Blog Tip Friday: Create your blogging tribe

HonestMom Create your blogging tribe.com2Blogging can be lonely and isolating. Which seems weird to say in this world of social media, but it really can be.

You write a post and throw it out there into the interwebs, essentially hoping if you post it (and promote it), they will come. It can feel very one-way. The opposite of social, really.

Sometimes it can seem like you’re shouting out into empty space, Hellllooooo? Anyone hear me? Anyone reading my posts that I slave over?

Well, there are tons and tons of other bloggers thinking the same thing. And I think the way to combat this feeling is to form your own blogging tribe.

Everyone always talks about “the blogging community” and how great it is. And it’s true! For sure. But having a blogging tribe takes the idea of the blogging community one step further, and makes it even more supportive, amazing, and personal.

Here’s the difference between the general mom blogging community and having your own tribe: I consider the community to be like a large college. You choose to be there because you think it’s a good fit for you. There are lots of great people there, many of whom you have a lot in common with. You love it and are so excited to be a part of it!

But it’s also really, REALLY big. Just like a large school, the blogging community can be overwhelming. Sure, you make a bunch of casual friends whom you chat with here and there (Twitter, Facebook). You sometimes hang out (visit and comment on each other’s blogs) and you enjoy it. And you go to big rah-rah events (BlogHer, other conferences) where you meet even more fabulous people.

It’s awesome, right? But … it’s not exactly personal. When you make a great connection in one of these large settings you might think to yourself, I wish I could hang out with this person. We share the same blog topics. We have similar senses of humor. We are both completely awesome. We’d totally be besties!

(Or maybe I just think things like that.)

Anyway, it’s like back when you started college and you craved a group or two of girls that you knew you could depend upon for support and laughs. And when you found them, these groups became your tribes – where you ultimately made your best friends. For me, one tribe was my school’s dance organization. The other was my roommates.

In the blogging world, my tribes are my Facebook groups.

One is a private Facebook group (“secret”) and one is the kind you apply to (“closed”). The private one was formed by one of my blogging friends who invited a few bloggers she knew. The other is Boston Parent Bloggers, which any parent blogger in the Boston area can join.

These groups are where my closest blogging buddies are. I found BPB through one of my very first blogging friends, Jessica at Don’t Mind the Mess, and I have made some great personal and business connections through it. The other group also has some of my first blogging friends in it, and it’s a place in which I learn, laugh, and vent.

A big part of both groups is supporting each other’s blog posts, giveaways, etc. Having a critical mass of bloggers post, tweet, and pin each other’s blog posts is HUGELY helpful! It vastly expands even a small blogger’s reach and as a result, my little blog has grown leaps and bounds in a short amount of time.

Not only that, but these groups are places where I know I will always be supported when something big is going on. When I was going on Katie Couric’s show, the women in these two groups were instrumental in spreading the word and supporting me emotionally. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without my tribes!

Do you have a tribe? How do you help each other? If not, is starting a Facebook group something you’d be interested in? Tell me in the comments and in another post, I’ll go through the how-to’s!

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Blog Tip Friday: Why a Bad Headline Can Kill Your Blog Post

“You have one chance to make a great first impression.” 

The old saying holds true for your blog. And what’s your first impression? The title of your blog post, or your headline.

Think about it. Which of these would you be more likely to click on:

A trip to the zoo

-or-

The day a monkey romanced my daughter

Your blog post title needs to inspire someone to click on it. Whether your potential readers are seeing your headline in their Facebook news feed, in their email, or on Twitter, they are going to pass right by it if it isn’t interesting.

What it comes down to is this: You may have written the greatest post in the world, but if your headline sucks, no one’s going to read it.

This also goes for headlines you use in linkups (like, ahem, Honest Voices). You’re competing for readers’ clicks with lots of other bloggers. You need something snappy or that pulls at the heartstrings so people will click.

Here are some great headlines (just a few – there were a lot of winners!) from the last linkup I hosted:

Gay Rights, Chicken and Fireballs – by Something Clever 2.0

20 Things I Learned in College (but not in class) – by Funny Is Family

Naked Happy Hour – by Outlaw Mama

Shaken, Not Beaten – by Momma’s Time Out

I Will Not Be Silent – by Motherhood On the Rocks

All of these inspired me to click.

By the way: A great headline doesn’t need to be super short. In fact, one of my most-viewed blog posts ever is “I have no patience with my little kids.” I hear you. And here’s how I’m managing.

This headline isn’t super-short and catchy. But it immediately tackles a subject that lots of moms struggle with.

And it is a search-engine winner: It’s the top two results that come up when you search “no patience for my kids” (which apparently a lot of parents search for because I get a lot of traffic for that term!).

So when you’re creating a title for your blog post, think short and catchy or descriptive SEO winner. I know thinking of a great title can be hard. But it’s worth it to spend some time on it so you can be sure all that hard work you put into your post actually pays off.

What are your tips for thinking of great titles for your posts? Or do you struggle with headlines?

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Blog Tip Friday: Your unique angle & a must-have plugin

 

Welcome to the second edition of Blog Tip Friday on Honest Mom! I write these posts to give you writing and tech tips so you can up your blogging mojo and maximize your blog’s success.

Last time I gave you blog tip #1: the importance of knowing why you blog. This time, let’s talk about your unique angle – plus a plug-in that every blogger should have.

Blog tip #2 : Know what makes your blog unique

When I first started blogging, I got discouraged and thought that it would be impossible to make my blog stand out from all the others.

There are SO MANY mom blogs out there. Why would anyone read mine?

I realized that the answer to my question could be found in my copywriting background: I needed to find a unique angle for my blog.

In the advertising/marketing world that I live in, we call this a USP, or unique selling proposition. The theory is that your product (or in this case, your blog) doesn’t have to be completely and totally different than every other product in its space.

Your product just needs one thing about it that is unique – and will appeal to a certain segment of your intended audience.

So by this thinking, your blog needs just one thing that will appeal to a certain group of moms. There are so many mom blog readers out there, and you don’t have to appeal to every single one!

What’s my unique angle for Honest Mom? It’s my complete candidness about my battle with depression. I know that there are very few moms out there who consistently write about managing their depression. I know that writing about it is a unique way I can help others. And I know that in the end, my depression posts are what draw the majority of people to my blog.

Sure, people also read my humor and parenting posts. Some come mostly for them. And I like writing those posts, too – they give some good variety to my blog.

But my USP is and always will be my honest writing about managing depression as a mom.

So what makes you unique? Is is a certain topic you write about? A style you use when writing? The look and feel of your blog?

As you ponder, don’t be discouraged if you initially think that nothing about your blog is different than any other blog. It might not be evident to you yet.

I didn’t know what made my blog unique for months. But as I saw women’s heartfelt reactions to my depression posts, it dawned on me.

I’ll give you a few other examples. When I think about the blogs I regularly read, they all focus on the same things – moms and parenting. But each one is just a little different.

Anna from My Life and Kids writes short, snappy, funny posts, and her sponsored posts are probably the best I have ever read. She’s a storyteller, and a damn good one.

Paige at There’s More Where that Came From is a humor blogger and writes like no one else I read. She is so witty and has a style all her own.

Kathy at Kissing the Frog writes beautiful and heartfelt posts that can make me cry or laugh. Or both – in one post.

These are just three of the many blogs that I love. They’re all mom blogs – but they all have something special about them.

So think about what makes you unique. You definitely have something because each of us is different. Find your blogging niche and write great posts, and the right readers will keep coming back.

Blog tip #3 : A plugin you need: Comment Reply Notification

I love getting comments. That feeling of, Oh my God, someone read my writing and feels moved to comment! is amazing. Blogger crack, really.

And I love to reply to my commenters, too. I want them to know I’m reading their comments, and that I appreciate them. Time hasn’t been on my side lately, so I can’t reply to everything, but when I do? I want people to know I did so they can reply back and keep the conversation going if they want to.

And that, my friends, is what Comment Reply Notification does. It notifies a commenter that someone replied to their comment – whether that reply came from you or another reader.

Here’s what the plugin looks like:

When you reply to a comment, the original commenter can be automatically notified (the setting I chose above). The plugin also lets you customize your automated subject line and message. It’s simple and perfect.

Just search for “Comment Reply Notification” in plugins, and you’ll find it!

So … tell me in the comments … what’s your USP? And what plugins do you love?

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