Thursday, March 4, 2010

ON BLOGGING ~ What's Wrong With A Following?..

BlogAnon: Joy of Confession

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Welcome to our weekly BlogAnon meeting where we confess a particular blogging sin and turn to you for support, suggestions and that blogging bond so we know we're not all alone. Don't be shy. Read along and let us know if you identify with us this week.

I want Followers. I want to know that people out there in the blogosphere are interested in what we have to say here on our little cyber-home. I want people to stop by and share a thought or two on a regular basis. When we first started blogging the most exciting thing after receiving comments was gaining known followers. And I don't think bloggers should have to be ashamed of wanting love and attention.

I see others state that they don't pay attention to their subscriber stats. Or that it doesn't bother them if those numbers drop. Not me. A little part of me dies when I see that someone has given up on us. It makes me want to write better posts, about more varied topics. But it also motivates me to get out there and re-connect.

Our buddy Otin recently had a post about gaining followers. Otin's a pretty popular guy - and it isn't the novelty of the male blogger. It is because his blog is entertaining, he's a good writer, he doesn't mind striking a nerve and most importantly, he's friendly. As Otin aptly observes, if you don't go out and visit other people and interact through Comments, you aren't going to get a lot of traffic.

That doesn't mean Otin practices the art of fishing for followers. He just genuinely likes people, wants to interact with them and hang out with those he likes. Plenty of people follow a blog with the sole intent of that person reciprocating. You boost my stats, I'll boost yours. That to me seems quite fake, self-centered and in the end, counterproductive. Eventually, people will dump you, diminishing your stats, if you exhibit zero sincere interest in them.

Ashley is another blogging friend who posted on this topic. She explains who she visits, how she visits and why she follows. You had better entertain her - she doesn't like boring. She especially likes to learn helpful information. And she really enjoys meeting new and interesting people. That sounds like some good common sense to me. She is always posting wonderful snippets of thoughts relating to her writing craft inspired by everyday life. So obviously getting out and interacting with other bloggers helps her to discover interesting topics to think upon and share.

Dear heart Penny makes a mean cupcake. But she also makes time to Comment. In fact, she left a comment for everyone here on a recent BlogAnon post about Lurking and mentioned that she follows a few blogs out of pure politeness. She has nothing in common with them, finds nothing that interesting in them, but because she knows them, she keeps checking in. This is something I've been guilty of too. For a long time I added every single blog address to my Reader that publicly followed us. I felt that if they were interested enough in us, I should make an effort to follow them. But every now and then there would be a blog that just didn't offer anything I could relate to. Well, that's polite following and it is nothing but troublesome. You feel obligated to visit, struggle to find something to comment on, and feel guilty about deleting posts. This is exactly why I don't publicly follow anyone. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings when I disappear, or if someone wonders why I follow that person and not them.

About once a year I get into Spring Cleaning mode and whip through my closet yanking out all of those items that I don't ever wear and donate them. I need to be in that frame of mind, otherwise I get all sentimental and create reasons to keep things that don't fit, aren't comfortable and just take up space, keeping me from seeing all the goodies in the back. There's no reason to be a polite follower - go through your Reader and get rid of those sites that don't fit, aren't comfortable and take up space, keeping you from getting to the ones you really like. You'll have more time to visit, comment and gain great followers within your blogging community. Something I am proud to admit I desire.

What are your thoughts about following? How do you decide who to follow? What does it take to make your cut? Do you feel bad letting someone go? Do you stress over your own stats? What do you do to draw followers to your blog? Do you believe that you get what you give? Don't be afraid to share - your blogger thoughts are safe with us!

25 comments:

Little Ms Blogger said...

I admit, it's great to know someone is reading what your thoughts and takes the time to care.

When I initially started, I did the same as you, follow everyone who followed me. I tried to read everyone's blog daily and then my reader got of hand.

I'm now in a phase where I think I'm a bad blogger. My posts are infrequent and my visits are sporadic and that is because I'm in a funk.

I know I'll get out of my funk and visit the blogs on my reader more...it's nice to go read, catch up ...it's like sitting down with a friend.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

It's nice to have comments but I understand that when it comes to books, if one has no interest in that sort of book one is unlikely to get a comment. My taste is rather eclectic so I am apt to get less followers than someone who reads more predictably and therefore people know they will like what I read. As for followers, it seems to me like there are 3 factors: someone who comments a lot in a lot of places will get reciprocal comments out of courtesy; someone who writes well and is clever will get followers just because of the posts; and someone who is "popular" for whatever reason (twitter? connections? who knows?) can have banal posts but will get lots and lots of comments/followers. And of course there is just limited time and I know I read a lot more posts than I comment on, so extrapolating I suppose we all have more followers than we know!

Diane said...

When I was a new blogger in 2008, I was obsessed with gaining more followers, and I would follow many many blogs in hopes that I might gain a few new followers. Now that is no longer the case.

With only so much time I tend to read the blogs of those who read the kinds of books that I enjoy. If we don't have similar reading interests then my comments will not seem genuine.

My blog is an outlet for me now, to post about books I read, and to find other bloggers with similar reading tastes.

I do weed out my subscriptions periodically and do feel bad when I drop someone, but my limit is 275 blogs: (not all book blogs either). I do love comments, and hope people will read and enjoy my blog, but I am no longer obsessed with numbers.

The Bumbles said...

Ms = Followers serve the purpose of validation in the beginning I think. Gives you a goal, motivates you, etc. But relying on Followers to be the pure source of validation and motivation gets dangerous and lands us in funks as you describe. "Do they even care what I have to say?" "Why did they bother commenting if they had nothing to say?" "Do I even care about any of them?" I am learning that it is not a contest - quality vs. quantity. But I still want them - especially the friendly ones ;0)

The Bumbles said...

Rhapsody = You are right, we all do have more followers than we know. Feed Reader is the best gauge I have found as it tallies subscribers across all methods - not just the Google Followers that you can see publicly. The first challenge is enticing visitors into becoming followers. Then the challenge is to convert followers into commenters so that you can build relationships with them. I for one enjoy book blogs that cover things outside of the norm. It gets boring when everyone is reviewing the same book.

The Bumbles said...

Diane = I think you are a genius! Why didn't I think of a cap to my Reader subscriptions? That will make me more discerning in my choices - making them more meaningful and improve the quality of my time that I spend with those I follow. Thanks!

Penny said...

What are your thoughts about following? Following is like my friend/foe! I feel guilty if I don't treat others they way I want to be treated. I feel like if a person follows me I should follow them. After following them the majority of mine never comment. I have like three loyal commenters. I'm a baby site, I guess. I dont' pay attention to stats because I feel like I don't really have any stats to see...only 24 followers and 3 loyal commenters. ha ha. I guess I'm boring.

In regards to that person I follow out of obligation...it's tough because she's one of my besties. So I know her in "real life" and have known her for over ten years. Yet she NEVER comments on my blog. I dont' even know if she reads it. So much for obligation to me!!

How do you decide who to follow? A serious follow: I look for similar interests: Music,entertainment, books, movies. Good writing skills. A few people I follow just do a daily life blog and those I follow because they are super interesting.

What does it take to make your cut? I tried the other day to actually manage my follow list but it was freezing up. I have a running list in my head of blogs I follow that are getting cut. If I try and try to read the blogs and they have no interest or samsies with me I will cut. Especially since none of my followers comment.
Do you feel bad letting someone go? No..I don't even know if said follwer is even reading my blog. No comments :)

Do you stress over your own stats? Not really. I really just write for me. I don't care if others read it. I mean, I love getting comments and feeling that other people are interested in my mindless jabbering but in the grand scheme of things I write for me and because I like to vent and talk about music..even if that means talking about it to myself.

What do you do to draw followers to your blog? Nothing. I participate in a Music Memoir meme but I don't generate any traffic from that site. The follwers and participaters are bad about visiting other memes. I thought about putting something up on FB but I have yet to do so.

you believe that you get what you give? YES. Well, thats how I operate anyway. Its like a relationship in a way...I won't do all the work. I may pop in and read but the reward here is a comment. In life-I tire of always being the one to reward others. You give, I give. It's just polite.

The Bumbles said...

Penny = I'm glad to hear you give people the boot if things aren't working out. You do get what you give - I truly believe that. Maybe you just have a gazillion lurkers who are intimidated by your overwhelming talent with tunes and tasty treats ;0)

I believe we met you through Music Memoirs. As much as Andy enjoyed playing along, very few people actually ever made the rounds - as you mention. So we never felt much of a musical connection with anyone else.

Your thoughts bring home the point that followers aren't really the key if they aren't interacting - it's the comments that make the most impact.

Penny said...

Thats very true :) Interaction is the key :)
What is a feed reader?? I will have to look into this :)

Little Ms Blogger said...

Oh, I think you misunderstood. My funk has nothing to do with my followers or blogging. It is a funk due to circumstances I'm experiencing IRL.

The funk I'm in, results in me not wanting to blog or read other blogs, but I don't have a funk as a result of losing followers.

With that said, who doesn't love followers and reading what others are doing. I love being invited into the lives of others.

The Bumbles said...

Ms = I understood that your funk was not related to the Followers topic - but your description of it made me think of how relying on followers for blogging value can lead to the same type of funk. Either way - get out of your funk - your blog makes me laugh :0)

kaye said...

I have mixed feelings about followers. I love seeing the grid of icons that I'm familiar with. The ones I'm not familiar with and never leave a comment make me a little nervous. The ones that don't have any info or connection to a page I block. Commercial followers are blocked as well. I do feel sad when a familiar icon leaves the grid.

I love comments--don't we all. I agree it is validation that what I am investing time in is valuable to someone more than me. Although most of the time I feel like blogging is nothing more than show and tell. Remember Friday's in elementary school when we got to bring something from home to show and tell about! Sometimes I feel like I'm reaching into my bag and seeing which subject will get the spotlight today.

I have my favorite blogs that I love to comment on and I also have a few consistent commenters--but surprisingly they are not in my "followers" grid. Maybe they have a reader.

How do I decide who to follow?
I follow fellow meme participants
stuff I find interesting enough to take the time to read--I usually comment
photography blogs--I seldom comment on the majority that I view but some of my best bloggy buddies come from the photography group
blogs I am curious about--I'll follow and if I don't find them as interesting as I thought I drop them, I've found some fun blogs using this trial period method. One of my favorites is called "Grandma's Briefs"

and could you help me with some tech stuff. I tried to weed a few blogs off my reader the other day. I deleted them using the trash icon, and I also "stopped following" from my dashboard--but when I went to the google reader the next day they were still there. How do I drop blogs off the google reader?

Little Ms Blogger said...

I'm working on it. :-)

Lin said...

I recently quit EC because I was finding that I was too obsessed with my ranking and stats. Yes, I like to see my following grow, but I want them to like being there--not coming out of obligation. Do I feel bad when I lose a follower--no, not really. Sometimes I have cleaned house too and find a blog has changed or isn't updating anymore, so I ditch them.

I'd rather have a few good readers and commenters than followers any time. Not everyone that reads has to follow--does that make sense??

Lin said...

Oh, and on that note, I just signed up to follow you! :)

Kim said...

This is a good topic, Bumbles. I follow blogs I want to return to easily. It's easier than bookmarking. I don't comment often, because I feel like all of the other commenters and the blogger know each other already, and would be like, "who are you?" But I want to play, too.

The Bumbles said...

Kaye = I think the "show and tell" example is VERY true of your blog - I always feel like when I visit I am in for a real treat - that you are going to show me photos and images of neat stuff and then you always tell the backstory. That would be a great name for a blog actually!

P.S. I e-mailed you back about your tech question.

The Bumbles said...

Lin = Yes, that does make sense - not everyone that reads follows. The Feedburner (not Feed Reader as I typed incorrectly in my response to Penny above) program lets you see of your subscribers (followers) how many are actually clicking on (reading) your posts. But just as not all followers read, not all readers are followers. Google Analytics shows who is viewing - subscriber or otherwise. Which is kind of neat - and at times depressing ;0)

The Bumbles said...

Kim = I get that feeling of exclusivity at many blogs that I am interested in. It can be daunting. I once left a serious comment on a newsy type of post and one of the blogger's buddies came by and lambasted me for not knowing the blogger well enough to properly interpret their meaning. The fact of the matter was, I totally understood the blogger wasn't themself totally serious, but I didn't think the issue was entirely something to be glib about either. Regardless, it was made quite clear that I didn't belong in their "circle of trust" so I don't leave comments there anymore. But it doesn't keep me from introducing myself to other people. I'm not a very shy Bumble.

Ashley Ladd said...

I hate to admit it, but yes, I stress over stats. I check comments and stats a lot. On my blog and on Twitter.

I feel bad I don't have time to visit all my main commenters and friends everyday. I try to visit at least once a week, and if at all possible, twice.

jehara said...

i don't think too much about following, but i will admit that i do get a little excited when someone new follows me. it always feels a little unexpected. a pleasant surprise. my blog is so small and doesn't necessarily fit into one tidy place so i don't really worry about it. my google analytics stopped working ages ago so i really don't know if anyone reads me or not unless they leave a comment. i love to visit people and try to make an effort to comment on everything i read, unless i am completely at a loss for something to add, then i just don't say anything. i do want people to know that i am reading them, and not just a little picture in their follow box.
my answer is a bit all over the place, but there it is. ;)

Susan said...

Interesting topic, Molly. I have a relatively small group of followers (48) and of them about 12-15 are regulars. A few I hear from occasionally and about a third have either stopped commenting or never did to begin with. I guess they think it will hurt my feelings if they drop me. How could it when I don't even know them?

I keep my blogroll on the sidebar, because that's much handier for me than Reader. In fact, most of the time I don't even look at Reader. I'll go there and there will be over a 1,000 posts. I really need to do some spring cleaning, too.

I tend to put blogs on my sidebar that at first interest me and then I find that I'm not even going to look at new posts, so I clean those up pretty regularly. I'm always adding new ones though, so it never gets much shorter.

I don't have a stats thingy hooked up, so I have no clue what mine are. I'm not sure if it matters that much to me. I'm happy with my little group of regular readers, and don't know if I want to increase it much, because I do want to reply to every comment. I certainly understand why bloggers who have a LOT of comments don't...it would take every waking moment, and then it would just be a job.

I've been uninspired this past week and haven't been around much, but I may do a post on the birthday cake I'm decorating for my grandson today. It's bound to be a disaster. It will taste good though! lol

Staci said...

I always check out blogs of people that follow me and if I'm interested in their content I follow them and check in at least once a week. Sometimes it is a good thing to be polite even though you might not totally be enthralled by someone else's blog it doesn't kill anyone to visit now and then.

LJ Ducharme said...

I very much agree with what you've said in your post. I don't however, sweat over not having many followers. I'm not even sure how to track who's been by. I also do a spring cleaning, albeit not necessarily in the spring. AND I feel terribly guilty when I let someone go, but if they're not updating, or we haven't built up a commenting relationship - why keep them? I don't know what it take to garner readers, and I'm not always certain what it is that attracts me to certain blogs. I do need to be entertained, and I love it when a comment I've left is responded too. It makes me feel more connected to the community I cyberly live in. When it all boils down - all we really want is to know that our thoughts are appreciated. That we've been 'thought of', dare I say 'liked'. I've always appreciated any comments you've left on my blog, and pretty much feel honoured when anyone takes the time to stop by - except those stupid spammers - hate them!

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I know I'm a week late on this "meeting" but I just wanted to say thanks for the interesting topic. I enjoyed reading all the comments and responses. My blog is on Wordpress so it doesn't have followers. My greatest satisfaction comes from the people who comment. I've been gone for three weeks and unable to do much commenting but yet my regular commenters left me wonderful comments anyway. How can there be anything better.