The world of online friendships is not one I ever thought I would enter. I’m kind of of that old school mindset that thinks meeting people online is slightly dodgy. More and more though I am coming round to it. For me, its all in how you go about it.
Through the last few years of blogging I have made several friends. I’ve met up wth some of them and have plans to meet others when the opportunity arises. I’m involved in a few little online communities and really enjoy the virtual meetups in the form of joining linkies or Twitter chats.
Making friends through blogging is not something I set out to do or felt the need to pursue. It is certainly not a must. You can be happy blogging away without any onlone friends.
But as in real life, friends can happen upon you. You exchange a few words, something clicks and you end up as friends without much effort or plan. That, I find, is the key to blogger friendships. You have to let it happen as it happens.
Here are my dos and don’ts of making blogger friends.
- Engage on social media and with comments on blog posts to get to know people
- Share posts, retweet and support others online, just as you do with your real life friends
- Be consistent. If you are regularly in contact with someone, don’t just abandon them. If you can’t make it to their linky or join in a chat, let them know what you are away.
- Drop a line to say hi. Like I said above, just like you do with other friends
- Tag a friend in a #widn (what I’m doing now) Instgram
- Be sincere in all you do
- Hound people. No one likes clingyness. If you have been in touch with another blogger, give them a chance to reply to you in their own time.
- Flatter people for flattery’s sake.
- Name drop
- Put up a false front. Be yourself, maybe a tad more confident, but yourself nonetheless
That is really all it takes.
I read a lot of blogs and for the most part I enjoy them. There are a couple of things that put me off though, top of the list being bad grammar and spelling. It doesn’t just put me off the blog. It kind of puts me off any sponsors they work with too, unfortunately.
I’m lucky that I had a brilliant teacher when I was nine. She made sure that the whole class knew our grammar inside out and backways. Her technique was the old-fashioned learn by heart method, but she did her best to make sure we understood what we were learning, and it has stuck with me ever since. I’m not claiming to be an expert by any means but I do have a reasonable grasp of what is right and what is wrong.
A lot of people weren’t as lucky as I was and never got a good grounding in grammr. So for those, here are a few basic tips that should help you.
- I or me? This is an easy one to sort out. We all know which to use if we are just talking about outselves but if we add in another person, is it I or me we should use? “Me and Emma went to the shop” or “Emma and I went to the shop” The answer is simple. Leave out the other person for a moment and ask yourself which sounds right. Then you’ll come to the correct conclusion. It is “I went to the shop”, not “Me went to the shop”, therefore it also “Emma and I went to the shop”. Equally, it is “She walked away from me” not “from I”, so it is also “She walked away from Emma and me”.
- Your or you’re? If you use an apostrophe (‘), it is to show that something is missing. In this case, it is the A in “are” because “you’re” means “you are”. “Your” means belonging to you. If in doubt as to which to use, ask yourself which suits the context better “you are” [you’re] or “belonging to you” [your].
- “Their” or “there”. Again, this is easily solved. “Their” means “belonging to them” and “there” means at a certain place. If you have trouble remembering which spelling is correct, try remembering “Where? There!”.
- When to use an apostrophe s (‘s). The thing to think about here is whether you are referring to the plural of something (one blog, two blogs – no apostrophe), an action (he blogs, she blogs – no apostrophe) or belonging to someone /something (the blog’s name – use an apostrophe). For example:
- One mother, two mothers – plural – no apostrophe
- She mothers him – action – no apostrophe
- My mother‘s handbag – belonging to – apostrophe
- Spelling in general – if you are unsure of how to spell something, check it. It only takes a moment but make a big different to how your readers react to your writing. One example would be pore over / pour over. Which do you use to say that you spent ages going through the Sunday papers and which do you use to describe what you did with your custard and apple tart? If you are unsure, type the phrase nto Google and you’ll soon find which is which.
I hope these tips help a little. If you have any particular grammar problems, leave me a comment and I’ll try to help you.
It sounds harmless at first. A blog break. No biggie. But then you start to think of it in terms of a realtionship break. The beginning of the end. And you think no, I’ll power through. I’m not quitting. I’m not giving in.
That point right there is where you need to stop over-analysing. Breaks are there for a reason. At school. At work. At seminars. Breaks are there to refresh you. To give you a chance to process the things that have been going on. To give your mind and body a chance to catch up on everything that has been going on around you.
There are signs that you could do with a break. Here are five of them.
- You increasingly suffer from writer’s block or blogger’s block as it is often called. You feel you have to write but nothing will come. Or you can’t put your thoughts into words. What used to come freely refuses to.
- You have lost your blogging mojo and wonder what the point in carrying on is. Thoughts like “Why bother?”, “Isn’t it all a load of ranting and mutual ego-boosting anyway?” or “There are millions of blogs out there. Who cares about mine?” surface and hinder your progress.
- You miss your family, friends and hobbies because you have devoted all your time to your blog.
- You have trouble getting to sleep because your mind is buzzing with blog-related to do lists, post ideas and must-do-better thoughts.
- You can’t concentrate, constantly distracted by notifications on your phone, tweets, linkies and lists.
If some or any of these symptoms apply to you, then literally give yourself a break. Even if you’ve read the signs and feel they don’t apply to you, take a break now and again anyway. Be it a day or a week, switch off and recharge.
There’s one good reason to.
It will make you better.
Sharing on #TheList
If you look through a lot of blogging tips online, you could easily be put off the idea of blogging altogether. Stats, pins, SEO, apps that tweet for you, plugins, rankings, DSLR cameras, self-hosting…it can all be a tad mind-boggling.
So how do you make sense of it all? Here’s my three point plan to approaching it.
- Take a pen and paper.
- Sit down and write a couple of points about
- why you want to blog,
- what you want to achieve, and
- how much time you are prepared to spend on it.
- Review your list and make your decision.
If your list reveals that you want to record memories, recipes, thoughts, etc. for yourself, your family and friends and whoever else may stumble upon your blog, then the answer is simple. You’ll fit your blog into your lifestyle, taking time when you have it or when the mood is on you to write. Social media won’t necessarily be part of your plan. You needn’t worry about SEOs or statistics and the quality of your photos is up to you.
If, however, your list concludes that you want to make blogging part of your life and possibly part of your income source, then prepare for a lot of work. Blogging for many is a pure joy and doesn’t feel like work at lot of the time. But there is no denying that if you are in it to get places and be noticed, then will need to invest time and money in your blog. To what extent you do that is up to you.
There is no magic equation that says a certain amount of effort and expense will generate a certain amount of income. Nor is there any set time frame between starting a blog and getting work. The blogging world can be fickle and harsh at times. You’ve got to be savvy and on the ball to get places. Or just get lucky. That can happen. But mostly it is hard work and keeping an out for opportunities that has gotten big bloggers where they are today.
So, before you get disheartened with your blog or go off the idea of even starting one, sit down with a pen and paper.
Whether you read dozens of blog posts a week or just a handful a year, commenting can be a bit of a chore. Leaving a friendly, sincere-sounding comment and that is not overly long or too abrupt – it is a bit of a balancing act.
While joining linkies is a great way to get exposure for your own posts and to find all sorts of blogs you might otherwise not have come across, the pressure to comment can be off-putting for some.
Finding something to say on a post you can really relate to is not too difficult. But what if the post content just doesn’t resonate with you? Or you find the topic superficial, offensive or in poor taste?
Here are a few tips on how to comment and what to say.
If you enjoyed the post
- show the author that you liked it by saying so. That’s pretty obvious. There are tons of phrases you can use – great, brilliant, very good, fabulous, really funny, hilarious,… Vary them.
- but also mention what you enjoyed most. While you may well mean “Brilliant post” when you write that, it is not clear to the blogger you are praising that you actually read the post. Adding a line or two about what struck you as true/stange/sad/whatever chord it happened to strike will show that you paid attention to the post. The author of the post will appreciate that and may well visit your blog as a result.
- try to not sound insincere by using hyperbole like “best thing ever”, “the greatest” or “totally amazing” on every post you like. Save that for the ones that really are incredibly well-written, moving or hilarious.
- add a short anecdote of your own experience, if relevant. A comment doesn’t have to just be praise of the blogger, it can be a conversation starter too.
If you didn’t enjoy the post
- we have all heard it from parents and teachers – if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. Often this is the best route to take.
- but if you really can’t hold back, try a well-phrased comment voicing your opinion. Something like “I can’t say I agree with you but you have put your point across well” or “In my experience that is not always the case”, perhaps adding a short anecdote about your own experience of a similar situation.
- in the case of a rude, abusive or offensive post, state your objection in a calm, non-abusive way. Don’t lower yourself to the level of the writer of the post.
Basically, bear in mind that the author of the post you are commenting on wants honest feedback. No one want lip service, do they?
Something I hear over and over again from people who write blogs is I started my blog for myself. I’ve lost count of the number to times I have read or heard people say I didn’t even tell anyone about it for months.
Often this is said as it was a bad thing. As if it is in some way embarrassing, arrogant or foolish to write for yourself. It is not.
If you write a blog and enjoy it, then good for you. We all need our creative outlets. Chances are that if you write a blog, you may also read other blogs. And that is where you can find yourself and your blogging mojo taking a bit of a self-inflicted bashing.
You may have noticed that the internet is awash with helpful articles and post on the dos and don’ts of blogging. Suddenly you are worried that you are not “blogging” properly.
If you’ve asked yourself the question “Am I blogging properly?”, the answer is yes. Here’s why:
- What is a blog? A blog is a website that you post entries to. Blogging is the process of updating that blog. So if you have a blog and write on it, you are blogging properly.
- You can live without social media. Just because you have a blog, it doesn’t mean to have to share everything on social media. If you started your blog for yourself, you are perfectly entitled to keep it that way.
- Stay true to yourself. Up till now you were happy to write on your blog occasionally. No big thing. You write when you feel like it and you write about what you fancy writing about.
- Don’t compare. When you began your blog, you set it up with a layout you like. You were proud of it. So treat it like a baby. Don’t compare it to others or try to make it different, don’t make fit in with the norm. It is yours and it is unique.
Now, go back and read your first few posts. Don’t cringe. Be proud of your space. You are blogging. There is no properly.