Lately, I’ve been trying to learn a thing or two about blogging – how to increase readership, when and how to post things on FB for the most views. Stuff like that. I got most of my info perusing Jeff Bullas’ blog. I started off reading, Signs I Wasn’t a Good Blogger and continued from there. It was good stuff, unless you consider that according to his seven steps, I wasn’t a good blogger.
The last bit of information that my brain absorbed before my 5 year-old started crying for cocoa puffs for dinner, was that to increase FB interaction and encourage comments on your blog, you should ask a question.
Glad you asked. I wondered that as well, especially since so many of the blogs I read seemed to end in a question. I saw it in action on Facebook pages as well. According to my research, uh Jeff, it’s simple. Ask a question… get an answer. Genius, right? (You don’t need to answer that.)
I figured I’d put my new wisdom into action. I had just written a bittersweet post about my grandmother, who died young and how I regretted our lost relationship. I figured I’d ask an intriguing question on my FB page to encourage people to click the link and read the essay. It was a perfect opportunity. Now I just needed the bait.
After some fiddling, here’s the question I came up with – Has someone you loved, died too soon?
Provocative, I thought with satisfaction.
Within seconds, responses poured in. Wow. That question bit really works. Happily, I began reading comments. Someone had lost grandparents, someone lost a parent. I grimaced a bit, and apprehensively wrote my condolences. More comments. More condolences. The uneasy feeling inflated to a balloon the size of Snoopy in the Macy’s day parade. What have I done?
That’s when the last comment came in. A reader shared her husband’s passing only a month before at age 53. I stared at the screen. Oh my God. I panicked. What could I say to her? What was there to say? How could I put a question like that out there? What the farfignewton was I thinking?!
I shook my head with dismay. I fretted. I worried. I responded with my sympathies. It felt completely inadequate. I felt like a total ass. I needed to stop this immediately. I wrote a general comment about my insensitivity and stupidity and then deleted the whole bit.
I let out a big puff of relief. It was gone. I worried that the people who had opened up and shared would think I was discounting their feelings by deleting the post. I really hoped I didn’t offend them. Jeez, that was some learning experience.
I walked into the living room, the sweat still wet on my brow, needing to confess my thoughtlessness. My husband listened to me go on about people I didn’t really know, who were so open to sharing their sadness, especially the woman who lost her husband.
Do you know what my husband’s response was? Of course you don’t. But it wasn’t, “That’s terrible,” or “Wow, you screwed up.”
He asked, “You know where we keep the important papers, right?”
Uh, what are talking about here? “The important papers?” I repeated hesitantly.
“Yeah, you know, the insurance and our financials and all that.”
I looked at him mutely. How did we get here? I refused to answer. I would not discuss even the possibility.
“Well, do you know where they are?”
LALALALALA. I wanted to scream and cover my ears. No no no! Instead, I spat at him, “Yeah! I know! I know! Sheesh!”
He smiled and went back to whatever he was doing on his iPAD.
I sat across from him distressed and annoyed and confused, but wiser. I had definitely learned something today.
No question about it.
Are there any questions you wished you never asked?
(Better, right? 😉 )
I never leave posts but I thought this was worthy blog. So this will sound like a sob story, but it’s not. I lost my Mom at 54–I was only 24. She was amazing and annoying all at the same time, just like the best of moms. I lived on the other coast but traveled home three weekends out of the month when she was sick–I have gotten down red-eyes like no one else. Here is the thing, my father and brother broke down when she passed and left me to handle everything, but she taught me so well that I could do it (bad fragment I know). Not that I would ever wish she was gone, but it taught me to take care of myself and make sure I took care of my family and I still do to this day. I got lucky, my farther remarried to another amazing women five years later who planned my entire wedding and taught me everything I know to take care of my beautiful boy(Not to mention help from my in-laws). I kinda hit the lottery in the mom world. So here is what I can say to you, enjoy the wisdom, grief the death and enjoy the best parts of memories, especially the memories–they are the most important–that is what teaches you–I promise. And feel lucky you were part of an amazing life or lives. So over Social Media BTW. XOXOX
thank so you so much for sharing such beautiful, wise words. life can be cruel, but we always need to find the beauty in the beast, and move on with appreciation, strength and love. big hugs to you. xoxoxo
I admire your honesty here and your willingness to research blogging. I’ve heard that end with a question thing….sometimes it feels so fake, but I guess it works. I haven’t really tried it. Social media makes me insane and also it connects and heals me. So I have no idea what I am doing, but I sure like your posts.
Quote:” but I sure like your posts”……….Me too!
I’m heading over to read that article right now. I’m pretty sure it’ll tell me I’m a bad blogger too. Also, I am in love with your husband’s response, I think mine would say pretty much the same thing.
he’s got a lot of interesting articles. but he definitely doesn’t think content is king…
husbands are so practical!! infuriating!!
I love reading you! And your husband’s response made me smile. Happy he didn’t get on board that you screwed up somehow. You’re feeling your way through this crazy social media ride just like the rest of us. I can see myself doing the same thing and feeling way over my head. Yikes! Am also heading over to read that article (may as well put the kabash on any good feelings I’m having about my blogging today)! Love this post! 😉
haha!! the guy has a lot of articles. i started with one and then couldn’t stop, and then i was over my head and realized, i really don’t know what the hey i’m doing. it’s a little disheartening but whatever… Here’s to us and to ice cream and to keeping sane in a world of crazy!
I blog because I like to write and I like to read what is well-written. In my mind content is king, but I;m not out for followers. P.S. – that’s why I read your blog…content! Great post, as always.
i agree about the content. won’t sell myself out for followers, but i can’t deny that knowing people read makes me feel happy and appreciated. just like you just did. thank you! 🙂
I had a similar conversation with my writing buddy last night when, after she asked a few questions about my novel, I instinctively grabbed a collection of very academic craft essays. “These will help!” I thought. But craft essays do not a book make. My stories make the book. My work. My showing up and struggling. And likewise, theories and thoughts on blogging, while useful and definitely a great resource, do not a great blog make. Your stories make the blog. Your work. Your showing up and struggling. So thank you for showing up and telling us your stories. Those are likely why a stranger felt comfortable sharing her sorrow with you. We are storied beings reaching out to other storied beings
thank you. and you’re right, it’s easy to get caught up in the clinical and lose the heart. how to’s are great, but not as good as how are’s.
Oh, so well said! “how to’s are great, but not as great as how are’s”
I also like content! I don’t think I want to find out if I’m a “bad” blogger 😉 But I do find it interesting to read what different people think is important!
When I started blogging I did the same thing. I researched and researched. I still do. In fact, I’m going to go over and read that guy’s article. There is just so much to digest, isn’t there? I’ve read and heard the ‘question at the end of the post’ school of thought too and I’ve tried it but not had a whole lot of success with it. Your question was such a universal one that touches so many. It was an excellent question. One thing I find is that if I write a post in that vein, I’ll sometimes get responses like you mention here and I’ll think the same thing; how do I even begin to do their comments justice? But I think the commiseration and feeling of community will be enough. Knowing that we’re heard, they’re heard and we’re lending an ear to each other is enough. Wonderful post!
I will have to check out that article too. I did read that ending a post in a question increases responses. I’ve tried that but haven’t had too much response. Then again I only have 46 followers right now.
i don’t know if it makes a difference or not. this was my test, sort of, and not one person actually responded to the question…
Sure, every time I ask Boyfriend “Can you tell I’m using new conditioner?!” Or any other hair question…
You’ve touched on something that I think all bloggers/writers think about. Why are we writing? For ourselves, or for our readers? I go back and forth. I write for myself, but I also want to engage w/ readers. Sometimes I think that the ease of publishing on a blog is detrimental to developing my writing, but then when I get a lot of good responses to a post I’ve written, I enjoy that interaction. I suppose it’s just a vicious circle. . .
you have to write for yourself, but you definitely, or at least i definitely, want to engage readers, or at least fell like i have a core that’s appreciating my work. apparently i’m a needy, attention seeking wannabe. 😉
I love the your husband’s reaction.
I don’t know about him, but the boyfriend gets glazed looking eyes if I talk about anything to do with blogs or blogging so he comes up with sort of related but not really at all related responses whenever he can.
he really does the glaze like a donut. mmm donuts! wait, what was i saying??
You raise a lot of good questions (see what I did there?). I struggle with this too. Do I actually want to boost engagement? And if so, would I actually be able to handle it? Ultimately, I don’t know… I love connecting with people but I’m not sure I could have people bare their souls to me and steward that responsibility in such a way that I wouldn’t be racked with guilt. I feel bad when I accidentally leave someone off an e-vite guest list, you know? (I’m loving all your fb ice cream pictures, by the way!)
i know.. sometimes i just plow forward because i feel like i’m supposed to but i’m not always certain what i’m doing or what my actual goals are. i still don’t know, but i keep on trucking. thanks, i appreciate that… the page is doing better than the blog. maybe i should start doing more ice cream over here!! 🙂
I wouldn’t worry. I think you did fine. Most people don’t need to have some kind of response–it’s just the act of sharing that makes them feel better. You are awesome! BTW, I could make a list a mile long about questions I wish I had never asked. Mostly, these days, I usually regret asking people how they are. I know way too much about people’s bodily conditions than I ever needed to know.
omg – i also always regret asking people how they are!!! especially my father!! it’s a decades long monologue.
This was a really thought-provoking post. I haven’t read a lot about “how to blog successfully,” but I know there is a ton of stuff out there. I think your question wasn’t all that bad, even though it made you sort of uncomfortable. You touched on an important cornerstone of blogging, which is getting people to share their stories with you. Definitely don’t ask things that make you uncomfortable or that feel contrived, but also don’t feel bad if your writing and the questions you raise inspire others to share. It just means you’ve touched something in them–a common thread, perhaps. Great post!! Lots to think about!!
thank you. and yeah, after thinking about it, i probably could have handled it better. people were sharing b/c they wanted to, but i was ill equipped to respond. i learned to beware of the questions, if you don’t want the answers!
People telling of their losses is hard. And when you get a bunch of answers like that, I’m sorry starts to lose it’s meaning. But I think that each person you responded to read what you wrote to them, not to everyone. For you it felt like you kept saying it. For everyone they read it once, do you know what I mean?
I don’t really do the asking questions thing. That’s probably why my facebook has very little activity!
i don’t know if it really works. that question certainly did, but overall the question thing feels contrived. i doubt i’ll be doing it much. i don’t have all that much activity either, so i was trying to learn a thing or two. boy, i certainly learned a thing or two. 😉
I usually just wait for information to be volunteered, but now I’m thinking that it would be a fun social experiment to start asking provocative questions. Hmm…
interesting! i’ll certainly check it out. you answer what you want to so, it’s all good.
I never read blogging-advice articles so I’ll just count on you to tell me if there’s something I really need to know. . .Great story and your husband sounds like a gem.
pulease, it was my first and don’t know if i agreed with half of what he said. interesting? definitely. right? i don’t know. i’d say he was more of a marketer than a writer. when he said, content is not king, he kind of lost me. and thanks. he ain’t half bad. 😉
Yeah, content IS king for me. . .and a design that doesn’t distract from content. I have a good guy, too. . .lucky us, right?
As an author, I struggle with increasing interaction on my FB page. I’m not the type to say “Go buy my book, puuuuleeeese,” but I haven’t found a real comfort zone either. Still learning. And sometimes I feel like the whole social media thing takes me away from my writing. Necessary evil, I suppose.
i guess, but i struggle with the same thing. i spend more time reading and networking and trying to figure out how to blog than on writing. i’d like it to be reverse. that’s part of the reason i’m not sure blogging is the right outlet for me… but i do love it – or at least parts of it.
I’m pretty sure I’m a bad blogger, too. Oh, well. I like what I write and only read what I like to read because there isn’t enough time in the day to read crap.
Anyway, that was quite the question you asked there, mama — I might have started with something a wee bit less charged, like, “Are you embarrassed by the hairdo you wore to your senior prom?” Going for death right away? Wowza…
i know… true, i’m having a really hard time keeping up with it all. and, i might be question shocked. i don’t know if i’ll do that again!!
Aw, I adored reading this. Your husband? Awesome. 🙂 I too have researched the “are you a bad blogger” articles and have been frustrated by them. I write for me, and trust that my followers will either get my words or they won’t. Your words? I’ll read any time. Nicely done.
i really appreciate you saying that. thank you.