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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.

 

Blogging therapy: What if no one shows up?

Number two in a series about taking the scary out of blogging.

Last week we talked about what if people are mean to me, otherwise known as trollophobia.

This time we’re talking about ohmygod what if I throw a party and nobody comes?

And yeah, even if you’ve never had a blog and never plan to, the process of working through fears and what-ifs is always relevant to your life — so hang out with us even if I’m not talking directly to you. Same thing if you’re already a blogging superstar.

Because really, it’s also all about that very human thing we do when we want love and acceptance and acknowledgment … and about how we interpret information when it seems as though we’re not getting those things.

And it’s about fear. And allowing stuff to be scary sometimes. And yes, blogging can be terrifying. Let’s talk about that.

Aaaagh! What if I throw a party and no one shows up?

It’s like winking in the dark …

Scary? Absolutely.

You go through all the “whoah, I’m totally putting this out there” stuff, and then — when you finally think you can stand for someone to see it — it’s just you talking to yourself in a biiig empty room.

And you wait. And wait and wait and wait. And worry …

There’s a lot of fear and anxiety and general stuckification around this. And all this stuckness seems to get fixated on the whole comments thing.

Because even though blogging experts talk mostly about traffic (how many people come by) and conversion (what percentage of those people subscribe), comments are the visible proof that you’re not just dancing alone in your living room with all the windows open.

Or at least it feels that way. So it’s easy to get obsessed over comments.

We’ve all been there. Or whatever, we are there. We want them, but we want them to be nice, but we want there to be a lot of them … and so on.

On the one hand I want to talk about how and why this kind of thinking can really trip you up. And mess with your head.

And on the other hand, yes, I do want to talk about how you go about getting comments on your blog if that’s something that feels important to you.

So …

Getting comments: five things to think about.

1. Separating yourself from the comment obsession.

We’ve talked quite a bit already about the (extremely challenging) practice of releasing the need for external recognition and legitimacy.

The reason I bring this up first is that otherwise, whether you never get any comments or you get over five hundred a day (whoah, are you the McCovey Chronicles?), your whole sense of well-being will be determined by other people.

And that sucks. So your focus always always always wants to be on becoming your own source of legitimacy. And not just legitimacy but acknowledgment, comfort and reassurance.

But I know you want me to shut up about the yoga-centric learning-to-like-yourself stuff and get back to how to get some damn comments on your baby blog. So I’ll just give myself some comfort and reassurance here … and then move on to:

2. Talking it up.

We can’t come to your blog if we don’t know about it. So you gotta talk it up.

Not in an obnoxious way or anything. You do it from the heart. And casually. And when it’s relevant. And when it feels right.

My favorite place to do this, of course, is Twitter. Obviously you don’t just talk about your blog because that would be incredibly boring. And the first rule of Twitter, as you may remember, is oh for the love of god do not be boring.

My sense is that about 85% of my comments come from Twitter folks. Not from my noozletter list. Not from my friends (most of whom have never even been here). And not from my clients and students.

And the other 15% come people who’ve popped over from other blogs that reference me or from facebook or from the random fabulousness that is google search.

If you’re not twittering up a storm, please take steps immediately! And of course, leaving sincere and non-boring comments on other people’s blogs is never a bad idea, as you probably already know if you comment here.

3. Find your tribe.

There are three parts to this.

The first part is figuring out where your colleagues hang out.

If you don’t have a “field”, that’s cool too. In that case it’s going to be more about finding like-minded bloggers who have a similar voice or feel or style or something.

These people give you that “oh good, I’m not alone!” feeling. Plus their readers will jump for joy to have another yummy thing to read. (No, this is not “poaching”. We’ll talk about that in another post. I can only talk to a couple fears at a time, guys!)

The second part is finding out where your “right people” hang out.
These are the types of people that you most want to talk to.

For example, if my blog were about alternative ways to quit smoking, I wouldn’t just want to go find the experts and the theorizers (that can’t be a word), I’d want to go to places where people looking for advice were hanging out.

If you don’t know who your people are yet, don’t worry about it. You’ll find them. They’ll come to you. You’ll figure it out.

The third part is finding your pack.
My unbelievably inspiring friend Mark Silver and I call this a knitting circle because we are wacky alternative-ey Portland types who tend to think “pack” sounds too … stressful. And kinda bite-ey.

But the point is that you have a loose association of friends who all enjoy each other’s work and talk each other up. It’s not a formal arrangement or anything, but you’re kind of on the same team.

Obviously this “drives traffic” and stuff like that, but much much much more importantly it gets you out of the nerve-wracking and painful competition-based mindset.

You stop thinking in terms of sending people away from you, and you start thinking about sharing love and ideas. Good stuff.

It takes time to build a nice knitting circle. No rush. Just keep it in mind.

4. Be interesting.

And funny. And real.

I know this is totally stressing half of you out. But I don’t mean to do it in any sort of contrived way. What I mean is that most people, when they speak to themselves or their friends in their natural this-is-me voice, are pretty entertaining.

It seems like it will never work to just “be yourself” because wouldn’t that be boring? And embarrassing? And pathetic? No. Just do it. Trust me.

People like hanging out with a real, live human being. So you can worry a little bit less about showcasing your expertise, and start spending way more time being human.

5. You don’t need a lot of traffic to get comments.

Most people tend to think that comments correlate with traffic. And yes, statistically speaking, the more people who see your site, the higher the chances that someone will leave a comment.

However, comments are NOT necessarily an indication of traffic, or of anything really.

It doesn’t have to be about traffic. I run across a ton of highly-commented blogs that don’t necessarily have high (or many at all) page views. And some of these have appalling alexa rankings, too, and they still get commented up a storm.

You know why? Because they are speaking to a specific audience. And they’ve built up a circle of friends and buddies who love being there. Yup, it’s a “community” to use a buzzword that should actually be a really great word and has lost all meaning.

Look at Irene (I love Irene!). She’s in Singapore and her blog is called Light Beckons. You think I’m wacky? She’s an intuitive consultant who does soul realignment.

Which is probably a subject slightly less popular than say, blogging advice. Or car-fixing advice. Or even the stuff I talk about (destuckification and how to biggify the cool thing you do).

But she consistently gets about 25 comments on each post. Do you think a hundred thousand people visit a casual blog that talks about soul realignment and occasionally features a guest post from her eight year old daughter?

I’m going to guess no. But the people who do come get what she’s about and adore her, and they stay there to hang out. Which is all you need. So stop trying to figure out how you can get a thousand more page views, and start focusing on your community.

It doesn’t have to be big to be loud.

Be reassured.

If you’re patient and consistent and hang out a bit online (not all the time, a bit), and give some effort to finding the right places, you will get comments. Conversations will emerge. People will show up.

And talk. Because that’s what people do.

Of course you’re probably not reassured. Because of course a thousand other what-ifs (related and unrelated) are coming up for you.

But if I know even some of my readers, I can make an educated guess that the biggest piece of resistance coming up is this:

“Okay, fine, so people will come and leave comments. So what? There are other people out there doing this better. And they’ll always be better. So really, what’s the point?”

So I want to encourage you to take a second and let this sink in: Did you hear that? You’re not as worried as you were about no one showing up (and commenting!). You’ve just freed up some space to worry about other things. Oh, hooray.

And yes, next week we’re totally going to talk about the “other people are already doing it better” thing.

In the meantime, go look for your people! They’re out there, I promise. Some of them might even be here.

26 Responses to Blogging therapy: What if no one shows up?

  1. Kate
    Twitter: ingoodcoproject
    says:

    > There are other people out there doing this better.

    Yep, that’s always a toughie. Nasty little goblin. Comes with a bundle of moral imperatives. ‘I should be the best.’ ‘If I’m not as good as other people then I must be imcompetent, therefore I have no business offering my services at all.’ Etc etc.

  2. Kate
    Twitter: ingoodcoproject
    says:

    Oh – and Irene=great! Thanks for the link.

  3. Zoe
    Twitter: zoewesthof
    says:

    Havi,

    You managed to take an overworked topic (how to get more comments) and give it a delightful new spin — what a great post!

    My favorite point is “Find your tribe.”
    Actually, this whole post could kinda work as advice for moving to a new city… Be outgoing, hang out at places that attract like-minded folk, then once you find your crew, you don’t need to stress about drawing in the rest of the world.

    Oh, the “real world.”

  4. Gabe Clark says:

    Thanks for the guidance. I have to say that I’m a little bit freaked out because it seems like you’ve been reading my journal or something. But that’s why we keep reading, right? Keep up the good work.

  5. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    Love it.

    @Kate – Of course, you and Irene would have the best time ever together. Yay, go to talk to Irene!

    @Zoe – Thank you, that’s really sweet. And yeah, I think the parallel between online and offline is definitely there.

    It’s really about meeting one person you like and then they’ll already know all the cool people. That takes some of the pressure off.

    @Gabe – Stop sending me your journals! No, I’m just kidding. I think we all pretty much worry about the same stuff … or at least float around in the same worry soup.

    My biggest blogging fear was that the people who read my noozletter would stop appreciating me if I posted stuff all the time. Man, could *not* have been more wrong about that.

  6. Havi,

    Great topic.

    For something that appears very social. Social Media and blogging can be very lonely. I wear my heart on my sleeve and in the end I often feel like I am just left with the liability of my journal being in code on the internet.

    I will press on, but some days it just seems like no body is reading and everybody is posting.

    Its almost like we are all at the same party but nobody is talking to each other.

    The hardest part of blogging for me so far is it has been hyped as a “conversation” and it feels more like I got your answering machine with no return phone call.

    Maybe a good blogging analogy is its like cold calling unassigned voice mail boxes.

    You are an interesting cat. You inspire me to be off the wall, since you surprise me daily with some twist of perspective.

    Later,

    Brian

    Brian Monahan, Expert in the Roughs last blog post..“Day Job” The Dirtiest Words in the Blogosphere

  7. Todd Smith says:

    Nice post, Havi. I love the point about not needing to have tons of visitors to get comments.

    Todd Smiths last blog post..Quote by Ansel Adams

  8. Gabe Clark says:

    Well I didn’t think you’d actually read them!

    I don’t think it’s schadenfreud, but it is nice to know that other people deal with similar “stuff”.

  9. Heidi Fischbach
    Twitter: curiousHeidiHi
    says:

    I love hearing that most of your comments don’t come from your noozletter list. Or your friends. And it makes me feel relieved, truly, to know that you don’t think most of your friends have even ever been here. I sometimes still sorta maybe take that personally. Sigh.

    It does feel like a lonely thing. And I’m not hardly feeling sorry for myself (except maybe an eetsie) but really just sayin’… to wear your heart on your sleeve… I feel good about what I wrote. I would read it if it weren’t mine. It makes me laugh. Or cry. But I can’t help wondering sometimes whether the voice just kind of goes out and is lost into the endless universe when I would so love for some layer of our beautiful earth’s atmosphere to bounce a comment back my way. The resonance thing, you know? Is it stupid to keep posting if you hardly ever get comments at all? Should it raise a bigger question, like why do I do this? I could just be keeping it in my journal but something in me really really wants to put it out and connect. Ahhhh connection.

    Would you sometime address a post on alexa-ish stuff or is that something techie to research on own?

    Thanx–always love your voice.

    heidi

    Heidi Fischbachs last blog post..Me and Billy Collins

  10. GirlPie
    Twitter: TheGirlPie
    says:

    Swell post, and it — along with these comments — proves why readers who enjoy returning (to any blog), whether they comment or not, do so:

    >great content — that feels more like conversation-over-biscuits than “content;”

    >unique ability to read minds (or touch the reader where they live) more often than not;

    > tips, tools, resources, etc. — we’re rewarded for visiting;

    >new discoveries — I ‘met’ more great bloggers, twitterers, site owners and sellers-of-stuff-I-want-to-buy on my favorite blogs just in the comments, or via post links, than any directory or alltop or hit list will ever offer me. Because they’ve been pre-approved by the blogger I trust: “a person like me” (yes, it’s a real marketing term and it’s all that matters in our over-marketed lives.)

    Thanks for all this, and the way-more that you consistently deliver. It’s our job to use the lessons/advice/tools, so you won’t have been yakking in a biiig empty room!

  11. Anybody who thinks a blog pack is more vicious than a knitting circle has never attacked a knitting circle.

  12. Hi from part of the 15%. The Twitter idea is interesting. I don’t think I’m comment obsessed but I’d like to get some more on my blogs, it just makes things more fun.

    @Kate Here’s a post that helped me to deal with the “other people” and their bloggings question.

    Gary Fletchers last blog post..Here’s a Method that’s Helping Me Write Clearly and Easily

  13. Awww … I love you too Havi. :) This has got to be the coolest way to tell me that I’m wacky, LOL!

    Irene | Light Beckonss last blog post..Natalie Fights Back

  14. Tumblemoose says:

    Oh yeah. Comments are a funny thing.

    A couple days ago I posted what I thought was a pretty good post, and over two days, nary a comment. Not one.
    I thought, “Hmmm, maybe the article wasn’t that great after all!”

    So I was checking google analytics last night and I found that the article generated over 6000 hits! Not much for some, but HUGE for me!

    Oh well, I guess it was a popular article, just not comment-worthy.

    This internet blogging stuff is weird.

    Cheers!

    George

    Tumblemooses last blog post..Poverty today

  15. Pace says:

    Havi,

    Your post reminds me of my experiences with LiveJournal. LiveJournal is extremely community-based. Many users lock their posts so they can only be seen by people on their friends list. Most of the writing tends to be personal life updates, probably because of the word “journal” in the name of the site. As such, the comment rate can be super high. I was on LiveJournal for years before I started blogging, and I was confused by the relatively low comment rate on blogs. On LiveJournal, when I had about 200 people on my friends list, I would sometimes get 30 to 50 comments on a particularly interesting post.

    A big problem with LiveJournal, and the reason why I don’t hang out there as much as I used to, is that it’s very insular. LJ users don’t typically read blogs. LJ users don’t typically know how to use an RSS reader. LJ users pretty much stay on LJ. It’s perceived as the blogging version of AOL.

    One thing we can learn from LiveJournal is how to build community. When you start blogging, you feel like your audience is the entire internet, but that’s not true. Your audience is the slice of the entire internet who care about what you have to say. So write for them.

    Paces last blog post..Communal Business Models

  16. chas says:

    yes. twitter is a bar. the blogosphere is a neighborhood. in either case it’s easy to just be there, and haven’t we all spend a few too many hours just being there.

    thanks for your continual insights into social media (and life!)

    now what can i do to help you?!

  17. Sandie says:

    I am still giggling over the whole idea of a “pack” being “bitey.” heh

    Personally, I don’t care so much about comments as readers. On any given day, I get about 15 visits. Total. Yes, 15. Yes, total. I’d love to see that number go up because it really does feel like I’m dancing alone in my living room with the windows open…except all my neighbors aren’t looking at me like I’m nuts.

    All the advice you’ve given is totally applicable to growing both comments and traffic. It’s time consuming to build up trust and comradarie…and I’m finding it difficult to be patient with the process. But…that’s my stuff. :)

    Sandies last blog post..Allergy Kit

  18. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    Oh, awesome.

    @Michael (Martine) – That cracked me up. You are so great.

    Anybody who thinks a blog pack is more vicious than a knitting circle has never attacked a knitting circle.< /blockquote>

    Or BEEN attacked by a knitting circle, I should add.

    It’s not that knitting circles aren’t dangerous (in fact I kinda assume they are)! We were just looking for something that didn’t contain the whole “turning on the weakest member” thing. Or the vying to be the top dog thing.

    Which reminds me to do another post about metaphors.

    Once I stop laughing … :)

  19. @Havi – The image it put in my mind was that Python skit of the old ladies going around roughing everybody up. :-)

  20. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    @Michael Ha! And I was picturing this fabulous old Avenger’s episode (now the music will be in my head ALL DAY)where the murderess is a sweet-looking little old lady who sticks people with her needles.

    And then our heroes have to visit this knitting circle and they don’t know which of the sweet little old ladies is trying to kill them! Man, the AVENGERS!

    I need a catsuit pronto.

  21. @Havi – Then Hunter Nuttall (we’ll see if he has a Google Alert on his name, now) can write a post called Havi vs. The Avengers.

    Michael Martine – Remarkabloggers last blog post..How to Measure Blog Traffic: Web Analytics

  22. K Miley says:

    I’ve been thinking about blogging for too long and I’m finally doing it. Your comments hit many of the roadblocks right on the head. Coming to terms with just getting started was my first hurdle. Maintaining a steady writing habit will be the next.

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Very helpful!

    Katie

    K Mileys last blog post..Resolve to Live a More Balanced Life

  23. Havi Brooks
    Twitter: havi
    says:

    :)

    Thanks, @Katie!

    That’s awesome that you’re getting started. And the hurdles keep getting smaller and less impressive, so I’m sure it will start being more fun too.

    Good luck with that — and keep us posted!

  24. […] Therapy series by Havi Brooks (see bottom of the post for links to topics like mean comments, what if nobody reads my blog, […]

  25. Aaron Fung
    Twitter: AaronHFung
    says:

    @Havi

    “…wacky alternative-ey Portland types who tend to think “pack” sounds too … stressful. And kinda bite-ey.”

    Actually, I kind of like “pack,” sounds powerful and a little dangerous.

    Like a wolf pack on the hunt for a trophy to satiate her terrible pain in the stomach…

    *thinking about what I just said*

    Hmmm, I see your point, that does sound stressful. Time to find another word.

    :-)

    And yes, I agree: packs (especially of wolves) are bite-ey.

    At least pack sounds better than “clique” :-(

    *memories of high school*

    Great post. And I can relate, as I am hearing the crickets chirping something in a minor key over at my very empty blog as I type.

    I’m not so certain I mind my lack of audience, as I rather like hanging out in empty halls listening to insects singing in minor keys; I almost feel poetic.

    All the best,
    Aaron

  26. Boni Candelario
    Twitter: coachmupboni
    says:

    Hi Havi,

    Nice to meet you. I stumbled upon your blog from a comment I read on MarieForleo.com. You are awesome. I really needed to hear that I can be myself and stop worrying about sounding like an expert or staying business-like. I just changed my wordpress theme in an effort to change the energy I have around my blog but your writing helps tremendously. I’m obsessively reading your Blogging Therapy posts in order because they are so enlightening. Thank you for sharing your online space with us. I look forward to connecting with you irl or in the “space”.

    Best wishes to you and Selma (Both of you are such cuties)

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