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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: 

THE “LJ FRIEND” THING

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?

Yes
11(20.4%)
Not at first, but as time goes on, and I keep commenting, it bothers me.
15(27.8%)
So long as they respond to my comments, I’m not bothered.
17(31.5%)
I don't care one bit.
11(20.4%)

Does it affect your opinion of him/her?

Yes, after a while I stop commenting.
13(24.5%)
Yes, after a while I stop reading their posts all together.
9(17.0%)
Not at all.
25(47.2%)
Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments
6(11.3%)

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

Yes
2(3.8%)
Sometimes
16(30.2%)
No
31(58.5%)
Something else, which I’ll explain in the comments
4(7.5%)


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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Comments

( 124 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 3 of 3
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autumnsea
Jun. 24th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
I'm very discerning when it comes to who I add to my journal. The reason for this is because I know a few idiots and stalkers who for kicks just open new journals to gain access. Like any place online, lj is rife with not-so-healthy people.

I did have a problem once "un-friending" people. Nowadays, if by chance I have friended a stranger and they rarely post or they never comment and there's something just a little off about them, I remove them from my friends list. I have received rather nasty private messages from some but I ignore and then block them and voila! no more annoying, childish messages.

I generally don't friend someone back just because they have added me to their reading list. I go in, have a look around and even ask questions as to how they came across my journal and why they would like to read me. I'm a questioner. :) Those who don't answer, don't get added.

So, my friends list contains people I either know/trust or writers I am interested in reading/sharing with. It is on the smaller side -- adding hundreds of people to my reading/friends list doesn't make much sense to me. I like mutual interaction and I would never be able to follow and interact with that many people on a regular or consistent basis.
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:29 am (UTC)
The 'c' word has me reaching for the unfriend tab, but I don't bear a grudge - I figure it's not my fault that blogger wasn't the kind of person I though he/she was.
(no subject) - autumnsea - Jun. 24th, 2010 11:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 24th, 2010 11:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - autumnsea - Jun. 25th, 2010 07:40 am (UTC) - Expand
aprilhenry
Jun. 24th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
I didn't friend you back for a long time. I felt overwhelmed reading my friend's posts. But you said some personal things that made me interested in you.

I seldom have time to see who is following me. If someone comments intelligently (but maybe not on every single post) that helps me get interested.
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:25 am (UTC)
If someone has an interesting blog, like yours, and (more importantly for me), responds to mine and other folks comments, it doesn't bother me, though I do notice.

It's people acting like the writerly equivalent of a Prima Donna that makes no sense to me. I'm often surprised at how folks (many of whom have only one or two publishing credits to their name), who I'm sure are delightful people in real life, ignore people who comment on their blog. Oh well, I guess it takes all sorts.
(no subject) - aprilhenry - Jun. 24th, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
peadarog
Jun. 24th, 2010 07:56 am (UTC)
I was going to leave a comment here, but you have far too many already!
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:12 am (UTC)
:P
eneit
Jun. 24th, 2010 08:18 am (UTC)
my lj isn't really a self-promotional tool. It was opened for me so I could keep up with a young friend who was in a different time zone, and at first I rarely used it. Then as more friends from other places started getting lj accounts, my circle of lj friends grew. Then as I got to know people they knew, it grew some more. Not extensively. I've never gone 'friend-hunting' I like knowing the people on my list - they've already accepted that I'm a total nutter *winks*, and there are maybe only 2, perhaps 3, people on my friends list who I read as a fan, though even one of them added me back after several lj conversations.

And of those few who I've added, but not reciprocated, they resopnd to comments, so I'm happy to keep reading them *g*

Your other point, does constant non-commenting make me less likely to buy someone's books: in the case of someone I've never read before, yes. As does nothing but spamming about their work in progress. A mix of writing and real life is healthy, and much more interesting to read. Or fun things, as you do with the Puddles.
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:12 am (UTC)
I sometimes wonder if those writers who only ever post about their own work only ever talk about themselves in real life.

I'd imagine most of them realize that would be counter-productive, which begs the question, "Why do they think doing it online would be any different?"
(no subject) - eneit - Jun. 24th, 2010 11:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 24th, 2010 12:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
edithspage
Jun. 24th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Interesting poll!
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I always find it interesting to hear other folks' view of things :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
Lol, I still don't know half of what LJ can do :(
mary_j_59
Jun. 24th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
Um - the first thing I'm going to say, Jon, is that sometimes I get comments only from people who know me personally. And that's okay. I also do understand it when published authors, like my livejournal friend Rebecca (and now you!), miss commenting on an entry or two. You have a lot else to keep up with (heck, both of you have kids!), and many blogs to read, and I'm not bothered if I don't hear from you in awhile.* I'll also say that, when I first joined livejournal, I knew nothing about friending and blogging etiquette. So I'm sure I failed in courtesy a few times. That said-

I think you are very friendly and courteous, and that does make a difference. I am more likely to seek out books, stories, essays, music, etc, by people who strike me as nice and decent. I'm also more likely to continue commenting on their blogs if what they write is usually of interest and if I feel we can have a civil, friendly conversation. People who are nasty to others on their blogs or routinely ignore them do turn me off. And I will stop seeking out blogs if I feel I am being ignored.

That said, sometimes people just don't interest each other. I'm sure not everyone who happens across it finds my blog scintillating, and I've sometimes friended someone only to find that their life is spinning in a very different direction from mine. We may no longer be interested in reading about each others' experiences, in that case. But there is no need to defriend them. I've only defriended once, as a result of extremely hostile behavior.

Interesting question!

*(I'm really impressed at how you manage to keep up with all your livejournal friends, btw. Sometimes I don't have time to comment!)
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words, Mary :)

I know what you mean about keeping up. I never mind if folks don't comment on my own posts, but I do like it when they reply to comments I've made on theirs.
maryjdal
Jun. 24th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
I think for me - who has a relatively small flist ( I don't actively search for people to friend) - I just sometimes end up on their site, usually through comments on a site like yours, and if I like what I read, or figure I can learn something about writing through their site, I'll friend them. I like when they friend me back, but it isn't necessary - especially if they already have a full card - However, I rather a person not friend me than filter me - at least I know where I am at if you don't friend me back (I then see myself as a reader/fan and not a friend/peer)and that's fine. But since I don't know how to tell who is filtering me, than I might be hurt thinking I have a connection I don't have.
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
I see what you mean, but (to me) the connection comes through commenting back and forth. If I'm not actually doing that with someone, it tells me more about our 'relationship' than whether or not I'm on that person's f-list - not that either side is obliged to do anything, of course :)
catephoenix
Jun. 24th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
If I follow someone I have no expectation of them. I follow people because I'm a fan, interested in their journey, like them, know them or am in awe of them. I don't always comment on posts but I do read most of them (I have skimmed a couple when I've fallen behind), I would also prefer not to follow too many people. I like to know who I'm following and if I followed hundreds I'd forget who was who.
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)
Interesting. Thanks for sharing, Cate :)
mongrelheart
Jun. 24th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
I usually friend people who add me, unless there is some kind of huge red flag (like they are a "bot", or their whole journal is x-rated).

When I add somebody who's a big name pro writer and they obviously have a million people on their list and are really busy, I don't expect them to add me back. I am adding them because they have something of interest to offer me. If they do add me back, it's certainly nice though.

When I add somebody who's a smaller name writer, or a non-pro like myself, where it seems like we are more on an equal level, then I really hope that they'll reciprocate my interest and add me back.

As for comments, comments are nice, and I like getting 'em, but if somebody rarely comments that's ok too. Never answering comments, though, really starts to irk me after a while. If somebody never, ever replies to comments, how do I know they even read what I wrote?
jongibbs
Jun. 24th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm the same when it comes to comments. It's nice to get them on my blog, but I don't worry if people don't make them. I do however, dislike being consistently ignored when I've taken the time to write on someone's blog.

Thanks for sharing, Kam :)
rockinlibrarian
Jun. 24th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
Curiously, I AM someone you have friended although I have not friended you back, and this is the first post I see when I pop over here today!

I, as I hope I have mentioned, mean no offense of it. I for a long time ONLY friended people I knew personally, because my friends-locked posts are about personal things I don't feel like broadcasting all over the Internet. Then eventually I did start friending people whose ljs I wanted to FOLLOW, mostly authors I have already read something by, and so ended up with a lot of people I don't know WHO theoretically can read my locked posts, but most don't because they haven't friended ME back, which I can understand perfectly-- I don't expect them to have TIME to read all the people who have friended them, because they have so many fans friending them! At first I was really excited that Tamora Pierce DID friend me back, because it tickled me that she'd be reading my journal, but I don't think she does. She might have just as well NOT friended me then. I wouldn't have minded, nor would I have gotten my hopes up.

But lately I HAVE wondered if I should start trying to make proper Friends out of people who have friended me/people I COULD Friend reciprically, just so I'd have more people to talk to about the things I love, but I'm not sure because I already waste so much time online and don't need the temptation!
jongibbs
Jun. 25th, 2010 02:04 am (UTC)
You know I could have sworn we were 'mutual', I certainly feel that way :)
lavericknine
Jun. 26th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
Friending
When I started LJ and such things I was somewhat cautious about taking friend request. Sometimes I still am, especially if I don't know who they are. As far as I know, this is from having the Internet at 13 and knowing not to give out personal information.

I don't feel weird about people befriending me if they make a comment. Then I think, oh they're interested in something I wrote. It's nice when people seem interested...

I haven't really kept up my LJ in the way I originally wanted to, but I didn't treat it as a business venture either.

I probably come off creepy when I go to friend people. I've had some interesting encounters on LJ, that's for sure. I guess that's the internet in general.
jongibbs
Jun. 26th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Friending
I guess there's the odd strange character to be found wherever we go, but the vast majority of folks online are just like the vast majority of folks you meet in real life. Perfectly decent, friendly people - at least, that's what I've found so far ;)
Re: Friending - lavericknine - Jul. 3rd, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
dendrophilous
Jun. 30th, 2010 03:07 am (UTC)
Eh. I don't care.

It seems weird to me to friend people I know I'm not going to read, though I do think I have a few people who aren't on my default filter, and I skim a lot. I put some people into google reader, actually, if I'm reading them for posts that aren't friends-locked, or want to make sure I'm not missing anything, or don't want to friend them for whatever reason. (Friending seems like a commitment.)

There are quite a few people who have me friended who I haven't friended back. Since most of them never ever comment, I don't feel at all guilty about it.

jongibbs
Jun. 30th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC)
'Friending seems like a commitment'

I think it is in a way (or at least a potential one). Mind you, it's the response to comments that makes or breaks that commitment for me. I've friended people who seemed interesting, then later stopped commenting on their posts when it became obvious that I was never going to get a reply (unless they get dozens of comments and mine were only things like 'Great post' etc.

Of course, I know that doesn't make their blog any less interesting, but it does put me off reading it.
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Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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


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