Why Building a Blog Community is Important

does anyone know your blog existsAre you a secret blogger?  Do you have a blog that nobody knows about and few visit regularly?  If the answer is yes, I suspect that there’s not enough “you” in there for people to want to become friends with you.  Your blog might read like an instruction manual with nothing to really engage a reader.  Anyone can get a textbook but people read blogs to engage with a real person.

If that’s you, step into the real world of blogging.  Real blogging is about attracting new friends who like what you have to say.  How do you make friends through your blog?  You start by being a friend.  Find blogs YOU enjoy and follow them through email or RSS feed.  Leave comments on that blog.  Leave comments on the ultra popular blogs because if what you have to say is clever, other people will find you and follow you home.  Check out the other commenters on the blogs you like and follow THEM home and before you know it, you’ve got a web of like-minded people who are becoming friends.

It’s not rocket science but it does take some effort.  Commenting takes time.  Your comments will be there for a long time and if you write something stupid, yep, it will last forever and it will have your name plastered all over it.  Popular bloggers like good comments.  “Nice Post,” “you rock,” and “I liked this” are probably better than no comments at all but imagine if you contributed to the conversation with a well thought out comment.  I’d much rather have one of those than 4 of the “nice blog” comments.  I always remember the bloggers who show their personality and add to the conversation.

One thing I might add about commenting is don’t waste anyone’s time by linking to your own article in your comment unless it is spot on relevant and will add to the conversation.  Otherwise it looks like spam.  If you don’t get insulted, you’ll certainly be less than welcome.

Ways to find more blogging friends

making new blog friendsAnother good way to find new blog friends is to look at the blogrolls of the blogs you really enjoy.  Who do they like?  Who do they think is a mover and a shaker in the niche you’re in?  Follow them home and see if their blog fits with your point of view and if so, leave a comment.

Join Facebook groups in your niche.  There are many groups on nearly every subject.  Join the group and participate.  “Like” other blog fan pages, comment on Facebook then comment on their blogs.  You’ll end up with return likes and a budding friendship. Google+ works too but not as well as Facebook in my experience.

Once you’ve found a blog and commented, then what?

Ramp it up a bit.  Write to the blog owner at his or her contact address or form.  Say how much you liked a particular post.  This works equally well for commenters too.  If the commenter has a blog, their name will link to their blog.  EVERYONE enjoys being flattered, especially when it’s sincere.  Don’t send tons of mail but when you have something of importance to say, let them know.  Popular bloggers still collect their own mail and brush their own teeth.  The only difference is how busy they are and how much more money they’re earning.

It feels good to have friends in your niche or industry and every friend will increase your knowledge and experience and before long you’ll all be on the same level wondering who met whom first.

Just as in the dating market, there are HEAPS of fish in the sea so if you follow a blog for a week and it bores you, don’t keep going back.  You want to follow blogs you can’t wait to read.  I’ve got one blog I follow that I check her blog before going to bed in case her new post is up before I get the email.  That’s the sort of blogs I think you should find for yourself.  It’s good to be choosey — you only want the follow the best.  Each post you read from a good blogger, the better your blog will become.  It might not happen overnight but you can’t read quality without picking some of the tips up subconsciously.


Take on Your Inner Critic

face your inner criticYou talk to yourself.  We all do.  We’re often very unkind to ourselves and I know this from personal experience.

Why go?  You have nothing attractive to wear and everyone else is going to look terrific and you’re going to look like shit.

Who do you think you are giving advice?  There are heaps more people more qualified than you are.

I need to lose weight.

If you were a good person you’d stay home and do the laundry instead of going out with the girls for fun.

You are not 35 any more, go knit something.

I got that in about 10 minutes yesterday so we all need to work on that really bad self-talk that holds us back from achieving all that we want.  Okay maybe some people don’t have crap self-talk.  I expect that Bill Gates does it too.  He probably knows he’s clever and will never run out of money but there might be things we haven’t got a clue about that makes him question himself.

Do you call yourself names?  Stop it.  No more, “I’m an Idiot!” or “I’m so stupid” or worse.  Sometimes people put the f-word in there just to emphasize just how idiotic or stupid they think they are.  Does this do us any good?  Not one bit.  Does it perpetuate that idea that we’re not good enough?  You betcha.  That voice comes from the past and never belonged to you at all – it comes from parents, relatives, teachers, pastors, friends, acquaintances, classmates and more.  You’ve taken it on over the years as yours but it never WAS your voice because your true inner voice loves you and has confidence in you.

Look at the dog in that mirror.  Do you think she wonders if she’s good enough?  I doubt it.  If that dog with very little power can feel good about herself, we can too.

How to Attack Your Inner Critic

The attack begins by listening.  Take a notepad with you for a whole day and write down what you hear yourself saying that makes you want to cringe.  Every time you question yourself, denigrate yourself, say humiliating things to yourself, write them down.  You could do this for as long as a week to really understand the job you’re doing on yourself because these things are the limiting beliefs you hold about yourself.  They are all lies!  You’ve picked them up like dirt in the subway and they don’t serve you any more.

Once you have your list confirmed, read through it and decide if there is anything there you would want to say to your best friend.  I suspect not.  Some of the things we say to ourselves we wouldn’t say to people we didn’t like. These beliefs do us no good at all and it’s time they went away.

Read through the list again and one of the phrases or sentences will hurt more than the rest.  As you read it, say the opposite to yourself.  See how good that feels.  Then every time that thought comes into your head, stop it right away and say the opposite.   Immediately shift your focus to whatever your personal goal is.  Maybe it’s to rule the world or simply get a 20% raise but whatever it is, thinking positively about that is much better than calling yourself names.

Tell yourself how good you’re doing.  Acknowledge your achievements.  Don’t waste time with excuses for why you’re not farther ahead, that will not serve you.  Think only of moving forward with your goal.  Imagine what it will feel like when you reach your goal.  Life’s good and it’s only getting better.  Know this because it’s true.

Tips for Better Blogging

Blogging TipsI’ve been writing on the Internet for a long time.  John and I started our first online business in 1995 just a year after we’d met so we’ve been doing this a long time.  We frequently get asked for tips on getting noticed, achieving authority, building a community and even how to come across as an expert.

I would never call  myself an expert but I do have experience and I suppose some confidence that’s come as a result of that experience.

The most important tip I could give anyone is “Be Yourself”

I see SO many blog posts with articles that look like they copied directly from a fifth grade school book.  Nothing is more boring to read.  Put some personality in there, folks, otherwise why would we bother to read your stuff.  I’m often given guest posts for my food blog from PR companies, SEO marketers and others and I read them and cringe.

When I read a post I want to *feel* something.  Make me happy, make me hungry, make me sad, make me angry – just make me SOMETHING.

Make your posts easy to read.

It can be tough to read a lot of text, paragraph after paragraph on a screen.  Research has proven that faced with a complete page of text, 90% of people will move on.  It’s tough to read and nobody wants to follow along with their finger.

What’s worse is a paragraph of text that goes for more than a couple of sentences.  We’ve all seen them and groaned and thought, “it’s difficult to follow, forget it.”  It’s okay to break up a long paragraph even if your high school grammar teacher would cringe.  It’s much better to be read than to be correct.

Use photos in your posts.

Tease me with good photos.  We love eye candy and the use of photos in your post also helps to break up the text and make your posts look easy to read. If you have a food blog, take a class in photography or food styling.  If you have a blog about cars, take the best photos you can.  DON’T pinch photos off the net and assume that it’s okay to use them. It’s NEVER okay to use someone else’s photos.  Why would they take photos for you?  They don’t.  The only time I can see that it would be okay is a meme on Facebook or Twitter where the creator really wants the photo to get around virally.

Update your blog often.

A blog that gets updated in a timely manner quickly builds a community.  I really want to blog every day and once I can do this full time, that’s my goal.  Until then I will update at least twice a week.  Anyone can update twice a week and your readers will appreciate your effort.

500 words should be your goal.

It’s wonderful if you can write a blog post of 2500 words but honestly, few people will read that much on a blog.  When people surf the net they hit the big waves and move on to the next one. The first 500 words of your post will get read and the rest will tumble to the floor like scrabble words.

Have I ever broken this rule?  Yes, several times so there are always exceptions.  I’ve done food writer interviews filled with the story, photographs and recipes that went far too long.  I couldn’t find a good stopping point and there was no way to break it up into several posts so I went with it with no problems.  The photos make a difference.




expats voteI’m a dual citizen of the United States where I was born and lived until I was past 40 and of Australia where I now live. I was reading some Facebook posts recently by a friend of mine who’s also an American expat and lives in France. She has a candidate that she supports wholeheartedly in the November election and her passion made me realize that I hadn’t even requested a ballot.

By comparison, I’m a pretty poor example of someone who really thinks it’s a privilege to vote.  I changed all that today by requesting my ballot.

Dear Supervisor of Elections in Orange County, Florida,

Please don’t lose my request and send it along post haste.



To my friend Jamie Schler who’s working hard remodeling her new home in Nantes, France, thanks for reminding me what being American is all about.  Even though we aren’t physically on US soil, there’s a part of us that will always feel American.