Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blogging: Why Read (and Why Write?)

Annie Mole image found via Flickr

I would like to take a break from my regularly scheduled posts on my regularly blogged about subjects to talk about


I read a re-tweet today (thanks Joy) linking to a post that intrigued me.  It was called: "3 Secrets to Getting 'Return' Blog Followers" and was posted a few days ago by Theta Mom.  I was not previously acquainted with her blog, but took a gander to see what all the re-tweeting was about.  If you're a blogger who does it for more than just your own personal edification, you may be interested in who visits your blog and why.  You also may wonder why some bloggers have thousands of followers and you have less than 50.  Or less than 20.  Or none.

I don't know if I've mentioned it previously on this blog or not, but I have kept a personal blog for years.  It's an invite-only deal not because I'm a snob, but rather because I'm not comfortable with throwing tons of personal photos out for the general public to see.  Call me crazy, but there are lots of weirdos out there.  Anyway, I started it as a way to document Mr. Skooks and my journey into parenthood so our kids could read someday about how spazzy we were we have always been awesome at parenthood.  I may not reveal to them that I blogged about their whole lives til they are parents though.  ;)  I also did it, frankly, because I have no family that lives less than 3 hours away, and it seemed like a good way to keep in touch with them.  After all, emailing 30 different people about every little moment seemed just a bit ridiculous. 

Even in this invite-only world, I am unsure of who all visits and reads my blog.  There are probably less than 10 people who comment on a regular basis (out of the 20 invited readers) to let me know they've stopped by.  Their comments, however, are priceless to me.  Not only because they are from dear friends and family, but also because it helps me know what I'm putting out there that they're connecting with.  I don't change my content based on their commentary, but it is interesting to note what they deem comment-worthy.

I don't post over there for the feedback.  As I said, it is something I wanted to do for my own kids and obviously they're in no position to give me feedback at this point.  Having said that, I've realized that feedback is still nice.  It helps me know I'm not just writing to the empty air.  It also helps me feel like I have a relationship with the people who are reading, and that I'm not just being spied on.  I don't like feeling like I'm being spied on.  Does anyone?

I started Skooks' Playground at the end of last November as a way to publicly enter into the creative world and be able to share about these creative things that bring me joy with those that are of a similar mind.  There is this amazing handmade movement going on that I love to be a part of, and having been endlessly inspired by so many bloggers out there on this subject (check out my sidebar for a small sample if you wish) I wanted to join in on the fun!  I feel like I have gotten so many ideas for projects I would like to try from all these amazing people that I am overwhelmed with all of it.  It makes me think I should straight up quit blogging (and reading so many blogs),hunker down with all my materials and just make and make and make til all my supplies are gone and I just pass out from crafting exhaustion.  (For the few of you that read this who just gasped, no worries.  I'm not quitting blogging.  And maybe only one person gasped.  You know who you are.)

The point is, this blog is not something that I do just for me.  That is, it's fun for me to have documentation and a personal record for myself to reflect on how far I've come with my little hobby here, but I could easily do that through taking pictures, throwing them on my computer, and looking at them from time to time remembering for rememberings sake.  But with the amazing community that blogging brings, why not share?  Why not interact with the very people who have inspired me so greatly?

So I blog.

But I wonder.  A lot actually.  Those of you that do read, that do subscribe to my feed, that choose to follow me on Twitter, or become a Follower . . . why?  What makes it worthwhile to you?  If you're not a follower of this particular blog, I want to know what makes you follow the ones you do.  Let's share a bit about this crazy bloggy world, shall we?  I'll go first.

Here's what I look for in a blog I follow:
1)  The posts.  They've got to be good.  I want to feel like you're engaging me and not just a number.  I'm not just another stat to add to your counter, or an opportunity for you to get another person to your blog *to maybe click that ad in your sidebar because you desperately want to make money being a blogger so you can quit your job*.  I'm open to many different kinds of content, both creative/crafty and not.  I read parenting blogs, sewing blogs, great photography inspires me, and humor is always welcome.  As it stands I have subscribed to over 200 feeds in my reader (WAY TOO MANY!) and frankly, it's time to break up with some of you.  There are a few in the mix who just aren't bringing it with the content, and this busy mom just don't have the time for that.  The impending break-up is coming with some of the others because of this next reason:
2)  I want my comments to matter.  I want to feel like you read them, not just because your little comment form says, "I appreciate and read every one of your comments!"  I want you to respond to me.  I want to hear if you agree with me or disagree with what I've said.  If I've asked you a question, I want you to answer me (at least in the comments, at least sometimes, but if it's possible, email is great too!)
3)  I need something easily navigable.  If your blog layout is a nightmare, it's a big turnoff.  There are some excellent blogs (as in, well-written) that I refuse to visit anywhere but in a reader because of how unappealing the layout is.  That's just me.  And this may also mean I'll get some flack from those that don't appreciate my own layout which I'm prepared for.

Those are my big 3.  What are yours?

And what can I be doing better than I'm doing right now?  What would you like to see more of (or heck, less of) in the future?

P.S. I just went and re-read what the 3 points of that linked blog post were and pretty much mine are exactly the same. I promise you I'm not trying to plagiarize the Theta Mom. But it appears that she and I are on very much the same page.  :)

P.P.S.  For those of you that do follow, subscribe, and comment: Thank you.  Seriously and sincerely.  It really is so much more fun to do this WITH you and not AT you.


Theta Mom February 7, 2010 at 7:42 PM  

Nice to "meet" you Skooks and thanks for linking back...yes, we are very much on the same page and I agree completely with the comments. I appreciate every single one and do my best to either pay that blogger a visit, provide a response, an email, a tweet, etc. (the point I was making about supporting bloggers).

You look like you are doing a fab job here! I think as long as you blog for YOU and blog about what YOU want, everything else will fall into place.

And I received so much awesome feedback on that post, I plan to do a follow-up. Look forward to blogging with you! :)

Skooks February 7, 2010 at 8:09 PM  

TM, thanks for the kind words. Your well-written and engaging post drew me in so well I had no choice but to comment. Cheers to you! I'm looking forward to reading more great content from you. :)

Kat @ February 8, 2010 at 6:05 AM  

Just loved this post... coming from SITS. Random, but are you going to Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore?

Shelley February 8, 2010 at 11:51 AM  

Just dropping by to say Thanks for the comment on the walmart people.
I like to chronicle whats going on. As you can see, I average about two times a week, sometimes interesting sometimes not.
I do like to get comments because it helps me feel like I'm not the lone ranger about things.
And I do love all the hand made and home made stuff out there in the cyber land.

Skooks February 8, 2010 at 12:04 PM  

Kat, had never even heard of bloggy boot camp until a few days ago. Sounds like fun, but there's no way I could make it. Thanks for stopping by though!

Shelley, I am always pleased to find another handmade lover. Handmade makes me happy. :)

Lilith's mommy February 8, 2010 at 12:29 PM  

I have more then one blog. The main one was mainly for family/friends so they can hear all about what Lilith is up to. Now it's turned into family and my sewing. I have a personal one that's mainly for me. My husband has the link to it, but no one else really. And then there's the one for the things I sell. None of them really have any followers and there's very rarely notes. (Thank you for the ones you leave.) I love seeing notes because then at least I know SOMEONE reads it.

The one's I'm subscribed to are either family, friends, or sewing related. The sewing ones are inspiring to me and I find new things to make all the time.

Unknown February 8, 2010 at 2:31 PM  

Great post - and thanks for the follow!

I've just started to crochet and I'm finding it really really enjoyable and although it's a tiny bit tricky before you get the hang of holding the hook and yarn, I am getting results that I'm really happy with really quickly - if you've knitted before, I think you'd be great at it!

Skooks February 8, 2010 at 2:37 PM  

LM, you have a blog where you sell stuff?! Link please!!

Sarah, I have a friend who made my son an amurigami (I think I may have totally butchered that word) lamb before he was born. It REALLY makes me want to learn to crochet. I've got a few friends who know how that I may need to wrangle down to teach me properly. ;)

i am not February 8, 2010 at 5:15 PM  

As you know I've been thinking about why I blog for a while now. I posted about it this morning.

I have to think about why I follow the blogs I do. I actually tend to follow a certain type of blog for a while and follow many of them until its a bit overkill and I get sick of them and start cutting them out. I'm not sure how you follow 200 different blogs - I know through a reader - but the ones I follow update so frequently that I can hardly keep up. I'm thinking its time to weed through them. I'm ALWAYS looking for new, meaningful additions, though and would love some of your suggestions. I've begun to follow a few that you've linked to here and there. I like many of the craft/handmade ones to get inspiration from even if I could never do any of it!

ultimately, I think I follow blogs that inspire me in some way.

Skooks February 8, 2010 at 6:05 PM  

I should probably use the term "follow" a bit more loosely.

I've got a few different categories of blogs that I "follow":
1) Blogs written by family and friends. These are MUST reads.
2) Out of the GAGGLE of sewing/crafty blogs I follow there are probably about 20 that I DON'T miss, and 150 that I breeze through for inspiration. Some of those I'll stop at for longer, at times, if they post something intriguing/inspirational, some of those I'll just skip over if they're too long-winded or are posting on something that doesn't interest me.
3) There are a handful of DIY/home decor blogs that I regularly read, and about 20 I just glance over for inspiring photos.

So, yeah. I DO need to break up with some of my blogs because there are just TOO many. BUT, the way I have them set up in my reader I have them categorized by how much I enjoy them and in what genre they are so I just choose as I have time what it is that I want to read and disregard the rest.

My problem is, I like one and then that one links me to this other one that looks good or has some good tutorials, and then that one leads me somewhere else . . . and on and on it goes. There are too many talented people out there!

I think I may have ADD. Or as the Flylady would say, it is way too easy for me to get SIDETRACKED. :P

Skooks February 8, 2010 at 6:07 PM  

Also, with this post I broke one of my big commandments with blogs that I follow and made WAY too long-winded of a post. I only stick around for long blog posts when I REALLY love the blogger. ;)

i am not February 8, 2010 at 6:19 PM  

well, then I hope you really love this blogger, because I find my posts are always quite long-winded. part of the reason I can't handwrite in a journal anymore:)

Also, I wanted to respond to the idea of being supportive of people that comment on the blog. This never occurred to me to be an issue. I assumed that most everyone who reads blogs, does so through a reader - and if their reader is like mine, you can't see whether or not there are comments... therefore if I comment on a blog, unless I go to the actual location/url of the blog I would never know if MY comment had been responded to by the author or other comments. Hence, I have not responded to many of my commenters - I, of course, assumed that the same would be true for them - that they wouldn't come back to the actual url to find out if there was a response. For this reason, I like my friends who have typepad blogs - seems that they are able to email a response to a comment.

In addition to the reader issue, some of the blogs I follow have SO MANY followers and commenters I assume that the author does not respond to (and sometimes doesn't read) all of the comments. Maybe its because some of the blogs I follow right now incite very generalized comments from the readers and I don't read their comments... and then by the time I scroll through all 250 I've lost my thought anyway.

That particular point in this post has made me rethink how I respond to MY readers, the fact that I rarely comment on other blogs, AND the need for me to pare down my list and find some more meaningful, less followed blogs.

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