I started a mom blog a couple months ago and from everything I’ve learned so far, it sounds a lot like parenting a toddler. The only difference is that it’s far easier to me to get my strong, independent, high-energy toddler to listen than to gain followers who will actually click the link and read my blog. After a particularly frustrating day with blogging, I needed a little comic relief. I came up with this list of top 10 reasons why I think blogging is pretty darn similar to parenting my toddler.
- (Social Media) They pay more attention to pictures than words. When I read books with my toddler, she turns the page before I can finish reading all the words. Better yet, she’d rather just watch a movie. In the same way, people go to social media for a mental escape. They don’t want to think too hard or read too much. Without a colorful picture to catch their eye, they’ll skip right over your tweet or post.
- (Title) You need to grab their attention or they won’t stop to listen to what you have to say. As a school counselor, I needed to find clever ways to get kid’s attention. Sometimes teachers clap their hands, count to three, or turn off the lights. With toddlers, you sometimes need to stop them from running, get down at their level, and look them in the eye. Likewise, when blogging, your title is everything. Great bloggers know how to make up some unanswered question, sense of urgency, or perceived value to engage their readers.
- (Landing Page) You have about 2 seconds to get your message across before they bounce and move onto something else. Once you do get people to click into your website, they might leave before they can even get the page to load. If they don’t quickly understand your message or what they are supposed to do, they leave your site with a very high “bounce rate.” Toddlers are no different. Effective parents know how to keep it simple and to the point.
- (Content) You have to be authentic and build a genuine connection because they know if your full of s@!&. Toddlers, like all children, are much more likely to listen when they know you genuinely care and have their best interest at heart. Likewise, if you tell them not to yell, eat junk food, or watch TV, but all you do is yell, eat junk food, and watch TV, they pick up on it fairly quickly. It may be a little bit easier to fool your followers, but they will get bored quickly if you’re not authentic and everything you say seems a little bit too perfect or polished.
- (Headings) You must break down your message into small chunks in order to keep their attention. Toddlers don’t have very long attention spans. You have to rotate activities about every 15 minutes to help keep them engaged. In the same way, I’ve realized that reading a blog is different than reading a book. People look for headings and quickly skim the first line of each section. I need to get better at using headings, lists, pictures, and white space to break up my content. I need to break my paragraphs down into smaller chunks.
- (Comments) You need to give a lot of positive reinforcement to get them to keep doing what you want. The best parenting strategy at any age is to provide lots of positive reinforcement for the behaviors that you want. In the same way, if you want people to comment on your blog or Facebook page, you need to respond to people’s comments so they keep coming back. We are all gluttons for positive reinforcement. The more you understand this principle, the more you can use it to your advantage.
- (Calls to Action) You need to give very specific calls to actions (2-3 word commands) so they understand what you’re asking them to do. Toddlers can’t handle more than one command at a time. If you ask them to do more than one thing at a time, they just run away. Likewise, bloggers use pop-up campaigns to provide their readers with one call to action at a time. “Subscribe now!” “Like me on FB,” etc.
- (Social Sharing) They need a little encouragement before they’re willing to share with others. Toddlers don’t like to share their toys with their friends. Encouraging them to share usually involves lots of tears and resistance. Likewise, even when bloggers use cleaver icons to communicate the message that “sharing is caring,” many people prefer to “heart” or “like” than to retweet or share with their friends. You can help encourage them to share by showing them how many other people have already shared.
- (Promoting) You can only control your own actions, you can’t control the results or how they choose to respond. When my daughter doesn’t immediately do what I want, I know better than to get upset or take it personally. I can’t control her behavior; I can only control my response. But for some reason, with blogging, it’s hard not to get distracted by other people’s opinion or lack of response. I’m completely in control of the writing process, but once I hit publish, everything is suddenly outside my control. Yes, I can control my promotion strategy, which I’m just starting to figure out, but I really need to stop checking my phone because what I can’t control is whether or not other people choose to respond.
- (Conversion Rate) You have to put out your message 1,000 different ways before you get one positive response. Enforcing rules takes countless repetition, but eventually, your hard work pays off. You might have to say “time to get dressed” a thousand times before your toddler finally listens and puts on her pants. Likewise, if you publish a post to Facebook, only about 5% of your followers will see your post show up in their newsfeed. An even smaller percentage will interact with your post, let alone subscribe to your blog. As with my toddler, I need to stop taking it personally and find a new approach instead. Did someone say Link Party?
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