Monday, April 26, 2010

How to make a (blogging) name for yourself

When I started blogging in 2005, no one knew who I was. Actually many people still don't, as evidenced by the fact that many people think my name is 'Mark' ;) But over time, a few people did figure out who I was, and I wanted to share with you how I got my name out there, in case it might help you. In short, I did two things:

1 - I was relentless in embracing the people that were commenting on, and linking to my blog. I started reading, linking to, and commenting on any blog that linked here, or if the blogger commented here. I even started a post series called 'Viral Community News' that only focused on posts/articles from people that were commenting here, and linking here. These days I've moved my linking and commenting mostly to Twitter. This created a vibrant community here, and these bloggers helped promote me to their readers and contacts as well.

And as the individual bloggers that I embraced developed their own communities, that meant I was being exposed to an even larger audience. No reason why this can't work for you as well.

2 - I challenged bloggers when I thought they were wrong. More importantly, I challenged the so-called 'A-Lister' bloggers. Now there's a difference between disagreeing, and being disagreeable. I didn't purposely LOOK for name bloggers to disagree with, but if a big name blogger said something I didn't buy, I would leave a comment saying so.

And sometimes I was dead wrong. But in the end, I expressed my opinion, and I think that sometimes stood out if no one else was disagreeing with the points raised by the blogger. This is big because I don't think we see enough of this on blogs today. And when we do see someone challenging a blogger, they often go overboard, usually writing a post that outright attacks the blogger, in an apparent effort to draw attention to themselves.

The ironic part is that most bloggers WANT their readers to voice disagreement with them sometimes. Because if someone here raises an opposing point, that then opens up the door for OTHERS to agree with that blogger, and suddenly the chances of getting more comments and a richer conversation, greatly increases.

So in closing, if you are a newish blogger looking to make a name for yourself, try going out of your way to comment/link to the bloggers that do the same for you, and don't be afraid to voice your opinions. What other tips can you offer for new bloggers looking to make a name for themselves?


cynthia bailey md said...

Boy Mack I really appreciate this encouragement. I've been blogging for 6 months. I have nice conversations on twitter and facebook, but getting comments on my blog posts is slow going. Maybe it's my blog niche, I'm an MD blogging on medical skin care/health care information. When I do get a comment it's so rich! My readership is slowly growing and it will be interesting to see if comments grow with it.
Cynthia Bailey MD

Anonymous said...

Good stuff,, Mack ;)

The #1 reason you're a prominent blogger, in my opinion, is that you engage with readers and other bloggers with ZERO prejudice about experience level. It genuinely doesn't matter to you whether someone is an A-List blogger (who picks the A-List, anyway?), a rising veteran, or a newbie.

Too many bloggers I know think getting the attention of Mashable, Tech Crunch or HuffPo makes them a big deal. The dedicated blogger who nurtures a community -- no matter how small -- is the one who impresses me.

Keep up the good stuff, Mack. Thanks for teaching me as much as you have.

Anonymous said...

Great article. I never thought about the benefits of disagreeing! You're right though, that people rarely disagree in a respectful way. If you're not respectful, chances are that your comment will not be approved or deleted.

Thanks for the advice.

Refreshment in Refuge said...

Good points.
When you are new, you also need to seek out other bloggers with your viewpoints. When I first started, I thought there were zero Christian bloggers because I did all kinds of searches for them, but came up blank.

I kept searching, when I found one, I went to every blog of every commenter and left comments. Then I kept going back to those blogs, kept searching and soon we had a blog roll of about 100, and it wasn't even my own blog roll.

It is HARD work, and you can never slack off because today we have attention spans of about a minute.

Another problem I found was those who lost interest in blogging and didn't update their blogs for months. So there is a need to keep on searching for new blogs to comment on in order to replace the ones of those who quit or who rarely update.

Mack Collier said...

Dang Anonymous thanks for the comment, wish I knew who you were ;)

One thing I noticed early on with my blogging was that even though when I first started out I was only getting maybe 20 visitors a day, almost every new post had a few comments. Because I was making a concerted effort to connect with my readers. Then I began to notice how some other bloggers that were getting 100X my daily traffic, had FEWER comments on their posts than I did!

That's when I realized that overall readership numbers alone doesn't matter when it comes to level of engagement. And if you have a readership of only 20 people a day, BUT those 20 people are all close friends that comment on your every post, then your level of engagement on your blog can suddenly challenge much bigger blogs. Which also means if you link to my blog, most of those 20 readers that are commenting on your blog, will probably come check out my blog, and comment here.

This is why there is SUCH a big misunderstanding about the true level of 'influence' in social media. The users that have large followings often aren't very engaged with those followers, while ones that have a network a fraction of the size, are very engaged with that network.

Numbers alone never tell the whole story when it comes to blogging and social media.

Keith said...

I think slow and calculated is the plan. Nuture is a great word, take your time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article! I feel like I'm in the same position you were when you started. My blog is less than a year old and it's helped me learn more about myself and developing and sharing my thoughts. Now I am at the point where I want to really get my blog visible and I appreciate your thoughts.

One thing I've done is enter a blogging contest---mainly to see what would happen--and now I'm a finalist!

And if I think of something I disagree with, I'll be sure to let you know...

Becky Carroll said...

Mack, you were my very first commenter, and I always talk about you when I am asked how my blog got started. You were so encouraging, and then the Z-list came along (which you started) and you embraced your community.

Thanks for continuing to encourage new bloggers. 3.5 years later, I am still going!

Ekaterina Walter said...

Mack, I love your post! You are always spot-on.

And you are always willing to help those who are just starting with their blogs. You are selfless and you helped me personally a ton with your feedback which I value and truly appreciate!

Always a pleasure reading your blog and interacting with you on Twitter. Hope to see you again very soon! :)

Tom Martin said...


Love the point you made about how bloggers really want you to disagree with them. I love to debate in the comments and have lots of voices chime in... makes the post sooooo much better.

Thanks for reminding folks of that point.

Bryn Morgan said...

Find that A list bloggers often try to pass off disagreement as trolling. If more people were prepared to disagree, they would be less likely to try this "not listening" tactic.
Great post, thanks for sharing.

Sue Anne said...

I think consistency is one of the most important things in making a name for yourself ... whether it's consistency in how often you blog, comment, connect with people, etc. It's all about consistency.

I've been blogging off and on for about 10 years, but I've never been consistent ...

Kevin Cole said...

I have seen danger in disagreeing with a point made by an "established" blogger though, Mack... I had one get really nasty in making sure that I (and probably more to the point, their acolytes) knew that they were an expert and I was nobody to be disagreeing with them - to the extent of looking up my bio and making patronizing/sarcastic reference to it in verbally slapping me for disagreeing. Sure cured me of being willing to comment at all, let alone disagree, with almost any "name" blogger. Other than yourself, that is. I've never seen you do that to someone...

Mack Collier said...

Becky you continue to do a great job ;)

Kevin I hear what you are saying, and unfortunately, some bloggers are VERY insecure about having any of their points challenged. I think the problem with that approach is, besides looking like a jerk, is you simply encourage more angry comments and even posts about you.

janetlansbury said...

Someone just pointed me here and I'm so thankful! I've been blogging 8 months and get lots of comments when people disagree and debate me. But when they agree (or just don't engage, I guess), not so many. I appreciate your insight about commenting on all the commenter's sites -- the importance of that never really hit me before. I comment all over the place when I think I have something to add.

Like Kevin, I had a discouraging experience disagreeing with a well established blogger. I was polite, and have supported her, too. The second time I did it, she stopped following me on Twitter, even though (just as you described, Mack), my challenging comment brought many, MANY more comments in her favor than she ever would have had otherwise. Her buddies all took me apart.

I blog about parenting, and it can be a sensitive topic. I'm still working on getting a thicker blogger's skin myself, having shied away from conflict my whole life! Mack, thanks again.

Barb Chamberlain said...

I once had the unfortunate experience that Kevin and Janet did--being torn apart by the other commenters because I questioned (politely) the blogger's point. He lost me as both subscriber and Twitter follower because it was such a hostile environment in the comments.

I did gain a Twitter friend through the experience. Both of us had been slapped and we found each other via Twitter to commiserate. So we made lemonade out of very sour lemons.

I'd rather remember the thrill of having a recognized blogger comment back on your own blog when you're a beginner--simply can't be overestimated. Early on someone did that for me and I just had it happen again.

Since you linked to this post tonight in #blogchat more folks will read this advice. Hope the comment karma spreads!


Jamie Favreau said...

Great help and ideas!

I have one A lister I really would love to have a short and sweet blog post but I don't know how to approach him. I have tried multiple ways and I have failed. Yet, this person is always in the back of my mind.

Yes it is hockey related... LOL! I love controversy. I am participating in a blog community (where there are multiple blogs for one topic) not quite sure what you call it. Anyways, I am the only one who does not like a particular player (hockey again) and I seem to be the only person commenting too. I figure if we don't start the conversation than no one will jump in.

Rafael John said...

Wow,Ive never thought of that, in my opinion, not to disagree but i think one can be more appreciated as a blogger when he comments about what he thinks and speaks whats in his mind, because one would appreciate more when someone comments with full depth and not just to a no good A listers blog,so i guess youve been known or famous with these because you just dont comment you tell what you wanna speak. and I admire you for that, -ryujin

patmcgraw said...

Great post - for me, I am rather amazed by the low quantity of 'social engagement' within the wonderful world of social media. Sure, the Tier 1 bloggers can post "Burp" and get 1,000 comments about the brilliance of the post (with a handle of posts challenging the post just because that's how they roll).

But get beneath that level and the number of people working the crowd - commenting, engaging, conversing - is small.

When I started blogging, as well as tweeting, I expected a lot more 'social' - then I realized it's all about quality, not quantity.

Your two principles - embrace and challenge - are all we can control and it pays off in delivering great relationships with those also willing to embrace and challenge.

Those are the relationships that get me going in the morning, keep me going late at night. For those not following these principles - you don't know what you're missing.