Friday, August 1, 2014

Do Blog Hops Build Your Blog?

I started blogging because someone said I ought to.

They said it was important to build my social media platform, so that I would be more desirable to agents and editors, so I started At first, my only followers were my sister, my ex-boyfriend and a friend of mine from one town over. I had no idea how to get followers, and suddenly my blog seemed like a very bad idea. A perspective agent would pop over to my blog and say, "She's only got three followers. That's pathetic," and throw my manuscript in the trash.

Enter the blog hop.

My first blog hop was the 30 day blog challenge, and I still remember it fondly. It had topics like "A Memory From 10 Years Ago" and "The Song That Fits Your Mood." I posted every post on facebook, and had at least two friends start their own blogs so they could do the challenge too.

Oh my gosh, those were good times. If I could figure out how to do that whole linky thing, I might have to host my own similar challenge.

I dove right into the A-Z Challenge after that. That was my first experience with a linky, and with a huge group of people visiting each other's blogs.

It was a ton of work. At the time I could get through maybe 5 blogs before I ran out of interesting comments, and maybe through 5 more before my brain stopped processing altogether. But slowly my followers increased.

Then I hit a wall, and I stopped blogging on my personal website altogether. Soon thereafter, I joined The Prosers, and that was so much fun. I look back on those early days of The Prosers and it seems like we were all geniuses. Everyone else still is, of course, but blogging about writing is harder than it used to be for me. It requires research and brainstorming. It isn't all about cute gifs and pictures of good looking men anymore.

Though perhaps it should be...

But I digress.

I know there are probably a lot of ways to build a blogging base, but I don't know what they are. For me, building my readership is hard work. I find other blogs that are talking about similar things. I visit them, and leave comments (Ugh. I'm the worst comment leaver EVER. But I try.) They visit mine, and if they like what they see, they come back. I slowly build relationships with some of the bloggers. And here's an unexpected treat--they are doing the same thing! So if I let them into my circle and they let me into their circle...our circles combine to form one bigger circle!

Over the years, I've tried several different blog hops. My favorite is the What's Up Wednesday blog hop, for so many reasons--it's small enough that I don't feel overwhelmed at the sheer number of blogs to visit; it is for writers, so I get to see where other people are in their writing journey, and (the biggest reason of all!) the writers are readers too, and they write about the books they read, and my TBR pile is amazing.

No agent in their right mind is going to look at my followers and think "Wow. This woman is going to sell a million books based on her blog alone!" (I'm holding steady at 88 followers. :)  But I know what I want to blog about, and I'm finding people who want to read about that. The same people visit my blog again and again. I visit theirs, and we converse. They inspire me, and hopefully I inspire them. It's working.

I have no list of Five Sure Fire Things You Can Do To Make A Successful Blog. But I am a big believer in the blog hop philosophy. Find one you like, and be an active participant.

Here are a few. I apologize for the lack of links, but it's late...

What's Up Wednesday
IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group)
Top Ten Tuesday from the Broke and the Bookish
Six Word Saturday
A-Z Challenge (a very intense blog hop in April)
Giveaway Hops (a good place to find these is on

I'm sure I'm missing some great ones. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

There are similar ways to build a presence on twitter and instagram, but I'm still holding out high hopes for blogging.

I'd love to hear your advice about how to take blogging to the next level. Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

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