The beginning: Taking that first, scary leap of faith.
When I started this blog in September, my intention wasn’t to have a “successful” blog. My initial aim (and still my primary aim!) was to heal myself from PTSD, severe anxiety and depression caused by many years of victimization by narcissists. The healing isn’t finished yet, and probably never will be completely.
Deciding to make my personal diary a public spectacle seems rather narcissistic, but my reasoning for doing this was (a) as an alternative to traditional psychotherapy, which I could not afford (and still can’t afford); and (b) my belief that complete honesty on the Internet with complete strangers was the key to my healing and overcoming my many fears, especially my fears of social interaction.
It’s a lot like that first venture into the deep end of a swimming pool. At first you’re scared to death, but soon no one can keep you away from it!
So far, it’s working. I can honestly say these past five and a half months have proven to be the best therapy I ever had. Yes, putting my heart and soul and vulnerability out there on the web was incredibly scary at first, and I hesitated much about posting some things about my past (and still do sometimes), but I went ahead and did it anyway, then held my breath and waited for the psychopaths, bullies and trolls to descend on this blog like the wicked witch’s flying monkeys descended on Dorothy and her friends in The Wizard of Oz.
That never happened. The few trolls are easily controlled–I just don’t approve their comments. I guess I’ve been lucky: there’s only been about two on this blog so far. I learned not to take what they say personally. I’ve already been the victim of Internet bullying, and feel that with my own blog, I have a lot more control and I know how to handle the bullies and trolls.
My first mentors.
Early in my blogging experience, I was fortunate enough to have three very different people from completely different backgrounds help me obtain more visibility. These people were my first mentors, before I learned the ropes of blogging or how to get it seen.
As a brand new blogger and a person not known for being patient, when my first week passed and I had a measly 12 followers, and was getting practically no likes or comments after slaving away for hours on a post that was painful to write, I expressed my frustration in this post (which is still one of my most popular). I couldn’t lie anymore–although I started this blog as an online journal, dammit, I wanted people to actually read my thoughts! Opinionated Man, known for his kindness to newbies, reblogged that post on his blog HarsH ReaLiTy the next day, and I spent the entire weekend fielding so many comments and new followers that I never had a chance to do my laundry or go grocery shopping!
I consider that my first big win, or maybe my second. My next big win was writing an article about “I, Psychopath,” Ian Walker’s documentary about Sam Vaknin, and that attracted the attention of Sam himself (who admitted he found the article by Googling himself!) For awhile he was sharing every article I wrote about him (and I kept writing more not only because of my interest in him, but I have to admit, to keep my momentum going, since every article I’ve written about him has become wildly popular, even if not shared by Sam himself.) He’s been doing less sharing of my articles and that’s perfectly alright, because now I know how to build my own momentum.
My third big win (but really my first) was Fivehundredpoundpeep’s wonderful blog. Prior to starting this blog, I’d been reading hers religiously and was astonished how much I could relate to this woman, who is an Aspie like myself abused by a truly evil family of narcs (even more so than my own). I added her blog to my blogroll and started commenting on her posts and soon this was a mutually beneficial arrangement where she added my blog to her blogroll (and hers is a pretty popular blog).
All these things have helped my visibility enormously. OM reblogging several later articles has helped too, as well as taking advantage of his regular invitations for bloggers to “pimp their blog” on his website.
Getting over my fear of social media.
Even with all these fortuitous events, I was still terrified of sharing my articles on social media, Facebook in particular, because of my fear of my FOO (family of origin) and other people from my past I prefer to keep a distance from finding this blog. There’s only so much visibility you can attain through the help of others. To become really successful and for your blog posts to move up to the top of search engines, you can’t rely on other people to do all your disseminating work for you. Eventually you will need to promote your blog yourself, and that doesn’t take into account just writing posts people want to read (which I will get to in a minute).
I didn’t have too much of a problem sharing my posts on Twitter or Stumble Upon, since none of my FOO use those services (except my son, who’s a Twitterholic), but ignoring Facebook is a bad idea for a blogger who wants to grow their visibility and have a successful blog. So I held my nose and first signed up for a LinkedIn account, which seemed less “dangerous” than Facebook. A few weeks later, I finally threw in the proverbial towel and decided to start sharing my articles on Facebook too, even though I use my actual name there instead of my psuedonym, as I do here.
At first nothing much happened. But soon I found I was friending and following people on both Facebook and Twitter who may be interested in a blog like mine. I started paying attention to the “who to follow” section, which always annoyed me before. I followed or friended a number of groups and organizations too that were relevant to the subject matter I write about. By following organizations and groups, you get a lot of new people at once seeing your shares instead of just one person at a time.
Within the past two weeks, my Twitter followers have increased from about 80 to about 130. Every time I sign into Twitter now, I have more followers. That was never the case before.
I’m still wary about Facebook, but I’ve noticed my posts always get the most shares on that site (sometimes in the double digits), so I make sure to “like” relevant groups and organizations, as well as friending a lot of individuals in the narcissistic abuse community.
I recently was able to start running ads on this blog because my traffic was sufficient to do so. I doubt I’ll ever become rich with this blog, but I may earn a bit of pocket money anyway. I sure would love to earn enough to be able to quit my day job, but that’s probably more likely to come from writing a book at some point and selling it on Amazon than it is from this little blog. But that’s okay. Things are happening at the rate they’re supposed to, and not before I’m ready.
Reaping the harvest.
Due to my becoming far bolder about sharing this blog on social media, it’s been attracting attention from professionals and other people I’m surprised found it. Last week I posted a video of Christian singer-songwriter Danny Gokey’s hit “Hope in Front of Me” and I got a direct message from him on Twitter thanking me for doing that. I got a thank you and several retweets from film director Eric Casaccio, the maker of the upcoming movie, “Narcissist.” I have received a private email from two academic researchers from the University of Georgia who asked me to link to their survey about parental narcissism on this blog. I was more than happy to help them with that project. (The survey is still open and the link to it is in the sidebar; the deadline for that is February 28th). I’ve also been asked to review a new book for abuse survivors and am currently working on that too.
In the past week, my followers have increased by more than 100, and this doesn’t include random readers who are not following my blog at all. As OM says, it’s not about how many followers you have or how many “likes” you get, it’s about how many hits you get. Several of my articles are now on Page One of Google. Other search engines are appearing in my stats now too, including obscure ones and AOL (does anyone actually use AOL anymore?) This is all kind of shocking to me, but the more stuff you have appearing at or near the top of search engines, the more hits you will get. It’s a self-perpetuating mechanism.
All this may sound like bragging, and it probably is. I can’t become too narcissistic about all this as vanity is one of my character flaws. I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot of healing to do, and healing is still–and always will be–the main focus of this blog.
The best reward of all.
More encouraging and exciting than anything else, though, are when I get emails or comments from abuse survivors who tell me this blog or my story of abuse has helped them. I used to feel so incompetent and useless in the world, so testimonials from people who tell me they feel less hopeless and broken because of something I wrote feels like winning the lottery. Better than winning the lottery. It makes me feel like I have a purpose, that I wasn’t put in this world just to be narcissistic supply to others. I used to actually believe I was put on this earth as an example to others of how not to be.
God, how wrong I was about that. If you feel that way and you are emmeshed with a malignant narcissist or psychopath, you have been trained to believe you are nothing and can offer nothing good or useful to the world. Please believe me, that is wrong. Your abusers are projecting their own self-hatred and worthless feelings onto you.
Tips on writing a blog people want to read.
Besides taking that leap of faith to finally promote my blog and share articles on social media (and getting a lot of help from others, especially in the beginning), if you want to grow your blog there are several other things you really need to do:
–Include ALL the social media buttons under every article. Even if you don’t use them (but you should), others will. That will help your visibility even if you don’t promote yourself.
–You don’t have to be a Shakespeare or a Poe or have great writing ability. If you know how to string together a few sentences and have halfway decent grammar (grammar and spell check will help), you can still write a blog post people want to read. The key is to make it conversational and personal. Don’t overload the reader with too many facts or pedantic language. And always, ALWAYS be honest. People can tell when you’re lying or leaving out pertinent information. They will finish reading your article feeling unsatisfied and cheated and may never return.
–Use graphics for long posts to break it up. No one wants to read a wall of text, no matter how well written it is. Pictures are easy to find on Google images–just type in a phrase that describes what you’re looking for, or even use pictures you took yourself. Quotes and block quotes work well too at breaking up walls of text, and never be afraid to use humor!
–If your blog focuses on one or two subjects as this one does, it’s okay to add in an occasional article or post about something unrelated. In fact, I think it makes your blog fresher and more interesting. Another benefit of posting unrelated material is that you will attract readers who may not otherwise be reading your blog. I have had a number of foodies and furries reading this blog (and even following it in a few cases) because of articles I wrote about those subjects. It helps to be versatile, but be careful not to lose your original focus.
–If your blog is about a serious or dark subject (as mine is), watch the negativity. People won’t feel helped if all you do is complain or act pessimistic. It’s great to be honest, but people want to feel like you’re giving them some hope for their hopeless situation too. That’s why I include inspirational memes and quotes, happy or cute photographs, cartoons, jokes, and lots of music. (Music has been major in my healing, second only to writing). Sometimes I find that if I post something positive even when I’m feeling like I want to jump out a 16th floor window (it happens more often than you think!), it actually improves my own mood.
–Make sure you post frequently. You don’t have to go crazy like me and post 3-5 new posts a day, but if you publish one post per day, that’s enough to keep readers interested. If you can’t think of anything to write about (and I do have those days), sometimes just a funny cartoon, inspirational meme or pretty photograph with one or two sentences will do. There’s nothing that will kill a blog faster than abandoning it. If you don’t appear to care, your readers will go somewhere else.
–Use as many links as possible in your articles. Doing this will create a pingback or a trackback: Blogs you link to will see the pingback and in return, will most likely follow your blog and recommend it to others.
–Link to your own articles too. Doing this not only adds depth and background to your article, but it also encourages readers to not stop with the article they’re reading–they might click on your links and read your other articles too!
–If you have the time, comment on or at least “like” posts by other bloggers. Follow as many other bloggers as you can, too. Most people are polite so most likely they’ll follow you back.
–Unless you are in a situation where you have potentially dangerous people stalking you on the Web, never, ever, EVER require people to sign in to read your blog. I know if I see a blog that requires me to sign in or use a password to read posts, I’ll bypass that blog, even if it’s about a topic I’m jumping out of my skin to read about.
–Probably most important of all: always reply to your comments! It might seem like a chore, but if you fail to reply to your comments, your readers will think you’re ignoring them and no one likes to be ignored. I also don’t understand why some people don’t allow comments. Interaction is necessary for a blog to be active and dynamic. Replying to comments will keep your readers around and make you seem like you care about them.
There’s a lot of other blogging advice that’s more technical than what I have offered here, and I don’t consider myself any kind of expert on how to run a successful blog. I’m nowhere near OM’s level of viewership and probably never will be, and that’s okay. Besides all the above things I suggested to improve your visibility and readership, I strongly suggest adopting his blog HarsH ReaLiTy as your blogging bible–and in return he just might reblog something you posted!
For more about increasing readership and popularity of your blog, see this article (told from an earlier–and more humorous–POV–I wrote it in early December): https://luckyottershaven.com/2014/12/08/this-blog-is-growing-yours-can-too/