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A few comments about building my blog community

July 19, 2017
Here are practical tested strategies I use to build a successful blog community

WordPress Discover featured a recent post about Life Lessons I learned while hiking the Appalachian Trail. The dizzying trill of overlapping notifications gave me a brief glimpse of what life must be like for superstars of the blogging world. A few (OK… hundreds) clicked the follow button. But what interested me most were the new comments. I’ve learned that comments are gifts, and these gifts form the foundation for building my blog community.

I scanned through comments waiting to be approved. Blogging friends congratulating me on my newfound fame triggered involuntary smiles. If you’re willing to let me call it a mild lacrimal event (or allergies), then I’m not ashamed to admit that one beautiful blogger even forced out a few tears. And new visitors expressed stunned disbelief that anyone would just give away this much awesomeness for free. It was Christmas in July!

But a surprising number of comments were simple commands: “visit my blog,” or “follow me back” and “check out my post at www.randomwords.com/plagerized-content-that-still-isnt-very-interesting”

Kinda feels like getting used socks from one hand while the other is held out waiting for me to deposit a family heirloom. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t how holidays work (unless you consider Tax Day a holiday, then it’s exactly the same).

I’m not completely ungrateful though. After all, my spam monster has a voracious appetite.

I’m also not a blogging expert. I have only been blogging in earnest for about 6 months (prior to this, blogging was a means of keeping friends and family in the loop while I hiked the Appalachian Trail). If I’ve learned anything during these 6 months, it’s this: The comment section is where the magic happens.

Continue Reading…

Tales from the Trail

Hiking the Appalachian Trail Against All Odds

February 16, 2017
Against all Odds

For 166 days, I traded the weight of titles and labels for an increasingly smelly backpack. No longer Dr. Burkhardt, or Major Burkhardt, or a guy with crippling depression; instead, I became an Appalachian Trail hiker called “Sketch.” Most were good days. Some brought me to my knees. However, October 2, at the summit of Mount Katahdin, was a GREAT day!

 

All things being equal, more than 80% fail to complete the 2,189.2-mile journey from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Continue Reading…

(almost) funny, Bucket-Lister Pro-tips

I am sorry for myself, I no speak in this language very much

February 12, 2017
Bucket-Lister

I don’t know about you, but I got into the Bucket-Lister business for the perks. Trying new things, traveling the world, and immersing myself in cultures most tourists don’t have time for. The pay isn’t great, but you can’t beat these benefits.

 

And I was a natural. I avoided food poisoning from meals that roamed around on the table, filled a passport or three with colorful stamps, and maintained a respectable frequent-flyer status.

 

I even mastered the international Bucket-Lister language. Initially, communication was mostly an intricate series of hand and arm signals that would make any Air Traffic Controller proud. It wasn’t pretty, but I could get a taxi, directions to a restaurant (usually not the one I was hoping for), and a hotel room. However, fluency evaded me until I discovered the real Rosetta Stone. With this handy tool, I rarely had to resort to embarrassing peeks at Google Translate, or flail like a duckling trying to find its momma in order to get my message across.

 

What is the Bucket-Lister’s Rosetta Stone? Continue Reading…

Tales from the Trail

To McAfee Knob… and beyond

January 25, 2017
Ideal Home

There is an expectation that once you heft that backpack and set foot on some dirt-strewn path that you are on your way to a destination. The destination may be far, impossibly far, but still, each step leads you closer. All around you, trees and wild flowers and scurrying animals and Nature extend father than you can see in an overwhelming vista of unexplored terrain. But you are in a well-marked corridor that allows you to be a part of all this without getting lost. Rather than limiting, this corridor is a reassuring tether.

I knew my hike along the Appalachian Trail would not be a direct march from Springer mountain in Georgia to Mt Katahdin in Maine. There would be detours into town for rest and resupply, side trials to interesting views, the possibility I would need to bypass sections for one reason or another. This is a good thing. If the thousands of hikers that start the Trail each year all follow the same path and make the same stops, we would congeal into a monotonous, slow-moving conga line. But I couldn’t have predicted how circuitous my route would become. Continue Reading…