Blogging

And the First One Said to the Second One There, “I Hope You’re Having Fun”


Hey, Bonnywooders.

Despite the possibility that no one is really all that invested in such, it’s time for my (roughly) biennial post concerning my thoughts on the mechanics of blogging. (You can find a past example here.) I generally stay out of other folk’s blogging exploits (ergo “biennial” and not something more invasive like “monthly), but I’ve noticed a few things that have been making me itch a bit recently, and I feel compelled to pontificate, just a smidge.

To more fully-paint the intention of this post, I should point out that the following ramblings are intended for anyone who is interested in growing the readership on their blogs. Some of you are not invested, content with expressing your thoughts and then going on with your life, and that’s fine. But even if you fall in that second category, perhaps you should stick around for a bit. You might be doing some things on your blog that are unintentionally alienating fresh visitors who would otherwise enjoy what you have to share.

And here we go…


The Thing with the “Like” Button

I understand that some bloggers aren’t fond of including a “like” button on their posts, for a variety of reasons, ranging from “I don’t want people judging me” to “it looks bad if my ‘like’ total is really low”. (And there are even some “blogging experts” out there who advise that you should skip the “like” functionality in order to avoid the low-tally possibility. Instead, you should rely on glowing comments to expand your reach. But I think those experts are wrong.)

Because here’s the thing: The majority of casual (and potentially long-term) readers on your site are not going to make a comment, even if they like a specific post. They are much more inclined to hit a “like” button rather than compose an ode to your creations. And to take this in a different but related direction, the lack of a “like” button often reads as “I don’t care about your opinion”. This is not the way to gain a following, should you seek such. You should always give folks an easy way to show their appreciation for your work.

Now, this leads us to a related, dual-angle point of consideration. There are some WordPress themes out there that do not have an option for a “like” button or they are hinky with the programming, resulting in that annoying mess where it simply says “loading” where the “like” button should appear, for hours on end. I’ve noticed this most especially with themes where the blogger is “self-hosting”. The churning cheerio of non-redemption spins away, interminably and frustratingly. I can’t show my love, and nobody appreciates being scorned for their possible affections.

If the theme you are using does not do what you want it to do, not matter how initially-clever it might be, stop compromising. Find another, more satisfying theme and let the love flow, like a bird on a wing. (And if you don’t know what your blog layout looks like to a casual reader, sign completely out of WordPress and then take a gander. Better yet, peruse your blog on a device that you haven’t used before in your blogging, thus negating any imbedded cookies that automatically revert to your view and not that of a first-time visitor.)


The Thing with the Navigation

Since we’re already discussing themes, let’s look at how effective yours might be when it comes to readers maneuvering around your site. Can they easily find what you what them to find? Can they return to the home page with just one click? Are the episodes in your serialized stories linked? Do all of your links work? In short, and if you’ll excuse the innuendo, are your buttons available and easy to push?

There are so many blogs out there with little or no navigation. I get stuck on individual blog posts with nowhere to go. I click on a link and end up with a 404 error because that page no longer exists. I find a post entitled “My Amorous Adventures in the Circus – Part 7”, which naturally intrigues me, but I cannot locate the first six parts. And the real kicker: I’m on a homepage, and there are no links to anywhere else. None.

Every individual blog post should have at least 5 navigation links: “Previous” and “Next” options so readers can peruse things chronologically or reverse-chronologically, one-click access to your home page, access to your archives, and access to your “Contact/About” page(s). These are buttons that a potentially-long term follower will use. If the buttons are missing, the follower will move on to someone else.

Every home page should have links to the critical components of your blog. If the reader is stymied by the inability to get off that first page, you can’t expect them to stick around. I’ve noticed that these “lockdown” home pages are often “static”, wherein the blogger has a non-changing home page. Static homepages are fine, but if you don’t have them set up properly and the reader is a hostage on the homepage, it doesn’t matter how stunning your author photo might be or how cleverly your bio is worded. Nobody wins in that situation.


The Thing with “Gravatar”             

I see this all the time, wherein someone hasn’t properly set up their Gravatar profile. (This is the system that WordPress uses to associate your username and profile pic with your blog(s).) If you don’t follow through on this, you’re essentially anonymous to most WordPress readers. Two examples of not-good results of an incomplete Gravatar profile: One, if you click “like” on a post, and the author clicks on your thumbnail photo to see who you are, they will be taken to an empty-shell account. They cannot find you. Likewise, two, if an author uses email notifications (like I do) as a trigger to follow-up on activity on my blog, that email will be blank when it comes to contact links. I cannot find you. (For the record, if a Gravatar account is set up correctly, the notification emails contain a link to your blog homepage as well as up to three of your most popular posts.)

Bottom line, make sure your Gravatar profile is complete and pleasing. If you have no idea what this is or where to go, here’s a link from the WordPress help page.)


The Thing about Lots of Other Things

Just some random thoughts…

If you insist on using pop-ups on your blog (which I find annoying, but maybe that’s just me), make sure they are user-friendly. Don’t have that thing pop two seconds after I land on your blog; give me some time to nose around a bit before you ask me to join your email list. (Yes, you can adjust the timer. Check into it.) And give me an option to simply close the pop and investigate further. I’ve been on several blogs in just the past week wherein I couldn’t close the window without entering my email address. Suffice it to say that I won’t be going back to those blogs.

Speaking of email addresses, you might want to think twice before using a theme or plug-in that requires a potential commenter to enter such before they can make any remarks on your post. This is a bit pushy and, frankly, is essentially none of your business. Be respectful.

Be careful with your usage of the “featured post” option. Sure, we all have a few posts of which we are proud, and we naturally want folks to see them, especially if that post is a great example of similar posts to be found on your blog. But if you get too many older posts piled-up on your home page, your blog looks dated. If I’m scrolling through that page and everything has a year-stamp of 2011, I’m thinking you’re not posting anything fresh. That’s not a good look. Limit the number of “features” and rotate them out with some degree of regularity.

Be wary of those “follower stats” you see in sidebars of blogs. You might think, wow, this guy has 10,000 followers, he must be good. WordPress allows a user to link many of their social media accounts to their blog, and that total is an aggregate. Of that 10k, 5k might be on Facebook and 4.5k might be on Twitter, with only 500 on WordPress. Appearances, as always, can be deceiving. I’ve shut down that linkage so that my tally is only true WordPress followers. This is probably the most pointless paragraph in this post, but it irks me when folks inflate their actual reach.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t just limit your “share this post” options to those platforms where you have an account. Your readers are going to be varied and have different interests. Give them the opportunity to share as they see fit. You might be surprised at the results.

And my final tidbit is somewhat obscure but has proven relevant over the last half-year or so, and it has been noticed by other bloggers as well. I’m one of those folks who immediately checks The Reader to make sure that my post is appearing in the refreshed list. When it doesn’t, I mildly panic. Turns out, 97% of the time the issue is that WordPress has unfollowed me from my own blog. (I certainly didn’t do it.) If you aren’t following your own blog, you can’t see new posts in The Reader. I refollow, and everything is groovy. Sometimes this happens as frequently as two or three times a week. So, keep an eye on your follower status. (And yes, I’ve reported this to WordPress, but I haven’t heard a word back. Maybe their Gravatar profile is incomplete?)

If you’re still with me at this point in the post, thank you for your gumption. I know this mess was lacking the typical Bonnywood whimsy, but I firmly believe that we’re all in this together, despite our variances, and we should do what we can to help each other out. Unless you have pop-ups that I can’t close. Not so fond of that.

Cheers.


49 replies »

  1. Many of one’s followers are just fishing for reciprocity. Some of them are really obvious, like sites that are selling stuff.

    Same thing for a lot of likes. It is a dead giveaway when you get liked in ten posts over the course of 30 seconds.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree completely. There are some wretched people out there who don’t have any courtesy when it comes to blogging etiquette. They are in it to win it, whatever that “win” means in their head. (It usually does not involve quality content and/or interesting writing. Those folks are really not worth our time.

      But this post is for the good folks who truly want to share their creations and experiences with a wider audience, and I was just trying to help them out a bit…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Huh. Well, the like button is there for ME, so I think you’re okay, but there might be something that glitches on your view of things. Not sure. The only troubling thing about your cooking blog is a personal one for me, in that you have so many great recipes that I haven’t gotten around to experimenting with in the Bonnywood kitchen… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I’ve checked all your proverbial boxes and have some of the same pet peeves. I troll my follower list relentlessly, keep it just for WordPress and remove all businesses and ghost accounts. I don’t have thousands of followers, but the ones I have are real damn it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting that I read this post right after I commented on someone else’s “rant” post that it feels weird to “like” a post that is about someone’s unhappiness. Why can’t wordpress have a “I have read this post” click instead? Far less judgemental and neutral. My blog is my catharsis zone, and there are, as you well know, quite a few dirty linen washing there, and I am sure many readers feel awkward about “liking” them.

    “I’m one of those folks who immediately checks The Reader to make sure that my post is appearing in the refreshed list. When it doesn’t, I mildly panic. ” Me too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree, WordPress should have additional options other than the generic “like” option, thus allowing us to better express our experience. (The only thing I wouldn’t suggest is a “dislike” button, which can be used hurtfully. If someone doesn’t like a post, they should just leave the blog without clicking anything, which is exactly what I do when I don’t care for what someone has shared.)

      Now, as for your “dirty linen”, I love it when you get real. For me, honesty is the best aspect of writing, and it’s actually a very rare commodity these days, with so many folks hiding behind pomp and circumstance. Why can’t we all just talk to each other, no matter what the subject might be…

      Like

  4. So this makes me, with my approximately 200 real followers, feel good. All though I am not actively working on growing my blog, I know I have done some things right. I do wish blogs had a love ❤️ button. It could be used when you more than like a post buy don’t feel like making, or can’t come up with, a comment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As I mentioned in my previous response to “Limp Cabbage”, I agree that WordPress should offer an extended array of buttons that better show the level of our appreciation. I follow far too many blogs for me to add a personal comment on everything I read or I would never get any actual writing done. This might not come across the right way, perceived as possibly arrogant, but if I take the time to make a comment, then I REALLY enjoyed the post. (And you get me there quite regularly.) It would be nice if I could show my honest reaction with a simple click from a range of options that I might not be able to express, adequately and originally, in a comment…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. I actually don’t follow many blogs for that reason. I don’t want to spend all my time reading and commenting when there are other things I need and want to do. I don’t think that is arrogant. I think it is everyday real life.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for the informational post. I’ve luckily had help from my ex husband who knows WordPress and has a cadre of Philippine coders who also know it. There will be a redesign and a new name launch coordinated with my poetry book I hope due out in December of this year. Not knowing how much time I really have I’m living my motto of “don’t wait” lifted from Frank Ostaseskis book the Five Invitations. Huge recommendation from yours truly self proclaimed Cancer poet laureate. At least for as long as I have here in a body with fingers to type. Love ya brother. Thank you for all the platonic bullhorning on social media. I see you’ve picked up on my good friend Abigail’s No Half Measures. We are actually meeting in miami the first week in October with five of our other good MBC girlfriends Kristie Konsoer is one who has a blog here on WordPress as well look her up she’s got a wicked sense of wry humor- the tree of us have completely different writing styles all with a story to tell. I’ve considered putting an award together for cancer bloggers but I don’t know how or what to even call it at this point- the “still here” award seems rather morbid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always, a pleasure to hear from you. Let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do to help with the poetry-book launch. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I do know a few things. And I seriously mean it. Let me know.

      Abigail is terrific. I’ve been following her blog for a few years now, good stuff. You and Abigail are in my tiny circle of bloggers wherein I instantly re-share any of your posts, as the writing and honesty and life-wisdom are overwhelmingly real, such a rare commodity these days. I will certainly seek out Kristie on WordPress. (Breaking Update: I just found her. Following.)

      Now, this Cancer-Blogger Award. All for it, but I do agree that “Still Here” as a name is a bit morbid and not right. We need something more defiant. Thinking, thinking. “Defying Destiny” initially sounds promising, but it also sounds like a turgid romance novel wherein Gisela refuses to participate in her pre-arranged marriage with Humberto, the man who screwed too much. “We Shall Overcome” has been bastardized by folks who have never really overcome anything. Still thinking. Anything invoking a celestial savior of any kind also rings false, but that might just be me. “Irradiated Vomit” would certainly hit a key aspect, but only with twisted folk like you and I. Wait, how about “The Phoenix Award”, rising from the ashes and such. Not sure. I’m just white-boarding at this point. Give me a bit to reflect and ponder…

      Love ya, Sister.

      Like

  6. thanks for the tips; I obsess way too much over my stats. I can’t imagine what I’d be like if I was trying to make a living off my blog…

    and if I come across a blog that uses pop-ups, that’s usually a sign that I am not going to be spending much time on that blog…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even though I often babble in my posts that stats are meaningless, I do check them every day. And it’s clear that blogging will never be a solid revenue stream for me.

      I used to be very courteous with anyone who visited my blog and hit that “Like” button, trying to find SOME way to show my appreciation. Now? If your blog is annoying and poorly done or a clear example of stat-trolling, I’m done. Life is too short…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. O_o Um. Now I feel this obsessive need to check EVERYTHING you covered, just to make sure. I know I’m not doing a couple of them (but stats don’t mean diddly squat to me). I had no idea one could discontinue that ridiculous ‘like’ button (I’m not a fan, I’m far too old to be playing “who’s the most popular” with that kind of thing. More annoying (because I do utilize the ‘like’ if I’m skimming the reader and want to acknowledge those bloggers I follow (I might read a part of a post, or see some great photography, but I’m not moved ot write one of these signature novel length comments about it), are the $!#% pop-up lists of who else has liked before me. I honestly don’t care that ten other bloggers of whom I’ve never heard, and am now not invested in looking at because they were shoved in my face that way, liked my followed blog’s stuff. Good for the blogger. WordPress is the villain, as is so often the case. And that damned list thing sticks too sometimes and you’re left being unable to read a word because all those avatars and site names are in the freakin’ way. I haven’t got a very well organized blog, but I do have a ‘menu’ which leads to some links I think are important. If folks want to read more stuff, I have categories too and if they type in (for example) “Motorcycle Mamas and Why Harleys are Cool” or even just “Harley”, they might find something worth their while if they’re interested.

    Blogging in my humblest of opinions, is a two way effort. The blogger needs to be aware of the things you mentioned, BUT the reader of said blog needs to put in some effort too. Be engaged and SAY something now and then. Offer constructive advice if they see something that niggles at them. My blog is most satisfactory (apparently), and it grows at a nice steady pace. People appear to enjoy what I write. So I get a ‘nummie’ (ego stroke) and they get to read something they hopefully enjoy. For free yet. Amazing.

    And Paul sings ♪♫♪ “And the county judge who held a grudge
    Will search forever more…” because he is an involved blogger….

    Good words Brian and well worth the read!

    Liked by 2 people

    • No need to feel obsessive. This whole post is really geared for the folks who are interested in increasing their following. Whilst I would imagine that you wouldn’t mind becoming a world-famous etcher of words, I also know that you’re completely fine if it doesn’t happen. Your blog is many things, including a form of low-cost therapy (so is mine), but it’s not the be-all, end-all for either of us. We share, we note what happens, and we move on.

      That mess where WordPress tries to entice you with other bloggers who have also liked the post is ridiculous. I don’t know those people. They could be saints or serial killers. Just let me do my thing, in an easy and satisfying manner, and let things play out as they should without manipulation. Needless complication is one of the banes of modern society.

      Your blog is arranged quite nicely. I don’t think anything I’ve mention in my rambling post above applies to you, at all. You know what you’re doing and you do it well.

      And you get bonus points for the “county judge” reference at the end, another sign of your blogging prowess. You pay attention, while so many people do not…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Your blog is perfectly fine, so no need to scramble. I still encounter that thing wherein I can’t click “like” on a comment when I’m on your actual blog, whether your comments or those from others, but I’m able to do so if I pull up my WP notifications and find the comments. I really think the issue is on my end, in some way. I’m still learning as well… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Omg!! WP just deleted my comment, unless it’s in “spam”?

    It was too long anyway… shorter version

    If my blog does annoying things, please tell me. Chances are high that I don’t know about it, and it’s unintentional.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never had an issue on your blog, so relax and carry on. My only regret with your blog is that I don’t always comment when I should, and that’s all on me… 😉

      Like

  9. I try to use that like button to acknowledge that I have been by to see the latest offering. There are those which I feel odd clicking like when it is obviously an emotional sharing that is sad for some reason. In a lot of those I will leave a quick comment of I can’t “like” this but I was here with an appropriate acknowledgement of the issue at hand. You have shared some very important things to remember and take into account. Sad to admit, as long as I’ve been blogging, I didn’t know about the follow yourself, I know now, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also feel odd, at times, when I click the “like” button on a story that involves not-good things happening. But since the like button is generic and doesn’t offer shades of emotion, I simply take it as a an act of acknowledging the sharing or wording, not as a “like” of the situation. It’s still tricky, though.

      The mystical “suddenly I’m not following myself” situation is a recent development. I never had an issue in years past. I’m thinking some programmer was working on something else and managed to create some inadvertent fallout. And I can understand that, is it happens. What I don’t appreciate is the WordPress support team not bothering to respond when I submit a report. I won’t be clicking “like” on that angle… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. WP postings; I think it out, I write it out, I put it out, despite my and WPs shortcomings. Someone else likes it, fine. Like? Hit the button! Anything else, as far as navigating WPs twisted schizoid inane inner workings requires a deal with the devil or a brain transplant on my part. So nowadays, I just- like Macca- let it be. For the few who are real readers there’s a comments section.
    I’m just glad the block editor hasn’t transmogrified into something even more ‘user fiendly’ that’s even further from my understanding. Yet. How THAT ‘upgrade’ was considered an improvement leaves me agog. (Maybe I’m amazed?)
    At this stage of my and WPs bloody minded distrustful liaison my attempts at tinkering ain’t worth a tinkers cuss anyways. What it is will have to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m essentially the same. I try to make things work the best I can, and I just move on if I can’t. The decline of WordPress from its beginnings (when the management teams were focused on the users) to the current state (where management is focused on what the advertisers want) is just like many corporations. The creative types who built the initial concept have been forced out, replaced by bean counters and 22-year-old programmers who have never written a blog post in their lives.

      I would have left WordPress years ago if it wasn’t for the community of writers. I’m lucky to have a terrific group of folks who follow Bonnywood (well, the “real” followers, anyway) and I relish the daily interactions. I just can’t quit them…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Well, this explains why “they’re searching for us everywhere but we never will be found.” I didn’t know there was a way for a reader to leave a comment without having to enter their email address or that WP randomly unfollows you from your own blog! Guess I’ve got some work to do. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, great song-reference! You’re after my heart with your trivia, you are…

      The “email-requirement for comments” angle is theme-based. Most themes do not have that arrangement, and even those that do usually have an “opt-out” setting, but you have to change that setting after the fact and it’s been my experience that most bloggers rarely mess with fine-tuning their blog after the initial set-up. But I highly recommend that everyone take the time to go through all of their settings and ponder each one. There are some interesting things you can do, even with the most basic theme.

      Now, having babbled about that, I don’t recall your blog requiring anything when I make a comment, other than my comment. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding what you’re sharing. As for the “sudden unfollow” bit, that angle is only important if you check The Reader to make sure a fresh post appears. (If your post doesn’t appear in your Reader, nobody who follows your blog will see it in THEIR reader, either. They have to come directly to your blog to even know you’ve done something.) But if you ARE following yourself and the post isn’t there, you have something else out of whack with your settings, and I’ll wager that many folks never check the Reader at all and don’t realize there’s an issue. I would imagine that this right here is one of the reasons why many bloggers get frustrated at their low stats and stop blogging. (Trivia: 90% of new bloggers abandon them within three months. True story.)

      Sorry to ramble so, especially in such a non-witty manner. But it took me a while to learn the details, and there were times when I wish someone had helped me out back in those early years. I just want the truly good blogs to succeed. And I consider yours to be one of them, by the way. Cheers.

      Like

  12. This sounds great…..umm…..this sounds great. Now, what the bloody hell are you talking about? I can’t even figure out how to put a picture on this stupid new word block. I have no idea what my blog looks like. Wah! Help me….I’m stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now, now. You KNOW you ain’t stupid, so quit with that mess, ya hear? This here blog post was for folks who want more a that limelight and such, and I figure you ain’t like that. You just wanna share your stories and then get back to the WickyPedia and see what that hot manwich Wentworth is doin’ these days. It’s all good.

      As for this Word Block crap, I done figured out most of it. So’s if you need me to, I can help you out, mmm hmm. Just gimme a holler

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ya know…I’ve kind of moved on from Wentworth. Doesn’t mean I don’t still think he’s beautiful…as a matter of fact, I found a picture of my son when he was a senior in high school, and KAPOW! He looked so much like a younger Wentworth.
        Okay…I’ll give you a holler. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Take from this what you will, but what makes me really happy is when I sign in to find that somebody, somewhere had read a dozen of my posts and left no likes. To me, that is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Liked by 1 person

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