My Small World Story

Sometimes when you’re blogging it can feel like you’re talking into space. Not every post has lots of people interacting with it and, when you do have interactions, so often they are people that you’ve never met in real life. For some people this can be a very liberating medium to work in, but for others it can feel a little like broadcasting to no one.

But it’s not always like that.

Many years ago, when my mother and I were both blogging regularly, we had a subscriber in common. She found my mother’s blog first and began to follow mine as well, striking up interesting conversations in the comments as we discussed the ins and outs of our daily lives. Then one day she told us that she lived in New Zealand. My aunt lives in New Zealand and so my mother replied with the usual exclamation expecting the usual response:

“My sister lives in New Zealand!”
“New Zealand is a big place. I’m afraid I don’t know her.”

Except that’s not what happened. It turns out that my aunt had been her teacher while she was working on her graduate degree at the local university. We have since met her in person and keep in touch to this day (thanks to the wonders of social media), but there is a surreal “what are the odds” sort of quality to the whole situation.

Have you ever started a conversation with one of your subscribers only to discover later that you had friends in common? Or better yet, have you ever thought you knew someone based on their blog and later found out you were right?

Who Inspires You?

When I started blogging at Wine Scamp, I had a number of topics in mind. I wanted to write about wines I was drinking, to encourage people to become their own wine authority, and to post about wineries I found interesting. But once I had written about most of those things (a couple times), I hit a bit of a wall. I was a little bored with my topics, I wasn’t getting many readers, and I couldn’t think of interesting new material. Argh!

I’m very glad that I didn’t just throw up my hands and quit blogging at that point. (Lots of people do.) Instead, I did a quick search for “wine blog” and started reading other people’s stuff. I commented on the articles I found interesting or funny. Sometimes a comment conversation would inspire me to write a post. The bloggers whose work I had commented on visited my blog and commented on my posts, too. I’d even make notes about types of articles that didn’t really engage me, and resolve to write about those subjects differently, or not at all.

The more I read other people’s work (like Vinography and Good Wine Under $20, for example), the more ideas I had percolating in my head. And the more I interacted on other people’s sites, the more visitors I had at my blog. I even started to make friends with other wine bloggers, which definitely made blogging more fun.

I don’t blog about wine as regularly as I used to, but reading other people’s work continues to inspire me. Reading the blogs by our fantastic Press Publish speakers (both Portland and Phoenix) has definitely inspired me to post more often on my personal (mostly photo) blog!

What bloggers do you read regularly? What sites inspire you to blog more?

 

On Blog Comments

Comments from readers are some of the most gratifying parts of blogging. Someone’s reading! Someone felt compelled to send a note!

Even more gratifying is when a lurker de-lurks and identifies him or herself. Those are times when I’ve re-read my post to see what on earth it was about THAT post that got someone to shed their anonymity, and introduce themselves.

It is very much like inviting guests into your home, and making a connection. And sometimes, making very good friends as they return repeatedly for your hospitality, and you in turn, invite them to return for their good grace.

So how do we make our home and blog inviting? And what it is that keeps people returning?

I’ve found that it’s about making your blog safe–and curating the comments, should people disagree and escalate disagreement into barbs. It’s starting a dialogue in your own post, and then facilitating the comments. It’s acknowledging their comments. Saying thank you. Common courtesies, even if you disagree, even if the commenter has hurt your feelings.

Chances are that if people have come around to write something on your blog post, their intentions are good. I’ve found (and maybe I’m wrong) that people tend to be more courteous on personal blogs than on larger sites, for instance Salon.com.

Do you enjoy your comments? What is the best comment you’ve ever had on your blog? What have you done to welcome comments?

Making Friends Online

About a dozen years ago, I lived in San Francisco. I loved music, and had a list of upcoming bands that I planned to see in the sidebar of my blog. One day I posted about a show that I was going to see, and that I wished I had someone to go with me. As it turned out, one of my readers lived in San Francisco and also wanted to see that show, and told me in the comments. We’d been following each other’s blogs, but had never met in person before. We wound up not only seeing that show, but becoming great friends, thanks to the common interest we discovered through our blogs.

Have you ever made a friend — either in person or just online — through the comments on a blog?