Starting a WordPress Blog – 5
This is part 5 of my guide to starting a WordPress blog. In Starting a WordPress Blog – 1, I discussed some blogging basics and definitions and in Starting a WordPress Blog – 2, I showed how to register on WordPress for a blog and choose a theme. Starting a WordPress Blog – 3 showed you how to set up your blog so that it was ready for your first post. In Starting a WordPress Blog – 4, we posted your first post. So, if you’ve followed along and done your homework … which consisted of playing with WordPress until you were ready to post … you have a yourself a blog with your first post published. Congratulations. Now you’re waiting breathlessly for your first comment. Let me offer you a deal … come back and leave a comment telling me about your first post and I’ll come by and leave you a comment. Meanwhile let me offer some thoughts on the blogging experience.
What makes blogging different than, say, writing in a journal or having folders of nicely crafted essays in a folder on your PC is readers. There are several ways to judge how much your posts are being read: views, comments and subscriptions. Views show up on the right hand side of your Dashboard and tell you how many times someone … or something … has arrived at your blog. Note … not read … arrived at. People will reach your blog in a variety of ways. As the number of posts on your site grows, more will arrive via search engines. One of the search items that frequently brings people to Older Eyes is old man shoes. Go figure. The point is that all viewers aren’t readers. Some, in fact, aren’t even people, they are little programs called bots which visit your blog just to leave a web address in hope of clicks. So, while I watch my views periodically, I don’t think of them as a valid reader count.
Comments are not only a much better indication of readership, they are a lot more fun. Sometimes, they just say Hi, I was here but often they are thoughtful commentary. Either way, if you want readers, take the time to answer comments. Yes, those nasty little bots will leave comments, too, but for the most part, their comments are easily spotted … and on WordPress.com, they are usually snagged by Askimet (the embedded spam catcher) then noted as spam under Comments. I require all comments by new readers to be approved … there are internet trolls out there and occasionally, one leaves a something foul in my comments section. There is an internet axiom that says that one in ten of the people that access an online resource will actually participate, which suggests that your readership may be roughly ten times the number of legitimate comments you receive. Finally, there are subscriptions or followers. People can subscribe to your blog via the RSS link under Meta, using the subscribe by email widget (if you’ve included it in your sidebar) and, if they are a WordPress blogger, by clicking on Follow while they are reading your blog. When you Follow a WordPress blog, it shows up in the Blogs I Follow link on your WordPress.com page under Reader. You can see how many followers you have in the Stats tab on WordPress.com (note: you need to be logged in).
Excluding those few who touch the viral mother lode and acquire a dedicated readership beyond their greatest imaginings, there are two sides to blogging – writing and reading. Many who comment on or subscribe to your blog do so in hopes of reciprocation. If you don’t visit them, you will learn the Law of the Blogging Jungle – they may not continue to visit you if you don’t visit them. But some will become dedicated readers, not every day but like old friends, just when you think they are gone they’ll turn up with a lengthy comment. If you have regular readers who are also bloggers, it’s nice to include them in the Blogroll widget in your sidebar (on Older Eyes, it’s titled Blogs I Read … you can change the title in the Widget controls). At the end of the day, you get to decide how you balance the reading and writing aspects of blogging, which will in turn, determine the size of your blogging community. In my efforts (some would say obsession) to post nearly every day, I land on the writing side of the equation, happy to read a handful of blogs and grateful for my small but dedicated group of blogging friends.
I hope you find blogging as fulfilling as I have. Be patient with the process and be patient with yourself. Have fun and let both your blog and your writing evolve. If you decide to start a blog and this is helpful, let me know. If you have a blog and have additional thoughts on the experience, I’d like to hear them, too.
P.S. – I’ve decided to add these posts to a page titled Starting a WordPress Blog that will appear in my pages Widget in the sidebar. If you know anyone that might be interested, send them by.