I just received another “let’s trade links” e-mail. Unlike the obnoxious “Branson Spam” (which, by the way, looks like it was entirely unsuccessful, seeing as how there aren’t any bloggers listed on their site), this one seemed to be a genuine request. I wrote back and explained that while I don’t “trade” links, I do publicize sites that I visit. I mean, I don’t like the idea that blogging is all about advertising yourself and getting a lot of traffic. Those links on the left are sites that I visit every day for their content. Some of them are written by people that I’ve come to consider as friends. I’d rather have a good discussion going with brigita and Bill and John than have lots of anonymous visitors. That said, I know how hard those first few months of blogging are, when your IP address is the only one showing up in the logs. It seems like everybody else has their own little groups and cliques and it’s hard to find a place for yourself. Here are my tips for publicizing your site (without being annoying) and getting to know some of the people behind the blogs:

  • When you find a blog you like, bookmark it on your site (without asking to “trade links”). Check out the blogs that that person recommends. Always use the links on your own site to check your favorite blogs. Most bloggers are obsessive about checking their site logs, and your address will catch their eye sooner or later. I discovered Angie‘s site that way.
  • Leave comments if possible. When someone takes the time to contribute to a discussion, I immediately check out their site. That’s how I discovered several of the blogs I check daily. I’ve also left comments on nearly all those sites as well. Blogging isn’t just a one-way street. (Oh, but never leave a comment simply to plug your own site. Very tacky.)
  • Update often. As I’ve said before, I’ve got a serious addiction to content. If your site languishes for months, you’ll get deleted from my bookmarks.
  • Contribute to a community site, like MetaFilter or Plastic or Disturbing Search Requests. If you leave interesting comments, people will follow your link to find out more about you. For the month that I was on Plastic, I got lots of hits. (It helps if you let slip that you’re a girl, I admit.)

Above all, the key is not to actively *appear* to be doing anything to promote your site. If you have something to say, people will find it. If you’re just trying to drum up meaningless traffic numbers, people will resent you. (Yes, Bransonshows.com, I’m looking at you.) Do my fellow bloggers have any other tips for newbies?

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  1. Now you see, your comment about not putting your links in alphabetical order reveals a world of difference between us. Even though I too tend to browse my links in a certain order, there’s no way that I could fail to put them in alphabetical order: my subconscious would be screaming at me that it Just Isn’t Right for there to be no discernible order to the list!

    Is this, I wonder, one of the fundamental differences between men and women (you know, like putting your CDs in order), or just another sign that I’m a hopeless slave to conformity and a false sense of order? 🙂

  2. No way. I’m a CD-alphabetizing Nazi. And they’re all in big binders, which means every time I get a new one I have to shift about 50 CD’s another spot over. It’s an obsessive labor of love. (You should see my bookshelf.)

    But as for my links… I actually tried to do it yesterday for the first time, and that’s when I realized that my need to maintain my morning routine at all costs outweighs my inner sense of order in this case. 🙂

  3. i used to organize my cds by color. my compulsions typically have an unusual spin on them.

  4. Just a quick note to say that so far after just over 24 hours it looks as if your advice about going to sites via the links on your own page was spot-on.

    I’ve just had the busiest single day my site’s seen since I started using a counter. Whilst a lot of those hits were via search engines (as is usually the case for my site) a much larger than usual number of referrers were from sites on my list of links. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. That’s awesome! I knew I couldn’t be the only anal-retentive, referer-checkin’ blogger. 🙂

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