How to Connect With Other Bloggers
The blogosphere isn't supposed to be like the universe, where each blog is a star, twinkling at it's neighbors from several light years away. Instead, it should be interconnected like a group of islands with bridges between them. If you feel like you're sitting alone on your star, this post is for you.
When you're a "star" blogger (by which I mean isolated, not famous), you may feel big. You're cranking out post after post, and every one is dripping with insight. Surely, everyone who sees your blog will recognize it for the powerhouse it is, right?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but no, they probably won't, because...
Even the biggest star looks like a little dot to most people.
Astronomers have found stars so big that if placed where our sun is, they'd engulf Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, the asteroid belt, Jupiter and Saturn! And yet, looking up into the night sky, they're nothing but tiny dots. And when the sun comes up, they disappear from sight completely.
The greatest blog in the world is nothing but a tiny little dot if it's sitting out in the universe on its own.
You might think the solution is to act like a star, and pull readers into orbit around you. However...
Each planet orbits a single sun.
If you're not the sun for your readers -- if your blog isn't their one source of light -- then you're just a little dot at night. It's pretty much all or nothing, and the odds of being their sun are about as good as the odds of winning the lottery. That may be good enough to pin some idle dreams on, but not something to quit your day job for.
You're much better off connecting with other bloggers and sharing visitors, like a group of interconnected islands. The more bridges you've got coming to your island, the more likely somebody is to drive across and check out the scenery.
Links are your bridges, but how do you build them?
The obvious answer is to choose a few bloggers you'd like to connect with and comment regularly on their blogs. While commenting should be part of your strategy, there's a hidden danger that you need to be aware of. If all you ever do is comment, you risk being seen as a commenter instead of as a blogger.
Sometimes, you should find inspiration in other blogs, but post your comments on your own blog. There are advantages to each approach.
- ...get your name in front of the people you want to build relationships with.
- ...build "bridges" (a.k.a. "links") between your blogs. Most comment forms allow you to include a link to your website, and many blogs display "pingbacks" to other blogs that link to their posts.
- ...is better for participating in live conversations, not only with the blog owner, but with their readers.
- ...may be better if you only have a short comment.
- ...is like visiting them in their home.
Posting responses on your own blog...
- ...establishes you as a blogger -- as more of an equal, both in their eyes, and (especially as they respond to your posts) in the eyes of readers.
- ...builds reciprocity by giving not just a comment, but a link from your blog to theirs. A post on your blog shows that you're willing to share your credibility, your readers, and your PageRank with them.
- ...is like inviting them to your home.
- ...builds content on your own site.
Which draws more click-through traffic?
The other day, I came across this at Lynn Terry's blog:
...pingbacks also get a much higher click-through rate (CTR) than blog comments. Readers view pingbacks as add-ons to the discussion, connections to related conversations.
Even better than both [commenting and getting pingbacks] are links within the actual content area of a blog post. If you're spending a lot of time on blog commenting for link building, your time could be better spent doing guest blogging and/or article marketing.
To that, I'd just add that as you build relationships with other bloggers by linking to them from your posts, you're more likely to get in-content links from them to your posts, particularly if you pursue them deliberately. When you feel you've established enough of a relationship and enough credibility with them, contact them directly and suggest making a regular practice of riffing on each others' posts.
Be careful with the timing of a request like that. Especially if they're clearly at a higher level than you, you'll want to work your way to that suggestion gradually. Start off by just making personal contact, doing a favor for them, etc., and when the time is right, make the suggestion.
This is part of the strategy I've been pursing for the last 3 months or so, using SEO Content Factory to subscribe to blogs related to mine. When I find something that sparks an idea for my blog, I publish a post linking back to it.
I've got a few other ideas stewing for how we can get our islands more interconnected (nothing spammy or artificial). I'll let you know once I get things fleshed out more.