Someone on the QuiltArt list recently asked about how to generate traffic to a blog. I posted a response, and I thought I'd post it here because I'm interested what other people think. Am I naive to think about blogging as part of conversation? Or is that just me, liking blogs because I *feel* like I'm participating in a conversation when really what I'm mainly doing is reading someone else's half of the conversation? I'd be interested to know what you think.
So here's my comment to the list:
In my view, blogging is all about networking.
I’ve been blogging for over seven years, and I run the Artful Quilters Blog ring, a ring that connects blogs about art and contemporary quilting. Over that time and through my observation of a lot of blogs, I have a couple of thoughts about the world of blogging and how artists use them. The main thing, to me, is that the appeal of most blogs is that they set up a sense of a relationship between the blogger and the reader. That’s why a lot of people prefer reading blogs to trolling through visual websites – it’s far more personally, usually, and there’s a sense of communication with the blogger that’s akin to reading a letter from a friend. And it’s that relationship aspect, however “virtual” or distant, that in my mind is at the heart of being really successful with a blog. You have to think of it as a two-way communication, and your part of the communication isn’t just posting entries on a blog. It’s about responding to comments that are made. It’s about having some interest about who is reading your blog – not just in terms of statistics, but about who the individuals are. It’s about taking the time to notice who comments and go look at their blogs and leave a comment there. In my view, for all that blog readers want to read and experience your creative world vicariously, they want to see themselves in a conversation with you, even if you as the blogger are doing the bulk of the talking. I’m not saying that a blogger has to strike up a personal, direct friendship with every reader. But I think readers can spot quickly someone who is blogging as a marketing tool (however nicely done) and someone who is blogging to share and participate in conversations about the corner of the art world she occupies. I suspect (this is pure hypothesis) that if for every blog entry you posted, you took the time to either reply to a comment from a previous commenter, or go leave a comment on someone else’s blog, you’d slowly build the reputation as a blogger who isn’t just advertising and marketing in a pretty way, but who is interested in engaging in a conversation.
There’s a difference in tone that, to my mind, is instantly detectable, between a blogger who blogs only to talk about herself and market herself, and a blogger who blogs to generate conversation and some level of communication flow. I think it’s the latter type of blog that over the long run generates a bigger and more loyal following.
And here’s my other observation. A lot of blog readers are people who have blogs themselves. If they’re reading your blog, they’re also likely to be reading other blogs. So being part of the blogging community can enhance interest in your blog. Someone might see your comment on another blog and be intrigued enough to click on your name and find yours. People will list your blog as one they read – and one way a lot of people end up getting to new blogs is by following the links from a blogger they trust. Participation in a blog ring can help a lot too, because a reader who finds one blog on the ring can click and get to blogs on the same topic they hadn’t discovered. You can find out about the Artful Quilters blog ring here, by the way:
There’s a SAQA members’ ring. There’s a quilting teacher ring. All of those will add your blog to wider community and help people find you.
So my main advice for how to get more people to read your blog? Get out there and read other blogs. Comment on other blogs. And respond to those who comment on yours. Think of it as a networking process.