Friend Friday: Let’s Stay Together

Experienced bloggers know one thing for sure: shooting photos and writing posts is only half of the time we log to blog. The other half is time spent responding to and leaving comments. And why? Because when you don’t have a megabrand blog sponsorship, that’s what it takes to draw a reader in and keep them. That’s this week’s Friend Friday* topic—reader connectedness.

How important do you think reader connectedness is to the success of your blog?

Image via thebrowncorporation.com.

It’s critical! Reader connectedness is completely responsible for the growth of my blog this year. As soon as I began visiting other blogs and commenting, and interacting with readers on my blog, my numbers everywhere grew—comments on posts,  Twitter followers, visitors/page views, etc.

I don’t attribute my growth to commenting alone, however. I think what I write in comments is also a consideration. I’m totally floored by all the love and support my readers give me (thanks, y’all!), so I strive to be as welcoming and openly grateful as possible. I try to remember individual readers and what’s going on with them, and respond with a personal message, not something generic.

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The G&G Comment Policy:

  1. On my blog, I will always have the last word. A thank you comment from me should be the last comment on every post. I never want readers to scroll through and wonder if I read their comments. If my thank you is at the end, it leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind.
  2. I will acknowledge comments on every single post. If I’m not able to respond to individual comments due to time constraints, I will at least post some sort of thank you comment on every post that I receive a comment on. Not acknowledging comments is just not an option. At writing, I had yet to respond to comments received on my last post, Mr.Stylist: Mixing Prints. But you can bet that while y’all are reading and commenting on this post, I’ll be working on my responses to that one.
  3. Don’t be flippant and don’t be rude. I don’t believe in leaving flippant comments on other blogs, and I try to keep it  clean. Occasionally I slip up with my vocab, but only out of excitement…and then I use asterisks! With commenting systems like Disqus, your comments can be tracked and read easily. And if you sign your comments with your blog name or other identifier, they now show up in Internet searches. Go ahead. Google yourself and see. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want a menagerie of comments containing four-letter bombs to be my legacy on the Internet.

What do you do to draw readers in and create that writer-reader bond?

Drawing them in…

First, I try to offer compelling, well-written, original content that allows my personality to shine through. My writing is the backbone of my blog, but when it comes to the Web, imagery is also extremely important. I’m still learning about photography and video editing—I’m always trying to go beyond the writing to improve visuals and keep readers (and me) interested in G&G.

Second, presenting content in a format that is conducive to online reading is crucial. I often post long narratives (which really isn’t advisable for any Web site, other than a news site, perhaps), but I think I get away with it because my writing is conversational and I adhere to the rules of writing for the Web:

  • I make sure body copy is left-justified.
  • My blog is clean, without a busy background or odd colors that impede readability.
  • I use proper punctuation and casing, and follow the rules of grammar.
  • I use subheadings and “chunk” copy for easy scanning.

All these things play into the reader experience and the level of respect readers have for you and your blog. There are some blogs I visit that I hate going to simply because it’s a bad user experience, not because I dislike the blogger; I may not visit as often because I have technical issues with a commenting system, or body copy is centered and hard to read, or the writing is full of errors, or it just goes on and on and on.

Creating a bond…

As far as creating a writer-reader bond, a good connection, I try very hard to acknowledge my readers, both on my blog and theirs. People want to be acknowledged! My G&G Reader Survey proved what I already knew about blogging: sincere interaction with readers keeps them engaged and loyal. In fact, just yesterday, @_IFB tweeted:

Do you prefer replies to the comments you leave or getting comments on your blog?

And @fuyumeuk responded (and thank you again for that, Fuyume!)

@_IFB i prefer comments on my blogs @gritandglamour is brilliant at doing that 🙂

How can you make new friends if you don’t actually talk to them? It’s a two-way street. I know there are some superbloggers who have so many comments and readers, there is just no way they can reciprocate. But they ALL started with a handful of people. I want my readers to feel like they have access to me. I want them to know I am real and that I’m paying attention.

What is one way you could improve this connection?

I’m pretty much doing all I can to religiously interact with my readers on G&G and their blogs. But to improve my connection with my readers, I’m using Twitter a lot more. I’ve begun sharing posts I like on Twitter, I try to participate in #FF (Follow Friday), and I try to tweet back a thank you when someone has retweeted one of my posts or acknowledged me on Twitter. I used to be so anti-Twitter, but I’ve found it to be the most effective way to interact with others and promote my blog.

What do you do to cultivate new readers? How do you get them to your site in the first place?

If I had more time, I’d just go explore other blogs, and leave comments when I see something I like. At the minimum, when I see a new name amidst my commenters, I go check their blog out and reciprocate.

I’ve found that IFB has been a fantastic platform for expanding my reach. Being selected for Links a la Mode Weekly Roundups, and writing for IFB have certainly given me extra exposure. Helping other bloggers has also helped me…they’ve been great about sharing my blog as a resource for blog improvement tips.

Is there a blogger you think does a great job creating that writer-reader bond? Why?

So many of my blogger friends are doing wonderful things to create a deeper writer-reader bond. But one blogger definitely came to mind when I read this question. I came thisclose to naming her here, but you know what? I’m going to save it. Stay tuned.

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*The Friend Friday project by Modly Chic is a way for fashion bloggers to share more about themselves and create a friendly connection with other bloggers. Join the conversation by joining the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group.

110 comments

  1. it’s hard to find bloggers that really care about both their art AND their readers, but you seem to be one of them 🙂 i’m happy i found your blog!

    i never thought of making my entries aligned to the left. for some reason — perhaps because of what my layout looks like right now — i feel that centering makes more sense. yours looks great, but i don’t know, i feel like it wouldn’t look good on mine? i’m not sure why…

    i actually just today created a twitter account for my blog. i don’t understand the whole tweeting thing — to me, it’s just facebook statuses! i’m going to try it out though, because it seems like it works for others… 🙂

    the-loudmouth

    1. Aw, thank you my dear!

      And don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of Twitter very soon. Just keep at it…you’ll learn. If you have any questions, you can certainly ask me!

  2. Doll, brilliant post! You do such an amazing job of commenting back to everyone too… and you get heaps of comments, but it’s great blogging/commenting etiquette! Plus twitter now! Wow, you go girl!

    Thanks for the great pointers too!
    Have a super fun weekend won’t you and you’ll have to do smoky eyes again if you’re out & about!
    x.o.x.o

  3. Katie
    Ms. Brit
    Dagens Outfit
    Sacramento
    Jemina

    Thank you all for your lovely comments. You are some of my most regular commenters…how could I not show some love for you too?!

  4. When I first started reading your blog and saw that you responded back to every single comment, even if you had a bazillion of them, it cliqued with me that I really needed to start doing that on my blog. I quickly learned that was an awesome way to connect with readers and keep them coming back!

  5. You should do seminars and charge for them 😉 That is how good you are!

    I dont know how you do to find the time, energy and creative power to do all you do. I havent written in my blog for a week and it really gets me down. My time is consumed by crap work urg.

    Fab post as usual! xx

    1. You crack me up! But thank you!

      I will admit that it is a challenge to find time to do it all. Occasionally something has to go…like a Sunday Coffee post. Or sleep. I feel bad when I haven’t responded to comments or written. I enjoy both. But life keeps going on!

      Thanks again for your comment. And your support. You know I adore you.

  6. I really do appreciate how easy your blog is to read. I also like that you do the blocking (something I may employ also as I tend to write like I talk…ALOT!) Great answers and I’ve also taken from you (from now on) that my comment will always be the last. Time constraints being what they are, it’s the least that I can do! ~Serene

    1. Serene, thanks for your comment! It’s good to hear feedback like this…it helps me know I’m on the right track. I just wish more young bloggers would believe me when I say these things…it’s not just me saying it. There have been reams written about these elements of Web usability. It’s how Web professionals approach site design. Why wouldn’t bloggers want to harness that info and make it work for them?

      Anyway, thanks again!

  7. someone should hire you to be the mentor of all new bloggers. not even kidding. everyone should have to pass blogging bootcamp with V in order to have their own blog. =P no but seriously, i often refer bloggers who ask me questions to your specific posts like this one. and it is because of you i really became serious about responding to people on their blogs. at first it’s super overwhelming, it’s true. but once i got into the groove i found it really easy. plus i’m expose to so many blogs i might otherwise not come across, so it’s a win-win in that respect. =)

    fabulous post, as always!

    Vogue Gone Rogue
    Full Time Fabulous – Kristy
    twitter: @kristyelena

    p.s. totally stole your idea of adding your twitter handle to the links i leave. =) thank you!

    1. HAAA! You are funny. Blogging Bootcamp…I love that! I’m here whenever anyone has a question.

      You’re pretty good at all this yourself, Kristy. I agree…you do find a groove with commenting. And it IS a win-win!

  8. Great answers as always! Whenever I come to visit your blog I always come away feeling I have been entertained by an intelligent, generous and gracious lady with amazing style. Your personality certainly does shine through in all you do, your writing, your vlogs and your killer sense of fashion.

    I was like you – completely anti twitter but I started playing around with it and it can be a lot of fun!

  9. I LOVE numbers 1 & 2 of your comment policy – it speaks to a real politesse that not many people on the internet (or the world, for that matter) strive for anymore. I’m completely inspired by it and want to do something similar – will that be copying (another topic I know has been going around IFB lately)? Or can this be a “sincerest form of flattery” scenario? Anyway, great job!

    x

    1. Thank you so very much for your lovely comment, Laura, I am genuinely flattered.

      When it comes to people imitating others for the betterment of mankind and the survival of kindness and civility, you should totally go for it!

  10. Very ful answers and once again, I think am bookmarking this one for future reference. I really don’t know much about IFB but would love to learn about it!

    xox

    1. ML, thank you. Independent Fashion Bloggers is a fantastic community and resource for fashion and lifestyle bloggers. You should totally join…it’s free, legit, and a tremendous wealth of knowledge!

      http://heartifb.com

      Thanks for your comment!

  11. such well written and thought out answers here V and thanks for he mention 🙂

    This weeks questions were perfect for me as i’ve been thinking alot about this subject recently xx

  12. I’ve always loved reading your posts. You always offer amazing advice! Thanks again. (PS I am still looking for a Blog Mentor – hint hint! LOL)

  13. Ah, V, you are creme dela creme for reader engagement. A true inspiration.
    Cool, but I just noticed the the queue of commenters above me are people I “know” either by name or blog. So here we all meet up in your world. GREAT engaging bloggers, engaged on your blog. Yeah, life is good.

    1. OMG!!!! You are always so generous with your kindness, Bella! Thank you so much. I love your comments…YOU are the creme de la creme of commenters. You just have such a way with your words. I love reading your little notes to me and to others.

  14. You are the poster child for interaction lady. As always, a brilliant example of how one should blog! Did I read in that Twitter snapshot that you’re going to NYC? It doesn’t happen to be doing FW does it? Would LOVE to meet up! xoxo

    1. Kristin, I’m not going to NYC…heading to Vegas in March next year. I so wish I could be in NY for FW…and meet up! But you never know. I just might do it!

  15. V, your posts never cease to inspire me! I’m always soaking up every single word when I read! I have always admired your attentiveness to your readers, and not just that, but the content of their blogs. You’re not just leaving a three word comment, that has no substance. I commend you for that! Because I know you have so much on your plate and it could be SO easy to do that. Thank you, seriously.
    And oooo! I can’t wait to hear who this blogger could be. I’m excited to “meet” her 🙂

    XXXO
    M

    1. Marissa, thank you for such a lovely comment. I am truly flattered and grateful to have your support and friendship. And I still think that last post of yours ROCKS!

  16. Vahni–you know as I read your post, I realized that you had set the example for me as a beginner of how to respond to readers. I don’t think I am quite as encouraging in my commentary as you often are, but you are GOOD at letting people know they exist! Sometimes, in this crazy, busy, impersonal world, that is invaluable.

    1. Thank you Terri! You and so many others have just made my weekend with your observations and support. I appreciate your time and readership, so responding in kind is the very least I can do.

  17. Thank you so much for sharing Vahni. I fully support and agree with what you are saying in this post, and all of the work and reflections and intentions that you bring to your blogging is why I think of you as more than some lovely blogger , I think of you as a friend, full stop.

    I approach interacting with my readers the same way I do people outside the bloggersphere, with my friends and people I interact with I am warm, inviting supportive, nurturing and present. Basically, I aim to be as respectful of others in every aspect of my life. My blog is personal, my comments that I leave for others are personal, the comments I am fortunate to recieve are personal.

    As you know I have pondered how to create better connections with my readers and I am very happy that I changed my commenting system. I always respond, and I always visit my visitors, in addition to leaving real comments on other blogs I visit, not just because I want to build readership, but because I actually mean what I say. In addition to facebook I have also started using twitter a lot, tweeting others posts, and am finding it an amazing tool for connecting.

    As you have talked about in other posts, the act of balancing blogging with life is a challenging one, but I do try my hardest to take care of my readers first, and then move on to exploring new blogs before I have to get off line. I do ponder how to bring connecting with my readers to the next level a lot, same with my communication with everyone else in my life.

    It is a beautiful thing, connecting. It brought you into my life 🙂 For that I am grateful.

    1. Anika, your warmth simply radiates, in your photos, on your blog, in your comments. It is true! So thank you not only for your lovely, lovely comment…again…but for shining your light and sharing it with the world.

      I’m proud of you for trying out a new commenting system, for facing your private weaknesses very publicly, and for owning who you are. I think you are a remarkable lass, I really do.

      1. I just read your answer, thank you Vahni. I hope everything is good with you, and that your fast growing blog isn`t overpowering you in terms of interacting with all of us. I appreciate each and every comment/contact with you, but I also fully understand and support that you make adjustments like not responding to each comment left here now with your reader base growing so quickly. Sending you and the hubby much love 🙂

  18. I wish this topic hadn’t coincided with my blogging break to slog my way through grading finals. I know I’ve said this before but I really appreciate how much you care about your readers, Vahni. It is really nice to have comments acknowledged and to feel a connection to others in the blogging community.

    1. LHdM, thank you for that amazing comment! I am so honored to be thought of so highly by someone I truly respect. don’t worry about having to take a break…you also honor your readers and commenters, and they know that if you had more time to give them, you would.

      And I agree…these connections…they are magical.

  19. Wow. This is just what I needed to hear right now. Great post. Excellence in anything has its own rewards, right? I’m just now taking blogging more seriously by commiting to post every day in December. Also I signed up to go to Las Vegas. Yay!!!! Can’t wait! Also can’t wait to catch up on your archives. 🙂

    1. Joanie~

      Hello there and welcome to G&G! Thank you for your comment and readership. I hope my archives were worth your time!

      Glad you signed up for Vegas. It’s all still in the works. I will be in touch.

  20. I enjoy reading your blog and find it very informational, funny, and your fashion sense is on hit. I find myself saying oh I didn’t know I could install that on my blog or that’s how you do that. I am not able to give comments during the 9am to 5pm hours because I work a full time job so I look at blogs and give comments in the evening if I have time or the weekends. I miss out on some of the discussions but I will not let that stop me.
    Keep up the great work Vahni!

    JT
    http://bubblingwitheleganceandgrace.com/2010/12/10/reader-connectedness/

    1. Thank you JT! I truly appreciate your kind words and readership.

      I have a full-time job that prevents me from being as active as I’d like to be too. That’s OK…we all have our priorities! I’m grateful for my job, my Hubby, my blog. I comment and interact when I can, just like you.

  21. Thank you so much for doing this post V. it is really encouraging,helpful and chock full of valuable info. I have been replying back to the comments that others give me and it really does help build readership. I used to think that twitter was really dumb and wouldn’t tweet, but I have since learned the value of it you just can’ t be timid and kindness is key. Keep up the great work!
    -Laura

  22. I think you have a better handle on creating a community of readers more than a lot of other bloggers. I strive to leave thoughtful comments for other bloggers, but also write compelling content on my own blog. I respect that readers are busy, and I probably care a lot more about my blog or my outfit than they do, however, “nice skirt” or “cute outfit” comments drive me up a wall. Do you have any tips to engaging readers and provoking conversations? I feel like you have far fewer of these types of comments than other bloggers.

    1. Becca, thank you for your comment. It is actually quite interesting, and you’ve got me thinking. I think you are right…I do have very few short comments…not that they are bad. I don’t know for sure why that is, but I suspect maybe it’s because I set the precedent when I interact for the first time with other bloggers—I don’t leave comments like that. I like to be more personal and I feel like because I am, I get that in return.

      Again, this is a very, very interesting observation on your part, but an accurate one. Maybe you can tell me why you think that’s the case. Do you suppose that the subject matter also informs the level of participation and the quality of comments? I think perhaps because I endeavor to go beyond just outfit posts to the nuts-and-bolts of blogging, that more discourse is inherent. Also, I do think that blogging about controversial topics invites more lengthy, opinionated commentary.

      I’m not sure how to explain all this, but I do know this: I find your posts (and comments) to be very warm and genuine, and I totally want a new lens just like yours! Your photos have totally been transformed!

      1. I think it does have something to do with the topics that you tackle. Outfit posts are a lot more susceptible to these types of short comments. There’s only so much that someone can comment on a picture of your outfit and a story about how you bought a new skirt. I think that outfit posts are a lot more visual, and oftentimes I feel like people skip the text altogether.

        I’ve been making a conscious effort to incorporate more of my life into my blog and venturing beyond fashion and shopping. I think it’s been drawing more out of people in terms of comments. I really do want to create relationships and dialogs, but I feel like a lot of the successful blogging relationships I’ve made have been outside the confines post comments (more from emailing with other girls or meeting them in person).

        I’d love to eventually make the transition to having some general blogging-related posts or talking about broader issues as opposed to just talking about myself. Narcissists not-so-anonymous over here. But back to you, I think that your writing style is very engaging and you structure your posts such that there’s always something to latch onto and talk about. When it comes to engaging readers, you really are a pro!

        1. Thanks for coming back on this discussion, Becca. I appreciate not only your thoughtful words, but your observations. I have no doubt as you go forward, you will expand on your topics/posts, and you WILL gat that dialogue that is so delicious. I love it too…it’s what makes it all worthwhile!

  23. You are amazing at creating that reader bond, dear V. Yes, it does take a lot of time and effort, but it is SO WORTH IT! You definitely brought up some valid points about usability of a site – if it’s easy to read, look at, etc. Your longer posts are fun to read and easy to scan thanks to the subheadings, but I always worry about writing too much (I’m not a phenoman writer like you are 😉 ) so I try to keep my posts short and concise!

    1. Aw, thank you Leia! Yes, you know with your readership that it IS very time consuming, but the rewards are worthy.

      I sincerely appreciate the feedback on my longer posts. I know a lot of times I skim longer posts on some blogs. Unless the writing and presentation are really outstanding, it’s hard not to. It’s human nature. That’s no reflection on your blog, by the way, but I think your approach—short and sweet—is not necessarily a bad thing.

      Thanks again for your comment, my lovely. And by the way, when you get sick of those “non-traditional” saris you work in the last weeks, PLEASE send them to me. I’ll even pay the shipping. They were crazy gorgeous!!! I’m so jealous!

  24. Thank you so much for all the great tips and advice. There is so much more about Blogging that I need to learn. I have been Blogging about spiritual issues for about 6 months and I am finding it hard to keep posting without getting stale. Your blog is great !

    1. Thank you Christine, and welcome! I remember back when I first started blogging, and I faced the same challenges. It takes time to get your groove. Just hang in there, read and comment, and your intention—and your blog—will take shape.

  25. This is such a fantastic post, good insight, and good points to take in consideration. I agree with Kristy you are a great mentor to all of us fashion bloggers. I recently started using Twitter a lot more and found that it has helped quite a bit with connecting my posts, etc. I’m so happy that I came across your blog. Thanks! 🙂

    1. Oh my, Madison, thank you darling! How sweet are you?!

      Glad you found Twitter. It may seem silly to the uninitiated, but I think it is actually an incredibly useful means of communication.

  26. Great post, I’m a big fan of your Friend Friday posts, they’re always such an interesting read. I’ve had a big commenting day today and have found it very useful in seeing what blogs are out there and obviously returning the favour. I think in the past I could’ve left better comments, but now after receiving spammy, self-promoting comments to my own blog, I try and treat readers as I’d like to be treated. I try to actually read the post and write something relevant. I’m not really put off by bloggers who write a lot, in fact I prefer it!

    1. Thank you so much Kristabel! It’s always so nice to hear that my incessant rambling isn’t boring my readers to tears.

      I think you are totally on the right track. What I have learned to this point in blogging is that it is very much trial-and-error. You surf, you observe, and if you’re a smart cookie (like you), you learn from others. I’m STILL learning! But that’s what I love about this medium. It keeps you on your toes. 🙂

  27. You are one of the bloggers I consider a “mentor” and inspiration for my blog. I have only been doing this for a couple months but I have learned so much from reading your posts. If you see things on my blog that need to “go away” or “be changed” please know your advice and insight is WELCOMED!! 🙂 I too try to answer all comments received – each one is like a little gift.
    Great post!!

  28. Yet again, a wonderful, beautifully written Friend Friday response.

    Yet again, you are a true example of what a blogger SHOULD be doing to maintain and grow reader connectedness. Your tips are invaluable, and you always, always practice what you preach.

    I didn’t name names for the “Is there a blogger you think does a great job creating that writer-reader bond? Why?” question, but if I had, yours would have been the first. Your content and imagery consistently improves and draws increasing numbers of readers in daily, your personality shines through into your posts. grit and glamour is a welcoming, inclusive environment, and you connect with every. single. person. who comes across your blog, whether they comment or not. You not only practice what you preach – you could write the book on the subject yourself!

  29. I think responding to comments is really important. Even though I often forget to go back to blogs I’ve commented on to see if they have responded. I definitely think that’s how I’ve gotten most of my readers.

    great post! can’t wait to keep reading more.

    1. Thank you Deidre. Or is it Betty?! Hope you will come back. Sometimes I forget to go back and see what people wrote back…but it’s a nice little treat when I do.

      PS: I got the biggest kick out of your last post, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

  30. I really enjoy reading the posts on your blog, especially the ones about blogging. I always seem to connect and sometimes learn a few things from them. I have been trying to think what sets this blog apart from other blogs of a similar size and niche. It took me a while and I think the key thing that stood out to me was the sense of community and also the awareness you have of your readers.

    I get the impression your readers aren’t just ‘readers’ but individuals. This is something that so many other blogs fail to replicate. When I comment on here I know my comment is going to get heard at the very least. Not only that you’re one of few that also reply or even come through and comment on my blog from time to time. Something I never actually expected when I wrote my first comment on here. Now I don’t write comments for what I get in return, but it is always really nice when your comments do get acknowledged and as I said it helps create that sense of community which is so invaluable on a blog.

    Like you I’ve found twitter really help grow my blog along with commenting. I tend to get varying amounts of comments that I always try and reply to on my blog and will also go check theirs out too. As for twitter again building up a network of similar minded bloggers has really helped, for example I wanted to know what friend friday was straight away yourself and beautifully invisible replied.

    1. Arash, your comments are just incredible, you know that? So much wonderful feedback. I know they take you some time, so thank you!

      I am glad you and others share a sense of community and connectedness here. I’m also glad that you notice that I try to interact with you all individually…I’m just doing what I’d like others to do too: RESPOND! Even if not all of the time, some of the time. Seriously, blogs that I comment on and rarely get comments back from get zapped from my list pretty quickly. I value others’ opinions here, so I want my opinion…or at least the time I took to share it…to be appreciated elsewhere. We’re totally on the same page.

      Glad you and others are finding the value in Twitter. It takes a little time to understand it all and how to leverage it, but once you do…WOW! It’s like having a whole live audience of people at your disposal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten help with tech issues on my blog, or scooped news or a sale because of Twitter. I love it.

      Thanks again for your comment!

  31. Vahni, as usual I am inspired by your blog post! I so admire what you’ve done with your blog. As I was reading the ‘how do you draw in readers’ section, I got a tightening in the gut, I know you visited my site and I was wondering have you any erm.. constructive criticism for me?? Go on I can take it! (i think, be gentle) 🙂

    1. Jessica, thank you for your comment…you’re a doll.

      I think your site looks pretty darn good already. Your RSS and Search functions are easy to see, the content well is clean and easy to read, you have a copyright statement, and you have share icons at the bottom of your posts. Good job!

      BUT, if I were to suggest improvements, they’d be:

      1. Change your header image.
      I say that for a couple reasons. First, you are using images of celebrities that are not your intellectual property. You need permission to use those photos. Second, the image is low-quality. A little blurry. I recommend finding a new image that is your original photography or artwork. Make sure you don’t “stretch” it to fit…check the dimensions of your header and be sure it fits. Finally, be sure it is crisp and clear. If you can’t find an image that meets these standards, it is better not to use one at all. I don’t.

      2. On your left rail, put your most important widgets first.
      If you want to push following, then get your Twitter, Bloglovin’, and Facebooks widgets up to the top. Next should be your Archives and Category. Memberships and affiliations should go toward the bottom.

      3.Consider moving your blogroll to a page of its own, accessed by the top (global) navigation.
      And no matter where it ends up, be sure to list blogs alphabetically.

      4. If possible, disable the word verification (CAPTCHA) for commenters.
      People (like me) who read 100+ blogs hate them! They add to the time (and hassle) it takes to comment. So make it easy and take that away. You might consider installing a commenting system like DISQUS. It is very intuitive and allows commenters to log in with other, already established accounts like Twitter.

      5. The FAQs page.
      First, I’d change F.A.Q’s to FAQs. You don’t need the periods, and the apostrophe is incorrect with this acronym…it shows possession, not plurality. On that page, change your questions to boldface and make sure they all have the same subheading designation (all H3s, or whatever), then change the answers to black, regular text. Kind of like the way I responded to you here. There are too many colors on the page, and really, the only time your text should be a different color is to inidcate a link. On your site, they are blue.

      Hope this helps!

  32. Your answers to the Friend Friday questions were very interesting to read. Kudos to you for going to all the extra effort to create a communal vibe on your blog. 🙂

  33. Love this! And congrats for being on links al a mode, i was featured a few times on my old website, really helped! I’m eyeing your related articles thing under each article, can you tell me where i can get one? or is it built into your design?

    1. Hi Storm, thank you so much! Welcome to G&G!

      IFB is indeed a great resource, for sure. And I find it to be a very fair environment.

      The related articles plugin is not custom. A lot of bloggers use LinkWithin (http://www.linkwithin.com/learn), and I used to, but I found it had technical issues. It would display posts that had been deleted, mostly the same 5 or 10 over and over. No matter what I did, I couldn’t fix it. Maybe you’d have better luck than I did.

      Now I’m using a WordPress plugin called Related Posts Thumbnails (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/related-posts-thumbnails/). It’s not quite as elegant as LinkWithin, but from a technical perspective, it is far superior.

  34. stumbled upon your site…and thank gawd…Kristy introduced me to you…she is awesome and I know her recommendations are really the best…

    I love your posts and seriously…I am learning a lot from here…bookmarked…and will read more soon!!!

    Kisses
    Sweet
    PensandLens

    1. Well, Sweet, aren’t you the embodiment of the name?! Thank you and welcome!

      Good to know G&G is a valuable resource for you. That’s awesome!

      Going to check you out now. Thanks for your comment!

  35. This is great… Thanks for this post, I’m so glad to have stumbled across your blog! This is the first post I’ve read but I look forward to visiting your blog frequently now. I think you’re right about leaving genuine comments too.. it’s obvious and shallow when people just say “great post! with a trackback URL. I think the extra effort means a lot more.

    Anyway, keep blogging and happy holidays from snowy Amsterdam!

    x,
    http://www.GlocalGirl.com

    1. Hi GG!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here…I appreciate it very much. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen so far, and do hope you will visit again soon. In the meantime, I’m off to see you!

  36. nice post. I love to engage with my readers, it may be a lot of work, but I’m curious in that way and love when they have their own site. I also used to hate Twitter, and sometimes i still do: it’s full of tv and film spoilers, some annoying guys are on it to pull, sometimes you feel like your in high school trying to be noticed by the popular crowd and it’s one of the easiest ways to procrastinate. But you also meet a lot of people, learn, network, and engage, having a laugh or sending our receiving virtual hugs and support. It’s worth the work 🙂

  37. Loved reading this!! And congrats on the links a la mode!! YAY! I am going to be on there one day, it is a goal of mine!
    I look forward to your posts even though they do tend to be longer than most, they are so informative, I literally sit down with a notepad when I read yours! HAHA!
    I also need to utilize Twitter more as well!!! Awwwww so many social networks to utilize!!

    XX

  38. This is such a great article with really good information. I’ve been trying to comment more on other blogs and respond to the comments I get and I definitely see how rewarding it is when you build more of a community. I love using twitter to follow some of my favorite bloggers, thank you for all of the great tips on how to use it even better.

    Can’t wait to read more of your posts!

    1. Thank you Jaclyn, and welcome! Glad you’re experiencing the wonderful feeling of connectedness blogging offers. For me, that is what it’s all about!

  39. I just came across this post…what a great topic. I love that you have so many readers and still make the time to acknowledge comments on your posts. So many of the bigger blogs don’t do this and I always wonder if they read the comments…it’s nice to know that you do!

    1. Thank you, Fashion Dynamite, for taking the time to comment, and for sharing your thoughts. I will admit that lately it’s been a struggle to respond as I’d like, since I work full time and have had a lot of blog-related travel in the last two months. But I do try to respond here when I can, or jump out to comment on my commenters’ blogs. Hope you’ll visit again soon!

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