Emiel from Act of Traveling tweeted the link to a very interesting blog post the other day. Well, it was interesting to me since I had been discussing the same topic with a friend and fellow blogger. The post was called “Why are the “social media elite” ignoring us?” (click on link to read). While he is talking about “commercial bloggers”, I think the ideas Mark Schaefer (the author of the post) presents apply to personal bloggers too. There were two main ideas: thoughts regarding blog stats, and how to “build your tribe” or gain readers.
A new blogger had written to Mark Schaefer, asking why when he comments on some very popular blogs he doesn’t get a response, or any acknowledgment when he links to them on his blog. I’m not going to repeat everything that Schaefer said in his post, but there were certain paragraphs which jumped out at me because I’d had the same thoughts. Although, he says it better!
When I first started blogging, I was following some of the very popular bloggers and wondering why they rarely responded to comments. Were they being rude, or were they just busy? It wasn’t only a matter of having my comments acknowledged, but were their posts really that good that I wanted to keep reading without having any interaction or discussion with them? As I gained more readers, I began to understand the problem. There comes a point when your readers and subscribers outweigh the amount of time you have to give each personalized attention. Or, if you’re like me and don’t get a lot of comments, the time you have to visit their blogs.
Mark Schaefer says:
The social web is an enigma. While many top marketers have built their careers touting the importance of “the conversation,” they have become so popular, they no longer have time to converse! . . .
. . . It’s a numbers game. At some point, the workload and crush of followers that comes with celebrity exceeds any human’s ability to engage in a meaningful way, no matter how willing they may be.
Ultimately, I think each blogger has to decide which way they want to go. You just can’t have it both ways i.e. be very popular and still have personal contact with your readers. As a blog reader myself, I prefer reading the “low-level” bloggers with whom I can still have a personal discussion. If I just wanted to read a well written column, with no expectations of a response or interaction, I would probably log onto the mainstream media, and read the columns or blogs of professional journalists.
A while back I wrote a post about what I get out of blogging (you can read it here). I have decided for myself (and especially since I – unfortunately – don’t make money out of blogging), that it is not about the numbers. Which in my case is probably a good thing, since I’m unlikely to ever reach “celebrity blogger” status! Sure, it’s nice to have lots of people read my posts, but I enjoy the interaction with readers and other bloggers, more than I do just having a lot of subscribers or page views. This was brutally brought home to me the other day. Back in January, I was “Freshly Pressed”. Which was great, although I realized that I probably just got lucky on a very slow news day, and that it’s unlikely to happen again. At the time I felt like I had been writing some good posts, and maybe did deserve some recognition. It was nice having people from all over the world visit my blog, and to make contact with people having the same interests. Then the other day, I wrote a post which was essentially just a referral to an article on a very topical matter. That is, I didn’t really write much in terms of original thought, but included a quote from the article with a link to the original article if people wanted to read the whole thing. I intended only to share this information with my regular readers. For some reason Google put me at the top of the search results. I got a lot of hits. It was like being Freshly Pressed all over again. Which I found very exciting, until I thought about it, and then I just became embarrassed. I had essentially done nothing to get the attention. The original article should have been at the top of the Google results. Also, although I have had a couple of people subscribe to my blog since then, I doubt that that is how they found me i.e. there was no lasting effect.
Mark Schaefer says:
There is no shortcut to building a blog community. You have to work hard and create your own movement one reader at a time . . .
. . . Don’t get caught up in keywords, SEO and Ad Age bloggers. Your key to lasting success is originality, and the key to orginality is having the courage to share your own wisdom.
So I agree with Mark Schaefer, you have to gather your own “tribe” one reader at a time. I really believe that if I write good, authentic posts about things I’m really interested in, somebody will want to read them . . . besides my family and friends, that is!