I started this blog back in November, and not only was I new to blogging, but I was new to social media altogether. (I’ve had a FaceBook for a while but only had ‘friends’ that I actually know in real life, which gives it a different feel). I went to WordPress.com and with much trepidation I signed up. I spent the first few weeks just reading other blogs. I followed the ones I liked and did research that way. I didn’t ‘like’ or comment on anything because I didn’t have my confidence up yet. My first post went out in November and I started picking up followers. Since then my blog has evolved into what it is now. A few short months later and I’m feeling somewhat comfortable with it, but still perplexed by some of the nuances.
I started using my Twitter around the same time I started my blog. They seemed to go hand in hand. I’ve had a Twitter for a while but couldn’t understand it or use it. Was it like FaceBook? Where were people’s pages? Through starting my blog I have explored Twitter a bit more and I can almost say I know how to use that too.
Here’s what I have learnt along the way…
At first I was confused by the follow etiquette. Do I have to follow people that follow me? Do I expect people I know to follow me? Do I expect followers to cross genres from Twitter to WordPress to FaceBook and back again? Say I know someone in real life who also has a WordPress blog, should I follow them? Well I did. Then they didn’t follow me back. I gave it a few months. I commented on their posts and nothing. So I unfollowed them.
At first everyone on WordPress who followed me I followed back. Now, if someone likes or comments on my stuff then I will click through to their blog and read and comment back. I read people who read me, I also read from categories and tags that interest me. I probably do this at least twice a day. I like bloggers who respond to comments and are interested in dialogue on their posts. I love that in my followers too. It’s all about the interaction for me. The list of blogs in my follow bar are ones that I really love and connect with. They are also mostly run by bloggers who encourage interaction on their sites.
On Twitter I still follow everyone who follows me. I tried to sync my FaceBook contacts but it didn’t work. I always click the ‘follow me on Twitter’ link from people’s blog pages. If I’ve missed you just follow me, I’ll follow back. Unless you have bad grammar. Then I won’t because it would make me slowly insane.
Blog style and how to…
I got some really good advice for setting up this blog from some awesome and experienced bloggers over on Carnies’ Corner. From that I took that my blog needed a unique design and some branding. I implemented that. I also put in some pages and widgets in my side bar to make navigation easier. It is a wonderful introduction to blogging when other more experienced bloggers on WordPress step up and give you help and advice in a non-confrontational way. I hope I can repay the favour some day. As yet I’m still a bit too new to be offering advice. I have to earn my stripes.
I also got some help with my blog by guest posting on other bloggers sites. I also had guest bloggers post here and here and here. It helped by giving me an inside look at the workings of another blog, and seeing the process of creating a post here on my dashboard. That sort of learning is invaluable, and all you have to do is ask another blogger if they would like to guest post on your site. I haven’t had anyone turn me down yet. WordPress bloggers are such a friendly bunch.
With regards to the technicalities of operating WordPress, I got a lot of info from Google. For example I couldn’t get my YouTube videos to imbed the way they are supposed to. I would put in the video URL and when I previewed my post it just had the URL as a link. I Googled and found a train of conversation on WordPress Help that suggested I put square parentheses around the link and add youtube= to the front. I did that and it worked. You see it’s been trial and error. I have formatting go crazy sometimes. I’ve ditched an entire post because of that. WordPress Help Desk is really good though, and have responded promptly to my issues.
It’s a global village
Being from Australia, I have had a few time zone issues. For example, I am asleep when the daily prompts come out, and by the time I wake up in the morning there is only an hour or so to go before they close the comments. Plus every woman and her dog on WordPress have already answered the question, leaving me with not much to contribute. I have also had to be careful scheduling guest posts with bloggers from the other side of the globe. It can get tricky.
I have really enjoyed getting to know people from around the world though. I have met people who I would definitely call friends. That has been the biggest surprise bonus for me.
Learning to communicate in the virtual world
I have had to learn to communicate in a new medium. I am still learning. I struggle with the lack of face-to-face contact. I am a very sarcastic person and it gets lost sometimes in writing. I like to think it’s because I’m so funny and awesome that WordPress can’t handle me, but really it’s more like I am failing to adjust my natural style to the medium.
I often find conversations awkward. Everyone is ‘listening’ when you have a conversation in the blog comments. I feel like one of those annoying people that speak really loudly thinking you want to hear their whole conversation, but inside you’re really wishing they’d just shut up. I guess the difference is everyone has just read the post so it’s commentary on something we’re all familiar with. But I still wonder - is it weird when someone drops in on a conversation you’re having with someone else? Is it like eavesdropping? Or not? I’m still not clear on that. I have seen it done a few times.
Conversations that are more private seem to happen when you jump mediums – from WordPress to Twitter is a natural evolution because most blogs have a ‘follow me on Twitter’ button. A jump to FaceBook signifies an actual friendship has formed. This takes a little longer.
Little nuances of virtual conversations take a bit of getting used to. For example, when a conversation finishes there’s no “ok bye” or “ see you later” like in real life. It’s like the end of a phone call in The Bold and the Beautiful, you just hang up. You say something, they say something, and then it just dies. This always leaves me feeling, well, blah, like was it something I said? Something I didn’t say? (those of you who know me are giggling now I’m sure. It’s never something I didn’t say!), and if I’ve got someone else talking to me I always feel like I need to say something afterwards so they don’t feel like that. But then am I being annoying by being too verbose for the medium? It’s not a chat room, after all.
So while I say I have it mostly figured out, there is still a lot that I have to learn. I am definitely way beyond the starting gate now. I have loved every minute of it. The only way is up baby!
Here are links to the about pages of some great bloggers who helped me out along the way. Please check them out, and if you don’t already follow them, make sure you click the follow button…
Le Clown at A Clown On Fire – I am forever a loyal Carnie
TwinDaddy from Stuphblog – I’m a proud member of the Stuph Mafia
Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher – The Mercenary might think that I found her through Stuphblog, but actually I followed her first.
DJ Matticus from thematticuskingdom - learning through guest blogging, it’s a beautiful thing!
To the above bloggers – I will be forever grateful for your help and it has been an immense pleasure getting to know you and reading your work.