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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To Follow Or Not?

Yes, those are penguin feet. But I promise. They are not Mooch's. Last week, my son received an invitation to a birthday party from a boy who he was not friends with and never had been. Convinced the boy had only invited him to get more presents, my son did not want to go. I made him, though, because I thought it was the nice thing to do. We'll never know for sure what motivated the boy to invite him, but my son ended up having a great time and making a new friend, too! This situation reminded me of the whole follower business on blogger. Yesterday, I talked about how much I like getting comments on my posts. Nearly everyone who responded admitted that they, too, love the comments. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that you all also love followers as much as I do. We've been told time and time again by people who actually know what they are talking about how important it is to develop an online presence. These same people all agree that in order to build up your own following, you must follow other blogs. While this seems a tad bit on the insincere side, it is true. And, I'll admit, I have followed blogs with the hopes that they would in turn follow me. I've also followed blogs because they followed me first. Now, is this really such a bad thing? I look at more like the birthday party my son went to. Perhaps the boy only invited him to get more presents, but they both gained a new friendship out of the deal. In the few short months I've been blogging, I have developed some awesome friendships. I've found so many blogs that provide valuable information. I've found so many bloggers who are on the same journey as I am. I've found blogs that make me laugh, and who couldn't use a good laugh sometimes? My point is this: The following game doesn't have to be insincere. The key is to follow blogs because you find some value in what the person has to say, not because you are trying to build up your own following. Chances are, they will also find value in what you are saying and will follow you, too. Okay, that's my far-from-expert opinion on the matter. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


MeganRebekah said...

I completely agree with everything here.

Great post! (and I'm not just saying that in order to secure a comment on my blog. I promise)

MeganRebekah said...

Oh, one more thing.
I can't tell you how many times I've gone to someone's site and go to leave a comment, hit post and then attempt to close the window (I open all new posts in their own window).
And I hate it, hate it when people have that secret word verification that pops up only after you hit Post. Usually by then I've already hit the X to close out the page, and my comment gets lost. And I feel bad, but not bad enough to go back to my Dashboard and hunt for that particular blog and go back and retype the comment.
Okay I'm done venting.
Comments are still awesome.

Amber Lynae said...

I love followers, and it is true most of my followers are generated from blogs that I follow. Although I follow a lot that don't follow me. And I run into blogs all the time that are just amazing. I don't have a large following, sometimes that bothers me. But I know I only have so much time to dedicate to following and reading blogs, so I just enjoy my posts and the comments I get. One day I hope that more people will stop by, but for now it is me and my followers I appreciate them a lot.

jenheadjen said...

Very good insight MeganRebekah. I never thought of that, but mine does that, and I have the same problem. Maybe I need to adjust it.

I almost wonder if the comment/follower thing is becoming a new addiction for me. Need... to... stop! lol But at the same time I think I am meeting lots of awesome people, like you said. It's turned out to be a real blessing.

Corey Schwartz said...

Great post, Susan. My problem is though... I am following like a 100 and I sometimes feel overwhelmed!

FictionGroupie said...

I usually follow anyone who follows me. (I'm like a sure thing date). Like you said, that could be perceived as insincere, but really I don't mind the "you scratch my back, i'll scratch yours" philosophy. I've discovered great new blogs/friends that way. However, I only comment on posts that interest me. I don't comment just for the heck of it. So for those of you I'm following, know that when I comment--I really mean it. Sincerely. :)

Now for all of those who are reading this comment and not following me, why the heck not? Did I mention I'm a sure thing? ;)

Stephanie Faris said...

The more blogs you read and comment, the more readers you'll get but if you're just reading anything you find, chances are that person probably won't follow you in return. We all need to focus on blogs with subject matter we ENJOY reading and from that people with the same interests as us will find us and we'll find them.

Danyelle said...

Amen to the word verification!

Lovely post. I'm generally one of those that will follow back if followed, or follow if I like something. Sometimes I do get overwhelmed with life in general, and at those times my commenting goes down, but I try to make sure to make it a priority to comment back to those that commented on my blog as a way of saying thank you.

Spot on on your observations. :)

Cindy said...

Susan, I completely agree. I does sometimes seem insincere to follow a blog because I am trying to get followers for mine. I have to many I follow now I don't do that often anymore. But you know what? I've made some of the best friendships that way. I definitely think it doesn't have to be insincere. Even if nothing comes from it, we haven't lost anything. If something does come from it, it's definitely worth what we've gained.

Janna Qualman said...

That's the way I view it, too. Still, I realize I can't please everyone, whether with my content or by following them in return - despite my best efforts - so I have to go with what works best for me. And, like you said, there's a need to find (and follow) what offers some value for me and this stage I'm at.

Lazy Writer said...

Great point about the word veri thing. I disabled mine completely. I've only gotten two spam comments. Personally, I don't think it's necessary, but I know many feel more comfortable using it.

Yes, having followers comes with a responsibility. It takes time to cultivate those relationships. My post tomorrow will be covering that topic. :)

It's not an addiction! Okay, maybe it is! :)

Me, too. It's a lot to follow. We can't possibly read all of them every day. I'm talking about this tomorrow, too.

Fiction Groupie,
Too funny! I'm a sure thing, too! :) Like you, though, I only comment if I have something to say. It would take me all day to comment on every blog I follow.

My point exactly! If we are following blogs we truly enjoy, we will gain something from it. If we are just following randomly, it's a waste of time.

It is overwhelming sometimes. We have to each find our own balance with blogging.

You are very sincere! It is obvious in your posts and in your comments. Thank you!

You are so right. We can never please everyone. Although, you seem pretty good at it! :)

Rae said...

I like it when I see a new face pop up on my followers gadget. Most times I follow them also. Regardless, I always go to their blog and thank them for following. Sometimes a follower does not have a link and I wish they would at least leave one in a comment.

The other thing that bothers me is having someone quit following. It is okay if they choose to do that, but I just wish I knew why they stopped. I wonder if it was because they did not like my blog or was it something I said.

I have to remind myself sometimes that I can't please everyone and the main person to please is myself- since it is my blog after all.

Heather Sunseri said...

I agree with you Susan. I value every blogger who follows me and the ones I follow. I love it when people stop in to offer advice to me or other commenters or just to say hello. I know that everyone is sincere in doing so.

Also, I'm going to go right now and check to see what happens when people comment on my blogs. (see MeganRebekah above) I don't even know if you are required to type in a secret word verification. But I know that my comments have been lost in the past as well.

Thanks for the post.

MzzLily said...

I'm kinda turned off by following requests... To me, it's OK if someone invites me to follow them, but when I get a new follower whose only comment is, "I'm following you, now please follow me" I'm not apt to do as commanded...

Kelly H-Y said...

I so agree with you ... what a great post! I adore comments from followers and non-followers, and love checking in on my blogging friends who are on a similar writing journey.

Anonymous said...

It's a sticky situation. And I have stopped following blogs before. But mainly because I have too many that I was following and it was starting to take away from my time to write.

I've never clicked "follow" if there wasn't something that intrigued me to begin with.

Terri Tiffany said...

I follow blogs that I know I will enjoy and that I learn something from. I follow so many and it takes me a while to get around to them. SO sometimes if someone new follows me and I go to their blog and it is totally foreign to me, I might not follow but I will comment and read something they have written each time:)

Lazy Writer said...

I've had those followers with no link, too. I have no way of telling them thanks or of getting to see their blog. It's weird. And yes, you should focus on pleasing yourself because it is your blog, and a lovely one at that!

I find all comments sincere as well. I've yet to have a mean one!

Yeah, I had one of those recently, too. I don't like it when people beg for followers!

It is the best to see what is going on with other writers, isn't it?

I wish I knew who you were! :) Thanks for stopping by!

I try to get around to all of the ones I follow eventually, too. Sometimes, I don't, but I know I'm doing my best.

Jenna Alexander said...

OK - throwing things off topic a bit to talk about the word verification tool. After you enter the verifying word doesn't it bring you back to the list of comments? And then at the top of that list you have two link options: return to original post - or - a link to the main blog page via the title.


I'm sure I'm doing things wrong. Susan just pointed out to me that I made it so only one person could post a comment on my posts.

How brilliant am I?


Amy De Trempe said...

I agree completely. I started off reading as many blogs as I could, commenting and hoping for comments back. In the process I have found some great blogs that I follow on a regular basis (even though I do get behind at times). I still search out other blogs but my attitude has changed from promo to being entertained, educated and connecting with other writers.

Suzanne said...

SO! Yes and yes. To all of what you said. I read a lot of blogs and love a lot of blogs, and just recently realized that commenting was important too. Great post.

Anna C. Morrison said...

Yes, the following and the commenting are both important to an author's platform. I really only comment and follow those I find that are written by those I feel that are on my own wavelength, such as yours, or that I can learn something from, also such as yours. I have also discovered a bunch of great people, so it's win win win win win WIN! :-)

Shelli said...

I like too many of you blogger and follow way to many. I try to comment as much as I can but it can be overwhelming.

strugglingwriter said...

I said it before, but I'll say it again. I'm addicted to comments.

Wordpress doesn't have a "follow" feature, so I can't follow others. I wonder if that holds me back a little?

Anyhow, I appreciate the comments you leave on my blog. Thanks!

B.J. Anderson said...

I agree! And I just love to read people's blogs. They make me feel like I'm not alone in this wacky writing world. :D

Tabitha Bird said...

So true. I have joined those blogs that make me want to come back and read and read some more. I also join blogs to encourage those writers that have just started blogging. I also enjoy their writing, but I joined because I know how encouraging it is to have a following.

BJW said...

I sorta like the word verifications. Sometimes they make me crack up, just because they're so weird or off-kilter.

But then again, I am pleased by the simple things in life. Like blog names. Big sucker for blog names. Fiction Groupie, here's looking at you. You too, Sometimes Helpful Nonsense. And for people just starting out with their blogs. I didn't start long ago. So, I kinda want to encourage them if I find them. It's a bit overwhelming at first. Feel like you're talking to yourself.

Lazy Writer said...

I already know you are brilliant! You already fixed the comment problem, didn't you?

Isn't it funny how your attitude about blogging changes? I find so much entertainment in other blogs that I forgot to promote my own!

Yes, I think commenting is actually more important than following. I could be wrong, but I'd rather receive a comment than a new follower. At least then I know they read what I wrote!

You are so kind! Right back at you, sister!

I love them all, too, and I'm trying to keep up with them, but it's so hard!

Struggling Writer,
I don't think it's hurting you, but I don't think you have a gage to know how many people are actually reading you. I've heard great things about wordpress, but if you ever decide to switch over, I'm sure you would be welcomed with open arms!

Are you back? If so, I'm so glad! And the not feeling alone factor is huge, isn't it?

I'm glad you left a comment because your picture in my follower box doesn't give a link. It is always nice to encourage another new blogger, isn't it?

You have great taste in names! The word verifications make me laugh all the time, too. At least until my comment gets kicked out and I have to re-enter it!

BJW said...

And to clarify, those names were just a couple that jumped out, A Walk in My Shoes (our lovely host), Ink Blot, My Father's Oldsmobile, Gumbo Writer (of course), Pimp My Novel, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and many, many more. I was just trying to grab two as quick examples. Plenty more to admire around here!


Shigune Matsui said...

MM-hmm. Exactly. Good post.

Lesllie Tripaathhy said...

Well..i to be Lord says..knock the door and the door shall open for you.....

so following blogs is one such knocking we put on the particular special bloggers page,,not everybody is reciprocative,but luckily thanks to internet and such social networking sites,we can voice our thoughts and people whom we pray to God that exist somewhere on earth,understand us...because at the end of the day....we all look for intellectual stimulation...and I'm very glad....I met Yu here....God is was such a gud decision on yor part to encourage yor son to join the party,without having pre-concieved notions...yu r kind,practical and generous...

Wend's Place said...

It is this person inside of us all that needs to be listened to and get approval that makes us feel good after receiving a comment.

The need for a pat on the back for what we have written plumps our ego and self esteem from the external source.

Therefore when we receive something detrimental we crumble under the weight of it!

Giving yourself the attention and approval from the inside means you can write what the hell you like, apart from libelling someone of course!!

No longer relying on outside positive judgements is like a freedom so exciting that it sets you up for life.

I love to comment it is almost like a mini blog for me and the reading is becoming addictive because the standard is so high.

Like Steph said only follow the blogs you enjoy otherwise it becomes a chore and you are almost certainly only reading to get the comment in return to feed your ego.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Totally agree with you here. I've gained so much by following blogs for various reasons and definitely not sorry for interacting online like this.

christine said...

I love the hole social networking game. I just have to remember to maintain my writing time and not get caught up in the whole comment,follow, procrastinate thing.

Patti said...

It's whole different culture, this blogging world, and I was totally overwhelmed when I first started blogging. Now I love it and when I get that email saying I've had a comment I get excited. It's amazing how many of us feel the same way. I thought I was the only one.

Jill Kemerer said...

I love following other blogs and I love it when they follow me! But I try to relax about the followers. It's just another area to compare myself where I come up short. I won't do it! If I have 1 follower, it's enough.

Dawn VanderMeer said...

Great post and great comments! I get excited over comments, too, but I wasn't sure if it was just me because of my geeky side. For instance, I was telling my brother yesterday that I got business cards printed for the first time, and I'm way more excited than I should be.

Do you know what blogging comments kind of remind me of? You know when you're in, like, second grade, and you make a little mailbox out of construction paper on Valentine's Day? It doesn't matter that the teacher said if you give a card to one person, you have to give one to everyone--you still love all the little cards! So even if someone is returning a comment to be polite, it could be seeds for a new friendship.

By the way, FictionGroupie cracked me up with the "sure thing date" analogy.

jbchicoine said...

I have to admit, although I've seen you on mutually followed blogs, you were only a face in a sea of many. It does pay to single out those you feel may have a common interest or mutual friends. I'm happy you took the initiative to stop by my blog, and I look forward to checking out your future posts.

Karen said...

It's funny because my first thought of the boy that invited your son to the party wasn't about the presents. I thought maybe the kid didn't have many friends and so he just invited everyone in the hopes that more kids would come.

Everyone's motivations are different. I used to follow everyone that followed me, but there are some that stopped posting, and some that write about things that are just very far from my realm of understanding. So I don't feel as bad anymore if I am not following all of my followers. It is important to have an online presence, but I would much rather have a small number of devoted readers than a large number of "followers in name only."