Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Fabulous Followers & some advice for newer bloggers

When I first started blogging, every time I got a new follower I clicked on that person to see who she or he is.  Did she have a blog?  Where is he from?  If I liked what I saw, I would start following.  As a result, I follow a lot of blogs.  Some of them post regularly, and some, not at all, so it really isn't as crazy as it sounds.

But as my number of followers grew exponentially, it became challenging to check out each and every new one of you.  But still I wanted you, my followers, to know I value you, so that's when I placed you at the top of my blog.  I wouldn't want to keep posting if nobody was reading. 

So today, I decided to take some computer time to see who my followers are.  I randomly started clicking on the little faces, and what a pleasant surprise it was!  There are old friends there, from my 2+ years blogging, who I feel like I've known forever.  And there are followers I've never 'met', many with blogs, from everywhere! The first one I tried was, I think, from Turkey (not really sure since I couldn't read the language), and another from, I assume maybe Denmark or Sweden (again, I'm guessing based on language). Wow.  

Then I saw one from "the Woodstock School" - hmmm - I've recently visited both Woodstock NY (home of the music festival) and Woodstock Vermont, both a reasonable distance from my home for a day trip, but I hadn't heard of the Woodstock School.  No wonder -  this Woodstock School is in India!!!!  http://artatwoodstock.blogspot.com/.  Check out their phenomenal high school age student artwork - it will blow you away!

Today, as a result of looking at my followers, I also visited a blogger from Texas: http://artistsaremagic.blogspot.com/; 
 from Pennsylvania: http://artipelagoteacher.blogspot.com/;
 from Brooklyn (also where my dad was from): http://artexplorium.blogspot.com/;
from Germany, I think (another one in a foreign language): http://klexbude.blogspot.com/;  
There were more - from Missouri, New Zealand, Nebraska, and Australia for example.  Some of these folks have been around for a while, but more seemed to be relatively new bloggers.

So I have a little advice.  If you have a newish blog, and want people to read it, and to follow it, you have to get them to find you somehow.  Being quiet and waiting for won't make it work.  Your blog is not a field of dreams, where if you build it, people will simply come.  You need to recruit.  You need to make people want to visit you.  Here's what will work:
  • Leave comments frequently on the blogs you read and like.  I don't know about all of you, but when I read a comment from somebody new, who I don't know, I usually click on their profile to see if they have a blog too.  So commenting on a blog is a good way to get people to visit your blog.
  • Post a lot.  You want readers to find something new when they come and visit.  Don't feed those same stale brownies leftover from a month ago!  I want something freshly baked!! ;-)
  • Invite people to visit.  There it is again; you have to leave comments on other blogs and say "come visit my new blog!!!!".  It works.  That's how I got going.  And again, when they visit, they don't want those stale brownies... am I repeating myself?
  • Fix the layout of your blog so that your followers are visible, and your archives are visible too.  My first stop, after I've looked at the current post on a new blog I'm reading, is to dig through their archives and find their FIRST EVER post.  It tells me a lot about you.  Also prominently place your list of labels.  More about that in a few more bullets.
  • For goodness sakes, don't just say "I teach at the Bla-Bla School in Bla-Bla county"  Uh, what state is that in?  Or what country?  Where the heck ARE you???  It made the Woodstock School infinitely more intriguing to know it was in INDIA!  
  • If you are from a place where you speak in a language not commonly used world-over, please put a translator button on your blog.  If I can't figure out what it says, I probably won't come back, and I'll bet I'm not the only one.  I doubt I'm the only blog reader who doesn't read Turkish. 
  • Use labels (also called tags) wisely, for two reasons:
    • You want people to find you using a search engine like Google and shrewd tagging will make all the difference.
    • You want people to be able to find posts that interest them when they get to your blog.  For example, I'm a freak for papier-mache, and for dragons, and for Matisse.  If either of those three things show up in your labels, they will be my first stops.  Or maybe I want to find something I know you previously posted, but I don't know when.  If  there are no labels, it can get pretty painful searching your archives, scrolling through month after month, to find that one lesson you wanted to remember.
  •  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  If you leave a comment on a blog saying "help, I don't know how to do this", readers will hop over and visit and help you out.  Guaranteed.  Art teacher bloggers are nice people!
I think that's more than enough for today, no?

26 comments:

  1. Great advice! Thanks Phyl! By the way...what will you be doing at the NYSATA conference? I'm getting really excited to go! I turned in my paperwork to school today and will hopefully be making my hotel reservations by Friday! :)

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    1. Yippee! I love meeting bloggers in person!

      As for what I'll be doing - I get exhausted just telling about it - I'll be teaching THREE workshops (I must be crazy). And, as a member of the Board (I'm region rep), I'll probably be working the registration desk at some point. Plus attending workshops when I can, and keynotes, and eating, and exploring the exhibitors....and staying up late and getting up early... and shmoozing...

      My workshops:
      Friday: "Great Ideas with Recycled Materials" - a PowerPoint of images, and handouts, and just a bunch of easy ideas with shipping box cardboard, cereal boxes, CD's, and other junk. Nothing fancy, but hopefully practical.

      Saturday before lunch (depending on what time lunch ticket you select): my personal passion - "Get 'Stuck' with Papier-Mache" - again, a PowerPoint of images, and handouts, and lots of practical know-how on using papier-mache with kids and some stuff that works well. I LOVE papier-mache.

      Saturday afternoon: a hands-on follow-up papier-mache workshop, where participants will try out what I demo-ed in the earlier workshop, and create a prototype to take home. I think it will be fun, and I know sometimes you see great stuff at a conference but never have a chance to try it all out and it all gets pushed aside. I'm charging a small fee for materials (masking tape etc).

      I look forward to meeting you - I'm easy to recognize - 5'tall and silver hair past my shoulders.

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    2. Awesome! I'm only going to be staying until Saturday night...looking forward to what you have to share for recycled materials!

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  2. That is such good advice. Good for you!

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    1. Thanks, Janie! Good to hear from you!

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  3. Really good advice!! Love that you took some time to visit your followers!!

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  5. Thanks for taking the time to offer helpful advice! My blogging toes are just getting wet.... yet I've been following your exciting blog for some time and really enjoy the work you do! Also, love the colorfully highlighted text!

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    1. I love adding color but hadn't done it for a while. When I first started blogging I did it all the time. Glad you like it

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  6. Thanks for the tips! I have my personal blog that tends to turn into me posting about work/school and the projects that we are doing in my class. I have really enjoyed reading and following you!

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  7. Eloquently said, dear friend! I know this will help the newbies out there who might have been hesitant to ask for help. Love the colored bullet points-Fancy Shmansy!

    :)Pat

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    1. Again - it's fun playing with colors!!! Glad you like it. I had to do SOMETHING - since this is the first post I ever did without a single photo or image to post.

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  8. My kids will be here in five, so I'll try to type quickly, ha.... I've been reading your blog for over a year and LOVE it, so thank you for your diligent and creative posts and wisdom. And today, you mentioned my new blog--I'm Pennsylvania! Thank you! Oh my goodness, it feels like I just won an Emmy. I wish I had my ball gown on (although the closest thing I have to a ball gown is my wedding dress, so maybe I'll put that on after school). And thank you for the advice--I'm new to this and excited to learn as I go!

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    1. Ooh, you'll have to post a pic! (You in the wedding/ball gown). Glad to make your day!! It wasn't that long ago when I was a newbie blogger,and I had some other bloggers give me lovely advice, so you could say I'm just paying it forward.

      One more thing though - you MUST do a post about that pickle drop! I'm very intrigued...

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  9. Hi Phyl,
    It's really kind of you to record all these tips for us newbees. I do all you suggest except ask bloggers to visit me, after I have commented on their blogs. I shall try this as my blogging motivation comes from getting out there to more people. Thanks Phyl.

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  10. Hey, I'm mentioned on your phantastic blog! Thanks, and thank you for all those tipps!
    Fr. KLEX from Klexbude, Berlin, Germany ;-)

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  11. Thanks for the tips! Old in age but new to blogging, so this helps....oh, come on by..hockadayart.blogspot.com
    Chris

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  12. Thank you for the tips! As a newbie, I am always looking to improve my blog, but cautious because I am not very tech-saavy. What a public way to experiment--I am always worried about making a HUGE mistake that everyone will see it and be, like, "what happened here?!?!" I think that being open to change is also a good idea. I originally started my blog as a way to document my ideas and then it evolved as a way to keep parents informed about what I was teaching, but then, once other people said, "Hey that's a neat idea" I gained more confidence and thought maybe other educators might like my ideas too. The art teacher blogging community is awesome and I'm so glad to be a part of it--the support is great and I learn so much. It really makes me a better teacher. And now, to plan some improvements to my own blog (labels, a new header, etc...) Thank you! And visit me at www.creatartwithme.blogspot.com

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    1. For some reason your link didn't work when I clicked on it, so I'm putting it here again for you - hopefully this one will work -

      http://createartwithme.blogspot.com/

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  13. Thanks Phyl, Some excellent tips! I need to start following some of your advice....regular posts especially......but, I will start by adding a link to my blog here!
    www.onceuponanartroom.com

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  14. Thanks for the advice. I love to read other art teacher blogs and would like to participate more in this sharing of information! www.deafartteacher.blogspot.com

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  15. So true. That's why I popped over to say Hi.

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  16. As always, thanks, Phyl! Love your posts and am jealous of your adventures in retirement!
    tinyartroom.wordpress.com
    : )

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  17. Great tips! I try to weekly updates on the goings on in my art room and sometimes feel like it falls on blind eyes!!
    I teach at a K-1 art school in Yarmouth, ME. Here is my blog link http://whroweart.blogspot.com

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  18. oh thank you! I just started blogging and was unsure how to get followers, This was PERFECT!

    http://donaldartroom.blogspot.com

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  19. Thank you Phyl! I appreciate the tips. If you get a moment wander over to my new blog. I would love suggestions.

    http://itisartday.blogspot.com/

    Beth Carter

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