I see blogs that go on for years with hardly any comments, likes, etcetera. I don’t get it. How is someone motivated to keep churning out posts with scant evidence of readers? I do consider that perhaps the blogger has an extensive email list of interested readers and if not extensive, just an email list. That is, they have readers but it’s just not obvious to a casual observer. Yes, you could argue that I am a reader if I’m there looking at their blog but in most cases I’m merely passing by.
Bloggers talk a lot about how to build their blogs, how to attract and keep readers. They share good advice and thoughts. Some people want hundreds and thousands of readers. Others will say they enjoy having a small but devoted following; that the interaction with readers is the important thing, and I concur. Having been blogging for just over a year, I’ve had time to give this thought.
Self-promotion has never been my strong suit. I was raised in another time and it was backward even for that time [insert unhappy face]. Good girls kept their yaps shut. They didn’t brag or show off or draw attention to themselves unless they were on a stage. At home, when one of us received attention, praise or accolades from outside the family, my mother would snidely remark, “How do you rate?” While it was an odd phrase and clearly more statement than question, its uncharitable message was clear.
Still, I DID in fact go on to draw attention to myself, primarily of the scholarly achievement type, but also for creative endeavors and although fewer, athletic ones. I wanted the goodies that were out there to be had: high grades, ribbons, cash prizes, and getting one’s name in the local paper. Those kinds of perks told me I had something to offer that could be desired and rewarded. (Side note: while still young, I would proudly return home with evidence of my success, only to mostly be treated to either family indifference or commentary intended to cut me down to size. I wised up. It’s kind of like that old saying about the travelers and the broken wagon, which I’ll paraphrase: Them that’s goin’ on ahead with us, get out and push. Them that ain’t, get out the way. Which is to say, if someone was going to be a hindrance to my forward progress, I’d rather they just got out of my way.)
By the time I decided to start this blog, I’d come quite a distance in my willingness and ability to self-promote. (If I can stretch the wagon metaphor a leeeeetle bit further: Them that’s not willing or able to self-promote in life, are going to get run over. Unless they’re brilliant and have a skill or talent people clamor for and need do nothing to promote it. Which sounds rare and unlikely.) The meek may inherit the earth but frankly, I’d like my share of the goodies, perks and prizes in the here and now, thanks ever so.
As something of a lone wolf, albeit an extroverted lone wolf – yes, I realize that sounds potentially contradictory but there you go – I didn’t have a wide “network” to draw upon for the blog. I personally told a good handful of people who I thought might be interested but was reluctant to use all of the channels I might have to self-promote. I know how I feel when another person jumps in somewhere they haven’t previously been very present solely to hawk their interests. I wouldn’t call it unethical so much as questionable; i.e., why should WE care what YOU want? What’s in it for us?
I’ve been in my community a long time and my name is known to a fair number of people. My writing has appeared in local papers and I’d been a regular commenter on a community Yahoo group, so I did, in the early months of the blog, post a couple links to humor or community-relevant posts. I picked up a few readers that way. I even spent a couple dollars to advertise the blog in the local paper but I think almost nothing came of that. I’d probably have to run the notice regularly for awhile to have it pick up steam and I really can’t see my way to spending money on a free blog.
Finally, I made hand notices to put on local bulletin boards. I stuck with it on the most popular board, managing to keep a notice up most of the year (every month the board is cleared so I need to make a new notice and trot it down there). I know I could do something fancier and more high-tech and I DO think about that, but just haven’t. I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. Anyway, here’s the notice I had on the board during May.
I have no way of knowing if my hand-written notice brings in readers, or reader as it were. I hope so. I know that I would be curious about such a notice but then I love bulletin boards and am curious about things like that. You never know what you’ll find on a bulletin board! For all I know, many people have noticed my ad – I always put it in the same spot. My community is such that should I keep it up long enough – years – I’ll be known as the person who “always has an ad for their blog” on the bulletin board. Mind you, that doesn’t mean anybody will consequently go read the blog.
Somehow, I always trusted the right people would find me. Whether they were other bloggers or people from my community. And by right, I mean those my words would have resonance with, who would want to hear what I’ve got to say, without a lot of coaxing. I still believe that.