One of the small things in life that I take great pleasure in is heading out to the store or running an errand and bringing a few of my kids along with me. Riding in the car somewhere is a great opportunity to spend some "quality" time with your kids and can provide some great teaching moments.
While riding in the car over the weekend, one of my boys started asking questions about where our family was from, which started a fairly long conversation that he really enjoyed, including a few interesting and amusing stories.
My family, on my father's side, is from West Virginia. While for many, this conjures mental images of "Deliverance", it's a heritage I'm very proud of. West Virginia is full of honest and hard working people, that while certainly "country", they are also people that never forgot you and always put family and people first. Making sure I never forgot my roots is important to my Dad, and now as a father, it has become important to me as well.
How does all of this relate the blogging? Surprisingly, remembering your blogging roots is pretty important, or at least to me it is. Here's why ...
Your blogging roots
I clearly remember the first few months after starting Side Income Blogging. I remember checking Google Analytics daily to watch for visitors and looked forward to receiving those very first few comment notification emails. I also clearly remember starting my very first blog on personal finance in 2006, and how exited I was as I started to receive comments and interaction from readers. I remember many of their names to this day.
As you start your blog and it begins to grow, you'll meet people that will have a profound influence on your blog. These people include:
- Every single one of your readers. They are the foundation of your blog.
- Other bloggers that help you, write for you, support you, and link out to you.
- Your family who will support you and give you incredible ideas if you listen (this article is a perfect example).
Not only will you meet incredible people, your blog will have incredible moments that occur that will help it become more visible and help it grow. These are moments like:
- Getting linked from a large blog inside or outside of your niche
- Being mentioned by a major news outlet
- Going viral on social media
- Ranking #1 for some high traffic keyword, even if only for a few days
- Earning your first few cents
All of these people and moments, I refer to as "blogging roots". Someday, when your blog is big and influential, these are the people and momenets you absolutely do not want to forget. Without these people and events, your blog would not be where it is.
Bloggers are forgetting their roots
Amy Andrews, from Blogging with Amy and I were chatting a bit about a recent change in direction she is making on her blog. In that conversion, she said something pretty profound that has really made me think:
"Back in the day, we used to follow blogs. Now we follow people."
When I first read that, I wasn't sure I agreed with her. But the more I thought about, the more I realized that she was right. Gone are the days of anonymous/code name bloggers. Relationships, especially those we have with our readers and our audience, are becoming more and more important. Social media has really become the icing on the cake in this trend, almost requiring people to be "real". Readers want to know who you are, they want to see your face.
There is a disturbing trend though that I'm seeing in the blogging world: Over the past few months, I've emailed and tried to correspond with a number of "A-list" bloggers for various reasons, and unfortunately received very few replies. A-list bloggers are the top blogging tier, they are the bloggers and blogs that come to mind when you think of high traffic blogs, large income earning blogs, and those blogs that really influence the internet.
The trend I refer to is one where these blogs and bloggers start out like any other. They have people and events that spur their growth over time and help them become the big success they are. The problem is that I see these bloggers frequently forgetting where they came from and turning their backs on the people that helped get them where they are today. These bloggers are also forgetting who is keeping them where they are as well - their readers.
Sure, I get that large blogs get lots of email and comments, but at the same time keeping up with email and comments has to be a priority. Unfortunately for many, it doesn't seem to be. Sadly, making money seems to be the priority. The irony here is that it's the blog's readers than generate the income.
Don't believe me? Think I'm over exaggerating?
Try this: Send an email to 5 really big name bloggers and ask them a thoughtful question. Send them something on social media. If more than one of them replies, I'd be surprised. If you do decide to do this, please leave a comment below and let me know your results. Feel free to call out the name of the blogger's that did reply, because I think they need to be recognized.
Here are the top mistakes I see big name, A-List bloggers making::
- Not responding to comments
- Not responding to email
- Not responding to questions
- Not responding and engaging on social media
- Only engaging within their cliques and frankly even being part of cliques
Since blogging is now more about the blogger than the blog itself, maintaining two-way and beneficial relationships is critical to your blog's success. The two fastest ways to make me unfollow you and your blog are:
- Not replying or recognizing a comment I added to your post. Recognizing can be "liking" or giving a "plus one".
- Not engaging on a post I publish on my blog or create on social media.
When was the last time you saw an "a-list" blogger share something on social media and there were lots of comments and none of them from the blogger ? Or even worse, they respond to comments, but only from comments made by other "a-list" bloggers in their clique? I had this very thing happen a few weeks ago on Google+. I responded to the blogger's post and even asked a question. There were other comments from "a-list" bloggers than received replies, but my reply was completely ignored by all of them. I felt like I wasn't even part of the conversation.
I've seen all of these scenarios far too often lately and I've stopped following most of these bloggers too. Not just due to one instance, but due to repeated instances. This will probably hurt me some, but I refuse to support "elitest" bloggers.
When was the last time an A-List blogger responded to one of your social media posts? Oh, and responding due to you sharing one of their articles doesn't really count.
My grandmother used to refer to all of this as "Getting too big for their britches". Many A-List bloggers have definitely gotten "too big for their britches."
Never forget your roots
Don't turn your back on the people that helped you grow and become successful. Don't ever forget the people that read your blog each day and take the time out of their schedules to add a thoughtful comment on your blog and your social shares.
When one of your readers takes the time out of their life to write you, respond. Those people are writing you because they respect you and nothing says "I don't care about you" more than not responding or not giving them a little of your time.
I'm not one to call out people often, but there are two bloggers that immediately come to mind as text book examples of putting readers first:
- Sean Ogle of Location 180 - Sean has replied to every email I've sent him, and also engaged me on social media. He even proactively sent me an email! Sean is very approachable and clearly appreciates how important his readers are.
- Darren Rouse of ProBlogger - Darren is a name that would probably make it on the top 5 successful blogger lists of most anyone. His blogs are incredibly popular and I can't even begin to imagine how many comments and emails he gets everyday, yet me manages to reply. I've exchanged a number of emails with him over the years and when I've mentioned him on social media, he almost always finds the time to reply.
Sea and Darren are two shining examples of bloggers that haven't forgotten their roots and understand the importance of putting their readers first.
I sincerely hope that all of you reading Side Income Blogging and working to grow your blogs become huge successes. Just make sure once you're there, that you don't forget the people that helped you get there and the people that help you stay there. You have my word, I'll never forget.
Photo by: stephen bowler