“What the hell are you always doing on that computer?”
Ever since I started my blog and began dabbling in all the corresponding social media accoutrements, that phrase has escaped my wife’s lips on multiple occasions.
I don’t blame her. My wife, bless her heart, is largely ignorant of all things Internet so it’s not surprising for her to ask that question. In her mind I should just write my post, put it online and be done with it. So she’s always surprised to see me on the computer so much during the day, and at all hours of the night. I simply tell her I’m “doing stuff for the blog” and that has always sufficed. But today, for some reason, it wasn’t enough.
“There’s no way you’re spending all this time on the computer just for your blog,” she said. “Tell me what you do.”
So we sat down and I provided her a detailed account of what it’s like being an active blogger. I know some of you are old pros at this and I’m preaching to the choir, but if there’s anyone reading who’s thinking about starting his own site, please allow me to provide you a little insight into the amount of work necessary to even come close to succeeding.
Assuming you have your domain and you’ve set up your Web site (all things my brother Nate did for me), now it’s time to post some content. Some people make a point to post every single day. Others, like myself, spread it out over the week. Personally I only post if I feel I have something of substance to share with you all. I stay away from reviews, giveaways and I try never to bore you with recaps of my day. Content is king, and I work very hard to always make it interesting for my readers. So even though I may only post 2-3 times a week, rest assured I’m spending a lot of time crafting those entries.
But getting to the point where you can hit the “publish” button is just the beginning.
So you’ve written the world’s best blog entry. Congratulations. But if you don’t have any fans then it’ll be wasted on the three family members currently reading your blog. So you need a following. And the quickest way to do that, is via social media.
You need a Twitter account. Facebook is essential as well. Whatever your subject matter is, there’s surely a whole network of people who share the same interest. For some people it may be Transgendered Furries with Foot Fetishes. In my case, it’s parenting. So I would go to Twitter and Facebook and enter a series of search terms for dads, moms, parents, parenting, fathers, fatherhood, etc. You’ll soon find lots and lots of people who are currently talking about topics similar to the one you’re blogging about. So you add them as friends.
I call that planting the seed.
But as anyone with a green thumb knows, planting a seed is just the beginning. Then you need to water it and tend to it as it grows, in the hopes one day you can smoke it. In the blogging world, that means gathering Twitter friends and Facebook fans, and making sure every single one of your posts shows up on both places complete with a link back to your blog. Then you should join a core group of people and follow them and their work. And you can’t just do it half-assed either. You need to really pay attention to these people. You need to go to their sites and leave pertinent comments. You need to “re-tweet” their Twitter conversations to your audience, because they’ll do the same for you. Then you’ll start to appear on Twitter Lists so people can find you easier. Eventually, if you’re really into it and you do things the right way, you’ll begin to carve out your own niche as well as join a group of like-minded people who are all spreading the love around and giving each other more and more hits and unique visitors.
I scratch your back, you scratch mine. Just like in real life only at warp speed.
Eventually you fall in with Web sites such as Dad-Blogs and the Good Men Project, and maybe they’ll accept you as a contributor. Now you have your audience plus their platform as well. So now you’ve got your Web site, your Twitter account, your Facebook page and perhaps some contributing or guest blogging gigs at various sites. You’re hooked up and plugged in.
The only problem is you’re teetering on overload.
I have a full-time job, so I can’t do this stuff during the workday. I write early in the morning, late at night and on weekends. And, from time to time, I have to deal with a pesky 2-year-old and do the whole dad thing. So in my “spare time,” I need to catch up on a day’s worth of 330 Twitter friends, Facebook peeps, see what I missed at Dad-Blogs, comment to the comments people left on my own site and plan out some future content in the hopes of driving my hits up.
And you can’t ever stop. Because even a few days of inactivity will result in a precipitous drop in readership. Your Twitter followers will go down faster than Rosie O’Donnell on Ellen Degeneres. MJ wanted to know if I could totally disregard my blog and all that goes with it next month when we drive down to North Carolina for vacation. I told her absolutely not. Because in this age of instant gratification and a million and one voices all straining to be heard, you will be forgotten if you dilly-dally.
Not to mention, I’m completely and hopelessly addicted. Between my laptop and my Blackberry, I freak out if I’m not connected to the Internet somehow. At this point I have about a month to go before I’m mainlining coffee and sucking down cigarettes outside of a 12-step meeting for online junkies.
When all is said and done, I figure I spend 15-20 hours a week on my blog and related social media. Basically, it’s become a part-time job. Thankfully it seldom feels like work because I love it, and the people I’ve connected with are some truly talented and amusing motherfuckers. But if you really want your blog to stand out and have any shot at success, you need to REALLY work at it. It’s much more work than I ever anticipated, but that’s offset by the fact that it’s three times as rewarding.
How about you experienced bloggers and social media gurus? Any tips or anything to add?
CHECK OUT FATHERHOOD FRIDAY OVER AT DAD-BLOGS, WHERE I HANG OUT WITH OTHER DADS WHO NEGLECT THEIR CHILDREN IN THE NAME OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND INCREASED SITE TRAFFIC.