I'm covering the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco for the work blog, and I've written a recap of a blogging panel that I attended that you might be interested in. Here's a piece:
Facilitating community" is much easier said than done, but you must make those who visit your site feel welcome. That doesn't mean sparkly icons and overly friendly chit chat with commenters, but make your blog hospitable. Make it easy for them to comment by making sure they don't have to take unnecessary steps to leave feedback. Making someone log in each time, provide a CAPTCHA or other (seemingly) minor requirements can make someone abandon a comment pretty quick like. Encourage commenting both editorially and technically.
Number two in that list should be number one. It is absolutely paramount that you comment and read other people's blogs if you want a community to grow in your own. This may seem to take a lot of time and energy, but I assure you that the most organic way to improve traffic to your blog is to be an active participant in someone else's. Never underestimate the power of the blogger ego. Getting comment feedback is like mainlining crack for many a new media writer. It's what you want! Why not spread the love and comment like crazy? Let people know you are out there, and that you like what they do. Don't fake it! Only comment on that which inspires you, but rather than think to yourself, "That was funny," tell him. Chances are he's gonna wanna see where you came from, click on your name, and if you've got quality content the chances you've gained yourself a reader have gone way up.
The free stuff is great advice if you are a pro organization, but this isn't the best tack for independent bloggers, simply for monetary reasons. However, that bit about promoting your fans is GOLD. If a comment is truly funny or provocative, why not highlight it in a post of its own with your response? Knowing that a blogger respects his readers, values them and even promotes them is big incentive for people to stick around.
This morning I woke up on the right side of the bed. I looked out the window onto a hazy landscape and declared that today would be a good day.
So, imagine my thrill to find in my inbox a note from my dear friend Adam about his brand new political blog Post Politics hosted by the very wise Nashville Post*. It's live. He's back (opinion and analysis and all!). And I'm elated. More elated than someone should rightly be about a blog.
The day continues to be a good one.
*Had to scroll allll the way to the bottom of the blog to find a link to their front page. I am a fan of the subtle branding. And the blog looks fantastic and robust.** Did I mention I'm thrilled?
**Nope, not jealous in the least.
I've discovered, after five months, a dozen bizarre conversations and a stinky kiss on the face by a homeless stranger, that walking around San Francisco with earbuds in or headphones on is necessary to successfully avoid the crazy. Or, in my case, being asked for directions. (I haven't been here long enough to tell anyone anything about how to get anywhere, it's best they don't waste their time asking me.) I used to think it was because every one couldn't get by without music in their ears, and that may be true, but I'm willing to bet most of these headphone listening pedestrians and public transit riders are also trying to prevent conversations like the one I had late one night with a spectacularly inebriated man on BART that mostly consisted of grunts and giggles.
And I've also discovered, just as was predicted, that my crush on BART has moved beyond the flirty stage and into that stage where you start to get annoyed by stuff that never bothered you before. When I first moved here I was always very cautious to know the etiquette, but I had to be making some new girl mistakes. So, I was always patient with others. Somehow, that patience wore right the fuck out. Because I was pressing down pretty hard on that clueless lass who was talking on her cell phone, dragging two suitcases and putting her ticket in the wrong way. Then I cut her off at the escalator.
Now when someone doesn't Stand Right, Walk Left I get all pissy and antsy. I've actually now gotten the courage to say "Excuse Me," to indicate that myself and about 20 other people are trying to come through. They typically figure it out, move right, and then I make it to work 45 seconds sooner than I would have.
More BART pet peeves:
This is a first. I've been blogging for almost ten years now, and I've never been a victim of anything this invasive. Please help me figure this out:
When I make new posts now, somehow, some way, spam links to nasty porn sites insert themselves into my post code! The links do not show up on the front page of this blog, but they do occur in the displayed RSS feed. I'll take a look at the code of this post before I post it and it won't be there. But when I come back to it and hit "edit," I find links to pages about "BBW fingering." I do not want that.
The more I think about it the more pissed off I get. Is this because I changed my template? How the fuck did these spammers infect my blogging platform? Ugh! Make it stop. Any help or hints you have would be greatly appreciated.
As you can see I just broke my own webpage trying to be cute and hand code CSS. I don't have the wherewithal to fix it right now, but rest assured that a) I know it is fucked and b) I will rectify it sooner rather than later.