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 …
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.
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.
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.