Does networking matter for bloggers?

August 4, 2008 Off By Chris Hinton

I abandoned my blog last week. Well, technically I scheduled some posts and went away for a week, so I didn’t quite abandon it. But I did notice something interesting: the visitor stats for the last week were much lower than normal. We normally receive anywhere between 300 and 8000 visits per day (it does vary quite widely), but last week the average was a mere 30 daily visits. What happened?
Well, the posts came online as normal… so it can’t have been that. The feedback I received from people looking at the site didn’t indicate that the posts were substandard. The only other major difference is that I was unable to network with people in the way I normally would; unable to point people to articles that might interest them.
I normally “pimp” Geek-Speak through a few sites: Twitter, Plurk, Digg and Stumbleupon. To be honest, Twitter is largely automatic… new posts just appear in my Twitter feed. I’m wondering how effective that is, though, given the poor visitor numbers last week. Plurk is a manual thing – I only plurk about posts that I think people will be particularly interested in, and the one day there was a spike in visitor numbers last week was also the day I managed to get online briefly and plurk about one of the articles. The vast majority of traffic comes through Stumbleupon, though – and that’s where the majority of the drop in numbers can be attributed: I occasionally ask people to stumble an article if they enjoyed it – but without that initial prompt, it seems that people don’t think to do it (I should add that this is not a rant – I realise that people often require a call to action before anything will happen, and my absence means this has been missing).
So, what lessons have I learned in the last week?

  • Unless you have a large and dedicated readership, simply publishing posts doesn’t cut it.
  • Networking with others online is an important way to point readers to your site, especially if your site is relatively new.
  • Posts and sites must contain a call to action, otherwise readers will simply read and then click away.
  • However: my bounce-rate statistics have looked much more healthy… it seems that the people who are still visiting the blog are those who genuinely want to read it, rather than just dropping in and bouncing away again.

Isn’t networking just spam, though? Not if you follow these tips:

  1. Be picky about what you promote: if you tell people about the articles you are particularly proud of they will take more notice than if you tell them about everything you write regardless of their interests.
  2. Don’t try and game the system: by all means ask for stumbles and diggs, but always add the rider that you only expect people to do so if they genuinely find your writing useful and/or interesting.

And now… back to networking. And if you found this useful, please give it a stumble and/or digg! You never know, someone else might find it useful too 🙂
Thumbnail image by Stevegarfield