i'm not saying you have to be "of the world" but you do have to learn how to navigate around it to be successful "in their eyes."
though i personally refuse to comply to some of their unwritten rules of the internet, here are some things i've observed:
e-mail: my high school journalism teacher once said, "the world revolves around e-mail. you need to realize this and get on the bandwagon or you're going to be a nobody." i ignored her. but i've repented & am very slowly catching on. I'm sorry Mrs. LS. you were right. -- everyone has an email; not everyone has a facebook or a twitter account. (i am not familiar with foursquare, formspring, linkedin, bloglovin', or any of those networking sites. should i be?) if you can't grasp the "e-mail or die" concept, or can't handle this, then you're basically invisible. like me.
self-promotion & self-marketing: guess what? you could be the freaking coolest person on the planet and that wouldn't matter if you don't know how to present yourself & get yourself out there. very rarely does a site become popular based on content alone. there are plenty of blogs and websites i look at and i'm thinking, "how is this not world famous?" and others i look at and incredulously say, "what the heck? this has such a big following?" it's because either they did or didn't promote themselves well. now you're looking at me and you're all "wait a second, you only have like... less followers than a 'marketing guru' should have. what gives you the expertise to tell me how this works?"
please understand that though i am no expert i do know how this works. if i chose to i could get myself out there in more ways than there are ways to make a sandwich & my blog would explode (probably) but i hate self-promotion. i can barely handle talking about myself in other corners of the internet except for my own, or doing anything like "come check out my blog! if you do, i will give you a zillion ponies!" it's fine if other people do it for themselves, it's just not for me. i'd rather light myself on fire. "but stephanie, you have sponsors? isn't that self promotion?" well, yes. i decided i'd try it out for a little while. then i decided that what i like about "ad swapping" is the fact that i get to work closely with other people, however, most likely this will stop in the future because it makes me feel weird seeing my face on other people's blogs.
lighting: "a candle loses none of its light by lighting another candle." i like to consider myself a candle lighter of sorts. i love other people & highlighting others. i feel queasy when the favor is returned & i don't like being sung to on my birthday. but i will literally do anything for you & give you a ride to the mall with no expectations of a return "favor." i think this part of my personality scares people off; my favorite phrase is "if you need anything, please let me know and i'll do anything!" because this part of my personality so desperately needs someone to do something nice for. anyways, to the point. "share and share alike." that means following other blogs you like, commenting on things (nicely, please. promote what you love, don't put down things you don't appreciate), and "pinning pictures from whoever pinned it and not finding the actual source and claiming it as your own because you don't want people to think that you want to be like that person that you saw pinned it in the first place." yeah, i've done that.
along with that, it also means sharing your knowledge. did you make a cute skirt? share the tutorial. did you make a delicious batch of homemade cookies? share the recipe. i have SUCH a hard time with this because 1. i forget and 2. sometimes i don't feel like sharing how i did something. it goes all the way back to my childhood where i'd thought of something cool, shared it with my friend, she was in one of my classes at school, she used that idea in one of her projects and so did i, and then I was accused of copying and cheating. yeah, i'm never sharing anything with anyone ever again! i'm kidding-- someday i'll get around to sharing things. the site "a beautiful mess" is one of my favorites because they tell you everything. "wow, how'd she get that picture to look like that?" i'm thinking in my head... the next post is: "this is how you take a picture like this!" and i'm all, "thank you, Gods of the internet. go Elsie & Emma!" if people like you & like your site, they want to be like you- so let them & show them how.
on the same note: i see "tutorials" as good things.. kind of unnecessary sometimes.. kind of like art. people can come up to it and say, "PSHH i could do that. a kindygartener could do that." yeah, but did you? no, they did. & they get the international credit & recognition for it. i saw a step-by-step illustration about "how to paint your nails correctly" and someone commented with "why would anyone waste their time making this? painting your nails is not a science." like, duh. painting your nails is not hard. but there is a science to it, and that is it- people go to nail tech school to learn that, and now you have that knowledge. be grateful. it's also like learning about gravity. "gravity keeps you on the earth; gravity makes things fall." like, duh. why would someone waste their time writing that? i experience gravity every second; it's not a science. actually it is, pumpkin. MOVING ON.positivity, consistency, & salt: there are things in common with "popular" blogs and websites. one is the positive feeling that comes in, around, and from the site- it's addicting, people like it and they will come back for more. another is consistency: unchanging looks, unchanging layouts, repeats of popular posts or series & personal style. for some reason people like that. and also, salt. nobody likes to have rainbows and ponies shoved into their faces day in and day out because it's just not human. the salt is the "bad days" the "i'm swamped" and the "all of the colanders in the house are dirty so i tried draining pasta without one and now my hand is red and burned" things that happen once in a while. even chocolate chip cookies need salt to be sweet.
personal touch & interaction: reply to your comments. i repeat: reply to the comments made on your site, whether it is on your own blog or on theirs, do it. i don't do it nearly enough because i'm still baffled that someone actually likes what i have to say and then they say something about it to me. baffled, people. and twitter. i don't like twitter very much, but if i ever got into it i'd be tweeting like nobody's business, gettin' all personal and whatnot. i follow people on it just to read cool day-to-day stuff that you don't get on their sites. it's nice. facebook is ALL personal, right? & i'd say it's pretty successful. also, DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. that is not a personal touch nor is it nice. if i find you plagiarizing anybody i will reprimand you & say not nice things about you to my husband. & that's all i have to say about that.
ease: people don't like to try very hard. they want their questions answered & they want to do it themselves- but with minimal effort. that's why "about" "contact" and "FAQ" links are so popular and oh so common on the front page of every site. did you know that "about" pages have a specific layout? you bet your face they do because it's that important. humans have fickle minds so make it easy for people to do what they want to on your site in little time or they will lose interest very quickly & leave. i can't tell you how many times i've gone to check out a website and just clicked out of it because it took too long to load. harsh, but true.
and, obviously, visual appeal: pinterest didn't get popular because of text & words. (check out Pictureless Pinterest on twitter. HUH-larious.) the way that it is arranged with primarily photos and some text is addicting & stimulating to the mind. (obviously, stephanie. obviously.) so it should also be when someone enters your site: pictures all over the place with color & style. pictures of your hair blowing in the wind. 6 billion blurry pictures of your dog. there is a physical & emotional connection made in your brain when you see a human's face. you think my large header of my hair is just to be cool? nay, it is my devious plan to get you into my site & never leave. look deep into my eyes....
stay tuned for more of my famous advice columns including, "10 steps to a F