Friday, February 4, 2011

Blogging 201 ~ Lesson #2: Edit Profile Page; Commenting On & Following Other Blogs

Entering the blogging community is easy, but can require a good bit of time.  The place to start is by commenting on other bloggers' posts and following blogs thru Google Friend Connect.  To prepare for this it is wise to update your Blogger profile.

Update Your Blogger Profile

You can find the profile editing option on your dashboard; it is in the top
left corner (see example below).  The reason we had the Design Your Blog Button Lesson first was to give you the option of adding it as your profile image.  Your profile image will show up  beside your name on almost all comments you leave on a Blogger hosted blog (there is the option of the blog owner to block profile pictures, but it is rarely done).  It will also show up, somewhat cropped, in Google Friend Connect widgets on blogs.  So keep that in mind when you choose your profile image.  To add your image, click Edit Photo and follow instructions.
By clicking on Edit Profile you will find opportunities to add as much or as little information about yourself, your interests and your blogs as you would like to share with those who visit your profile.

Google Friend Connect

Blogger offers a Google Friend Connect widget to add to your page.  When this is on your page readers can choose to become a public follower of your blog.  When you see this on other blogs it offers you the opportunity to connect to other bloggers by following their blogs publicly.

Many bloggers will follow back all those who follow them.  Many also ask readers to become a public follower before entering a contest they are hosting on their blog, or offer it as a bonus entry option.  Also, many blogs will sponsor blog hops where bloggers can add a link to their blog below the blog hop host post and readers visit blogs linked up and follow one another to increase their blog followers (those who will show up in the GFC widget, not necessarily will they be repeat readers--but it is a way many new readers may find your blog).  You can see an example of a weekly blog hop at Frugality Is Free.

If you have not added this gadget yet, you may want to.  And a good way to become visible in the blogging community is to publicly follow other blogs thru Google Friend Connect (GFC).  When the blog owner sees a new follower they often will visit the profile and then the blog of  the follower and the follower very well may gain a regular reader this way.  By having a profile picture that gives an idea of what your blog is about can spark interest of other readers, too.  Profile pictures in GFC widgets are linked to the profile of the follower.

Commenting on Blogs

Another way to promote your own blog while enjoy the blogs of others is to leave meaningful comments on posts published at other blogs.  By genuinely joining in the conversation you will not only be contributing to the community of readers of that blog but will spark the interest of readers in your own publishing efforts.

It is not considered good blogging etiquette to comment as a means of spamming.  Most bloggers do read other blogs, but very few comments are left.  Since you will be reading blogs go ahead and comment with your thoughts about the subject, but don't do it with spamming in mind.  When the blog owner or readers find your conversation interesting they may click on your profile picture and it will take them to your profile picture and ultimately to your blog.

It is possible to leave a link to your blog in a comment using simple HTML.  Some bloggers use this to excess and are considered spammers, and thus will not attract readers.  But if you have a post about the subject it would be acceptable to, within the comment, share a link to it (see example below).  And there are many bloggers who sign their comments with their first name and then underneath a link to their blog.  As long as they are commenting within the context of the post most bloggers find this acceptable.

To add a link in a comment, to your blog or some other resource, use the following HTML.
<  a href="">Simply CVS</a  > (without the spaces) will appear as Simply CVS and take readers to the homepage of the blog.  To create your desired link replace the website address with your own and the title with whatever you want it to be.  Be sure and delete the spaces after the < in the beginning and before the > at the end:
<  a href="Your Link">Your Title</a  >

There are other commenting formats used on other blog platforms and even by some Blogger hosted blogs.  Your profile will not show up there, but many of them have the option of including a link back to your blog if someone clicks on your name.  Many bloggers will enter their name as well as the name of their blog in the commenting form, such as, Cheryl @ Simply CVS.

So commenting, whether on a Blogger blog, or other, can often bring readers your way.  As with everything, the more time and effort you put into it the more successful it will be in promoting your blog.  And along the way, you are liable to meet some new friends; I have.

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