question at the end of each post.
Involve your readers, make it easy for them to comment. A question gives them something to ponder and share.
11. Practice good karma
Link to other bloggers when you find something helpful on their blog. Honor others with those pat on the back awards.
12. Be sincere.
If you're only mission is to get as many comments as you can, so you go and comment "great post" on everyone's blog without reading them, people will realize what you're doing.
13. Technical stuff
Get rid of that little word verification box that people have to fill out to make a comment.
--Man I hate those. I can't tell you how many times I type of my comment, hit publish, then close the window, only to realize that a verification box had popped up and I just lost my comment.
--This is the standard setting on blogger, so if you want to change it, you need to do it in your settings under "comments", choose no for word verification.
I changed mine ages ago and have had no problems with spam.
Remove the comment approval/moderation feature unless you have a specific issue with ugly commenters.
--This makes it confusing sometimes because it looks like your commetn didn't post. Plus it often prevents commenters from seeing the previous comments so they can't respond to those.
Embed your comment form instead of having it have a pop up window, this makes commenting quicker.
--Go to Settings-->comments-->select the embed comment form feature
Alright, those are my tips. What are yours? Or what are your pet peeves that turn you away from a blog or commenting? What makes you return to a blog time and time again?
**Today's Theme Song**
"I Will Follow Him"-- Sister Act Soundtrack

(player in sidebar, take a listen)


Reader Comments (42)

Great post. I'm with you on number five--please make it easy for me to follow you back. :]

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTara McClendon

I wish I had read this two years ago, LOL! I liked blogging in the void for a year and a half with no followers. It showed I had passion, hee hee.

much love

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstaceyjwarner

I love succinct information on how to write and blog more effectively. I’ve been away for a while and can’t believe how much I’ve missed out on. What a lot of great posts you’ve done in the past 5 weeks!

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjbchicoine

I read your blog

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

One and two!

If you don't follow others and coment on their blogs, how are people going to find out about you?

I've met some really lovely people on blogger, peeps like yourself, Tina Lynn, Katharine, etc... but if I hadn't started looking around and following other blogs, etc, I'd never have met any of you :-)

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGemma Noon

Very good tips! Number 6 and 13 drive me insane.

I'm bad for the "great post =]" thing, especially during the week. I do it so people know I read it and enjoyed it, but I don't have time to write more. However, I've been trying really hard recently to not do that, so hopefully I can break the dumb habit (it bugs me too, each and every time I do it, LOL)!

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie Murphy

I will totally sign a petition for threaded comments on blogger...some sort of automatic follow when I post a comment would be GREAT.

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey Himmler

Thanks, Roni. I just started blogging, I don't know, six weeks ago. And I have a goal of one post a week right now.

And I'm learning all the time from people like you. Thanks for demystifying the followers thing.

For a couple years I stayed in a my writer's cave, surfacing only to do agent research and have only recently started branching out. And, I am continually amazed at the amazing things people say on their blogs. I have a wordpress blog. I chose wordpress not b/c I had a preference but really because I didn't have a preference and someone suggested it. So, now I see that the majority of the blogs are from blogger. Anyway thanks for all the information. It's helpful as I navigate my way in the blog-world. I'm always appreciative of people stopping by.

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Could not agree more Roni. In particular:

-Getting rid of the word verfication is extremely wise indeed. And I got rid of mine after you got me telt about it. Never looked back. Note that your blog is one of the most pleasant to comment on because it doesn't have that extra annoying step.

- Get yer blog and website listed in your profile!! Guess what: people click on you. they do. Lead them to you! I have to say I click on profiles REGULARLY when I see a comment I like or want to know more about people.

This is very much a well said post. Wish I'd written it. I think you can guess where this one will end up!

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSierra Godfrey

Thank you for these wonderful tips, Roni. I'm with you on the clicking on a follower's picture only to have trouble finding their blog link. It's frustrating! I agree with the good karma advice - I started writing in October with 2 followers, started following other people's blogs and commenting, and got to spread the word around about my own blog. That's the thing about Blogger - people don't know your site exists until you advertise it. Your posts are always an incredible help :)

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Dao

"Remove the comment approval/moderation feature unless you have a specific issue with ugly commenters. "

The only reason why I have the approval thing on is cause I wouldn't know when I had comments otherwise. I can never remember the number of comments on the 'edit post' page. XD But have some very good points in this post. (:

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGavin

Great post for newbie bloggers!!!! And even some of us that have been doing it for a little while could learn something too! I removed the word verification from my you can comment without the hassle!! LOL!!! (I never knew I could remove it!)

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

As always, a great piece of advice! =) I'll take the one about the verification word into account, it also bothers me, and I didn't know you could change that.
In regards to posting regularly, I'm afraind that it why I don't have so many readers. I go to school and to my JDance Teacher Training, so I don't have much time left... And next week I have all my finals, so I'll find it even more difficult to post. Also, I do other things apart from blogging: I go out, I knit, I have chores, etc. Nevertheless, I've discovered blogging is relaxing and is very good for me when I get home from school and am so tired from the bus and all the wight my rucksack puts on my back, but I also have discovered that it is the best procrastination element I have (for example, it's been 17 minutes since I should have started studying)...
But anyway, I promise to post more frequently... Perhaps these holidays i find the time to do it!

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMakita Jazzqueen

Excellent advice! I can always count on learning something new when I visit your blog. I never knew you could get rid of the word verification. I hate those things soooo much.

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermelane

Great post! hehehe! Lovely things to consider.

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenheadjen

Great advice, Roni. :)

Absolutely agree with the letter verification thing - even though Blogger at least has semi-readable letters. There are other sites where I have to stare sideways with my nose up to the screen to discern whether I'm looking at one mutated letter or two.

Comment moderation - I had that on for a while for the same reason as somebody above. I didn't always know when somebody had commented otherwise. I did switch it back later because I realized people also comment on comments and not just the main blog post. Er. Because I sometimes do.

Blog turnoffs... infrequent posting. If I click on your blog and see a gorgeous blog but notice the last post was a month ago, then I probably am not going to follow because I think "dead blog". That said, I know there are probably a lot of people like me who are currently spending a lot of time writing nano cutting back on a lot of the regular stuff they do the rest of the year.

Rants - especially personal, political, and religious ones. I've seen it so much in the various writing communities I participate in that I just don't want to deal with it anymore. Cool headed commentary is ok. But shrill harping is like claws on blackboard. :[

Heh. Same rules on Twitter.

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine Kariaxi

This is an excellent list of what to do right when blogging. I try to do my best, but I fail occasionally because of time. I hope that none of my followers or readers feel slighted because I appreciate each and every one of them.

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

this is great. and for this very reason, blogging has become insanity for me. read my latest post for more info. but i agree with everything you've said. this is a sure-fire way to up the followers. cute title, too. :)

jeannie" rel="nofollow">Where Romance Meets Therapy

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeannie Campbell, LMFT

Thanks Roni. I agree with all your points. I usually follow who ever follows me and I have been known to track people down in the comments section of either my blog or another blog.

I admit I HATE the word verification thingy. It takes extra time to fill in the correct word and some of those words are so sooooo darn long!

I like the idea of take away value on a blog. I guess mine would be... inspiration? I like to think that my words might inspire someone out there. :))

I love coming here because you always have good advise. I know the take away value of your blog and you are very consistent with it. Probably why you have so many followers :)

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTabitha Bird

Apologies, I've been lurking for a few weeks and have been unable to comment. The reason why is actually part of your post, and the reason I felt I should get my laptop out after getting kiddos to bed.

First, I've enjoyed your blog. I still have some backlog to read through, but I find it enjoyable.

Second, and I hate to do this with my first comment to you, but it's a necessary evil. Here's why. The reason I've been unable to comment before now is because I'm usually reading blogs over my lunch hour at work. The problem is that I can't access the inline comment frame while behind the firewall at work. I had this problem with my own blog -- I couldn't comment back to the comments left by people -- so I switched it to the pop up version. This is so people could still see the original post and have access to make a comment.

Lastly, I whole heartedly agree with the word verification thing. I keep that turned off. I've had several blogs over the last four years and have only had two spam posts in that time. The first was three years ago, the second was just this morning. I think that ratio is worth it. Plus, you can just delete the spam comment.

All in all, good advice. Thanks! Oh, and if you click my name below, you'll see that I've illustrated one of your points above. I've been doing this for a while; just easier that way than saying "come visit" you know?" rel="nofollow">-Joshua

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I always get great tips and a warm fuzzy when I stop by your blog. :) Thanks for the advice!

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawn Simon

Great tips and a wonderful post!

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterquixotic

This is the reason I love your blog!

I really need to work on responding to my comments. I'm so busy visiting everyone else. I do make sure to visit all the people who comments and my followers.

I almost have everyone's schedule memorized, but it does help that people post consistantly.

Thanks I gleaned alot.

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTamika:

Thanks, that was pretty comprehensive. Sometimes I don't have the time to respond to comments, and sometimes I do, and sometimes I have time to blog, and sometimes I don't, and sometimes I've been kidnapped (by life)...but I always try to stop by because you do a really good job over here. Thx!

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna C. Morrison

Wow, these are some great comments. I'm not following my own advice tonight. I've been completely buried in something today (more on that soon) so I can't respond individually tonight and I haven't visited any blogs today. I hope to be back to normal by tomorrow! Thanks for all the thought out comments.

November 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoni @ FictionGroupie

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