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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

amysisson
Jun. 23rd, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
Unlike (say) Facebook, where both side have to agree, it’s possible for someone to ‘Friend’ you on LiveJournal – and thereby read all your blog entries – without you ever having to return the compliment.

This isn't quite true. When someone friends you, it puts only your unlocked posts into their "friends" feed. They cannot see your locked posts unless you friend them back. So both sides have to agree for all content to be visible.

It's an interesting discussion. What I'm finding troubles me, especially with writers, are the ones who sort of beg (panhandle, even!) for comments, with self-obsessed entries ending with "is anyone out there? is anyone listening? isn't anyone going to comment?" -- yet, they do not often comment themselves. Writers as a group have also had some unattractive insecurity issues. Blogs often seem to make those tendencies a LOT more apparent.

Sorry if that sounds harsh. I do enjoy the vast majority of the blogs I read, and it's my own fault if I continue to read a few that annoy me! (I do find that unfriending can be awkward if noticed, so I tend not to do it.)
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Locked entries.

Good point, Amy. I'd forgotten about that option (I never lock my journal entries). I've changed the post accordingly.

As for panhandling for comments, I imagine that might work once in a blue moon, but it doesn't strike me as a good way to build a readership ;) And, as you say, all too often those same folks rarely comment elsewhere, which is probably why they don't get many themselves.

Thanks for sharing :)
msstacy13
Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
At the other extreme,
those who frequently comment elsewhere
don't get many either...
ideealisme
Jun. 23rd, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
Panhandling for comments is ho-hum, but it's better than panhandling for money. An awful lot of that seems to go on on some blogs.
jongibbs
Jun. 23rd, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've noticed that too. Not sure it's a good idea - I know I wouldn't try it. Still, if it's a last resort thing, I suppose it doesn't hurt to try.
amysisson
Jun. 23rd, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
Oh gosh, yes! I can handle people drawing my attention to worthy causes, including a person in the community who has suffered an unusual incident, or confluence of events, but I have no patience for people (usually writers) who just outright ask on their blogs for money towards a computer or whatever else -- especially if the reason they're broke is that they decided not to work a day job so they could be A Writer. It's not as though the rest of us are working these day jobs because we're dying to!
msstacy13
Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
I occasionally post comments at commentless entries
in which I wonder how the entry itself feels,
having drawn no response...

this is not always appreciated...
amysisson
Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
1) I think that's funny, and
2) I like your icon!

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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


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















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed

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