Have you ever joined a sales company that ended up being a pyramid scheme? I did. The one I joined had something to do with phone cards. I don’t remember the details, but from experience, I learned, if sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Today’s Lesson

Bloggers can gain more traffic by forming pyramids.

How, you ask?

Think about it.

You have a blog.

Someone “finds ” you, and comments.

Blogging etiquette steps in, and you go to their blog, and reciprocate with a comment.

While on “their” blog, you see a comment from another blogger that intrigues you, so you go to their site.

On that site, you may leave a comment, or may find another comment that leads you to yet another blog.

Soon, based on one person’s comment, you venture further into cyberspace, via blogs.

As more people comment on your blog, the process repeats.

You leave comments and other bloggers follow the crumbs, and find their way back to you

If you were to draw it out, it mimics how a pyramid scheme works


In blogging, you don’t hear it being called a pyramid. (Pyramid schemes involve the exchange of money.)

In blogging, it’s called community.

Small communities form and soon intermingle with each other.

You see it in blogs and social networks.

The bigger your pyramid, the higher your traffic.

Today’s Assignment

Have you ever thought how expanding your community forms a pyramid of sorts?

Do you see how important it is to network with other bloggers?

Have you noticed an increase in traffic as your pyramid grows?

How big is your pyramid?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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  1. Unfortunately, the word “pyramid” has been tarnished by the term “pyramid scheme.” A pyramid scheme refers to an illegal game like a chain letter where people give money to other people, for no other purpose than the hope that more people will come along to give them money. Either no product or service is being sold, or the product or service is ridiculously overpriced and just used as a cover.

    But remove the illegal aspects of a pyramid scheme, and pyramids are great. Almost every organization has a pyramid structure. This applies to companies, families, the military, social networks, and certainly blogging as you’ve pointed out.

    Blogging without a pyramid would get pretty lonely. I’m working on growing my pyramid mainly with commenting, StumbleUpon, and Twitter.

    Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..Washing Dishes Is A Waste Of Life?

  2. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with Hunter. There are all sorts of pyramid organizations out there and most are legal. I used to sell Pampered Chef and believe me, that is a pyramid!

    As I have added others to my reader my comments have increased and vice versa. However, the question remains in my mind, “How do you keep up?” Unless people are into blogging, you really don’t get any readers. I have very few commentors who don’t have their own blog. Sometimes we build a friendship and sometimes others move on. I realize there are lurkers, but most of us are blogging and commenting for the purpose of increasing our own community and readership. I know this sounds bad, but the pyramid/community part of blogging is tiresome at times. As I sit here and right this, I could be playing with my daughter who is home sick. I do get enjoyment in reading other’s blogs and I get great tips, but sometimes I wish I could just go to me reader and hit “Mark all as Read” and be done with it for the day. I realize if I do that, though, no one will come by my blog.

    Debbie Yosts last blog post..Mother’s Tea

  3. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Hunter,

    New bloggers usually don’t have a pyramid when they first start blogging, and it can be very lonely. Unfortunately it takes time to build one, so that’s where patience comes in.

    I did notice you’re on Twitter. What do you think of that?

    Hi Debbie,

    I hear you. Last night I looked at my reader and it said I had 86 unread posts. Yikes…… I went through the list, picked a handful to read and comment on, marked the rest as read and went back to zero.

    If you have a lot of blogs in your reader, you do have to pick and choose. If on some days you don’t comment on other blogs, it’s not going to kill your readership. Loyal readers understand you have a life outside of blogging. Except for a rare few, the growth of a blog takes time. Getting hung up on the numbers can often stunt your creativity.

    Playing with your daughter is much more important than blog stats….Have fun!!! πŸ™‚

  4. I want to believe that’s how I believe it works, Barbara. Yet today I’m confused. According to Feeburner, my subscribers dropped 15 points yesterday. I know Feedburner is a bit iffy sometimes, but I must say I’m surprised.

    My subscribers have remained at the same level for the 3 weeks, despite good posts and topics that are inspiring and on theme, and despite my leaving comments on other blogs that I consider helpful.

    Hmmm…I really expected contant, steady subscribers, and am not sure what’s happening. I’ll stay the course!

    Mark – Creative Journey Cafes last blog post..How to Listen Creatively

  5. oops – sorry for the abundance of typos and bad editing in my above comment! I’m in a rush! πŸ˜‰

    Mark – Creative Journey Cafes last blog post..How to Listen Creatively

  6. Very interesting blog πŸ™‚ Definitely a treat for us newbies.

    Ashish Bhandaris last blog post..2008 Presidential Election Update!

  7. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Mark,

    Interesting that you should mention a drop in RSS readers. I was on Debbie Yost’s blog yesterday and she saw the same types of problems. It could be a glitch in their system.

    Hi Ashish,

    Welcome to the community here at BWAB.

    I hope to see you here more often. I’m off to check out your blog.

  8. JenniferNo Gravatar says:

    I agree it can be very exhausting to comment on other blogs, sometimes I just want to push it aside, but keeping my focus on my goals and where I’m going, just keeps me going.

    It may be necessary to take some time off from commenting here and there to give myself a break, but if I am to get my message out (and I LOVE what I do) then this is how it is done.

    I have been simplifying though. I haven’t even been to my reader in a week or two. I just keep checking back with my favorite blogs. I’ll go back eventually I’m sure.

    Jennifers last blog post..How Does a Mother Promote Peace?

  9. John HoffNo Gravatar says:

    When in college, I asked my Calculus professor if mathematically he could find any way to transform a pyramid scheme into something legal and ethical.

    He indulged me by working out a few scenarios but in the end, they all led to people getting cheated somewhere.

    I totally see the connection with blogging and like many others here, I find it hard to keep it up. Blogging isn’t my favorite hobby. I do like it for many reasons, but like Debbie said, sometimes I feel bad because I see my child should be reading and learning but instead he’s watching TV while I read and comment.

    Still, I love the social aspect of it and meeting new people. I just wish I could read faster.

    John Hoffs last blog post..How To Buy A House Like A Real Estate Investor: Part 4 – Getting Your Closing Costs Covered

  10. @ Mark, the problem with FeedBurner is that it actually doesn’t report the number of subscribers. It reports the number of people who accessed your feed on that day. If you dropped by 15, that doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone unsubscribed, and it could be back up if you check tomorrow. Any glitches in the system only compound the problem.

    @ Barbara, I really wasn’t looking for another distraction, but I got on board with Twitter after enough people were talking about it. What really saves me is that I’ve decided I’m just not going to try to read every tweet. I’ll just check the most recent tweets a few times a day.

    Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..Washing Dishes Is A Waste Of Life?

  11. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Jennifer and John,

    It appears the only way to form community within blogging is by commenting/networking. Although I don’t think it’s necessary to comment on every blog post an author writes, showing up occasionally will keep your blog in front of others, while showing your continued support for the author.

    It is tough to keep up, and as our blogs grow, it may become tougher. For that reason, I now Stumble very little, as my efforts are concentrated on my writing, answering my comments, and visiting favorite blogs.

    We do have to remember, our blogs are a hobby. Our families/friends and real life should come first. Not reading/commenting may slow down the growth of community building, but if you continue to provide good content, it will grow…it just may grow at a slower pace.

    Plus, some blogs do not need comments to grow. My second blog is an example of that. I get very few comments, but the search engines are finding it, and the numbers continue to increase.

    Hi Hunter,

    Thanks for clearing up the Feedburner issue. I can’t say I truly understand how it works, and try not to get hung up on the numbers.

    There is a lot being written about Twitter now. I haven’t even looked into it, as my free time is pretty booked up. It sounds like you’re using it wisely by not being married to it.

  12. Barbara –
    I’ve been contemplating about the topic of the traffic for last few days. There are days when traffic goes through the roof for me. Instead of average 200 visitors, it goes up to 1000 visitors. Page views also skyrockets. I’ve noticed it is Stumble upon that does that. So, in social media, Stumble is worth considering.

    Why lurkers do not comment? This baffles me. May be they are just readers and shy of commenting?

    Anyway, my subscriber count has tripled in last month alone. I’m not sure what factor is contributing. It is also evident in increasing count of comments I receive.

    Anyway, I’m both humble and happy about the progress..


    Shilpan | successsoul.coms last blog post..5 Axioms of Life: A Pathway to Happiness

  13. Great point Barbara! I love it when people stop by and say…I saw you on “so and so’s blog” it is really fun. I have been working hard to find like minded individuals creating self help blogs and have noticed that it is really fun working together and we are all learning a great deal! There is so much information out there to offer people and using blogs is a great way to get the word out.

    Dr. Nicole Sundenes last blog post..The 3 Day Depression Walk?

  14. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I like how like minds come together on the Web.

    I did a feed reading experiment a while ago. I originally subscribed to blogs based on topics. I later found that the key is to subscribe to people. It was a subtle shift, but it quickly chopped my feeds down to size, while gaining more insight and enjoyment.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Crucial Conversations Book Nuggets

  15. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Shilpan,

    You’re making great progress.

    StumbleUpon is a good social network. What I found is that it’s addicting. There are so many fabulous sites to read and beautiful pictures, I get carried away and before I know it, an hour has passed. Posts that get stumbled are great for spikes in traffic.

    Hi Dr. Nicole,

    Blogs are the greatest, aren’t they. It is fun finding new ones and being able to learn new things. I know every time I read one of your posts, you teach me something new.

    Hi J.D.

    That is true – like minds do come together on the web. If you land on a new blog, you can usually tell quite quickly if you want to stick around or not.

    That’s an interesting concept-your experiment. It does come down to community, doesn’t it?

  16. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    Where did you get that chart? You lost me there, I don’t feel so smart looking at that, lol. Well I do understand the concept, although when I do comment on other blogs, sometimes I get a comment back, sometimes not. That’s okay I guess, commenting is purely optional, but it’s nice when you do gain readers through this process. If people leave a comment, I do try to leave a comment(s) on their blog and it’s nice when you see a “relationship” start to grow.

    Naturals last blog post..Out of Time

  17. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Natural,

    I found the chart on Wikipedia (there’s a link to it at the bottom of the post).

    A comment doesn’t necessarily spark a return one, but in most instances, blog authors are curious to see who showed up, and from where. Often I find read gems (of blogs) by following new comments back to their origin.

  18. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    > It does come down to community, doesn’t it?
    Yes Barbara — for growth, insight, and connection, I think it’s community of shared interests/passions.

    I think the key is distinguishing between whether you’re connecting to a topic, to people, or just keeping up with the Jones/ social herd. Any path is fine if it’s by design — awareness is your friend.

    I think it works both ways whether your participating in the community or hosting a blog yourself. So far I’ve only built blogs for online KBs — not really for interaction. (Not because the interaction isn’t great, but I’ve had to decouple absporation rates, consumption rates, and participation rates — and I’m used to Wiki’s not blogs.) I do plan a community-oriented blog, but I have some bigger fish to fry first (writing another book and kicking off a big project.)

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Crucial Conversations Book Nuggets

  19. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi J.D.

    I think you hit a nail on the head by saying “if it’s by design”. We do need to know why we do, what we do…and enjoy it.

    By the sounds of it, you have a full plate, and your priorities in order.

    Will you be sharing more about your next book on your blog? Care to share what your other one(s) were?

  20. I’m late to the party but.. I made it guys!

    Networking is very important – the pyramid is my saving grace lol.
    I’ve learned alot about networking from you Barbara. I read the tips but I actually see you do these things. You’re on top of these things – I’m working on it balancing college/finals with blogging and the large amount of reading that comes with leaving real comments. I like people to know I do read what they write and I always appreciate good quality so yea- it takes time

    Oh and I know how you feel about your feeds! This is why I make absolutely sure that whoevers in my folders (Yeah I have an entire system set up lol based on topics of interest) have great blogs.

    And of course theres the perusing blogs outside of those in my readers.

    This blogging thing.. my my – its alot more than one might let on with the “Its so easy to start!” sticker it comes with lol.

    JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, Yous last blog post..What Keeps YOU Young?: An InMyHeels/Lipton FUJI Crosstown Bike Giveaway!!!

  21. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi JEMi,

    Glad you made it. πŸ™‚

    With you being in the middles of finals/college/life, you are one busy girl.

    I’m happy that you do take time to drop by and leave a comment. If you always can’t, I certainly understand why.

    Good luck on those finals, and thank you for being such a loyal reader.

  22. Pat RNo Gravatar says:

    Networking (or pyramiding) is especially important in building rapport and the relationships you want in blogging.

    I get lost sometimes in doing just what you said: reading the comments, going to someone’s site that commented and following a link from there. It’s like rabbit trails but I love it.

    You learn a lot from so many people.

    Pat Rs last blog post..Blessings To All Mothers

  23. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Barbara

    Good question — and I don’t have a great answer … yet πŸ˜‰

    So far my books have been technical –security, performance and building software. You can see them listed on my sidebar of my work blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/jmeier/ ) They vary in size from 250 pages to 900 pages. They’re on Amazon, but they’re also free in HTML and PDF. Even though they’re books, the methodology has been baked into tools. I’ve also refactored a big hunk of the guides into a Wiki to test building a large-scale KB (http://www.guidanceshare.com)

    I’ll be shifting gears. I want to help unleash everybody’s potential and increase their effectiveness at work and life. I’ve learned a lot from great mentors and the school of hard knocks, so I want to share what I’ve learned. I help real people turn around some gnarly situations and get their life back and then some. I need to scale that know-how (and books are great for that.)

    I have two more tech books I’m committed to, before I can start “THE” book. I’m not yet sure whether I’ll blog as I go, or write the book, then make a splash.

    Here’s the irony – I have a work blog and some hobby blogs (like the bookshare), but I don’t have a “life” blog … a place where I can spout about my extra curricular activities. I’m very tempted to just put “THE” book on hold and start a blog instead and start flowing my lessons learned. It could be a good experiment, regardless of the book and it will give me a chance to spread my wings beyond my work blog. Very tempting indeed …

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..3 Interview Questions for Picking the Right People

  24. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Pat,

    Isn’t it fun following the links? You never know what lies ahead, so it becomes a bit of a mysterious journey.

    Hi J.D.

    When I have a chance, I’ll check out your technical/security/software books. The subjects sound like they are way over my head, but I’ll still have a look-see. Thank you for sharing the links.

    What you’ve learned from your mentors and hard knocks would be an interesting read. Seeing it in the form of blog posts would be a great way to share your knowledge with others, plus would give you the opportunity to “have our say” and build community. If you decide to go that route, make sure you let me know, as I would be very interested in reading more of your writings. Knowing you have helped real people turn their lives around has piqued my interest as to the type of information you would share.

    Even if you released some of the information in blog form, it could still be recapped in a book for those who don’t want to dig through posts.

  25. ChrisNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara–I have been doing this religiously since I started and I’ve gain valuable readers. While my page views has consistently increased, my feedburner subscription hasn’t. But I try not to sweat it.

    Eventually as my community grows, everything will follow. my goal is to maintain and gain loyal readership and not a one time spike on traffic. Your system is what will bring the increase in readership and loyalty.

    What we need to keep reminding ourselves is that we must practice patience when it comes to increasing readership. If we are patient and do the right thing, eventually we will be rewarded.

    Chriss last blog post..Growing Old

  26. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Chris,

    You’re smart not to sweat the numbers, and just watch for steady growth (and at times you may even see fluctuations in that -mine dipped in December).

    Patience is definitely the key – not only with blogs, but in life too. Plus, a positive attitude like yours.

  27. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – the pyramid idea is an interesting one. I’ve always believed that commenters bring only a small amount of traffic to your blog – but many others read and come back, because they like reading the conversation as well as the post.

    People do find us through reading other blogs but the longer you’re around – the more that just becomes a tiny fraction.

    @ Debbie – you are assuming that only the people commenting read – but I’m guessing that’s because you have no way of knowing who is reading your blog. The longer you’re around, there’ll be thousands of people reading who aren’t commenting. There’s probably far more people reading your blog than you expect.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Is StumbleUpon Going Down The Tubes?

  28. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    I do agree that we have many more people reading our blogs than are commenting. That was something I did for a long time while I was learning blogging.

    Commenting does take time, but when you do start leaving those “crumbs”, it becomes a great way for others to find you.