We all want people to read our blogs; if we didn’t, we’d probably keep them private. A lot of bloggers will, at least at some point, look for ways to promote their blog, whether that be to grow community connections or for other reasons. But there always seems to be a few people who really get really in your face, and cross that line between promotion and being spammy. But where exactly is that line?
What crossing the line can look like
I got thinking about this after unfollowing someone’s blog and eventually blocking them on social media because their promotion was getting on my nerves. It was a mental health blog that I was actually interested in reading; however, the blogger’s line-crossing ended up having the opposite of the intended effect.
Rather than engaging on WordPress, this person seemed to be focused on social media for promotion. For each blog post, they’d tweet it out multiple times and tag multiple different mental health accounts on each tweet. Presumably, they were fishing for retweets, but I really don’t know. I kept getting these popping up in my notifications, and for some reasons muting them didn’t seem to be working.
Then this person tried to send me a pin (promoting one of their blog posts) on Pinterest. First off, I hadn’t even realized you could do such a thing. But secondly, that crossed the line from mild annoyance to get the hell out of my face. So, block, block, unfollow, the end. And yet, this is a blog I would’ve continued to read had they not been a pain in the ass.
The point of this rather rambling story, though, is that crossing the line from promotion to piss-off isn’t doing anybody any good. But there is no single, clearly defined line between “ok” and “you’re pissing me off.” My dividing line might be very different from someone else’s dividing line. This post is mostly about my dividing line, but I’m certainly not the queen of the blogging world making a royal decree (although perhaps a tiara would make a good toy for the guinea pigs). I’m just spouting off, and feel free to ignore some or all of what I say, because it’s just one blogger’s opinion.
For me, it makes a difference whether the promotion happens where you’ve chosen to hang out, or if it’s reaching out to find you. If I see multiple tweets in my feed by someone promoting a blog post, no biggie. There are comment threads created specifically for people to go to town with self-promotion. But randomly tag me over and over, that’s reaching out to poke me in the nose, and that’s annoying.
I tend to be fussier about what I want to see in my WordPress Reader feed. The Reader is how I keep up with the blogs I’m following, so I’m on there a lot and am pretty aware of what’s going on. I do sometimes unfollow ultra-high-frequency posters when it feels like they’re hijacking my Reader feed. It’s not exactly self-promotion, but if people are taking 25 posts a day to convey a message that could actually be conveyed in 5 posts or less, that still feels like getting in people’s faces unnecessarily.
One promotion strategy some people use is to republish a blog post multiple times to keep bumping it up to the top of the Reader feed. I understand why people do this, but if the republishing is happening really frequently, that can start to nudge up against the spammy line. Then again, simply because of how much I use the Reader, I probably see this more than many others would.
Different people have different tolerance thresholds for bloggers doing self-promotion on their own site. As long as I’m not being smacked in the face too much with newsletter signup requests, I figure people can do whatever they want on their own site since I’m choosing to visit it. I know other people have different views on the subject.
Then we’ve got the blog comment section. “Great post! Check out my blog doofus.wordpress.com” is spammy. There’s just no way around that. The way I look at it, if there’s going to be a link drop or a request to check out the person’s blog, in order for that not to be spammy, there needs to be a legitimate comment on the substance of the blog post, and a direct connection between said legitimate comment and whatever the commenter is asking you to look at.
Creating blog awards can be another form of self-promotion. I’m sure a lot of people have come across the Mystery Blogger Award, which credits its creator, Okoto Enigma. Recently, I’ve seen Vincent Ehindero Award making the rounds, which is named after its creator. Nominating people for blog awards can be used as a means of self-promotion, depending on how it’s done. It can also be done as a way for a business-oriented blog to get backlinks along with some free advertising.
How to not be spammy
For me, what this all really comes down to is reciprocity. Blogging is a community, and there’s a steady flow of giving and taking and sharing and all that jazz. When a blogger just keeps putting their stuff out there without wading in the sharing pool, that conveys a message, whether it’s intended or not, about their priorities.
Here are some ideas for a few non-spammy ways to get your blog out there into the world:
- Bloglovin is a blog-reading platform, and it’s a way for non-WP users to follow your blog
- OnToplist directory
- Psychreg index of mental health blogs
The right form and level of self-promotion is going to vary from one blogger to the next, but I think as long as bloggers treat it like a local community, chances of crossing the line into spamminess are very low.
Have you witnessed things that have crossed the line between self-promotion and spammy?