A Blogger’s Journey: The Question of Getting More Readers

ID 46000662 © Kiosea39 | Dreamstime.comI’m trying to grow as a blogger. I joined a few blogger groups on Facebook so I could network and learn from other bloggers. I’m glad I did it because I am networking and learning.

One of the Facebook groups I joined is Blogging Newbs. It’s basically an online support group for people who have been blogging for less than two years. This is a good group to ask questions, get general blogging information and get ideas. It’s a very active group.

One of the members of the group posted a question last month. She had just started her blog the day before. She said she felt like it won’t succeed because of the amount of readers. She than asked how do I get more readers? I was one of several bloggers that replied to the question. My response was:

“I’m told the average blogger can expect to spend 2 years building up a good following and engagement. Writing talent can speed the process up. Good social media can speed the process. Networking and exposure can speed the process. Guest posting on other blogs can speed the process. Pay attention to the posts that get you the best response and do more of those posts. Always ask for feedback from successful bloggers on how you can improve your blog. POST CONSISTENTLY!!!

One last thing – focus more on building engagement and not building readers. 200 highly engaged readers is better than 2,000 readers that never like or comment.”


To my fellow bloggers, this is my answer to the question. How would you answer?

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

2016 Social Media Planning III – Content Plan

dreamstime_s_29448883 - Social Media
© Nito100 | Dreamstime.com – Social Media Photo

Let me start by giving credit where credit is due. Much of the approach for my Social Media Content Plan came from How To Create A Social Media Marketing Plan In 6 Steps on HootSuite. This is a new blog so I have a simple content plan.

Here’s the history of the work so far. I completed my 2016 Blogging Goals. I started the planning process for social media. I completed a Social Media Audit and set priorities. Now it’s time for a content plan.

A content plan for a new blog asks the following questions:

  1. What type(s) of content do I intend to post and promote via social media?
  2. How often you will post the content?
  3. Who will create the content?
  4. How will I promote the content?

Assumption I – The social media channels I will use for Maryland Travel Stories (MTS) are Facebook (7 followers), Twitter (38 followers), and Pinterest (1,545 followers). Other channels will be add when MTS is large enough that I can hire a virtual assistant. I currently outsource some graphic design work.

Assumption II – All activities around social media will be time budgeted in three categories: channel monitoring, content generation and engagement support. Currently, channel monitoring consumes 50% to 60% of the social media budget due to post sharing within each channel and limited followers for MTS. This number will decrease as engagement increases. Content generation will be limited to sharing posts from MTS and guest posts by me across channels.

What type(s) of content do I intend to post and promote via social media? Posts from MTS. I will also share interesting and relevant content from within each channel. Guest posts by me will be shared across all channels.

How often you will post the content? Channel monitoring is done daily. Any interesting and relevant content will be shared immediately. Post from MTS and guest posts will be shared within 24 hours of the post being published.

Who will create the content? Me, myself and I

How will I promote the content? There is no budget to promote content on any channel at this time. I plan to start testing promoted posts on Facebook in April 2016.

Well, this is my Social Media Content Plan. Questions and feedback are welcome. (Don’t be evil.)


Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

2016 Social Media Planning II

dreamstime_s_29448883 - Social Media
© Nito100 | Dreamstime.com – Social Media Photo

I completed a social media audit. My activity on social media channels is as follows:

  1. Facebook (7 followers) – I have a page setup for Maryland Travel Stories (MTS). I share most of the posts from the blog there as well as other stories I find on Facebook.
  2. Twitter (38 followers) – MTS has a profile setup. I tweet most of the posts from the blog and retweet other stories.
  3. Pinterest (1,543 followers) – This is my personal profile but I have boards setup to support MTS. The profile I setup for MTS is no longer active. The two most popular boards are Coffee Shop Stuff and Bucket List Ideas.
  4. Google+ (1 follower) – MTS has a page setup. There’s a widget installed that automatically shares any post from the blog on the page. No other activity.
  5. Instagram (1 follower) -I created a profile but the setup is not complete and there are no photo posted.

Social Media Priorities (I’m going to get hit with rotten tomatoes for this.) :

  1. Priority #1 – Lower social media as a priority – Simply put, I don’t have enough hands and there are not enough hours in a day. I’m giving myself permission not to worry too much about sharing on social media. There are days when I spend three times as much time planning, posting and sharing on social media as I do creating the content I’m sharing … NUTS! This turns the fun of blogging into the chore of marketing … and adds all the stress! Of course I’ll be singing a different tune if I win the lottery or get a call from Oprah. It could happen.
  2. Focus on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – I have limited time and I have to focus. If I find a way to monetize the blog, I can add more social media channels by outsourcing the work. I already have a great recommendation for a virtual assistant.
  3. Content PlanWorking on it now. This will be the next post for social media planning.


Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

2016 Social Media Planning I

dreamstime_s_29448883 - Social Media
© Nito100 | Dreamstime.com – Social Media Photo

It’s January 2016. The start of a new year. Time to reflect back and plan forward. I decided to do some of my planning out in the open because, frankly, I’m looking for feedback. I set my 2016 blogging goals. Now it’s time to tackle social media. Believe it or not, this is a much bigger mountain to climb. My early research suggests the best way to do this is to create a Social Media Marketing Plan. I’m modifying the process a little. I will use the following steps:

  1. Conduct a Social Media Audit – Assess current social media channels, usage (if any) and results.
  2. Define Social Media Priorities – I once gave presentations to small business people on how to use social media. And, I’m still very much a social media enthusiast. However, I know social media can consume all your time if you let it. It’s a lot of work! There are hundreds of social media sites and more are added weekly it seems. I have to decide which sites stay. Which sites go. Which sites get added.
  3. Create, delete or improve social media channels based on priorities
  4.  Create a Content Plan
  5. Outsource some duties

Well, this is the plan starting out. I’ll keep you posted. If you have any written social media goals or plans for your blog, please share! We can start a club and have t-shirts made.

Thank you for reading Maryland Travel Stories!

Picante! – A Restaurant With Social Media Savvy


Picante! Mexican Restaurant (& food truck) / 14511 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy. Suite B, Chantilly, Virginia 20151 / 703-222-2323 / Catering: (703) 263-9533 / website

I blog about Maryland but I live just over the line in Virginia. My wife and I stopped by Picante! Mexican Restaurant a few days ago for a quick meal. I smiled as soon as I saw the front door (see 2nd picture). This place is social media savvy! I love a business that understands engagement with its customers.

Most restaurants are active on TripAdvisor and OpenTable. One glance at this front door tells me they are active on (or at least monitor) a profile on Yelp and Foursquare. I checked the website and you can easily find links to their Twitter and Facebook profiles.

The key for me is “easily find”. Many businesses have social media profiles but you would never know it. There’s nothing on the front door, the inside walls or the website. You have to send out a search party to find any social media for the business.

Well done Picante!

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Social Media Update – Facebook Page Up (and Other Things)

© Nito100 | Dreamstime.com - Social Media Photo
© Nito100 | Dreamstime.com – Social Media Photo

This has been networking and social media week for the blog:

  1. I found two blogger networking groups; Virginia Bloggers and Maryland Bloggers. (I blog about Maryland but I live in Virginia so I can benefit from both.) I’m looking forward to learning and networking with other bloggers. I’ve been actively searching for a way to network. I’m very happy to have this off my to do list.
  2. I’m consolidating my two Pinterest profiles. I will keep the Maryland Travel Stories profile to protect the name. However, all future boards and pins will be on my personal Pinterest profile. It’s just easier this way!
  3. I cleaned up my Foursquare profile so the brands and lists match what I’m doing for this blog. (A lot of work for this one!)
  4. Lastly, my Facebook page is up! YAY! Now I can get back to posting!

As I said in my last social media post, social media is a lot of work!

Thanks for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

The Missing EatWith in Maryland

EATWITHI’m not sure when I first heard about EatWith. I know it’s a website / app / service that started in New York and is spreading across the country. To borrow a widely used phase, “It’s the Airbnb of dinner parties.” An exciting new option in the shared economy. You can share your car, your boat, your home and now your dinner table.

I want to add eatwith experiences to my list of things to explore. There is an eatwith in DC but none in Maryland (so far). I know there are amazing hosts with great cooking skills across the state of Maryland. I look forward to one starting soon. (hint, hint!)

Now I know what you’re thinking … “If you like it so much, why not start one yourself?” First, I’m a lousy cook. I’d starve if it wasn’t for microwaves. That’s why I love going to restaurants. Second, I have a small place. People would show up, laugh and leave. Not a great combination for dinner parties.

Anyone have any eatwith stories to share? Anyone in Maryland thinking of starting one?

What is EatWith? / What is EatWith (2)?EatWith website / EatWith in DC

Thanks for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Thank You Google Plus!

© Bantuquka | Dreamstime.com - Social Media Icon Google Plus On Smart Phone Screen Photo
© Bantuquka | Dreamstime.com – Social Media Icon Google Plus On Smart Phone Screen Photo

Thank you Google+ !!!

I wrote a post discussing how much work it is to manage social media for my blog. Any help I can get managing social media is welcome. I’m active on Pinterest and Twitter for this blog. Google+ was next on my list. I setup a Google+ page a few weeks ago. At the time I was thinking I’d create page, then come back later to start posting stuff.

Yesterday, I opened my Google+ page to start posting. I was surprised to find most of my blog posts were already posted to the page! The blog posts were going over automatically to Google+! VERY COOL! Google+ is covered with very little work.

I know this is small potatoes to most of you. Some might even look at me and say … “well dah”. I was a social media instructor but I still get pleasantly surprised by small things. It’s one less thing I have to worry about in managing my blog’s social media. It’s a BIG DEAL for me!

Thanks again Google+ !!!

And thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Brent Jackson

Social Media is a Lot of Work!

© Nito100 | Dreamstime.com - Social Media Photo
© Nito100 | Dreamstime.com – Social Media Photo

Let me say that I LOVE social media! I’m active on several sites and I check for updates throughout the day. I was a Social Media Instructor for a nonprofit until a few months ago. I know the benefits of social media for a blog are many. I enjoy applying the things I learned and taught to my own blog.

However, as a blogger, its a lot of work! I spent most of my time last week working on my blog’s Twitter and Pinterest profiles. I also started a new list on my Foursquare profile to track the places I plan to visit.

This is not to complain. I’m only a part-time blogger. I have to find a way to balance the work needed to post to my blog with the work of managing its social media. Any part-time bloggers out there with ideas, please share!

Thanks for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Brent Jackson