Friday, January 23, 2009

Lessons in Blogging

Looking for the Contest? Click here.

Wow. You cannot imagine the pressure I feel. As an award-winning blogger, I now carry a tremendous burden. Not only do legions of new readers expect brilliance, I expect it of myself. There's really only one thing that can calm my nerves at this point. This song.

Ah, much better.

Today, as you have probably inferred from the title of this post, I discuss what I have learned about blogging. If you check the archives you will see that I am what the citizens of the Webosphere call a "newbie." This is not a cute name for a child's play toy, but rather a term meaning "idiot." As such, I have had to learn the hard way.


1. People are more likely to read your blog if you read and comment on theirs.

This is based on a very simple fact of human nature: People think they're awesome. It works like this: Blogger A thinks he's awesome. So does Blogger B. Both are extremely impressed with their own blogs, but no one else really cares. Blogger A, knowing that Blogger B thinks what he blogged about is awesome, figures that if he comments on Blogger B's blog then Blogger B will 1. appreciate it and possibly reciprocate and 2. realize what fine taste Blogger A must have and so at least check out Blogger A's blog. This is called "networking."

If the above example was confusing to you (and if it was that is entirely your fault, not mine. I'm an award-winning blogger, after all), allow me to make a comparison. Blogging is like golfing. No one gives a crap about "how you're hittin' 'em" and they really don't care how you managed to save bogey on the eleventh by turning your five iron backward and chipping out from under an evergreen, but they might ask you about your round and pretend to listen to your answers with the expectation that you will ask them about their round so they can tell you a bunch of stuff you really don't care about.

2. A contest is a good way to increase traffic to your blog.

I was pretty sure this was true even before I started my contest, but it has now been confirmed. First, the numbers: By my math, which, admittedly, is not my strongest suit despite the heroic efforts of the teachers at Cass City High School (shout-out), I was averaging around 13 page views (or visits or hits, I don't know what to call them) per day. On the day I announced the contest, Murphblog raked in 71 visitors. Now I know some of you reading this are probably thinking, 71 visitors? Pssh. I get that in an hour. Yeah? Good for you. Keep it to yourself. And anyway, it's not the number that counts, it's the increase. Percentagely, I shot the freakin' moon.

Now, why does a contest have such an effect? First, I used the fine marketing skills I received at Cass City Hi--er--I mean, from watching The Apprentice, and I knew that I had to get the word out. As a regular reader of Verla's board, I know that the contest area is often neglected and if I announced my contest there, it would at least get a few looks. Plus, it would stay there for the next month because apparently there aren't that many contests. Posting on Verla's probably drove most of the 71 people to the blog. Why did they come? Simple answer: People think they're awesome. A contest provides the chance for them to prove their awesomeness to others. (On my Post-it: Think of more contest ideas. Possible prize--packets of grape Kool-Aid)

3. There are "gadgets" that allow readers to follow your blog.

I sort of knew of such things, but I've never used them. I keep track of the blogs I like by either adding them to my blogroll or, more often, just sort of re-stumbling onto them. I'm sure there are some I've forgotten. Thanks to Big Plain V, I am now aware that at least one person would like to be able to "follow" my blog. I've seen these things on other blogs. They look a little like Hollywood Squares. The reason I haven't added them to Murphblog is, you guessed it, pretty simple. Because I think I'm awesome (and this should not strike you as arrogant if you've been paying attention), I would love to have a Hollywood Squares thingy with, like, 100 squares. The problem is, I have a deep suspicion (okay, so it's not that deep) that if I added that gadget, I'd have, like, two followers. And one of them would be this guy. And then I would have to confront the possibility that I am not awesome. And that would suck.

So that's what I've learned about blogging. If you'd like to share your wisdom, please do so in the comments. (That's another thing I've learned. Asking readers questions is more likely to elicit comments. Anybody care to guess why? I'll give you a hint: The explanation is simple.)

Twilight Quote of the Day:

"Is there no hope, then?"

--Carlisle Cullen, Breaking Dawn, p. 723


Big Plain V said...

You can follow yourself, you know, but don't do it unless you think you're awesome. I follow myself, so what's that tell you?

So let's see... if you add the follow thingy, you'd have four followers to start out with: you, me, your mom, and Jim Bullock. Not a bad start.

(Seriously, a guy like you will build readership, just give it time. And you're not gonna want a huge, high-traffic blog anyway -- more readers means more blogs you have to visit, and this game don't pay too well, knowuttimsayin?)

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Problem--my wife and mom don't have an "identity." Plus, they read anyway, so I doubt they'd actually "follow" the blog. It's not like they're going to forget I'm out here clogging up the Webosphere.

Other problem--Jim would be more of a deterrent, I think.

So we're back to you and me, and although we're both awesome, it might not appear so to casual observers.

As to having a high-traffic blog, the way I figure it is once I reach a certain level of success, I'll just big-time everyone.

(That last was a joke. I think.)

Kelly said...

Cool song clip, but I actually enjoy Vanessa Carlton's boyfriend's music more (Stephen Jenkins of Third Eye Blind). But that girl is talented.
Funny and informative tips! Glad to hear your contest scheme came through for you! I've got a big glass pitcher waiting for those winning grape kool aid packets when I ace your next contest!

Lily Cate said...

I don't have any "followers" for the same reason. I'm not even "internet cool".
But I say it's because I have a brand new blog, and there's not much to it, yet.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Kelly--I don't know anything about the Carlton girl other than when I hear the piano part of that song, I always feel better about life.

Lily Cate--You probably did this to keep weirdos like me away from your blog, but I tried clicking on your name in the comments and it says your profile is not available, which makes it hard to visit your blog. Might want to change that if it's readers you want.

Monica said...

hah..i'm a follower..yay me.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

A follower!

Ben Esch said...


Awesome advice! And I'm going to follow it right now, by leaving a comment on your blog in the hopes that I'll get some of that sweet "Murph blog" visitor action coming my way.


Lily Cate said...

Ha! I didn't even know that.
Dumb diddly-um. Thanks!