Getting readers to engage with you by leaving comments on your blog posts is something many bloggers crave.
And when those comments clearly show that your post has been read, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.
However, once you get visitors reading your posts and leaving comments, you need to do all you can to ensure they keep coming back.
Writing good quality posts that make your readers want to engage with you and each other is one way to keep your readers returning, but you also need to ensure they can easily find your other similarly themed posts, which are often buried deep in your blog archives.
Here are five blogging tools that work for me. Not only do they give my readers a way of finding more similarly-themed content, but these tools have also helped bring me many new readers and followers.
1. The Search Bar
The other day, I was writing a new blog post and wanted to include links to some posts I had read on other blogs.
However, try as I might, I couldn’t find one of the posts I wanted to link to. Even worse, there was no search bar on the blog concerned.
It wasn’t long before I gave up looking for that blog post. I didn’t have the time to find it.
You can make it easy for readers to find what they are looking for by including a search bar on your blog.
Does your blog have a search bar? If not, WordPress has a ‘search’ widget. Click here to find out how to install one.
Once you’ve installed a search bar, open up one of your blog posts and check you are happy with its position. Ensure it’s visible and easy for visitors to find. The search bar on my blog is the first widget on my widget bar to the right of all my blog posts.
Remember, too, that you can use the search bar when looking for your own posts. You can save yourself a lot of time by doing this instead of scrolling through all your blog posts on your blog’s dashboard.
2. The Menu Bar
Navigation is of prime importance on any blog. Make it difficult for visitors to navigate or find more content, and they’ll probably give up and never return.
That’s why it’s essential to have a menu bar on your blog.
A menu bar allows your readers to check out what is on your blog and helps direct them to other parts of your blog they’d like to explore.
Many bloggers can be frightened by including a menu bar on their blog or adding items. However, it’s an easy and straightforward process.
Click here for details on how to set up a custom menu bar on your WordPress blog.
However, don’t overload the menu bar on your blog, as it can look overwhelming. And ensure you keep it updated and check that everything works on it.
3. The ‘Contact Me Page
Just imagine another blogger, a magazine editor, or somebody from your local radio station wanting to contact you to invite you to write an article or appear on a show. How exciting would that be? But they can’t find a way of reaching you privately!
Not everyone wants to leave a comment when they want to invite you to write a guest post, be interviewed, or ask you to appear on a show. If you don’t have a ‘contact me’ page, and nobody can find a way of contacting you privately, then they’ll probably move on and give that opportunity to somebody else.
On the menu bar of my blog, you’ll see a ‘Contact Hugh’ button. That’s how people can contact me privately.
I get lots of people contacting me every week. As a result, I’ve written guest articles, appeared on radio shows and recorded podcasts, all of which have allowed me to promote myself and my blog. In return, I’ve got hundreds of new readers and followers to my blog.
Make sure you’re contactable. Click here to find out how to set up a ‘contact me’ page.
4. The ‘About Me’ Page
Ever since my early days of blogging, I’ve been told and know that many new visitors to a blog will want to find out a little about the blogger behind the blog before deciding whether to follow or not.
When I visit a new blog, I first look for an ‘about me’ page to find out more about the blogger.
If the blogger doesn’t have an ‘about me’ page or it’s difficult to find, I’m more likely to move on than check out the rest of their blog.
If you do have an ‘about me’ page, ensure you allow new visitors to introduce themselves by allowing them to leave a comment on it. And, don’t forget, a friendly reply is more likely to keep that visitor returning to read your posts.
Click here for details on setting up an ‘About Me’ page and what to include.
5. The Gravatar
The image that appears next to all comments is known as a Gravatar. A gravatar is created for you as soon as you leave your first review or comment on the internet.
How many times have you clicked on the gravatar image of somebody who has left an excellent comment on a post and not been able to find their blog details? Frustrating, isn’t it, especially when you think it may be a blog you’d like to follow.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes many bloggers make, as soon as their gravatar is created, is they forget about it. Many don’t realise they can add an image and leave links to their blog and social media accounts on their gravatar.
If a reader then clicks on your gravatar, they’ll see the links to your blog and social media accounts and be able to visit them. That means more visitors to your blog and social media accounts which could result in more followers.
Click here to find out how to add links to your blog and social media accounts to your gravatar.
Let’s wrap it up
Many blogging tools can help readers notice your blog and keep them returning.
Make sure you have a Search Bar on your blog to help visitors find other content.
Ensure your blog includes a menu bar, but don’t overload it with too many items.
Ensure the links on your blog’s menu bar all work. Check for broken links at least once a month and fix any that have become broken.
Ensure your blog has a page where readers and visitors can contact you privately. Not everyone will want to leave a comment inviting you to write a guest post or to appear on a radio show or podcast.
Many new visitors want to know a little about the person behind the blog before deciding whether to follow or not. Tell visitors a little about yourself on an ‘about me’ page.
Ensure your Gravatar has links to your blog and social media accounts.
This is an updated version of a post originally published on Hugh’s Views And News in September 2018
What powerful blogging tools do you use on your blog, and why do you use them? Share them with us by leaving a comment.
Performing housekeeping on your blog has many benefits. After all, who doesn’t want their blog to look like a friendly, easy-to-use and inviting place old and new visitors will want to keep coming back to?
If you’re a blogger looking to expand their readership, performing housekeeping on your blog is something you should seriously consider.
But what blog housekeeping jobs should you consider doing?
During a 4-day heatwave last month, I couldn’t venture outside, so I took the opportunity to do some blog housekeeping. Here’s what I did.
1. Delete old, out-of-date blog posts.
I always feel that old, out-of-date blog posts that can not be updated or rewritten do nothing but drag down my blog.
They hang around like some uninvited members of the family you hardly ever see or have contact with. You know they are there but feel afraid to ask them to leave.
I had over 400 blog posts on my blog, some of which were doing nothing apart from attracting spam comments. They were dead ducks. They were not attracting any new views, visitors or comments.
I ended up deleting over 80 posts. Not only did I feel good getting rid of what I considered clutter, but I was also able to cut the number of spam comments by deleting those old posts.
After deleting them, I felt a lot better about my blog. I felt much more positive knowing I had removed all the deadwood.
Some bloggers claim that deleting old posts is not a good idea because they can look back and see how much they have improved since those early posts. But when you’re somebody who never goes back to read old posts, mainly because you don’t have the time to do so, deleting these old blog posts is like cutting away the string tied to the brick holding your blog down.
2. Fixing broken links.
A downside of deleting old blog posts is that any pingback and links you have to them will become broken.
I used Broken Link Check to run a report showing me broken links on my blog. It’s free to use.
Since SEOs like Google rank blogs lower that have broken links, cleaning up and fixing broken links is a job every blogger should consider.
That first broken link report could be long and overwhelming, but once you start running a broken link report every month, you’ll soon conquer that job.
Fixing broken links was the best bit of blog housekeeping I did because it improves your blog’s overall ranking, meaning more traffic and visitors to your blog.
3. Categories and tags
When I checked how many categories and tags I had on my blog, I was shocked by the number.
What amazed me was that many categories and tags were no longer active. Like some of my old blog posts, they were deadwood.
Checking which categories and tags are no longer active is easy.
Follow this guide.
On your blog’s dashboard, click on Posts and then Categories. (Click on Tags to manage Tags).
A list of all your categories will show how many posts you have under each category.
To delete a category, click on the meatball menu next to the number and click on ‘delete.’
Follow the same process for managing the Tags on your blog.
4. Menu Bar
I also took the opportunity to tidy up the menubar on my blog. Although it was not what I considered ‘top heavy’, I moved some items to sub-categories.
Here’s an example. I moved some fictional stuff to sub-categories under ‘Fiction.’ When you now hover over ‘Fiction‘ on the menu, you’ll see the sub-categories pop up.
Blogs with top-heavy menus can look overwhelming and messy to visitors.
How often do you click on the reblog sharing button?
Are you somebody who reblogs every day or, like me, no longer uses the reblog button?
When I first started blogging in 2014, I was amazed by how many bloggers used the reblog button. Fast forward to today, and I see little use for it.
It’s one of the reasons why I removed the reblog button from my blog. Not only have I seen a sharp decline in the reblogging of my posts, but I’ve seen the same in the reblogging of the posts of other bloggers.
I remember the first time one of my blog posts got reblogged. It was one of the highlights of my blogging journey. Funnily, it marked the beginning of my believing I’d become a successful blogger.
For years, my blog posts got reblogged almost weekly. It helped put me and my blog in front of new readers and did wonders for the number of followers my blog gained.
When Followers Are Not Followers
Of course, not all followers are followers.
I soon learned that people followed my blog but never returned to it.
I knew that some unfollowed my blog as soon as I followed them back.
I couldn’t figure out why anyone would unfollow my blog as soon as I followed them, but a couple of years into my blogging journey, I discovered that some bloggers are more interested in numbers than content. They don’t hang around in the blogging world for long.
What’s The Most Significant Risk In Reblogging?
When I first heard of bloggers receiving fines for reblogging material that included copyrighted material, my love of reblogging began to dwindle. Seriously? Are bloggers fined for reblogging? Yes, it’s true, and that may be one of many reasons why many bloggers no longer use the reblog button.
When author and blogger Deborah Jay wrote a guest post for me, she shared her story of how a simple reblog ended up with her being threatened with legal action and a fine. Click here to read the post.
But it’s not only Deborah who has faced legal action and a fine for reblogging another blogger’s blog post. Several bloggers have been fined for reblogging blog posts that included copyrighted photos or images.
Don’t think it can’t happen to you. It can happen to anyone who shares copyrighted material on their blog.
Removed The Reblog Button From Your Blog? Your Posts Can Still Be Reblogged!
Did you know that just because I have removed the reblog button from my blog posts doesn’t mean nobody can no longer reblog them?
One of the few flaws of WordPress that annoys me is that readers can still reblog any of my posts from the WordPress Reader. That doesn’t make sense to me when I’ve removed the reblog button from my blog.
Fortunately, it hasn’t happened to any of my blog posts since I removed the reblog button.
However, I am still delighted when somebody shares my blog posts via a ‘pingback‘ the ‘Press This‘ marketing (not sharing) button or on social media.
Feel free to share this post via one of those methods.
How Do I Remove The Reblog Button From My Blog?
If you decide you would rather not offer the option to reblog your posts, you can disable the button by navigating to My Sites → Tools → Marketing. Then click on the Sharing Buttons tab.Disable ‘Show reblog button’ under Reblog & Like, and the Reblog button will no longer appear on your blog posts.
Did You Know This?
Blogs that are full of reblogged posts are known as ‘Reblogging Farms.’ Is your blog a reblogging farm?
Do you still use the reblog button? If so, what do you reblog?
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SPAM! It’s something every blogger dislikes and something every blogger will have to deal with.
I’ve seen bloggers close comments off all their posts because of spam.
I’ve seen bloggers telling readers that they only accept email comments because of spam.
I’ve even witnessed bloggers telling readers only to leave comments on social media platforms because of spam.
In all these cases, spam triumphed.
When another blogger told me, ‘Closing comments off on your blog is like slamming the door in your readers’ faces,’ I had to rethink how to tackle handling spam.
What was I doing? I was closing comments off posts that attracted lots of spam but still attracted genuine comments.
It reminded me of another blogger who told her readers that she tackled spam by closing off comments on all her posts 14 days after publication because of spam. She told her readers that 14 days was enough time for them to read and comment on all her posts. I shook my head in disbelief.
Many bloggers close comments on blog posts that attract lots of spam. But there are ways of dealing with spam without closing comments off.
1. Reschedule the post
Rescheduling an existing blog post gives it a new lease of life, but it also provides the post with a new URL address, thus fooling the spammers.
How to reschedule a blog post on WordPress
Open the post you want to reschedule in ‘edit’ mode.
In the settings box of the post, click on the date and time link that the post was initially published.
A calendar will open. Choose the new date and time you want the post to reschedule.
Click the ‘Update’ button.
Your post will now republish on the date and time you chose.
Here are a few essential things to think about when rescheduling blog posts.
Your post will show up on the WordPress Reader list of your followers when it republishes.
WordPress does not send out a new email notification when a rescheduled post is published.
You won’t lose all the existing comments and ‘likes’ on a post that has been rescheduled.
Any links, pingbacks and trackbacks to the original post will become invalid, as will any previous shares of the post on social media. I recommend, therefore, that you only reschedule posts that are at least a year old.
Tip: Rescheduling a post is also an excellent chance to update it and fix any broken pingbacks before rescheduling it.
2. Rewrite the post and republish it as a new post.
If the post is over a year old and requires lots of updating, consider rewriting and publishing it as a new post.
You can do the same with posts that you have published on other blogging platforms but which you now want to publish on WordPress.
Here are a few essential things to consider.
All existing likes and comments will be lost.
All reblog links, pingbacks and links to the post will become invalid.
All links and shares on social media will become invalid.
Some readers may dislike reading duplicated content they have read on your blog before, so do consider how long ago the post was initially published.
Consider informing readers that it is a rewritten version of a previous post at the beginning of your post.
Remember to delete the post attracting too much spam once you’ve published the new post.
Give the new post a slightly different title. SEOs rank posts and blogs lower that contain too many duplicated blog post titles.
3. Delete the post
Every blogger should be excellent at keeping their blog up to date. Blog housekeeping is as important as writing and publishing new blog posts.
If you have blog posts attracting lots of spam, consider deleting them if the content is outdated and no longer worth keeping. That will put pay to the spambots attacking the post and causing you stress.
However, do remember that deleting a post will also mean that any likes, comments and shares will also be lost.
Final thoughts on spam
Don’t slam the door in the faces of visitors to your blog by allowing spam to stop them from leaving comments and joining discussions and conversations on any of your blog posts.
Remember that search engines will send visitors to your blog posts for as long as the post is live. If they find they can’t leave comments and join a discussion, they may not return.
Don’t ask visitors to leave comments they couldn’t leave on your other blog posts where comments remain open. That will only confuse visitors reading the comments sections.
Get into the habit of checking your WordPress spam folder every time you log into your blog.
What you should do with your Throwback Thursday blog posts.
Only publish the post on a Thursday. That may seem like common sense, but I’ve seen bloggers publish them on other days of the week. Some readers may find it odd publishing Throwback Thursday posts on any other day than a Thursday. After all, the clue is in the title.
However, don’t worry if you miss publishing your Throwback Thursday blog post. You can always delay publication until the following Thursday. There are lots of Thursdays to choose from.
If you’re a day late in publishing your Throwback Thursday post, you can always change it to a Flashback Friday post. Flashback Friday has the same concept as Throwback Thursday, where you are encouraged to highlight older blog posts.
Share your Throwback Thursday posts on social media using the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday so that other participants can find your post.
Tag your post ‘ThrowBack Thursday’ on your blog so that other participants can find it.
You can also include the words ‘Throwback Thursday’ or the hashtag in the title of your blog post, but always ensure you add the title of the blog post you’re highlighting. You don’t want to end up with many blog posts simply titled ‘Throwback Thursday.’
When creating the pingback to the post you want to highlight, ensure you turn on the ‘open in new tab‘ button so that readers don’t lose the page of your blog they’re on.
Not sure how to create a pingback? Click here for full details.
Is there anything else I should consider when publishing Throwback Thursday blog posts?
Yes, I recommend closing comments on the post and asking readers to leave any new comments on the original blog post you’re highlighting. That way, they will be able to see and read comments already left on the post you’re promoting. They can join any ongoing discussion. It makes more sense to have comments on the same post rather than scattered across several blog posts.
When selecting which posts to promote, choose the ones you believe your readers will benefit from and think they’ll enjoy reading again.
And that is Throwback Thursday.
Do you participate in Throwback Thursday? Do you have any questions about Throwback Thursday? Please leave them in the comments section.
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It’s a photography challenge I became aware of when I started blogging in 2014.
The purpose of the challenge is to allow photos or pictures to tell a story without using any words.
I’ve no idea who began the Wordless Wednesday photography challenge, but my hat goes off to them. It’s an easy and simple challenge to get involved with that’ll bring new followers to your blog.
The more you participate, the more new visitors your blog will get. However, it does help if you do the challenge correctly and ensure you promote your Wordless Wednesday blog posts on social media.
You will also gain new visitors and followers if you visit and leave comments on other Wordless Wednesday blog posts.
Fact: Participating in the Wordless Wednesday photography challenge ignited my long-lost passion for photography. I have also discovered some wonderful new blogs by participating.
Are there any rules for participating in Wordless Wednesday?
None that I can find. So I’m sharing some of the rules I believe the originator of Wordless Wednesday would have set when creating the challenge.
Those interested in participating can take or leave these rules, but remember that the key feature of the challenge is for your blog post to be wordless.
Published entries only on a Wednesday.
Other than the title of your post and any captions and copyright information, don’t use any words in the main body of the post. Remember, the theme is ‘Wordless.’
Your photo should not contain words or letters (other than copyright information).
Use the hashtag #WordlessWednesday when sharing your post on social media. That way, other participants can find them.
Tag your Wordless Wednesday posts ‘WordlessWednesday’ on your blog so that other participants can find them.
Can I use ‘Wordless Wednesday’ in the title of my blog posts?
Yes, and it’s something I recommend you do.
Warning: Do not use just ‘Wordless Wednesday’ as the title. Why? Because as you publish more and more Wordless Wednesday posts, you’ll build up many blog posts with the same identical title. SEOs such as Google and Bing dislike duplicated blog post titles. As a result, your blog will be ranked lower for using duplicated blog post titles.
Using the same blog post title also renders the search facility on your blog useless. For example, let’s say somebody wants to find a photo of a boat I published on a Wordless Wednesday post five years ago. If I’ve titled all my blog posts ‘Wordless Wednesday’ they’ll have to search through all those posts to find the one they’re looking for.
However, if I titled the post ‘Red boat’ #WordlessWednesday‘, a search result for ‘Boat’ will feature that particular post.
So, always give the title of your Wordless Wednesday blog posts a different title. Here are some examples.
A Day at the beach #WordlessWednesday
In the park #WordlessWednesday
Hills and Mountains #WordlessWednesday
Go with a title that fits the photo(s) theme you’re sharing, and add the Wordless Wednesday hashtag to it.
Using images and photos that are not your own
If you’re using an image from the internet for your post, remember to credit the originator or the site where you got the photo/image. You can do this by adding a caption which you can turn into a pingback.
If the photo/image is completely free to use at all times, you don’t need to credit it. However, check the small print before using any photos or images from the internet as they may only be free to use for a limited time.
Using your own images and photos is a much safer option.
What you shouldn’t do with the Wordless Wednesday photography challenge
Use images and photos that are copyrighted and illegal to use and share.
Add lots of text to your post. I’ve seen many bloggers use Wordless Wednesday in the title of a blog post and add loads of text to the body of the post.
Likewise, I have seen some bloggers use the Wordless Wednesday hashtag on social media for a post containing lots of text. Those searching for Wordless Wednesday posts and taken to a blog post that contains lots of text won’t return to your blog.
The whole idea of Wordless Wednesday is for the blog post not to contain any text about the photos or images. Allow the photos or images to tell the story.
The comments section of the post can be used to give out more information about the photos or images you are using.
Here are some examples of some of my Wordless Wednesday blog posts. They’ll give you an idea of how to participate. Click on the links to see the posts.
Are there any advantages and disadvantages of belonging to blogging communities?
When I started blogging, I had no idea that blogging communities existed, but it wasn’t long before I found myself a part of them.
What are blogging communities?
There are many different types of blogging communities. This post features my experiences with what has become known as ‘Facebook blogging communities’ – a name I recently discovered. You don’t need to have a Facebook account to belong to one of these communities.
How it all started
Within a few weeks of becoming a blogger, I was lucky enough to attend an online blogging course that WordPress ran. It was an online, live event rather than something you could do at your own pace.
Along with over 50 other new bloggers, I soon became a part of a blogging community that gradually built up. We helped each other out by reading, liking and commenting on each other’s blog posts.
Not everyone on the course became a member of the community. By the time the course finished, around 15 of us had kept in touch by reading, liking and commenting on each other’s posts.
It didn’t matter what we published or what comments we left for each other; the main thing was that all our posts got read.
During the first year, three things happened.
I built my own blogging community.
I became a member of other blogging communities.
Some people gradually dropped out of the first blogging community for various reasons.
What are the advantages of blogging communities?
The most significant advantage of being a blogging community member is that all my blog posts were getting read and commented on.
Apart from whoever first visited a newly published post, visitors saw my posts had ‘likes’ and comments.
I had an audience. I was not writing (speaking) to an empty auditorium.
I always found it sad reading excellent blog posts with no ‘likes’ or comments. But then I asked myself if the bloggers publishing the posts belonged to any blogging communities. Probably not!
However, regardless of what I was writing and publishing, my posts were all read and commented on. I was delighted!
Friendships formed with many of the members of my blogging community, and as more and more people joined, those friendships spread.
The same thing happened in other blogging communities. When we struggled, we all helped and supported each other. When things were going well, we all celebrated with each other. These communities were like brand new worlds outside of my everyday life.
My blogging community encouraged me to put my short stories and pieces of flash fiction into a book. If not for their support and encouragement, I’d never have self-published my books.
A few years later, I became one of the founding members of ‘The Bloggers Bash’ – an event where bloggers met up in person. Five events took place in London between 2015 and 2019, all a big success.
I can’t express enough how delighted I am to have met many blogging friends at these events. I’d never have met these bloggers if it had not been for blogging communities.
Sadly, I’ve lost touch with some of the bloggers who attended those events. Some stopped blogging, while others moved away from WordPress into areas of blogging that were much more exciting. Some stopped responding to comments on their blogs, while others left blogging communities I belonged to.
Blogging communities are a big triumph.
They are places where you can talk, and people will listen (if that is what you want). They offer help, support, guidance, free advice and friendship.
I witnessed many blogging community members meeting up all over the world. These were all people who would otherwise never have formed friendships and met up had it not been for them to start a blog, many on WordPress.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, blogging communities were even more critical, especially for bloggers who lived alone.
Of course, not every blogger wants to be a part of blogging communities. It’s their choice, and I fully understand why they may not want to participate.
Are there any disadvantages to blogging communities?
Yes. But only if you create problems.
During the first years of blogging, reading, liking and commenting on each other’s blog posts helps propel you on your blogging journey.
However, as you become a member of more and more communities (and your community grows), you’ll find you have less time to read and leave comments.
As blogging communities become more extensive, they can eat away at the time you have put aside for everything else outside of blogging unless you stick to a strict rule of how much time you spend reading and commenting. Adhering to any limitations can also create problems.
I’ve seen many bloggers forced to change the comments they leave because of a lack of time to read posts. Instead of leaving genuine comments that offer feedback and discussion and prove they have read the post, lazy ‘Facebook’ type comments appear.
What do I mean by lazy, Facebook type comments?
Short one-line comments. Comments like ‘Great post’ or ‘Great story.’ Comments that never explain why it’s a great post or a great story. In other words, comments that lack any feedback. Comments containing nothing but emojis (something I am especially not a fan of) can also pop up.
I noticed (and this is where the Facebook blogging community name comes from) that the comments I was leaving became much shorter as I joined more blogging communities. My time to read and comment became even more minimal with the increasing size of some blogging communities.
My comments were of no value to the blogger I was leaving them for other than to say that I had visited their newly published post (although not necessary read all or some of it).
Rather than read all of the posts, I skimmed over them because I didn’t have enough time to read and comment on everyone’s posts.
I found myself leaving the types of comments seen on Facebook. Many bloggers refer to them as guilt-tripping comments because you feel guilty for not proving that you have visited the blog post if you don’t leave a comment (regardless of whether you’ve read the post or what the comment says).
Along with other bloggers, I began to find blogging become stressful. It made me feel guilty, and blogging burnout hit me because I could not keep up with reading and commenting on other community members’ blog posts. I was overwhelmed and wrote and published the following post.
It was not long before I realised that belonging to large blogging communities stopped other members and me from expanding our horizons by discovering new blogs and bloggers. We didn’t have the time to search. It usually happens when blogging communities reach a certain number of members.
I began to see community members’ blog posts lacking comments from new bloggers/followers. Instead, the comment sections of their blog posts were full of the same short comments from the same bloggers.
But it wasn’t always short comments. Sometimes, the comments section was full of longer comments, but always from the same bloggers. Rarely did comments from new readers appear.
You may think there is nothing wrong with that, but one blogger recently told me that close-knit blogging communities often look like uninviting scary places, so they never left comments. ‘It was like being a new kid on the block, where outsiders would not be welcomed’ — my heart sunk when I heard that.
Duplicated blog posts filled my WordPress Reader and email box because some community members keep reblogging each other’s blog posts.
Some of the blogs of close-knit communities had conversations in the comments section that had nothing to do with the blog post’s subject (usually something much better discussed offline or on Facebook).
When I realised that I was suffering from blogging burnout, I had to change how I was blogging. The most significant action I took was to step back from many blogging communities.
Instead of skim-reading and leaving lazy comments on every blog post of other community members, I selected which of the posts I was going to read and comment on.
If the blog post’s title was of no interest or did not entice me to click the ‘read more’ link, I did not read it.
If a community member published more than one post daily, I selected one or two of their posts weekly, although the titles had to be enticing enough to make me want to read them.
I stopped leaving comments on all posts I read. If I did not have anything of value to add, I clicked the ‘like’ button and moved on to the next post (although if I had enjoyed reading the post, I shared it on social media).
I stopped feeling guilty for not reading all the blog posts community members published.
I cut back on some blogging communities by leaving them – something I have never regretted.
Balancing writing with reading and commenting on blog posts should never be a problem.
Some blogging community members may feel frustrated or upset that you are not reading and leaving comments on all their blog posts (especially if they read and leave comments on all your blog posts). Never allow it to become your problem or make you feel obliged to read and comment on their posts. That’s not what blogging is about.
If any blogger realises you are not reading and commenting on all their posts and sees it as a problem (as a handful of community members have told me in the past), ask yourself if you should be following their blog.
Final thoughts on blogging communities.
Being a member of blogging communities offers many incentives. Many bloggers are happy to have the same readers leave the same comments week after week. Some won’t care about gaining new followers or promoting their writing elsewhere, especially if what they are doing gives them a lot of fun and enjoyment.
Some bloggers don’t care about feedback. They see their blog as a place where people can pop in and say the occasional ‘Hello.’
Some bloggers are happy with their close-knit blogging community and won’t care if nobody else joins in.
Yet, seeing the same short comments on all blog posts of a particular blog day after day doesn’t inspire me to want to leave comments, especially if it’s a close-knit blogging community.
Should you join blogging communities?
Yes! I recommend that every blogger be a member of at least a couple of blogging communities. However, everyone should beware of the pitfalls blogging communities can bring (if you allow those traps to open).
Stick to no more than a handful of blogging communities, otherwise, you’ll find you will need to spread your time thinly between them all.
Do you belong to any blogging communities? What are your experiences with blogging communities? What advantages and disadvantages have blogging communities bought you? Join the discussion by leaving your comments.
Have you ever spent hours researching and writing a blog post for it to then get very few (if any) reads or comments?
Disheartening, isn’t it?
Have you ever been deflated when all your hard work and time put into writing a post ends up giving back little if any reward?
Heartbreaking, isn’t it?
Over the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve used seven methods that have not only helped me get my blog posts noticed but have helped get readers to leave comments and follow my blog.
Try them out and see if they work for you.
1. Blog Post Titles
I can’t express enough how important the titles of blog posts are. They are like the shop window to your blog.
The title of your blog post can make or break whether it gets any attention. It’s the most critical element in whether somebody will read your post or move on to another blog.
I’ll be honest and tell you that in the past, I’ve given some of my blog posts terrible titles. No wonder they weren’t getting any attention, or any new visitors leaving comments on them. All they did was make my blog posts flop.
If the title isn’t eye-catching or enticing enough to get visitors to click on the ‘read more’ link, then you’ll be losing hundreds of potential new readers and followers.
But first things first! Always ensure your blog post has a title before hitting the ‘publish’ button.
That may seem like common sense, but I often see blog posts without a title, resulting in WordPress giving the post a random number as the title. It not only looks strange, but it looks unprofessional.
Of course, it’s easily fixed, but too many blog posts without titles can put readers off from reading any new material from you.
At the very least, you should be previewing all your posts before publishing them, so make sure the preview shows a blog post title.
If you’re stuck for a good blog post title, ask yourself what title would make you want to click the link to read the post. It can sometimes be as simple as that.
Once you have your title, try inserting it into a headline analyser and see what score it gets. The higher the score, the more likely your blog post title will attract search engines and readers. I use CoSchedule for this. Click here to try it out for free.
And finally, do not use blog post titles you or other bloggers have used before. Why? Because search engines rank blogs that use duplicated titles lower than those with original titles.
2. Add An Excerpt To Your Post
For those followers who get an email notification of your new blog posts, adding a captivating excerpt can also entice readers to then click through to read the post.
If you don’t add your own excerpt, WordPress will use the first 55 words from your blog post as the excerpt. This can often make the post sound confusing, or give no incentive for readers to want to click the ‘read more’ link, especially if the excerpt cuts off midway in a sentence.
Where possible, I always ask a question when writing an excerpt. For this post, I’ve used –
‘Having trouble getting visitors to your blog or to read and leave comments on your posts? Here are 7 methods I use that have resulted in thousands of readers reading my posts and leaving comments.‘
The more you make an excerpt intriguing, the more readers your post will get.
The excerpt box can be found under ‘Featured Image‘ in the settings menu that appears on the righthand-side of your screen when composing a post.
3. Opening Line/Paragraph
Just as the excerpt to your post should be enticing, so should the opening line or paragraph. If your opening line or paragraph is not engaging and appealing, then readers are more likely to move on or skip over the post without leaving a comment.
I often begin my blog posts by asking a question. If you ask a question that poses a problem, readers will want to find out more because you’ll likely be helping solve the problem. Your post then has a greater chance of getting read.
Again, ask yourself what opening line or paragraph would make you want to read more and comment on the post you’ve written.
Like many others, I believe that blog posts that include photos and images look far more inviting to read.
Did you know that blog posts containing images are over 70% more likely to get clicked on and read than those that do not include any images?
Adding images or photos help break the post up and creates white space, which all help to make the reading experience more comfortable.
However, be careful when adding any images or photos. Large images can slow down the speed at which your blog post opens. If your blog takes too long to open, many readers will move on rather than wait for everything to download.
Always reduce the size of any images or photos before adding them to your media library.
I use an iMac and am able to reduce photo and image sizes by clicking on ‘Tools – Adjust Size’ on the toolbar of my computer.
5. Be Kind To The Eyes
You may have a brilliant blog post title and great excerpt to entice readers, but if the body of the post isn’t kind to your readers’ eyes, or not attractive to look at, many will move on quickly.
A few things to consider about the body of your posts –
Is the font the right size so that your readers do not have to squint or enlarge the page to read it?
Can the font be seen clearly? Black font on a white background is the safest combination to use.
Is the background colour of your blog gentle on the eyes?
Are paragraphs too long, thus making them blocky. Keep paragraphs to no more than four sentences long. This helps creates white space on the post.
Is the spacing between each paragraph correct?
Does any of the text run into any of the images you’ve inserted on the post, resulting in paragraphs breaking up in the wrong place?
Have you lined up images correctly, so they are in line with the correct text?
Is there anything in the post or on the page (such as a gif) that can distract from reading the post? If so, consider removing it.
As I mentioned in the above points, I’ve found that a good rule to apply to a paragraph is to never have more than four sentences in it. This helps break up a post nicely and makes reading it a comfortable and pleasant experience.
Finally (and this is something you should always be doing), always preview your post before publishing it so you can correct any issues.
6. Add Sub-Headings
Inserting sub-headings, especially in long posts, break up a post nicely, giving readers a more enjoyable and comfortable read. They’ll be more likely to keep coming back if they’ve found reading your posts a pleasant experience.
As you’ll see from this post, I’ve changed the colour and the size of the font to the sub-headings I’ve added. This helps make the post look inviting and friendly to read.
7. When To Publish Your Posts
As you publish more and more posts and visit more and more blogs, you should get an idea of when are the best days and best times to publish your blog posts.
For example, if most of your readers are based in the U.S.A (and you’re based in the UK) the best time to publish your posts is between 12:00 and 17:00 GMT. Why? Because the mornings are peak-reading times for many.
Remember that your posts will appear on the WordPress Reader of the bloggers who follow you, but will slowly disappear as more and more posts drop onto the reader.
I’ve read many articles about when is the best time to publish blog posts, and most of them claim the best publishing day and time is Monday at 11 am EST. However, until you know where most of your audience is, this will differ.
Blog post titles are the shop window to your blog. They can make or break your blog.
Make the titles of your blog posts enticing enough to make visitors want to click the ‘read more’ link.
When creating a blog post title, ask yourself what title would make you want to click the ‘read more’ link.
Never use duplicate blog post titles. Search engines rank blogs and posts with duplicate titles lower than those with original titles.
Adding your own excerpts to your blog posts are far better than allowing WordPress to use the first 55 words of your post as the excerpt.
Hook readers by making the opening lines of your blog posts enticing to make them want to find out more.
Blog posts that contain images or photos are 70% more likely to get read than those that do not contain any images or photos.
Reduce the size of images and photos before adding them to a post. This will help your post download more quickly.
Make sure your blog posts are kind to the eyes. Avoid glary colours, tiny font, and combinations of colours that make the font hard to read.
Use no more than four sentences in each paragraph, as this helps breaks up blocks of text that can look intimidating to read.
Use sub-headings in long posts to help break the post up.
Find out where the majority of your followers are located, and schedule posts to publish during the morning in the timezone they are in. Mornings are peak-viewing times.
What do you do to entice readers to read and leave comments on your blog? Please share your tips in the comments section.
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Have you been blogging for long and fallen victim to some of the blogging traps out there?
I recommend thirteen quick blogging tips to get you started, become a better blogger, and avoid those traps.
1. It’s all about me
Do you like to know something about the person behind the blog? I do, as it gives me an idea of what to expect when considering whether to follow a blog.
Every blogger and blog should have an ‘About me’ page.
Why? Because not only do most new visitors to your blog want to know a little about you before deciding whether to follow, but it’s also one of the most visited pages of the majority of blogs.
Take a look at how many times my ‘About me’ page has been viewed.
Yes, over 12,000 times! Check how often your blog’s ‘About me’ page has been visited. You may be surprised!
Tell visitors a little about yourself and at least give them a name by which they can call you. If you don’t want to use your real name, use one you’d like to be known by.
Ensure your blog does not have the original template for an ‘About me’ page. It will say ‘This Is An Example Of An About Me Page’ and contains no other information. How bad does that look to new visitors to your blog?
And remember to update your ‘About me’ page at least every 6 to 9 months or sooner if anything has changed.
2. Make some journeys outside of your blog
I’m always amazed by the information in the blogging world.
I’ve learned how to self-publishing a book, how to use social media and make it work for me, how to bake gin & tonic cupcakes, how to take great photos and, of course, picked up lots of blogging tips.
Reading other blog posts often ignites ideas for new posts.
Make sure to also check out the comments section, as this is another place to discover new bloggers and get ideas for future blog posts.
Even if you can only spare a few minutes a day, make sure you visit, read, and comment on other blogs.
3. Get talking to other bloggers
When you comment on another blog, other visitors will read and see it and may come and visit your blog. However, ensure your comments are always relevant to the post and prove that you have read it.
Comments of at least ten words or two sentences long show that you enjoy interacting with other bloggers and your audience.
Don’t overload comments with emojis, as they can appear spammy. Using emojis in blog posts is also considered a bad habit that can affect your blog’s ranking with SEOs like Google and Bing.
Avoid leaving lazy comments such as ‘Great Post.’ These types of comments add no value whatsoever.
Instead, tell the blogger what it was that made you think it was a great post or why you enjoyed reading it. They will appreciate your thoughtful comments far more and may visit your blog and become your next follower.
However, never feel obliged to leave a comment if you’ve nothing of value to add. Instead, click the ‘like’ button on the post. After all, that’s what the ‘like’ button is for.
4. Treat others how you’d want them to treat you
Don’t ignore anyone who has taken the time to read and leave a comment on any of your posts.
Most importantly, never ignore anyone who has taken the time to leave a comment on your ‘About me.’ page.
Think about it like this. You’ve invited a guest around for a coffee and a catch-up and completely ignore them. That’s like ignoring comments left on your blog.
Try and respond to comments promptly. However, responding a week later is far better than not responding at all.
Treat everyone who visits your blog as a guest and ensure they are made to feel welcome. After all, with millions of other blogs out there, they can always go elsewhere.
5. Not all links and pingbacks are seen as friendly
Never leave any links in a comment unless you have been invited to do so.
If you want to leave a link to one of your posts or to another blogger’s post because you believe it’s relevant, ask for permission first.
When I started blogging, I quickly learned from other bloggers that leaving uninvited links was frowned upon and seen as spammy.
What would you think if you owned a coffee shop and, without your permission, somebody from a rival coffee shop came in and left a lot of promotional leaflets about their coffee shop without your consent?
It’s not your blog to leave links on unless you have been invited or asked for permission to leave them.
Not sure how to deal with uninvited links or pingbacks left in comments on your blog posts? Edit them out by editing the comment first before approving it. Whoever is leaving uninvited links or pingbacks will soon get the message.
6. Take a challenge
There are lots of writing and photography challenges in the world of blogging.
Don’t be shy, have a try.
It will help you with your writing and photography skills, and other participants will come over and read or look at your entry.
It’s a great way to make new friends, have fun, and gain more followers.
Most challenges are held weekly, but some may be held monthly.
Here are details of some blogging challenges I’ve participated in. Click on the links for more information.
Can you imagine a TV or movie producer, an editor of a magazine, or another blogger wanting to contact you to invite you to write an article, and they can’t find a way of reaching you privately?
Many bloggers dream of making some extra cash with their blog, so if you don’t have a ‘contact me’ page and they can’t find a way of contacting you, they’ll probably move on and give that opportunity to somebody else.
Not everyone wants to leave a comment that other readers can see, so ensure your blog has a way for visitors to contact you privately.
Click here to learn how to set up a ‘Contact me’ page.
9. Invite a guest blogger
I’ve contacted and asked other bloggers and writers to write a guest post for publication on my blog. Many have accepted my invitation.
Once published, the guest blogger may reblog the post. Some may ask you to write a guest post for their blog, putting you in front of a brand-new audience.
Don’t be shy. Ask other bloggers and writers if they want to write a guest post. You’ll be surprised by how many bloggers and writers welcome guest blog post opportunities.
10. Take up an invite
On the other side of inviting guest bloggers, consider accepting opportunities for writing guest posts for publication on other blogs.
Remember what I said previously about being put in front of a brand new audience? Time for the spotlight to shine on you.
However, don’t fall into the trap of accepting every invite.
11. Sharing is caring
I no longer use the WordPress ‘reblog‘ button but, instead, use ‘Press This.’ to share other bloggers’ posts. I also share their posts on my social media platforms, especially if I have enjoyed reading them.
In return, many bloggers will share my posts, putting me and my blog in front of thousands of new readers.
By sharing blog posts, you are putting yourself in the position of the possibility of having your blog pushed to the front, where you may be discovered by new followers.
The more you share, the more you and your blog get noticed.
12. Social Media: The highway to your blog
Using social media to promote your blog is free and can help bring your blog lots of extra traffic.
But don’t take my word for it; check the following screenshot to see what additional shares social media brought to my blog in 2021.
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If you’re a blogger who has used or still uses the reblog button to share other bloggers’ posts, I urge you to read this post.
Likewise, if you use photos or images in your own posts that are not your own or do not come from a genuine website that offers free images and photos, this post is a must-read.
Early 2021, during the lockdown, I had a nasty shock.
For me, the lockdown was terrific – I live in a farmhouse in the Scottish Highlands with gorgeous gardens, have a horse and a pack of rescue dogs, and for once, I could legitimately stay at home and not travel for work. This also allowed me to sit and write without feeling like I was short-changing some other part of my life.
What I had not expected, however, was to receive an email from a law firm accusing me of copyright infringement on a photograph I’d displayed on my blog back in my earliest blogging days, somewhere around 2013.
To add insult to injury, it wasn’t even a blog post I’d put together myself, but a collection of inspirational photos on a friend’s blog, which I’d reblogged!
I shared her post using the WordPress ‘Reblog’ button, and, as you may know, the post appears on your blog with a link to the original for anyone wanting to see more.
I had NO idea (this was quite early in my blogging career); this meant that ALL the photographs in that post were downloaded and stored in my own media library. The fact they were downloaded, even without my knowledge, became a potential legal problem.
If this happens to you, DO NOT ignore it.
The ‘Cease and Desist’ email came from an Italian law firm. Their client, the photographer, is based in the UK, as am I. It detailed the blog post and the specific photograph and demanded £1045.00 compensation for using the picture without obtaining a licence. This was justified as:
£195 financial loss (£39 per year for the licence)
£150 damages for flagrancy (putting the photographer at increased risk of having the photo stolen/used without obtaining a licence)
£100 damages for negative financial consequences
£150 for the absence of picture credit
£50 damages for moral prejudice
£100 damages for consequential losses
£100 damages for devaluing the image
£200 lawyers’ fees
This was what I did:
The first step was to check that the law firm existed, looking up their website and digging a little on Google. Sadly, for me, it was legit.
Then I looked at the photographer’s site to find the photo. Yes, it was there, along with the price for an annual licence, as detailed in the legal letter.
So, having established that I had indeed violated copyright, although unwittingly, I checked my own post. As a reblog, I could only see the first picture, which wasn’t the one in dispute. I replied to the lawyer, asking for a screenshot of the image displayed on my site. To my shock, an image of the entire post came back, with all the photos in evidence displayed on my blog. I still don’t know how this is possible, but I couldn’t argue because they had the screenshot.
I removed the post from my site and also delved into my media library, which is when I discovered to my shock, that all the pictures from the post were stored there. I deleted them all, just in case.
I contacted the original blogger and advised her to delete it, which she did. The last thing I wanted was for them to go after her too.
The next step was to contact the lawyer again and point out I was not the original poster, explaining it was a reblog of someone else’s post.
They replied that while they would consider this, I was still held responsible because the image had been displayed on my site. They dropped the proposed settlement to £800 and gave me 10 days to pay up.
I contacted another lawyer for advice. Her answer was: ‘If you did not download it and post it on your site, then you did not copy it. I would argue that re-posting or embedding is not copying because the image is hosted elsewhere and therefore cannot be copyright infringement.’ Note that last bit? Unfortunately, the way WordPress works, the photo had been downloaded and hosted on my own site, even though I hadn’t known it, so this didn’t help me.
I went back to the Italian lawyer and again stressed that I was not the person who had chosen to use the image. I felt they were being unfair coming after me and not the original poster (which is why I’d given her the heads-up first and ensured she’d removed all traces from her site before typing this message).
By now, this had gone on for 6 weeks, with me leaving it almost to the stipulated 10-day deadline when I replied to the lawyer. I never once refused to pay them, but I did not offer to do so or haggle about the sum. I spent more time researching potential help from legal groups, but…
Nearly a year on, and I’ve not heard from them again! This sounds fairly simple, but believe me, it was time consuming and stressful experience.
I understand from years ago, mainly when posting paper letters, that sometimes the answer to such events is to continue corresponding. Never offer anything, but keep querying small details and spread them out as long as possible. If nothing else, you may get a reduction (as I did) in the sum they demand.
I was lucky; I know others who have had to pay up. In this case, they apparently wrote me off as too much bother to pursue.
If you should be unfortunate enough to have this happen to you, the most important things are:
Don’t ignore it – that has the potential to be very expensive.
Don’t pay up straight away – always investigate your options.
Deborah Jay writes fantasy and urban fantasy featuring complex, quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.
Fortunate enough to live not far from Loch Ness in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands with her partner and a pack of rescue dogs, she can often be found lurking in secluded glens and forests, researching locations for her books.
Her first published novel, epic fantasy, THE PRINCE’S MAN, won a UK Arts Council award and debuted as an Amazon Hot 100 New Release.
Reblogging saves many bloggers time. It’s quick to do and can result in more visits and comments to the reblogged post.
It’s also a safe option but only when used correctly. Here are several points to consider and note if you intend to reblog another blogger’s post or have ever reblogged another blogger’s post.
If you reblog or have reblogged the blog posts of other bloggers, any images, videos or photos in those posts will have been downloaded into your WordPress media library. You could, therefore, have downloaded illegal images or photos and images that are copyrighted.
Check the small print – Some photos, images, and pictures may have a limited time that they’re free to use. After that, you could face a fine if they remain on your blog or in your media library.
Consider other options for sharing blog posts where images and photos are not downloaded to your blog. The ‘Press This’ sharing button is a good option, as no images and photos are downloaded to your media library.
Another option instead of reblogging is to write and publish a post that includes pingback links to blog posts you want to share. Blogger Sally Cronin does this with her ‘Blogger Weekly‘ feature.
If you run a blogging challenge where you reblog posts from participants, consider adding links to those posts in your blog post or in a new blog post rather than reblogging them. Blogger Terri Webster Schrandt does this in her Sunday Stills photography challenge.
If you’re unsure that any content in a blog post you want to share is not free to download or use, don’t reblog the post.
Don’t think that what happened to Deborah won’t happen to you. It can!
If you believe you may have reblogged posts that have images or photos that are copyrighted or not free to download and use, delete the posts immediately.
After deleting posts, remember to remove any images and photos that appeared on the reblog from your WordPress media library, as deleting the post does not delete them.
Remember that copyright laws can also apply to lyrics, artwork, drawings and text.
WordPress offers users hundreds of free images and photos.
If you’re not convinced by Deborah’s experience of copyright infringement, then read Debby Kaye’s post here about a copyright experience she had where she was fined for reblogging a post that contained an image that was copyright protected.
If you have any questions about Deborah’s experience or about reblogging, leave them in the comments section. Deborah and I will try and answer them, although we cannot offer any legal advice.
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