How to Win Followers and Influence People

Happy Crowd

Photo via Ben Stanfield

I love blogging. I love my followers. And I'm a total comment whore. Therefore, I feel very fortunate that I have you guys as part of my day. I never expected when I started this that I would discover so many great people and have such a great experience. I honestly was surprised when I hit my first ten followers. Like, really? Ten people want to read what I have to say? I would have never guessed that a few months later I would have eclipsed the 150 mark. So thanks!
I used to look at people who had over a hundred followers with amazement--like wow, how'd they do that? Well, now I realize it's no big mystery. So today I figured I would list some of the things you can do if you want to gain readership and comments. Some of these are obvious, but I wanted to cover all the bases:
1. If you want to be followed, follow.
--If you're just starting blogging, this is the best way to gain followers. Go find blogs you like and follow them. Many will return the favor.
--Once you start gaining momentum and those follower numbers increase, then the scale starts to tip and people begin following you first. So don't be a diva, go check their blog out and if you like it, follow them back.
2. Comment!
--I ♥ comments. The fact that someone took those few seconds to tell me what they thought makes me happy. So I try to provide the same for others. If all you do is lurk on blogs, you probably won't get many comments of your own (unless you're famous, already published, have already developed a base, or have some established platform.)
3. When people comment on your blog, try to respond to the comments.
--I try to do this most days--sometimes I run out of time. But in the comments section, I try to respond to each comment. That way it feels more like a conversation. And many people subscribe to comments via email or check back on blogs later--make sure you let them know you heard them.
--Some people also respond to comments individually via email instead of in the comments section. That is also effective, especially if you start getting loads of comments.
--Of course, we wouldn't have to do it in these tedious ways if BLOGGER WOULD GET FREAKING THREADED COMMENTS! Okay, I feel better. Maybe I'll start a petition.
4. Make sure that when people click on your name from a comment you leave that it leads to either your blogger profile or directly to your blog.
--I try to comment on every blog that left me a comment each day, so if I don't have that link in the comment email, I'm probably not going to hunt it down.
5. Ensure your google friend/follower button also links to your profile or website.
--Lately, I have been getting new followers, who, when I click on their little picture it just shows me who they follow, but doesn't list their website. So for those of you out there, if I'm not following you back, that may be why--I don't know how to find your website.
--To check this, go click on your follower picture on someone else's site. If it's not showing, change your settings.
6. Having multiple blogs can make it confusing.
--When I click on someone's profile and they have four blogs, I'm not sure which one is most related to writing or whatever our common ground is. I'm probably not going to check each one. And this will divide up your followers.
--So, if you have multiple blogs, I would suggest making the title clear enough that people can figure out the subject of the blog.
--Also, you can hide certain blogs from your profile if you want to funnel people to one instead of the other. For instance, I have a blog for my son, but it's for my family, so I don't list it in my profile.
7. Keep a regular blogging schedule.
--If you only post once a month, people will probably not remember to come back.
--It's okay not to post every day, just make sure you follow some pattern that people can expect. For instance, I blog M-F, occasionally I'll throw something in on the weekends, but that's rare. So you guys know that every day of the workweek, I'll have something new on here. (If not, someone send out a search party, I've been kidnapped.)
8. Write blogs that people care about.
--Remember, this is only if you want to gain followers/comments/etc. If the blog is just your outlet and you don't care if people are reading or not, then it's fine to do whatever you want.
--However, if you do want people reading, don't just have nonsense posts all the time. Figure out what commodity you are offering the reader--why would they want to come back?
--I've chosen a teaching/information sharing model. So if you come here (most days) I hope you are able to take away a little nugget of helpful information. For other blogs the takeaway may be humor or shared experiences or an ongoing story or book recommendations or contests.
9. Beware big blocks of text and posting large writing samples.
--I have to watch for this because my posts are long. So I try to break things into bullet points or lists or isolate different sections in a different color.
--Also, this is just my opinion, but huge passages of your fiction writing can also scare people away. Not because of the writing, but when someone follows 100 blogs and they hit a big story excerpt that
a)they have to read without knowing context and
b) have to comment on--which is precarious because it's like critting someone's work, they may just click by.
(However, if this is the purpose of your blog and what people expect, like public query slushpile, than that's okay. Your followers have signed up for that.)
10. Ask a question at the end of each post.
Involve your readers, make it easy for them to comment. A question gives them something to ponder and share.
11. Practice good karma
Link to other bloggers when you find something helpful on their blog. Honor others with those pat on the back awards.
12. Be sincere.
If you're only mission is to get as many comments as you can, so you go and comment "great post" on everyone's blog without reading them, people will realize what you're doing.
13. Technical stuff
Get rid of that little word verification box that people have to fill out to make a comment.
--Man I hate those. I can't tell you how many times I type of my comment, hit publish, then close the window, only to realize that a verification box had popped up and I just lost my comment.
--This is the standard setting on blogger, so if you want to change it, you need to do it in your settings under "comments", choose no for word verification.
I changed mine ages ago and have had no problems with spam.
Remove the comment approval/moderation feature unless you have a specific issue with ugly commenters.
--This makes it confusing sometimes because it looks like your commetn didn't post. Plus it often prevents commenters from seeing the previous comments so they can't respond to those.
Embed your comment form instead of having it have a pop up window, this makes commenting quicker.
--Go to Settings-->comments-->select the embed comment form feature
Alright, those are my tips. What are yours? Or what are your pet peeves that turn you away from a blog or commenting? What makes you return to a blog time and time again?
**Today's Theme Song**
"I Will Follow Him"-- Sister Act Soundtrack

(player in sidebar, take a listen)