Why I Stopped Promoting My Blog (OK, Not Totally)

As I approach my one year blogiversary (or maybe I’ve passed it, who even knows), I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve swung in every different blogging direction over the past 12 months.

I’ve gone from, “It will be fun to blog again,” to “I AM DOING THIS MOMMY BLOGGER THING FOR REAL / WATCH OUT WORLD,” to “effe this nonsense,” to “Eh, I’m just going to do this blog thing for fun.”

Full circle, much?

I’ve learned a little about myself — about what I’m willing to do and what I’m not willing to do as a blogger (including that the term “PR-friendly” doesn’t apply to me) as well as where I need to focus my energy for my freelance career (Spoiler alert: It’s probably not on my blog). On one hand, I put a lot of energy and hours and a little money into attempting to promote and learn how to monetize this blog, but it’s a weight off my shoulders to admit this isn’t a world I want to compete in.

The best part is now that I’ve made my way back over to the “whatever” end of the blogging spectrum, my authentic writing voice seems to have returned and I’m actually kind of enjoying enjoying social media (gasp!) rather than feeling overwhelmed by it. To be more succinct: Acknowledging my blog is not going to be my business took the pressure off and has made me feel more creative.

That said, in the process of figuring this out, I read about ALL OF THE THINGS I should do to facilitate my meteoric rise to blogger fame. I tried many of these tactics, and a lot of them didn’t really seem to have the impact I was expecting.

Now this isn’t to say that my expectations weren’t the problem in these scenarios, but the return on time investment didn’t pay off for me. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other bloggers out there who have found these tactics to be super useful and valuable to their growth and goals. But, if you happen to be someone who has tried one or more of these only to see minimal, if any, results, I want you to know you’re not the only one.

Four Things I've Stopped Doing to Promote my Blog

No More Link-Ups

I loved the idea of link-ups. There are a few bloggers I like a lot who host link-ups, and I tried to get with the program on several occasions. And while I would see a trickle of referrals, it never amounted to much traffic or participation for me. Moreover, reading other blogs, commenting, pinning posts — whatever the deal was — was incredibly time-consuming. I always followed the link-up rules (because no one wants to be known as someone who link drops and runs, but I don’t actually know how anyone truly figures out who participates without a complicated manual calculation), but the ROI just wasn’t there for me. This isn’t to say link-ups aren’t a great tool for you to grow your blog, they just didn’t work for me. If I had all the time in the world, I’d probably participate in approximately 20, but I don’t, so I’ve crossed this one off the blog promotion list.

Embracing Tribe-less-ness

For real, there are bloggers who I like and follow. There are (a small number of) bloggers that I feel I’ve made a more personal connection with — though some of those are from my old time-y blogging days. There are bloggers whose stuff I promote via social media whether or not they reciprocate — I don’t care — and there are blogs I more regularly comment on. But the idea of a blogging tribe remains elusive for me. I suppose I should provide my definition of a tribe to you, so here it is: A group of maybe 5-10 bloggers who consistently promote, comment on, and participate in each other’s blogs.

Now maybe what I’ve described is a clique and not a tribe, but truly, that’s what I feel like I’m supposed to have. Again, maybe the problem here is my perception versus reality, but I tend to shut down when anything feels vaguely like high school, so this has not been an easy feat for me. Maybe I will change my mind about the importance of this eventually, but right now, I’m not putting any effort into finding my tribe.

No Guest Posting Original Content for Free

For a writer-slash-blogger, guest posting felt like the holy grail of blog success. So I did it a few times. For most, I guest-posted content that had been repurposed / reprinted from something that I had already published on Mommy Sanest. I’m generally OK with that approach, though the editing process can be a little bit time-intensive. But I did write a few free posts with original content in the process, which ultimately amounted to very little exposure for me. I’m not saying writing for free is always a bad thing — there are extremely high profile sites out there that can boost your writer cred and send your blog significant amounts of traffic (though, to be honest, I’d probably argue that these are exactly the sites that should be paying) — but I never saw much growth from any of my guest posting activities. Again, perhaps I haven’t done it enough or in the right places, but I struggle with the idea that this is how I should spend my time when I can be doing other things to further my writing goals that also happen to pay.

Ix-Nay on the Blogger Groups

It took me awhile to figure out that there are tons of Facebook groups dedicated to bloggers supporting other bloggers. You can share links, get more comments on your blog, ask for likes on your social posts, etc. So here’s the deal: These do work — though depending on the rules, some work better than others. If you’re a committed blogger with time on your hands or a virtual assistant, this is actually a pretty good way to increase your numbers. But (BUT!), being involved in these groups takes a lot of time. For some it may be time well spent, but it made me feel like my blogging duties were never ending. Visiting dozens of sites a day, stumbling posts, liking tweets, commenting — despite seeming super easy to do, takes a ton of time. So I stopped. And I’m pretty sure my blood pressure went down (medical fact). This isn’t to say I won’t participate in some blogger group activities (I participate in one very active group that from time to time will do a follow thread for different social media platforms, and I will do those if I happen to catch them), but I’m picky and have generally stopped promoting individual blog posts this way.

I haven’t totally stopped promoting my blog — despite my leaning-toward-click-bait title and graphic — but after 12 months of this mess, I’ve figured out where my time is well spent. And my time is well spent on Pinterest, other social platforms to some degree, and search, but really Pinterest. I invest time and a small amount of money into my graphics and pinning strategy, yes, but that’s way easier to handle when I’ve taken several other items off the list.

What about you? Do these promotional activities work for you? Are there other promotional activities you’ve stopped doing for your blog? Is it me, and not you? Or is it you, and not me?

Get More Blog Traffic with These 3 Tips

Sometimes I feel like those of us in the blogging world must rely on the kindness of strangers to be successful and get more blog traffic. You know what I mean? You have to find your tribe, engage with other blogs, encourage people to share your stuff, cross your fingers that you’ll go viral…

And so on.

Get more traffic on your blog. Learn how to optimize your posts for search.

And I’m not saying these things aren’t worthwhile or won’t help you get more blog traffic. Networking is important in any industry, and the personal connections you make with people you would otherwise never meet is one of the things that makes blogging a worthwhile and fun endeavor. But last month, I started to think about how I could have more control over my blogging destiny. What could I do to get more blog traffic that didn’t have anything to do with how I was engaging with other blogs and bloggers?

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get More Blog Traffic

1. Write more content.

This was such a “duh” moment in my blogging life. If I want to get more blog traffic, it stands to reason that having more content would help accomplish that. I realized this in November when I participated in Blogher’s NoBloPoMo challenge. NoBloPoMo challenges bloggers to post every day during the month of November (traditionally it’s November, but Blogher actually does a NoBloPoMo challenge every month). My blog’s pageviews doubled in November in part because I was cross-posting on Blogher, but also because I simply had more content to promote, for the search engines to index, and for people to discover, share, and link to.

Duh, right?

But writing more also means that I have an archive of content, much of which is evergreen — more than two-thirds of my content is relevant year-round vs. content that is seasonal or tied to a specific event. I want as much content as possible to be read every single day. Typically 30+ articles a day get accessed on Mommy Sanest — I know that probably doesn’t sound like much, but that’s one-third of my archive. Some are only getting a handful of hits, but a couple of those articles, even the older ones, drive 50-100 pageviews every day.

So if you want to get more traffic, try posting more. You have to balance writing more with writing good content — you shouldn’t compromise quality for quantity — but if you can manage it, try writing one additional post a week or every other week. Or, if you can, work with a guest writer or contributor to share the load.

2. SEO the sh*t out of every single post.

Last month, I decided that I was going to go through Mommy Sanest and search engine optimize every single post in an effort to get more blog traffic from organic search. Holy hell, this is an undertaking, and I’ve only been blogging for eight months. You’re reading post number 89, and I’m about halfway through my archive. But it’s been worth it. My organic search traffic doubled last month.

So, where do you start with search engine optimization? There’s a lot that goes into search, but to improve your rankings, here are some basics:

If you have WordPress and you’re not already using the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, go install it right this minute. I’ll wait.

Once you’ve done that, learn a little bit about keywords. Keywords are queries that people are typing into search engines to find stuff — if you can figure out what words people are using to find the kind of content you’re writing, then you’ll have a better chance of showing up higher in search rankings.

You’re going to want to get a Google Adwords account and learn how to use the Keyword Planner Tool. Go to Tools –> Keyword Planner –> Search for New Keyword and Ad Group Ideas, and type in the topic of your post. Click “Get Ideas.” Switch to the tab on the right that says, “Keyword Ideas.”

Adwords: Get more blog traffic

Here’s the thing though: As a smaller site, optimizing a post for a common search term isn’t going to help you get more blog traffic. For example, if I were to write a post using the word “toddler” as my keyword — even if I did all the “right” SEO stuff, I’d be pretty disappointed with the results — everyone, including approximately 1 million sites that out rank me, has written about toddlers. So what’s a small blogger to do? Long tail keywords. So for me, I’m better off writing about a more specific topic with a long tail keyword… such as…

Keywords: Get more blog traffic

You can also scroll down in Google Adwords to get ideas of what other search terms are being used. I tend to go with terms that get a few hundred searches a month and have low competition. You can ignore the other columns.

Keywords: Get more blog traffic

Once you’ve figured out your keyword, go back WordPress and draft your post. The SEO plugin should appear below your post. Here’s what mine looked like for this post before I added a meta description:

Yoast1

Type in your “Focus Keyword” (for this post, it’s “get more blog traffic”) then click on the Page Analysis tab.

Yoast: Get more blog traffic

The SEO plugin tells you exactly what you need to do to better optimize your post. See all of those red and yellow dots? The goal is to turn them green. Do I ever get them all green? No. But I try. The key is to use the exact keyword phrase throughout your post. The SEO plugin likes to see a keyword density of 1 percent, but I’m typically lower than that. Again, you have to balance good writing with optimization. At the end of the end of the day, you want a human to be able to read your post, not just a search engine.

Keep in mind, this is a very 101 version of search optimization, but it will get you started. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, follow Moz Blog. And if you’re looking to make money as a writer online (separate of your blog), understanding SEO is a legit skill, and it’s kind-of interesting.

3. Link to related content manually within your posts.

When you want to get more blog traffic, you not only want more users and sessions, you want users to stick around, view multiple pages, and read lots of content. This is why, as I go through my content archive auditing my pieces for SEO, I’m also adding links to other related-Mommy Sanest content within posts. I do this wherever it makes sense, but again, it’s not something that needs to be forced. Try going through your archives to see where you can point people to other content that might interest them. For example: Do you have a series on your blog? You know something like my Work | Life | Mom profiles? Add links to every post to each article in the series. It can’t hurt.

Doing this is different than installing a related content plugin — which don’t get me wrong, a related content plugin is valuable, but I find that the content isn’t quite as a related as I would prefer. I also find that related content plugins are becoming so ubiquitous that they are getting easier to ignore. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. I personally use LinkWithin, but Shareaholic offers a related post extension and so does Jetpack.

OK… that’s all I got for you today. Hope it was helpful!

Oh, one more thing… you know what else helps if you take on a content audit? A content calendar.

Just saying.

You Need a Content Calendar for Your Blog

It’s been awhile since I blogged about blogging, but I’ve been planning to post this month about how to create and use a content calendar for your blog. How did I know that I’ve been planning to write about content calendars? Because I put it on my content calendar for December.

Full circle. Blog post over.

How to Create and Use a Content Calendar for Your Blog

Not really. There’s actually more than 2,000 words left to read. Feel free to bail now.

Anyway, today I’m going to cover what a content calendar is, how you can create one, how mine is set up, and why all of this content calendar nonsense is important.

What is a Content Calendar?

If you come from a journalism or editorial background, you might be wondering what the difference between a content calendar and an editorial calendar is. The answer to that question is nothing–at least in my opinion. I use the terms interchangeably. Case in point: My content calendar file is actually named “Mommy Sanest Editorial Calendar,” so you do you.

What ever you call it, a content calendar is basically a tool that helps you plan the content that you intend to publish. As far as I’m concerned, beyond that very simple definition, the other details you include in a content calendar are up to you, and you can make it as basic or as complicated as you want.

You’ll notice I said “intend.” That’s because when you’re dealing with a small publication like a blog, it’s likely that you alone are creating the content, designing the graphics, formatting the articles, and hitting “publish.” You want to plan to the best of your ability, but you’ll probably need to move posts around a bit; you’ll furiously write something unforeseen and want to add it in; you might want to move an article to later in the month because sometimes life gets in the way of being a publishing mogul.

How to Create a Content Calendar

The concept of a content calendar was not foreign to me when I started my blog. I am a planner by nature and also do “content marketing stuff” for a living, but I struggled to find a format that worked for me. Every time I searched for content calendars, the examples I found seemed overwhelming and not at all intuitive.

At first, I tried using Google Calendar as my blog’s editorial calendar. I love the visual format, and I’m comfortable using Google Calendar, so it seemed like an easy answer. My plan was to add the name of the post to the date it would be published on. It would be simple and clean–except in practice, it didn’t feel like it was enough information. Moreover, even though I thought I would do best with a visual calendar layout, I found that it wasn’t how I wanted to see this information.

For the record, I see a lot of bloggers offering blog planners/content calendars that can be downloaded, printed, and used offline. Honestly, I’ve never once even looked into using something like this. I wanted my calendar to be online and accessible from anywhere. In addition, there is an editorial calendar plugin for WordPress — I did try it — but it also uses a visual calendar format and populates using your posts, so basically, to add something you had to have a draft started. I didn’t like that. Anyway, I bailed on the plugin pretty quickly, so maybe it’s awesome, and you should ignore everything I’ve said.

Moving on…

One morning, when I was in the process of getting this blog off the ground, I was laying in bed thinking about how to set up a content calendar (sadly, this is a true story), and it came to me–a content calendar spreadsheet built in a Google Spreadsheet with categories that made sense to me. Like the mother of the year that I am, I turned on some cartoons for Emme that morning and got to work.

I tend to get a little spreadsheet happy, so what I use might not work for you. You might do better planning offline or in an actual calendar format. You may find that one of those content spreadsheets I found confusing makes total sense to you. But without further ado, here is a sample of my content calendar from earlier this year:

Ridiculous, right? I haven’t even filled out all of the sections that I came up with. I was going to back fill it, but then I thought it would be more realistic to show you that I don’t have everything planned out all of the time (most of the time). But I do know exactly how I want to use each section, and as I make my way from frazzled blogging novice to slightly-less-frazzled blogging goddess, I will hopefully do a better job of it.

How I Setup My Content Calendar

I plan my content month by month. The month is the column on the far right. Each month I decide how many times I am going to try to post. With the exception of November, I shoot for two to three posts a week at this point. Then I look at a real calendar and decide what days I’m going to post–i.e., I will often post Mondays and Thursdays. I fill in those dates for the month and start brainstorming ideas.

Let’s go through the sections, shall we?

Date: The date that the post is scheduled to be posted.

Status: The status of the post. The options for this field include: Idea, Draft, Scheduled, and Posted.

Post Title: The title of the blog post or the working title.

Post Type: A description of the post type. I’m pretty loosey goosey with this section and have wondered if it’s redundant. But, it might be a good tool if you want to diversify your content. This can be an easy way to see if you’ve balanced the number of “how to” posts in any given month with the number of “personal essays” or whatever.

Author: I added this section in November when I started working with contributing writers.

Categories: The categories section corresponds to the categories I have set up in WordPress (most of which appear in the top navigation bar). I try to stick to three categories or less for each post. Categories represent the major topics I blog about.

Tags: This section gives me a chance to think about what tags I want to include in WordPress. Tags are different from categories–instead of representing major topics, they describe the post in more detail. For example, if a post falls under the category of Recipe, a post about pasta will be tagged with “easy weeknight dinner recipe” and “pasta recipe.”

Keywords: I use the SEO Yoast Plugin as well as the Google Adwords keyword planning tools to try to figure out how to best optimize my post based on searches. This section is where I write the keyword (or words) that I plan to optimize in my post.

Graphics: I describe the graphic(s) I am using/creating for the post in this section.

Promotion: This section includes the social media platforms where I will be promoting the post.

  • Twitter: Two or three sample tweets to go along with the post. This way I can easily copy and paste them into Hootsuite.
  • Instagram: Most of my posts say N/A right now, but I have experimented with adding a photo with an #ontheblog hashtag in Instagram. I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep promoting my posts there or not.
  • Google+: What I plan to post on Google+ to promote my post.
  • Pinterest: The “alternative text” or “alt text” I plan to write for my pin-able image. I usually create one image for each post that is optimized for Pinterest. Pinterest typically (but not always!) grabs the alt text when someone pins your image, so you want to make sure that you write a good description of your post.
  • Facebook: What I plan to post on Facebook to promote my post. Typically this is very similar to the Google+ post.

If there’s one thing I think my content calendar lacks, it’s a spot to identify holidays in advance, but since I sit down and plan with a regular calendar, I kind of just know when stuff is coming up. The other thing I probably need to add is a section that has the actual URL of each completed post. I’ll do that right now. (See? The Google Spreadsheet format is flexible to your needs.)

Again, whatever you choose to do or not do with your blog’s calendar is your call. But I do think it’s worthwhile to check a few different calendars out and think through what makes sense to you and for your blog.

We’ve covered the how; onto the why.

Why You Should Use a Content Calendar

Back in ye ole blogging days, I would have never set up an editorial or content calendar. It never even occurred to me. I was just blogging by the seat of my pants when the mood struck me. And sometimes the mood struck me like 20 times a month and other times the mood struck me like never.

I feel like I should add a caveat here: There is nothing wrong with choosing to not care about this stuff. If you prefer the free form style of blogging what you feel like blogging when you feel like blogging, then that is awesome and you should do that. But if your goals are a bit more lofty, there are good reasons to be more planful.

Here are five of those reasons:

1. A content calendar will help you treat your blog like a business. If you care about people finding and reading your stuff because of love or money or pride or fame or whatever, then you need to accept that running a blog is like running a very small, poorly funded, barely staffed magazine. In other words, if you want blogging to be your business or even just part of your business, you need to treat it like a business and you need to plan your content. That doesn’t mean it will be successful; it just means it will have a better chance of being successful.

2. A content calendar can help smooth the bumps of writer’s block. Remember when I said that sometimes with my old blog, I would write all of the time and sometimes I wouldn’t post for months? It was like two paragraphs ago. A content calendar can help you plan for the times when you feel a bit less creative and inspired. I keep a running list of ideas and half-written posts, and I draw on that to help fill my content calendar. So let’s say I wanted to write about New Year’s resolutions, but wasn’t feeling it… I look at my content calendar, and see that I’ve already started a draft of a post about creating a content calendar for your blog. I move a few things around and ta da! The blog is saved, and a post will go up as planned–just not the post that was originally planned. The content calendar also eases my mind when it comes to posting frequency. It can feel overwhelming to come up with a whole new month of posts, but if you’ve decided to post twice a week, you can look at your calendar and see that you really only need eight pieces of content. Eight sounds doable, right?

3. A content calendar will help manage your audience’s expectations. If you’re using a content calendar, you can easily get yourself on a posting schedule. This manages your audience’s expectations about how often you’re going to post and also builds trust as they see they can count on a certain number of fun new things to read or watch each week.

4. A content calendar will give you an archive that you can use to promote your older posts. Do you promote stuff you wrote a month ago? Or a year ago? You should. And an easy way to keep track of that content is in a content calendar. And, if you’re including social media in your calendar, you can easily copy and paste your tweets and posts for reuse.

5. Because it’s all about the content, it’s also all about the content calendar. How many times have you heard that blogging is all about the content? And moreover, how many times do we need to be told that our content needs to be optimized? If you’re providing good content, you want people to see it. Planning in advance with a content calendar will (hopefully/eventually) get you off the panic cycle of “OMG I HAVE TO WRITE A BLOG POST.” It will help you get a handle on your content mix and plan for new topics, series, and/or guest writers, and it will give you time to think about SEO and do keyword research, which will help boost organic traffic.

I’m sure there are more reasons to have a content calendar, but my word count is pushing 2,300, so I’m going to let all of this sink in. Have I convinced you that you need a content calendar? Do you already use one? Is it way better way, and can you give me your secrets, please?


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What is a Blogging Tribe? (Plus, How to Find Your Tribe)

Back in the day, when I had my old blog, I made a few blog friends — other bloggers who regularly read and commented on my site. I loved getting to know these women via the Internet, and I continue to follow the ones who are still around. I didn’t call them anything other than “blog friends,” though one of them used the term “blends,” which not surprisingly, didn’t catch on.

How to find your tribe. Tips for new bloggers on how to find a blogging tribe. Get to know other bloggers, promote your work, and share the love.

When I started Mommy Sanest, I researched — and I continue to research — how to be successful in this very crowded mommy blog space. And over and over, I keep seeing that to be successful, you must find your tribe.

Back in the aughts, this wasn’t a thing you set out to do (or at least, I didn’t). You stumbled across a blog, you read it, you liked it, you commented, they checked you out, they liked you, they commented, and ta da! Best Blogging Buddies Forever.

Now, according to every blogging resource everywhere, if you are a new blogger, you must find your tribe… like right this second. And, it makes sense that you can be more successful and feel more confident in your work if you have blog friends who dig your content, comment on a regular basis, and promote your stuff on social media.

I don’t know about you, but this near-hysterical directive to “GO FIND SOME BLOG FRIENDS, LOSER” is daunting. As a new blogger, how do you even start to “find your tribe”?

Well, I don’t have one, so grain of salt and all that, but I’m a little wary of this whole blogging tribe thing. But maybe that’s just because the word “tribe” makes it seem like there’s a group of people out there just waiting to lift me up and make my blog successful. I just have to find them… and make them like me. Easy, right?

The only problem with that plan is that I really believe that relationships with other bloggers need to happen authentically, so when I wander around the Internet attempting to find a tribe, it all feels forced and desperate and kind of like a horrible, virtual high school situation, and please.make.it.stop. For me, it’s more about connecting with individual bloggers in a way that makes sense.

Find Your Tribe: A Relatively Painless Plan for Beginning Bloggers to Make Connections with Other Bloggers

Figure out who you are. Finding your tribe and making blog friends come easier when you have a sense of what you’re trying to do. A lot of us jump into blogs and just start writing. While I know my content strategy on Mommy Sanest will continue to shift, taking a Mediabistro class forced me to write a blog business plan and think about the kind of content I want to share here. While my blog business plan is a working document, I’ve referred back to it several times because it laid the groundwork for answering big questions like, who am I, and why am I here? Answer these questions first, then worry about what the rest of the blogiverse is doing.

Find a blog spirit guide or two. There are a lot of bloggers out there (#understatement). And after rambling around the Internet for several years, I found two blogs/bloggers that really give me a sense of what I want to be when my blog grows up. Now these bloggers have zero idea who I am — I actually rarely comment on their sites. And, I’m not looking for them to be mentors; I’m just using their hard work and success to help me define where I’m (hopefully) going.

Seek out similar blogs. Good lord, I fell down the mommy blog rabbit hole the first few months I was doing this. There are just so many subcategories! It took awhile, but I’ve started to find other bloggers whose content is more similar to my own as well as bloggers who have been blogging about the same amount of time as I have and bloggers who seem to have reached a level of blogging success that is just a smidge ahead of where I am.

Using Feedly (or another RSS service), start a category of feeds called “Bloggers to Follow.” Yep, I literally put blogs into a category called Bloggers to Follow. These blogs have content that interests me, and I regularly feel I can add something to the conversation. I have eight blogs in this category. Keeping up with other people’s stuff can get overwhelming, so do yourself a favor and pick a few that you really, really like. Now granted I have about 50 other blogs in my Feedly, but I pay special attention to these five.

Put yourself out there. Did you find some bloggers and put them in your Feedly? Good! Go comment on their stuff; follow them on social channels; tell them how you came across their site. If they are newer bloggers, they are likely looking for a tribe just like you are and will be happy to return the love.

Follow a blogger who blogs about blogging. I just wanted to see how many times I could use the word “blog” in that sentence. Seriously though, these bloggers know their stuff, and it’s easy to find one whose voice and style appeals to you. Keep an eye out for a site that helps foster a blogging/writing community. Often, they’ll have blogging or social media challenges; opportunities for you to get your stuff out there; classes you can take about a specific topics; sometimes they’ll even have active Facebook groups. I like these four: SITS Girls, Blog Clarity, by Regina, and Beyond Your Blog.

Check out your commenters. You already know that you should respond to your commenters. Take it a step further, and go see who they are. Chances are if someone felt moved to comment on your stuff, their content might be interesting to you. Go find out. Maybe it will be a relationship made in blog heaven.

Be authentic. It’s nice to think that you can go around commenting on every post that comes your way, but if you’re not feeling it, you’re not going to come off as sincere. That doesn’t mean that “How to Sew Your Pet Ferret a Christmas Mumu” isn’t a totally valid and interesting post for the right audience, it just means that you’re not the right audience. If I can’t think of a better comment than, “What an interesting post. Thanks for sharing,” (which basically makes it seem like clicking on my name will send you to a site for knockoff designer bags), I best be moving on.

Go to Facebook and search for blogging groups. They are there. Go find a few, hang back for awhile, then join in. It’s a great way to get your stuff in front of other bloggers, and you will definitely find some blogging soulmates in the mix.

Don’t take any of this too seriously. Remember that blogger you LOVED, and you gushed about her post in the comments section and never heard a peep back? Whatever. Keep following her if you like her stuff, but don’t spend time wondering why she gave you the cold shoulder. If someone seems disinterested in your interest in them, put your energy elsewhere, but don’t over-think it.

That’s pretty much where I’m at in my “find your tribe” journey. Do you find this process as daunting as I do? Or have you figured out an easy way to make blog friends? I’d love to hear other tips that have worked for you.

Already found your tribe (or not)? Then you probably need a content calendar for your blog.

How New Bloggers Can Grow on Facebook

This is pretty nitty gritty and probably interesting to approximately three of you, but based on the comments on my Business of Blogging post (hey, five comments is a pretty big deal for this new blogger), I figured it couldn’t hurt to put together a post about how to take advantage of the Bloggy Mom’s Friday Facebook Hop.

First of all, being a new blogger with big (or even medium-sized) dreams can be incredibly frustrating. Building an audience is a time-consuming and often confusing process. So unless you’re lucky enough to “go viral” within your first few months online (about the same odds as winning the lottery), you’re probably dealing with the same #NewBloggerProblems that I am.

There’s literally a million topics I could write about under this vast new blogger umbrella, but I’m going to focus on Facebook today. You already know that, as a new blogger, you’re supposed to have a presence and grow your fans and followers on approximately 75 different social media networks. With this in mind, you logged on to the Behemoth, Facebook, and set your blog up with a business page.

Check it off the list, right?

Not quite. This isn’t field of bloggy dreams, and even though you built it, they will probably not come unless you promote the shit out of it. So what do you do next?

If you’re like me, you invited your mom, your sister and your three BFFs to like it, or maybe you’re a bit bolder, and you sent the page to all of your personal friends, but either way, once you’ve hit up those connections for likes, it’s hard to know how to promote your page so that you’re reaching new people and getting new likes.

How New Bloggers Can Take Advantage of Bloggy Moms Friday Facebook Hop

How new bloggers can increase Facebook likes by participating in Bloggy Moms Facebook Hop

As of Sunday evening, my Facebook page had 181 likes, which is not a ton, but I just published the page on October 10. It’s been up one month, and I haven’t even added the link to the social share buttons on my blog.

Let me break down those 180 likes: Because I have not (and do not plan to) send this page to everyone in my network, approximately 40 of those likes are direct connections of mine. A handful are people who were referred to the page by my friends. The rest are other bloggers. And of those, a big chunk comes from my participation in the Bloggy Moms Friday Facebook Hop every week.

How big of a difference does participating make for me? This week, my page received 48 likes from the Facebook Hop, and for me, that’s significant. It was my fourth time participating, and it was my biggest gain. I’ve also realized that there are things you can do to make your participation count even more.

How to Participate Without Really Trying

  1. From your personal account, go to the Bloggy Moms Network Facebook page and like it. Make sure the “Follow” option has a checkmark next to it. This means that Bloggy Moms posts will show up in your newsfeed.
  2. On Fridays, Bloggy Moms will post the Facebook hop. Even though I follow the page, I miss the post sometimes, so I set a reminder to check the page on Fridays.
  3. When the post appears, comment on the post with a link to your Facebook page. I type http://www.facebook.com/mommysanest into the comment box, and that’s it. You don’t need to write anything else. A preview of your page (the header and profile image) should pop up in the post. Do not remove the preview of the page! It allows people to quickly like your page, right there in the feed.
  4. Like other people’s pages. That’s why we’re here right? You can do this directly in the comment feed if you want to make it as quick and easy as possible. Like the page, and reply directly to their comment. Make sure you tag your page in the reply. I always reply with, “New like from @Mommy Sanest” (when you use the “@” sign on Facbeook, an option to select your page should appear). Another very important note: Like pages as yourself, not as your blog. If you want the page to appear in your feed when you switch to your blog’s page, then like as yourself AND your blog. Do not just like as your blog, as those likes will not count toward total likes.
  5. Watch the likes roll in. Typically there’s upwards of 200 blogs and small businesses that participate, and every week there are new ones. This is quid pro quo, and I typically like anyone that likes me. I sometimes skip some of the small businesses if the product isn’t something I am interested in, but if that person alerts me that they’ve liked my page, unless something were to strike me as offensive (nothing ever has), I like them back.

It’s that simple, but I know what you’re thinking…

Help! My feed is filled with posts from random blogs!

I think this is probably what stops people from liking 130 pages. But there’s a way to contain all of this blog action, and neatly organize it. As posts from blogs appear in my Facebook newsfeed, I go to the pages and uncheck the “Follow” option. This will remove them from my newsfeed. But gone doesn’t mean forgotten! I have included them all in a custom “Interests” list, which I can refer back to regularly. Here’s how you do that:

  1. From your newsfeed, scroll down the page until you see the “Interests” section on the left side of your page. Click “More.”
  2. Choose “+Add Interests,” then “+Create List.”
  3. The dialog box that opens should default to Pages on the left, showing all of the pages you have liked over the course of your life on Facebook. Start checking off the blog pages that you have liked. Once you’ve chosen all of the pages, click Next.
  4. Give the list a name, and decide if you want it to be a public list, a list your friends can see, or a private list. Mine is called “Mommy Blogs,” and I keep it private.
  5. You can access this list from the your newsfeed. You can also add to this list if you continue to participate.

The other option to like all of the pages as your page (Go to a page, choose the “…” button on the far right, and select “Like as your page.” Then the blog will show up in your page’s newsfeed.

Make Your Participation Really Count

As someone mentioned on my Business of Blogging post, it can seem pointless to participate in the blog hop when you see little action on your page’s posts after the fact. But here’s the deal with Facebook: To a degree (and this is an over-simplification) it is a numbers game.

Facebook’s algorithm is designed to suppress content from business pages. Have you ever posted something only to see that the post “reached” four people? This is how Facebook works. Facebook wants you to pay to boost that post and push it out to more people. But the more Facebook followers you have, the more people will initially see that post. The more people who see it, the more chances you have for someone to like or comment on the post. Every interaction with your post leads to it organically being pushed to more people, which in turn gives the post even more chances to be liked and commented on. Another thing to keep in mind, depending on the goals you have for your blog, the number of followers that you have on Facebook matters to companies that are looking for bloggers to partner with.

I’m guessing that, if you’re a new blogger, you’re probably making less than $1 a month from your blog and paying to boost a post on Facebook isn’t really in the budget yet. So how do you get more people from the Bloggy Moms Friday Facebook Hop to interact with your stuff or even get them to connect with you on other platforms? Basically, you have to interact with them.

I don’t go out of my way for every single blog, but if I see a page that strikes my fancy (you know, a kindred spirit who named their blog something like, “Mommy Wears Pajamas All Day” or “Making Mediocre Parenting Look Easy”), I will visit their page, leave a comment, and like a few items. If I love the name of someone’s blog, I often leave the comment, “Stopping by from @Mommy Sanest. I love the name of your blog!” It’s simple and it’s genuine.

Sometimes I don’t stop there. If I’m really intrigued, I actually go to their blog, and if they have their social buttons posted, I follow them on other platforms (typically Twitter or G+, sometimes Pinterest). If they are looking for followers on Facebook, chances are they are looking for followers on all platforms. If you’ve commented on their Facebook page and you’re using all the same handles, they will likely recognize your name and like or follow you back on these platforms as well.

Finally, every few days, I scroll through my “Mommy Blogs” Interests list, and like and/or comment on content that is interesting and worthwhile to me. By doing this, I know that at the very least, an extra like will boost someone’s posts to a wider audience. It’s Facebook karma, if you will, even if they aren’t completely connecting your name to your blog. You could also do this from your blog’s page (if you’ve liked the other page as both yourself and your blog), so that the other blogger begins to see your page.

Don’t Ignore Those Who Interact with You

When I’m interested in something a blogger posts on Facebook, I will comment on it. Now if I’m commenting on a page that has 7 million likes, I don’t expect a response. But if I’m commenting on a smaller blog,  it’s nice to get a response. Getting a response also means I’ll be more likely to interact again.

So if someone posts on your wall, comments on one of your posts, or sends you a message, respond! I know it takes some thought and time and seems like a very small thing when you have a lot on your to-do list, but this world is all about connections. It’s in your best interest to make an effort even if 99 out of 100 of these interactions end up feeling pointless. Eventually, one of these days, you’re going to make a connection that becomes meaningful for you and your work.

Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

I’m Not a Mommy Blogger

I don’t speak for Bloggy Moms, obviously, but it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re specifically a “mommy blogger.” I see all kinds of blogs and small businesses participating in the Facebook hop, so you do you. Especially if you’re a health, fitness, DIY, crafting, or food blogger, I imagine you’ll get some traction through the Facebook hop.

The Bottom Line

In the last month (October 10-November 9), more than 20 percent of my traffic has come from Facebook. I do not post every single piece of content I write on Facebook, and I have almost three times the followers on Twitter, where I promote every post approximately 10 times. For me, it’s worth it to continue participating in the Facebook hop and putting in the effort. Look at your Google analytics, see what is driving traffic to your site and decide where your time is best spent.