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According to LJ’s home page, there are currently more than 28 million LiveJournal blogs and communities around the world, with about 160 thousand blog posts made just yesterday. That’s an awful lot of people and an awful lot of blog posts. So (assuming that’s your goal) how do you get more of those 28 million bloggers to take an interest in your own journal?

Everyone’s different, and what works well for one person might not be suitable for another, but I do believe there are some blogging tactics which are pretty much universal in their effectiveness (or lack of it).

A good number of folks want to use their LJ blog (at least in part) as a self-promotional tool, so I thought it might be useful to do a series of posts examining some of those ‘tactics’ in more detail. We’ll start with one of my favorites: 


Unlike (say) Facebook, where both sides have to agree, it’s possible for someone to ‘Friend’ you on LiveJournal – and thereby read all your blog entries (at least the ones which aren't locked) – without you ever having to return the compliment. However, from a self-promotional point of view, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take (what in the vast majority of cases is) a friendly gesture from someone and turn it (however unintentionally) into the online equivalent of ignoring the offer of a handshake.

When someone I don’t know adds me to their f-list, I take it as a compliment, I check out their journal, and friend them right back. If someone comments on my journal, or joins my FindAWritingGroup community, or responds to a comment I left on their blog, I almost always friend them too.

“Why should I friend people back? I didn’t ask them to friend me.”
True, but assuming they’re real people (even if they haven’t commented on your blog yet, a quick look at their profile and blog page will tell you if they’re genuine), where’s the harm?

“I’m doing just fine as it is. Besides, I don’t blog to make friends, I blog to keep people informed about my work.”
That’s your choice, of course, but remember those 28 million LJ accounts? Trust me, if all you’re going to do is talk at people, not only will you have a hard time getting folks to listen, the ones that do will get bored, fast.

For what it’s worth, I’ve enjoyed reading work by many of my online writer friends, but aside from r/l folks I’ve met through writing groups and conferences, I’ve yet to add anyone to my f-list whose name and/or work was already known to me.

“But I can’t keep up with the posts on my f-list as it is.”
That’s a valid concern, but if you’ve got a huge f-list, folks will understand that you might not be able to read their blogs, especially if you put a note to that effect in your profile.

Besides, LJ now has a brilliant f-list filter facility, which allows you to choose which LJ friends’ journal entries you want displayed on your friends page.

“What if we don’t get along? I don’t want to have to unfriend someone.”
Unless you really want to, you never need to unfriend anyone. Just filter them out (as described above). Let’s face it, if you don’t get along, you won’t be commenting on each others’ blogs anyway, so who’s going to know?

In case you’re wondering, I currently read all but about eight people on my f-list – the most common reasons for filtering people out are foul mouthed ranting, regular obscene language and/or consistently ignoring mine and other people’s comments. 

Of course, this is just my opinion.  What do you think?

Poll #1582705 To 'Friend' or not to 'Friend'...

When you friend people on LJ, then make regular comments on their blog posts, do you notice/care if they don’t friend you back?

Not at first, but as time goes on, and I keep commenting, it bothers me.
So long as they respond to my comments, I’m not bothered.
I don't care one bit.

Does it affect your opinion of him/her?

Yes, after a while I stop commenting.
Yes, after a while I stop reading their posts all together.
Not at all.
Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments

Does it put you off reading their books/stories in the future.

Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments

Next time on “Blogging Tactics”, we’ll take at look at comments and how (I believe) they can have a huge impact on both your readership and your f-list, in the meantime:

How about you?

What’s your policy on ‘friending’?

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( 124 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 23rd, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
re: question #3. It doesn't exactly put me off reading their book, but if they're an author I haven't heard of, I'm much more likely to read their work if they respond to my comments. If they don't, I just might forget about them.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, comments (or the lack of response to them) is a post unto itself - in fact, it's #2 on my Blogging Tactics list :)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
I have a policy. If someone friend's me, I don't automatically friend back. I've responded to a few friend requests that turned out to be bots, spammers, whatever you want to call them. So my policy has been to check out the profile/journal, see if there could be a good match there, and then decide.

I've friended and not been friended back--and while this is a bit imbiggening, it's really fine. My own list has gotten long enough that keeping up with all those who comment on my blog has become a bit time-consuming. But if I comment several times on that person's blog and get ignored, I stop reading.

This doesn't go for 'big name' blogs that I follow simply to keep up on happenings in the literary world. I don't expect to be friended back, in that case, or even responded to (even though I find that REALLY annoying!)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
So my policy has been to check out the profile/journal, see if there could be a good match there, and then decide

Me too, though it's nearly always a good match ;)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
Can I tell you what really pisses/pissed me off? I can? Cool! You're the greatest, Jon.

There have been a few LJers who I was mutal friends with since I started my LJ... then, after they get agents, publish a few books... I'm unfriended. WTH! If it's because of something I said, I understand, but in these cases it had nothing to do with my content. I guess I just wasn't worth the time anymore.

So... there are certain authors whose books I'll never buy.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
Good grief! Really? I'm not surprised that upsets you.
(no subject) - tracy_d74 - Jun. 23rd, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
One of the best things about having a blog is developing real friendships with online people, don't you think?
(no subject) - amysisson - Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amysisson - Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
Hahahahaha :P
Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
My opinion is that if there's no set policy on friending in the User Info, you're left to your own devices as to how things are being received.

If you want to make sure that you're not trying to be offensive, then go ahead and put a friending policy in your User Info, no matter if this is a professionally oriented endeavor or for personal use only.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
My opinion is that if there's no set policy on friending in the User Info

Absolutely, but from a self-promotional point of view, I think erring on the side of 'friending back' is the smart move.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)
Re: personal online magazine
Thanks, Sue, you're very kind :)

I like that idea of a daily magazine - a bit like Nancy Fulda's anthology builder, but with fresh content delivered daily ;)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
I put a sticky post at the top of my journal page stating my friending policy - which is that I don't mind if people friend me, but that I don't always friend back so to please not take offense if I don't.

If someone friends me I check out their journal and if they aren't people I know, other writers, or if they blog in a language I can't read, I won't friend back.

Mostly I friend other writers I meet through forums and mutual LJ friends (for example bondo_ba pointed me in your direction). I certainly don't take offense if they don't friend me back - the friends page is for my convenience, after all, not theirs.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
Fair point, Cheryl.

By the way, you get bonus points for that excellent icon :)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
I've recently kept my journal more deeply locked for fear of being identified or snooped on. I used to have loads of public entries but being FO makes it easier for me to talk about whatever I want. Oddly enough, I've been friended more often since I made the change a few months ago.

Generally I will friend back, though I'm reining in my need to be a people pleaser so I can't guarantee I will in the future. I was recently recommended a person who had a locked journal but after a few days of no reciprocation I dumped her - because that's pointless. I couldn't even leave a bloody comment anywhere!
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
I've been friended more often since I made the change a few months ago.

Ah, that's because you're more mysterious now ;)
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
I understand where you come from Jon, and I cannot dispute that it works. (For you at the least, and probably others as well.)

I find that at least in part, the problem with "friends" as LJ has the feature designed is that it is caught up in several functions. For example, it both is locked up in who can read posts that I choose to not make compeltely public andit also manages for me the list of blogs I like to read. I really wish they'd never called it "friends" which brings a whole host of baggage along.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean, Ed. It's like heleninwales said, calling it a 'reading list' would be a much better arrangement. It's the same with Facebook and their 'Fan-turned-Like' page.
Jun. 23rd, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
I'm probably in a slightly different position... I know that some folk have friended me for the icon posts I put up every so often (I find making them relaxing, and am perfectly happy about this) or equally infrequent fanfictional scribbles... we don't have much in common. And there are several people I've friended who have enormous lists for good reason - they're interesting to read - and I'm quite happy if they don't friend me back, it reduces the pressure on me to ad to their millions of comments unless I'm actually moved to say something :) I think of my flist as part friends, part reading list.

When I first joined LJ I religiously returned the friending for everyone who friended me, and ended up with several people I've had to take off my default view because they annoy me or post HUGE pictures incessantly (my internet is slow). I'm a little more cautious now - my list's grown, I find it hard enough to ensure I don't seem to ignore anyone in the sheer number of posts I see and try to comment on most people's posts every so often but what can you do? I do every so often check out the journals of folk I haven't friended yet, and sometimes friend them ages afterwards.

I also have a separate private locked-to-just-me-and-marked-as-such LJ, and do have a small reading list on that, but don't friend back as they couldn't read anything anyway.

Jun. 24th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
I guess, like most things in life, the trick is to find out what works best for you and do that, a lot.

I'm the same as you on the part friends/part reading list thing. For me, one of the unexpected bonuses of starting a blog is meeting so many lovely people, who I'd otherwise never have had the pleasure of knowing.
(no subject) - sallymn - Jun. 24th, 2010 08:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 23rd, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
One of the beauties of LJ (as opposed to FB) is that you can just follow someone's blog as a reader and they don't have to friend you back. I honestly find it a little uncomfortable that on FB if I want to follow the announcements and recommendations of *big name writer/editor*, they have to be able to see my blather, too. I know that's what fan pages are for, but I am very unconvinced that the fan pages in FB work as well as they could, nor that everyone uses them.

For this reason, I don't obsess over my friends list, and haven't looked at who has friended me on LJ for months.
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:43 am (UTC)
I guess, like Jaime earlier, as a slush reader, you've also got that question about folks' motives - though as I understand it, </i>Asimov's</i> remove the writer's name before distributing their slush pike, so that probably isn't so much of a concern for you.
Jun. 24th, 2010 12:04 am (UTC)
I have friended people and not been friended back. I typically don't care. Especially if I know the person is busy or a famous author. I do get upset if I comment on posts and the blogger does not comment. Pros don't count. They get 100+ comments. If they commented to everyone they could not write the stories we love to read. And I get people not responding sometimes . . . life is time consuming. But I comment and NEVER get replies, I stop commenting and don't read their posts as often.

If someone friend's me, I do go to their page a few times and make sure it is a good thing.

I hear what you are saying about the deflisting thing . . . but I think there are times when deflisting is necessary. You can't always be passive about things. But this is from me, a psychologist who always believes I should tell people where they stand with me. Not everyone is comfortable with that approach. Luckily I get along with most people and I put up with a lot from people. But I have my limit and I have a handful of personality types I don't mesh well with.
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:40 am (UTC)
I unfriended a few folks in my first few months on LJ. In most cases, it was because they only ever blogged about themselves and rarely seemed to respond to anyone's comments.

Now I use that filter thingy, so the only reason I would unfriend someone these days would be if they used the 'c' word (I don't know why, but it's a friendship-breaker as far as I'm concerned), or if that person has unfriended me - hard to believe, I know, but it has happedned ;)
(no subject) - tracy_d74 - Jun. 24th, 2010 12:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 24th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 24th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
It makes me feel good when someone replies to my comment but I don't always expect it especially in crowded blogs. I do excpect a reply in emptier blogs but I don't get upset if I don't get one.

Sometimes I can't think of something to say too. I figure that they can't think of a reply rather than they're just not very courteous. I like to think the best of ppl.

I think some folks are too quick to feel slighted or too quickly offended in a virtual world, especially with certain types of writers who lean a bit toward the Asperger's end of the personality spectrum, and who have trouble picking up on other ppl's feelings.

Jun. 24th, 2010 11:31 am (UTC)
'I like to think the best of ppl'

My old gran used to say there were only about ten truly horrible people in the world - they just move around a lot ;)
Jun. 24th, 2010 01:20 am (UTC)
Whether I friend someone depends mostly on what's on their blog— it is content I want to read on a regular basis. And if someone chooses not to friend me back after I friend them, I don't worry about it. I don't really know their reasons, so I'm not going to work myself up over it. I have plenty of LJ friends.
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:30 am (UTC)
And I'm proud to be one of them :)
(no subject) - karen_w_newton - Jun. 24th, 2010 11:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 24th, 2010 11:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 24th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karen_w_newton - Jun. 24th, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 24th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 124 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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