Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How To Appreciate A Blog

As I see it, bloggers want three things: feedback, traffic, and money. Some don't want money. And no blog with integrity will put money (or traffic) ahead of content. If you like a blog (or a blogger), here are some ways you can offer something back:

I've recently read several blog posts about the importance of comments to bloggers. Melissa Ford on BlogHer.com suggests giving comments as the greatest gift to the blogger in your life. Inspired, Christy at Mommy Outnumbered has created a comment love challenge for the month of December, promising to comment on every blog she reads, and challenging her readers to do the same. And Zoie at Touchstonez has declared NaBloCoMo (which I'm assuming stands for National Blog Commenting Month) to play along. 

If you don't blog yourself, you might not realize how much comments mean to bloggers. Without interaction from their readers, bloggers don't know if what they're doing means anything to anyone. So if you read a blog post and appreciate what it says, take a moment and say so! 

A good blog post should invite discussion. Do your part and join in! Respectful criticism and disagreement are welcomed by most bloggers of integrity. 

2. Link to the blog
Share it on Facebook or Twitter or any of those million other social networking sites you use. Bloggers want to reach readers who will care about what they have to say. If you think your contacts might, help out! 

3. Click on their ads
If a blog has ads on it, it might mean they are established enough to have convinced advertisers to pay them to place ads on their site. If the blog is not highly established, the ads are most likely pay-per-click, meaning the blogger gets paid a little bit each time someone clicks on them. In this case it means the blogger hopefully hopes they might receive some compensation for the work they put in. I know we are used to viewing ads as visual noise and ignoring them if we can. But if you think the blogger deserves a bit of compensation, and you are not offended by the ads, check them out once in awhile. (If you are offended by the ads, leave a comment! I'm sure the blogger would like to know).

4. Use their affiliate links
When you click on a blog's link to amazon.com and buy something, the blogger earns a small commission (if they are using the affiliate program). Many links to online retailers work this way. Affiliate links may also look like regular ads, but they'll be for a product that the blogger has specifically selected to recommend to their audience. Many bloggers identify affiliate links on their page in the interest of full disclosure (and not seeming like they're trying to manipulate you in any way). If you plan on making an online purchase, consider doing it through your favourite blog's links. 

5. Give them a tip
Some blogs have tip jars, or donation buttons. Like the one below. I have never used this so far, except once to invite donations for a charitable project, because it seems kind of awkward to say, hey, here's my blog, give me some money. And I personally have never used a tip jar, although I like to think that one day I will have extra dollars kicking around that are not necessary for my family's survival, and that when that happens, and I read someone's blog that really moves me, or gives me some useful information, that I would. Like you give a tip to the guy who delivers your pizza, or makes your extra special latte, or plays a lovely harmonica on the street. I like the idea of blogs working this way. Maybe I will add one to my sidebar and see. . .

If you are a blogger, here are some further ways to appreciate other blogs:

6. Widgets that show other blogs' latest post
I love these things, and I'm baffled that so few blogs use them. The best example is Comment Luv (for Blogger). When you leave a comment on a Comment Luv enabled site, a link to your most recent post shows up below your comment. This is a win-win-win situation. It encourages people to comment on your blog because they can simultaneously promote themselves. They get traffic. And you can see at a glance what your readers are writing about. It really fosters community. 
Another example is a blogroll list that shows latest posts. (This is a standard widget on Blogger, I'm not sure if there's a Wordpress equivalent?) This sends your readers to check them out, and also keeps you up to date on your favourite blogs!

7. Mention them
And of course link to them. Especially if they have a post that relates to your current topic. 

What other ways can you show appreciation for a blog? (And what do you think of tip jars?)