A few weeks ago I sat around a table with some (lovely) peers and the topic of blogging came up. Actually, the Influence Conference came up. Another woman had attended as a vendor representative, but she doesn’t actually blog. I told her that I had attended as a blogger. We talked a bit about how it was a foreign world for her, and I totally understood. It was strange for her for the same reasons it was really nice for me. Everyone there blogged. We spoke the same language.
As the conversation continued casually, a few comments like, “I don’t need to share every detail of my life online” and “I wouldn’t have time even if I wanted to” were made. Comments that aren’t meant to be insulting but kind of sit right on the border. Eventually, it went a little farther than that, getting into personal philosophies of social media and technology. A conversation I really, really enjoy. (I’m serious.)
Being the blogger that I am, I’ve thought about that conversation several times since it ended. Most of my blog posts start out in my head as I’m brushing my teeth or washing my hair, and this one began in my bathroom as a list of “Things NOT to Say to a Blogger.” But that sounds defensive, and I didn’t really feel defensive that day, just a little misunderstood. So I’m going to flip that around, and instead of focusing on what to avoid saying to a blogger, I want to point out some specific ways to encourage a blogger. Because it’s totally okay to have different interests and to make different decisions about where to spend your minutes. And it’s even better to support your friends where they are.
In light of that, here are some tips on how to love your blogger friends. Even if I’m the only one. But I’m sure that I’m not. (Am I? See #2.)
1. Tell them you read it.
I know the internet can feel all weird and extroverted and HEY EVERYONE LOOK AT ME! Which, in a backwards way, makes most people feel pretty incognito. I know that lends itself to opening a page, reading, closing, and never mentioning it again. But blogging isn’t meant to stay on a computer screen. And it DEFINITELY isn’t meant to take the place of real life friendships or even to stay outside those real life friendships. So if you KNOW a blogger, and you READ her blog, tell her! If you don’t know her in person, if you can’t walk by and give her a pat on the butt and say, “great post the other day,” email her. We love being contacted. I had a friend with a new baby tell me she reads my blog at night when she’s up doing middle-of-the-night feedings. She said she loved the breastfeeding series. Can I tell you how much that meant? I poured a lot into those words, and to hear her say they were helpful and she appreciated them and she reads them in the wee hours meant a lot. Bloggers don’t want the words to stay on the page. They want them to get out in real life. So if you read it, mention it. We love that.
This is another area where it can feel weird to go from reading a post by yourself to stepping into interaction with another real person. But step back and think about that – isn’t it weirder to stay hidden? I LOVE when readers take the time to comment. This isn’t meant to be a one-way conversation, even though, let’s be honest, I’m going to tend to do most of the talking. (Blog imitates life, people.) Inside the blogging world, we know that commenting on a blog is a great way to connect with that blogger and maybe get some clicks back to your own. But if you aren’t blogging, commenting can feel like a big awkward deal. So know this. It is, and it isn’t. It is a big deal to us, because it allows us to continue the conversation. It helps us and makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. It isn’t a big deal because a lot of us are regular commenters. So the things that make you feel weird aren’t weird to us. We know you’re there. We want to talk to you. Comment, and let us! (There better be a ridiculous number of comments on this post. You can do it.)
The other day a friend asked if there was a way to get my posts via email, because, as she put it, “while she appreciates my perspective on this phase in life, she’s not great at keeping up with blogs.” And the award for most encouraging question to ask a blogger goes tooooooo – that friend. So another great way to show your blogger friends is to follow their blogs. Does this mean you have to read every word? No. Does it make you more likely to read more words? Yep. There are lots of ways to do this. My personal favorite, and the method I use, is Bloglovin’.
Here’s how it works – you go to www.bloglovin.com and create an account. They only ask for your blood type and SSN once, I think. Just kidding! It’s super simple. You sign in and then in the search box you can enter your favorite blogs, and follow them. That means two things – first, whenever you sign into Bloglovin’, you’ll see a list of new posts from the bloggers you follow. You can choose to read them, or you can click “mark as read” and they’ll be gone the next time you refresh. Next, within Bloglovin’, you can sign up for daily emails of new posts from the bloggers you love. You’ll get an email with a short teaser for each new post, and you can click THAT to go read the post. Or you can archive the email and ignore it completely. There are links for following my blog on Bloglovin’ in the menu bar up there under the “n’t ke” in the header. Also see that cute heart under the mason jar? That’ll take you there too. Feedly is another site that works similarly. You can also sign up to get emails directly from most blogs. On mine, in the sidebar to the right over there, there’s a place that says “posts via email.” Put your email there, you’ll receive a confirmation email, and then you’re all set. If you have questions about any of that, as! Either in the comments or email the blogger directly. (Most bloggers have their email address easily visible. Mine is in the “about” section.)
4. Follow the other social media outlets listed.
Most bloggers are also on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on. It means a lot when you follow us on those platforms too. And the good news is, if you like what she’s posting on her own blog, you’ll probably like what she’s sharing too.
One quick aside – sometimes bloggers are paid to post about products. Responsible bloggers don’t let this get annoying – we stay true to our original voice and content but also make the most of the opportunity. When you’re writing a pitch for a paid job, you list the number of followers you have on these social media platforms. So just by following your friend, you may be helping her get noticed a little more. And if you have a product you make, talk to her about it! We love being generous artists and supporting our friends right back.
5. Share their work
If you read something you like, share it. When my friends share something I’ve written it means so much. Pick your favorite social media platform and go for it. There are usually little share buttons at the end of a post, making it super easy. It’s kind of like the commenting thing – doesn’t take much for you but means a ton to us, because it helps us grow our audience. It’s kind of like how I refer local friends in need of a family physician to my doctor friend. Or, when someone asks if I know of a great Pilates studio, I send them to my friend’s class. When I read something that helps me or informs me or makes shake with the giggles, I share it, hoping it will do the same for my other friends and to support the blogger who wrote it. You can too!
6. Assume the best.
Don’t assume she hasn’t thought about her content. Better to assume she’s sat in classes on how to share parts of your life safely, and ask about that, if you’re curious. Don’t assume she isn’t careful about keeping the internet portion of her life and the non-internet portion of her life well-balanced. She probably spends a LOT of time thinking about that, and figuring out how to live out her priorities. Don’t assume she’s just out to get attention. Or that she thinks she’s a life-expert. Consider that maybe God is doing something in her and this is part of it. What if she’s been told her voice matters? What if she’s being faithful? Blogging is vulnerable, and those who enter into it feel that every time they hit publish. Sure, there are some attention-seeking wackos out there, but your friend probably isn’t one of them. Unless you’re in an attention-seeking wacko club in which case you should probably quit it immediately and…read more blogs.
Non-bloggers – is any of that helpful? If you’re a hesitant commenter or follower, what keeps you from jumping in? (I realize the irony of asking you to comment as you answer that question…) Bloggers – anything you’d add?