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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

To Follow Or Not?

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.

60 comments:

MattDel said...

I tend to read a few of the posts on my followers' blogs before I decide whether or not to follow them. It's not a scientific call by any stretch of the imagination ... I just want to see what the person's about before I commit to reading.

I've so far been lucky in enjoying the content on said blogs. So it works out.

Suzanne said...

I "follow" people who follow or comment on my blog... but I do spend time commenting or TRULY following those who I enjoy reading. It's worked for me. It helps those who need followers. I have to comment less as my list grows... but one other thing I've notices (Ah the sociologist in me) is that one a true bloggy friendship is established (usually email and fb and other things) we feel less pressure to post on every blog our friend writes. Like, I know a few good writer pals read my blogs every day and don't comment. Funny... great post as always.

Tess said...

I really only follow blogs that have some interest to me. For example, I had a great gal and a regular follower who wrote erotica. Her blog is beyond racy. While that is fine, it's not my cup of tea -- so I don't follow. I'm not saying the blogs I choose to follow have to be the same as what I like to write - but they are usually writing related and speak to me in some fashion.

Does any of this make sense? So - I guess I don't follow for following sake, but I do try to meet people who are on the same path and who can maybe teach me a thing or two along the way :D

Kristi Faith said...

I started out in this blogosphere world without a clue. I really didn't understand even the concept of blogging. It's starting to become clearer. :) So, I didn't know what following was, or a google reader etc.. When I finally figured out how to do it, I made sure to check out the blog of any new followers/commenters and usually follow them as well. As for stumbling across blogs, or looking at suggested blogs-I make sure I enjoy it before following or I'll spend all my time knee deep in blogs and I try to only comment when something hits me or a driect question is asked. :)

However-much like your son and his birthday party, I agree it is good for us to give (follow) and take (get followed) in this, the world of writing.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Since I just started my blog, I had the fun task of going out and meeting people--something that's difficult for me to do in real life. But it's been a lot of fun! I kind of do both now. When someone new comes by, I check him/her out. Usually I follow.

In real life, I'm really quiet. I don't speak unless I have something to say. I've tried to be more vocal online... giving more comments... but I think I'm going to dial it back a bit and be more true to who I really am. (Not that I'm disappearing, just might not say something to everyone every single day). Spending hours at the computer really drained me. The thing is, the people I follow are so creative... so interesting... and so fun to get to know that I want to speak with everyone!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I agree. I know I am taking the whole follower thing a little too much to heart though when I lose one and get sad.

I enjoy the communication between me and my followers and those I follow. This blogging thing has blown me away. I actually feel there are others out there that love to write as much as I do and before blogging I couldn't find them.
~ Wendy

Renee Pinner said...

I look at the following concept much like I do networking. When I attend professional seminars, workshops, conferences, etc. I aim to meet new people. Most have something of value to offer, even if it is in just who they know. Collecting followers is kinda like collecting business cards, and I think I may be making some friendships along the way. What is not to love in that scenario?

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I agree with you, Susan, if you're following because you find value in the blog, then I see no problem, but if you just follow to have your face on everyone's blog and in hopes of them returning the favor, not a good idea. There are many blogs that I follow that I don't have time to visit daily, or even weekly, but by using the feature on the sidebar for newest posts to come up, I do hope I get to read their posts every so often and one I do, I do a scan to find other post of theirs that I might have missed.

Ron Smith said...

And with that honest post of yours, I'm now a Follower of Your Blog!

I've visited a few times and like your posts. I don't follow too many blogs, but have a few regulars that post on mine and I return the favor. I like that it works like that.

Corey Schwartz said...

Is this a repost? I got deja vu reading it. I could swear I've read it before! So weird.

Anyway, I used to worry that if I followed too many people, I wouldn't be able to keep up with reading and commenting. But now I just don't worry about it I follow more and more blogs and it seems to just work out.

Natalie said...

I try to follow people who follow me (though I'm sure I miss some) and also follow people who's blogs I find especially interesting. I've realized I can learn something from everyone. Even the blogs that I didn't love initially have grown on me. Once I get to know someone better I like him/her more.

Tamika: said...

Susan, great post!

I love blogging and have found innumberable blogs that encourage and educate me- those I follow and comment on as often as they post (like yours). Others have also appealed to me and I comment when the subject matter sparks something in me.

I love having followers and chatting with my follower. There are one or two- like Tess mentioned where the subject matter is about different than my style. Those I do not follow.

I pray that my following grows, it means that I am writing well and providing valuable insight at least sometimes!

Blessings to you...

B.J. Anderson said...

I love getting to know followers, and it really makes me more motivated to blog. I feel like I really know some of these people and that's great!!

Strange Fiction said...

Blogging has been a great way to connect with fellow writers. I enjoy the variety of people and writing styles, everyone has something unique to offer.

L. T. Host said...

It's really exciting every time I have a new follower, and I actually really love it because I get introduced to someone new, someone I may not have found any other way.

Lesley said...

Susan, your posts are always so thought-provoking! When I first started blogging, I would follow anyone, anywhere. But that soon became exhausting. Now I try to follow only blogs that really interest me. I don't comment as often as I'd like to, only because there aren't enough hours in the day.

Melanie's Randomness said...

I'm still new to the whole blogging world, I've only been here 2 months. At first I was very confused on the whole follow me I'll follow you or vise versa. I try to follow blogs that I think I can either learn, find a friend, get inspired, enjoying how they write or people who are in similar life situations as me. I try to leave comments if I've read random people's blog because I want them to know yes someone who may not be following took the time to value what you wrote. I guess this whole subject truly does depend on the person.

K. M. Walton said...

I am only a few months over a year from my first blog post, and I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. Really nothing. I know a wee bit more now. One thing I do know, I like having readers/commenters/followers; they're all good because it gives me an audience to write for. It makes me feel connected.

Anita Saxena said...

What a great lesson you taught your son! My parents would have been like, don't go if you don't want to.

I think reciprocal following is so cool. You learn so much from each other and the new relationships you form can be quite valuable.

strugglingwriter said...

I follow a blog so I can be notified when new content is added, so I mostly "follow" blogs I like. wordpress doesn't have a follow feature, so I don't really gain anything from following people.

Rae said...

It is great to have followers, especially ones like you that stop by often and leave such nice comments. I have given up trying to follow too many blogs. I am more pick and choosy. I want to be sincere in following by leaving comments, so now I only follow ones that are really interesting and fun to read.

Tere Kirkland said...

Great post, Susan! I'm guilty of following other writer's blogs in the hopes that they, too, would follow mine. But in so many of those cases, I've learned something about my writing or myself through their posts. It's a win/win situation.

staceyjwarner said...

Having read my blog you know I wrote in the void of no followers for a year and a half and have only recently started following and being "followed"...I LOVE LOVE LOVE my followers and love connecting with new people and making new "friends"...like you.

I haven't figured it all out yet. I will go to a blog and follow and yes I do hope they will follow me too. It's networking and career is all about relationship, craft is not.

However, asking peole to stop by and going out to make friends is not how I normally do things. I've never been the one to go out and make friends. I've always been shy one with one good friend that I cling to. Blogging has been a great learning experience. I'm more open to saying stop on by and I hope you like it!

I also try to go to about three or four new blogs a week...

much love

Jill Kemerer said...

Love this post! I follow a ton of blogs, and I read them because I genuinely enjoy them. Yes, I leave comments to let the author know I care, but I would read the blogs regardless. So glad I found yours!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

I do try to follow those who follow me, but I can't say I read all of those each day. I'd never get writing done. :) I have to stick to the ones that catch my interest the most along with those who take the time to leave comments on mine.

Diane said...

I enjoy reading and learning from others and hope they do from mine too. Where are the shoes!?!?!?!!? Missed them :O)

Nancy said...

What a nice way of stating what we are all doing. It makes it sound so noble, doesn't it? I, too, hope that bloggers find something to take away from my blog. I believe the whole process is a win-win situation.

Angie Muresan said...

I follow only the blogs I like. Please don't think I'm a snob, but I only allow myself an hour a day on the internet, which I spend reading new blogs and making new friends, as well as reading those friends I've already made.
And I'm with wordpress and have no idea how to go about and collect followers.

Patti said...

Sometimes keeping up with everyone's blogs is exhausting, but when I go on holidays or a couple of days without looking at them, I find I miss it.

Abby said...

Great post! I love the writer relationships I've made online. There are a few I read every day, but I can't post or even read every blog I follow, every day. I don't have time. But I try to check in once in a while and comment whenever I feel like I have something relevant to contribute.

Bane of Anubis said...

I think the story you relate is the nature of the beast, whether it be writing, or life. Sometimes, hopefully (as in the case of your son), it works out.

Karen said...

I absolutely LOVE my Google Reader, so I try to only follow blogs that I am willing to commit to reading on a regular basis. I don't necessarily leave comments on all of them, but I read their posts.

Then I have Blogs I Stalk, for those bloggers that I like, find value in, but don't quite want to commit to following.

In other words, I try to choose carefully which blogs I will follow and which I will not. I just don't have time in my day for that!

Girl Meets Gun said...

I follow my followers most of the time. And I read almost all of their blogs on a daily basis when I can fit them in. And I am sincere about it. Being bipolar it's easy for me to go from laughing hysterically to being sympathetic with someone going through a breakup. Then I can change it up and be political and debate with someone, but still learn something out of it. That's the great part about blogs- there are so many you can learn to be multi-faceted without leaving the computer.

And it's not insecurity- everyone longs to be accepted in some way!!! We just want people to like us for who we are! And how much more real does it get when you're writing about your hopes and dreams and letting everyone across the world read it all, knowing they could be rude or insensitive about it, but they end up being more sincere than some of your real-life friends?

I love the blogging world!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I TRY to reciprocate a follow link but I only follow blogs because I saw something there that made me think, "That was interesting. Hmm...I might want to know what else this person has to say on a subject." :)

Hey, like yours! LOL!

Amy Tate said...

Wonderful analogy Susan! I just love that. It's so true. I think of my followers and my blogging buddies as my friends. Just as I would enter a room and sit down to chat, that's how I view my blog. Great post!

Texas Playwright Chick said...

I've left so many comments on others blogs that never even bother to visit my page. I had to give up that kind of hope. I do visit lots of new blogs every day though - today is first day I've seen yours! - and enjoy reading and leaving comments. I try not to expect anything back and am grateful for what I do get back. It's a crap shoot - but still, it's a great way to stretch my writing bones by blogging with or without readers. I only just got into the whole google follow thing though...that's new to me.

Name: Holly Bowne said...

Your post is extremely timely for me!

I've recently been struggling with the issue of reading/following/commenting on blogs. While I enjoy reading blogs--especially about the topics I'm interested in like writing and parenting--I'm not a particularly FAST reader, so I have a hard time keeping up with it all plus squeezing in actual writing time on top of it.

I'd love to know how much time other writers spend on doing this social networking each day. Great topic!

La Fleur said...

I do not have a lot of followers on my blog, so what you say is true. Usually I'm at work, so I cannot visit others as I would like.

In any case, it is always so heartwarming and encouraging to see that someone has taken the time to comment on something I've written. What a joy and a blessing! Although I have been going through a bit of a rough patch, the compassion of others has nudged me along, refusing to allow me to give up.

Today, I had a bit of down time, so I have been visiting the blogs of others. I scroll through, coming across many blogs that have no followers at all. I anxiously follow them, hoping to encourage them to keep blogging. I'm saying to them, "See, I read your post, others will too!" It actually made me feel better. Hopefully, I brightened someone else's day.

Thanks for the post. It is spooky how we sync up at times!

WhisperingWriter said...

I love this.

And oh, I'm going to be following you. I thought that I had been. Oops.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I'm fickle when it comes to following. Some days I want to follow everyone and some days I'm overwhelmed with guilt trying to get to all those I like to read. I do try to follow those just beginning as I know how important my first followers are to me. And those who comment. And those who have beautiful prose and artwork and...

Like I said. Fickle.

Lori said...

I do look at it as a game indeed. We have to play by the unwritten rules. Follow the hidden etiquette. It's fine with me. I don't think of it in terms of sincere or not. I guess I know that it takes time for relationships to develop even online.

MG Higgins said...

Like Corey Schwartz, I used to think I needed to limit the number of blogs I followed because I didn't think I'd get through them every day. But somehow I do. Maybe my reading and comment writing is getting faster.

~Ellie Kings~ said...

When I first started blogging, which was like last month :), I didn't know what I was doing. I searched for blogs to follow in hopes they would also follow me. Reading deeper, there were a couple that were not fit for me. Now that I'm getting the hang of things, I pick and choose who I follow. If they follow my blog it's okay and if not, it's okay too. Of course, a big following, like yours Susan, must feel nice and accomplished. Ohhhh someday! :)

Robyn Campbell said...

Susan, dang what a fantastic post. And I agree with everything you say here. It is like having coffee and a great conversation with so many friends.

I came here to tell you how much, I appreciate you for thinking of us as we travel to the doctors to see what is wrong with Christopher. I appreciate the prayers and thoughts more than you could ever know.

So it is with us--friends. Isn't that lovely? Thanks for such a great post. :) It made me smile and feel really good.

storyqueen said...

I hate the term "follower." I dunno....it just bugs me. But I like having a conversations with people who leave comments, and I like joining in on conversations on other blogs. I "follow" blogs I like so I can keep up with what's going on.

Sad reality: I am sure there are thousands of great blogs out there that I have no time to read......sigh......

Lily Robinson said...

When I first started here, I did follow a few blogs first. Since then, I've not sought out any new blogs to follow. I don't have time to keep up with the ones I do follow. Most of the blogs I follow found me first. I should really change that. You're right... We end up making some really great friends!

Whenever I get my home connection restored (not holding my breath on that one) I'm going to go looking for some more interesting blogs to follow! I love the diversity of people out there.

Lady Glamis said...

Good points. This is why I started following and subscribing to blogs anonymously - except for published authors and agents I follow publicly. I didn't want people following me because they felt obligated to. I definitely follow blogs because they interest me and I find value in them and their writers. :)

Leah Rubin said...

I think you are absolutely right, although I won't 'follow' a blog unless I really do like the content, and think the writer's offering something. I admit I worry too much about not seeing a lot of growth in my number of followers... I'm open to suggestions and feedback, too.

Kelly H-Y said...

I wholeheartedly agree! And, loved the bday party comparison!

Tabitha Bird said...

I will follow. I am happy to follow. I also like being followed. I think the whole game works well :)

Stephanie L. McGee said...

I follow when there's something to follow. Some of my followers I can't find a link for to see if they're blogging or anything. And if there's just something that I absolutely am not interested in, I won't follow. But I tend to subscribe to the "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," philosophy. I don't, however, have the time each day to read every blog I follow. There are certain blogs I have to get to each day, the rest I sort into days of the week folders and get caught up then. If something really grabs me, I'll comment.

-The artist formerly known as NWA.

Tara said...

I love the analogy of the birthday invite. I'm glad it turned out to be a fun experience. When I follow a blog, I do so because I like what I read. I also have hopes others will check out my blog and like what they see on it. I think that's part of building an online community. You can't do make friends if you hug the wall the entire time.

Anissa said...

I just recently figured out the whole following thing. What can I say? I'm late to the game. Before, I've always used bloglines to read feeds. Nice to have it all in one place though. Like others, I tend to comment on the blogs I most enjoy but am happy to follow others as well.

Dominique said...

I'm not going to lie, my heart skips a bit whenever the Follower Count goes up on my blog. Part of me can't believe that people actually read my blog.

I follow a lot of blogs. I try to comment on all of them, but sometimes it doesn't happen. Still, I like to keep the participation active.

Girl in My Own World said...

I love having followers! I noticed that as I networked around and followed more, I picked up more of a following. I also joined SITS as well. I like to follow lot's of people's blogs just to see what they are talking about, I mean there have been times when I have done it in the hopes of them following back, but nowadays, it doesn't really matter if they follow back or not. I still read and comment and if some do follow back or happen to find me and follow...that is cool too! :o) Great post.... as usual!

Erica said...

Great post again Susan! I typically follow those that follow me. I think all the knowledge I can gain through different people is rewarding. I try to comment when I can.

I follow a lot of blogs that I don't comment in- those are entertainment blogs, agent blogs etc. I'm okay with sitting on the sidelines for those.

With followers I make myself blog more than if I didn't have any. It kind of keeps me going :) Plus, they add to the post! It's all good.

Regina Milton said...

Agreed. I feel the same way. I, like you, try to only comment/follow when it is sincere. I appreciate followers so much though!

Stephanie Faris said...

I haven't been using my Followers list lately. Generally I just read the blogs of everyone who reads mine, leave a comment, and hope for the best! I think that's always the way to get more readers...go find more blogs to comment. But there are some who think they can just post it and magic will happen!

Glynis said...

I like to comment on a blog I follow. It depends on the blog posts whether I return the favour or not.

jbchicoine said...

I didn’t even know your blog existed until after you checked out my blog, via a mutual blog that we each commented on. You took the initiative to comment on mine, and I’m so glad you did! What a great relationship had developed as a result—not only in the blogsphere, but also as an opportunity to beta-reader for each other.