I have a sticky note at my desk that says:
I wrote that as a reminder of what I see as my keys to blogging success. And I do think Butchtastic is a successful blog. Why do I think that? Well, the first step in becoming successful at anything is to decide on your definition of success. My definition of success isn’t having thousands of readers, or making money off my blog, or leveraging it into a TV show.
So it’s not all about fame and fortune and groupies?
Naaaa… if I wanted that, I’d be doing more than blogging, right? How could a blogger end up with groupies? (*wink to Kyle’s Harem*)
Seriously though, success to me is having a lasting core of long time readers, and getting comments and the occasional email from someone who learned something, or felt better about themselves because of something I wrote. I know I’m doing something right when I get messages from people saying my posts helped them in their gender explorations, or that they learned something new about poly from me.
Success is getting to post my stories and my thoughts and my ramblings and finding out someone became more aware or was entertained, or turned on because of them.
So where does the list of words come into all of this? During our pre-interview chit-chat, Evoe Thorne and I were talking about her ambitions for My Whole Sex Life, the website she’s developing. I talked about the genesis of Butchtastic and the strategies I employed to bring readers to my newly hatched baby. As I described the networking, research and planning I did even before launching this site, Evoe shook her head and said that’s more strategizing than she’d considered before.
The bullet list above is a guide to the things I’ve done and continue to do to maintain and grow this blog in terms of content and readership.
Reciprocation: read other blogs, make comments, become known to the people who write things that interest you, who have similar views, who are potential readers for your blog. At the same time, their readers will start seeing your name in the comments and some will click the link and check out your blog.
Inspiration: see what other people are thinking and writing about, learn about organizations and events you were unaware of, get the lay of the land with respect to the politics and established movers and shakers in the topic area of your blog. You’ll probably find ideas for your blog, topics to research and write about, organizations to become involved in. If you present interesting, well thought out and well written opinions, you’ll get a loyal group of readers who want to know your opinions. You might also get some interesting conversations going on in the comments and you may also find people who don’t agree with you and want to get loud and obnoxious in your comments. That’s all part of the blogosphere.
Collaboration: think of projects you can work on with other bloggers. Maybe you and some others can write around a theme on a regular basis (HNT and Microfantasy Monday are examples of that). You can also interview other bloggers or even regular readers and post the results, or aggregate responses to periodic questions on your blog (as G does with Butch 360). These are ways to increase your mind-share in the blogosphere and increase the number of cross links from other blogs. And it’s pretty cool to collaborate with others, you might find new best friends, business partners or lovers that way.
Perspiration: you can be a casual blogger, and you can have a measure of success without slaving away at it. But it does depend on your definition of success. If you want a regular, active readership and you want to develop reciprocation between your blog and other bloggers, you’re going to need to work at it. Depending on your subject matter, you may be researching topics, reading other people’s blogs, writing your posts and doing administrative work several hours a week, maybe a few hours a day. Maintain your blog, clear out comment spam, upgrade your theme and plug-ins, change things up once in a while, update your ad images, update your banner.
Dedication: Stick with it. Take time off when you need to, vacations are good for inspiration and for restocking our energy. Sometimes life happens and the blog has to be a lesser priority, it happens to everyone. But don’t neglect your baby for too long. The blog reading public wants content and if you don’t give them something often enough, they’ll go searching for new sources. Luckily, because so many people use aggregation services of various kinds, when you do post, it should get some notice. If you’re having trouble generating energy and inspiration, do some blog surfing, or go back into your own blog archives. You may find a comment or a question, or maybe even one of your own posts, that inspires a response or an update of some kind.
I think I’ll add another word to that list: Celebration. Give yourself credit for making it to your one year anniversary, and any other special milestones you come across. Have some fun, create a contest of some kind, invite your readers to participate.
Other stuff: Get a twitter account and use it, let people know when you’ve posted a new entry. Tweet about posts you see on other people’s blogs that you enjoyed or that got you thinking. (falls into collaboration). If someone else’s work inspires you to write on your blog, make sure to link back to them. That gives them credit and might send new readers their way. Get business cards with your blogname, tagline, some contact information on them. Hand them out when you are at events, have them handy when you go out. For the price of shipping, you can have a great memory enhancer for those deep alcohol fueled bar conversations.
On your blog and in life, be real, unless your goal is to create a character, an artificial persona, you’ll be more successful by being honest, being yourself, being authentic. That’s not to say you have to share everything that happens, or everything that goes through your mind, but when you do, make sure you can stand by it, keep it real. And know that if you reveal something hard, something difficult and personal and tender, you’ll most likely get more responses than you will to posts that are filled with sunshine and happiness and rainbows.
These are my ‘rules of engagement’, the principals I try to keep in mind as I’m engaging in my blogging craft. What say you, blog reading and writing public? Do I have it right? Did I miss something? Feel free to ask questions and question my answers, this is the kind of meta con
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