31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog Catchup, Week 5: Contact a Blog Reader

I recently discovered a series entitled “31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog,” at the Tonia’s Roots blog. This series is based on the Darren Rowse (ProBlogger) e-book 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Unfortunately, I am coming into this about a month late, so I am playing “catchup.” Once caught up, however, I plan to keep up with the series.

The activity for this assignment involves interaction with one’s readers. There are four ways suggested:

  • Directly email new readers who leave comments on your blog;
  • Leave a comment on the blog of a reader who comments on your blog;
  • Follow a reader on Twitter;
  • Respond directly to comments on your blog.

I already read, and if appropriate, comment on the blogs of those who leave comments on my blog. I truly enjoy reading about genealogy from different perspectives.

I also follow many of my Twitter followers. Unfortunately for some, I have been trying to limit the number of people I follow. I currently have over 1500 followers and follow over 1100. It is simply not useful to follow this many people, and I have tried to go through and clear out all of the people that are either no longer active on Twitter, or do not often tweet items of interest to me. This is a long process (as you can imagine with 1100 following), so it happens in spurts, with no end in sight. But whenever I am able to finish the process of making this a more manageable number, I will probably spend just as much time building it back up again. I’m a glutton for punishment and social media.

I try to respond to most of the comments I receive on my blog, other than those that do not say anything more than “Great post” or other kind words. It is not that I do not appreciate all of these compliments, and I certainly enjoy knowing that certain posts are useful, educational, or just interesting to my readers. Perhaps a short “Thank you” note would be appropriate.

A different kind of comment, though, provokes more active responses from me. In general, I do not post ideas that are not thought-out ahead of time. I try to edit myself pretty thoroughly before I push that “Publish” button, including often scheduling them a day or two after I write them, so that I can go back and edit them again if further thoughts arise. These are habits from my non-blog writing. I always let an article sit before submitting it to a magazine publisher.

So when a commenter challenges one of my posts, I feel justified in arguing my position, always respectfully. In some cases, I will change my mind based on the points of the commenter. In other cases, I will convince the commenter of my point. Sometimes we can simply agree to disagree. This is ok too. But I feel that the constant dialogue between the blogger and his audience is the primary benefit of blogging. When two opposing sides are able to argue their respective opinions, it allows each to view the issue from a new perspective. If done productively, this can add to the continued development of our field.

I would add a fifth suggestion related to this last point, as a way to engage one’s readers: the “response post.” A response post is a post that either originates as a response to another blog or a comment on your blog. I have written several response posts to both other blogs that I have read, sometimes agreeing and sometimes disagreeing, as well as to comments left on posts in my blog. These response posts allow me to directly address opposing viewpoints or objections to a certain way of doing things.

This is the last week that I missed, and is therefore the last of the “catchup” posts. This series will now be posted on the set schedule that appears on Tonia’s blog, every Sunday. I look forward to learning more about my blog and other successful blogs as I work through this series.

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