Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Things We Do for Followers

A couple weeks ago, I received a note from a fellow blogger on 20 Something Bloggers. This person complimented me on my blog, telling me how much she liked it, and included a link to her own blog. I was flattered by the compliment, but then I started thinking. If she liked the blog so much, why didn't she become a follower?

I checked the blogger's profile, and looked at the comments she had left on other people's profiles. As it turns out, she had left the exact same compliment on dozens of other blogs; many of the people were flattered and became her followers.

Somehow, it made me think of this guy who was one of the matches that eharmony thought would be compatible with me. He only had one picture up on his profile; it was a picture of Daniel Craig. I mean, really? It's bad enough when guys don't put up any pictures at all on their profiles (and a significant number of the matches I've been sent don't post any pictures). But if you're going to put up a fake picture to attract people, DON'T put up one of an A-list movie star; everyone's going to know IMMEDIATELY that it's a fake. The guy took down the fake picture a few hours later, but I had to wonder if any women actually responded to him.

I recently entered my blog on blogged and blogcatalog, which are two blog directories that people use to publicize their blogs and promote their own writing. One blogger from blogcatalog posted a thread in one of the discussion forums; it went something like this:

Stay AWAY from the blogger who writes about Beanie Babies; she is a LIAR. She said she would follow my blog if I followed hers, but she DIDN'T and now she's going to HELL because she LIED and even though all 5 of my followers think that I am simply FASCINATING, this person is a LIAR and she should be banned from the blogosphere FOREVER and...

Ok, so the blogger didn't actually write that. But his message was pretty much the same. He was very angry that the person whose blog he was following didn't return the favor; incidentally, this angry blogger happens to be from my hometown.

I've gotten several messages from fellow bloggers on and blogcatalog who leave messages like, "Check out my blog; follow my blog and I'll follow yours." But the people who have contacted me through these directories have blogs about stuff like technology and politics, neither of which interest me very much.

There have been several discussion threads about this on 20sb, about bloggers who are trying to figure out how to get more followers; there was a discussion thread recently about whether people followed other people's blogs in order to get them to follow theirs. Although the discussion forums on 20sb are meant to promote discussion topics on everything from grad school to dating to jobs, many people will simply create a discussion thread to promote their own blogs. Although I have met many awesome bloggers through 20sb, I have to admit that the self-promotion that other bloggers (not the ones that I think are awesome) do on this community does get a little annoying sometimes.

I follow several blogs, but not as many as some people do. The number one reason is that I don't have a lot of time to read everyone's blogs. I found the blogs I'm following now from other people's blog rolls. They stood out because they were funny, interesting, and the bloggers wrote about stuff that I could relate to. But if I choose not to follow someone's blog, it's nothing personal. I can't explain why I don't follow someone's blog, because there isn't always just one reason. And I don't think I really owe an explanation anyway. If someone reads my blog and likes it enough to be a follower, then great. If not, oh well. And either way, I'm not willing to follow someone's blog just so they'll follow mine, you know?

What about you? What makes you decide to follow someone's blog? Have you ever unfollowed anyone? How do you get more people to follow your blog?


  1. I've never heard of those blog sites, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be interested either. Blatant self-promotion and neediness turns people off. One of the best sites to help improve one's blog etc. is copyblogger. I implemented a lot of their suggestions when I was struggling to get my blog up and going. Those bloggers who beg for followers like that are misplaced. I follow blogs because I like them, not because I want followers back.

  2. I don't publicly follow any blogs (frankly, I don't even know what that means), but I do have lots and lots of blogs on my reader.

    I follow people who make me think, feel, or laugh. End of story. I don't just follow personal blogs or political blogs or humor blogs, but all of the above. (And I have stopped reading many a blog when they made me stop thinking, feeling, or laughing...) I don't worry about return traffic because, well, I'm not making money on my blog. But I say if you write quality content, eventually the audience will find you.

  3. Blog following. Wow. I used to worry about it a lot, but now I don't care as much. I don't have the energy! I LOVE my followers, don't get me wrong, but it's the ones I have relationships with that mean the most, of course. There comes a point where priorities have to be made, and although blogging is important to me, my family and writing must always come first.

    I think the more you comment and interact with other bloggers, the more followers you get. That does take a lot of time, though.

  4. I don't even have a widget thingy for followers. I love getting comments and that's the main way that I get my name out there and get more readers, I think. And twitter.

    Ultimately, I blog for me, and if people like it, they'll read along. I don't have time to stress about my traffic.

    I follow fellow 20somethings who write well, who are in my industry or whose blogs somehow otherwise strike a chord with me. And a lot of personal finance blogs :)

  5. I think i got that same person on 20sb telling me how great my blog is (i have yet to see a comment by her though).

    I mean we all love to have readers, but for me blogging is cathartic. I'd be happy with 100 followers or 10. If people want to read what i write great, but i don't worry about it much.

  6. I heard from that same person on's annoying when people do that, I agree.

    Quite honestly, I am just happy anyone comments on my posts. I am happy with the number of followers I have (it's not a huge number, but it's a nice number I think). As long as there is commenting and interaction, I'm happy.

  7. I follow someone's blog because i'm interested in his/her topics and because i can relate to them. that's why i stay away from "follow me back..." (oh im not gonna mention it anyway) coz i'd be obliged to follow them back though their blog is totally out of my interest. i don't like the notion that just because you followed mine, i'll follow yours. i mean, returning the favor is alright but sometimes it could imply compulsion. after all it was your choice. nobody asked your for that. sorry if i sounded ranty hehe..and most of the blog i admire and read are the ones i found on someone else's blogroll.

  8. I follow the blogs that I like, but there are a whole bunch of blogs out there that I don't like. Plus, I hate it if someone tells me that they like my blog and followed me and then try to pressure me into following them. I check them out, but I don't want any mommy blogs or fashion blogs in my blogroll. yuck.

  9. Reading about some1 who copies & pastes the exact same comment to all blogs isn't surprising & just shows a lack of imagination. I also think that I'll follow you/you follow me thinking is something that should be earned & not demanded. I'll follow who I can, sometimes too many, but it happens, & don't expect a return follow. Ultimately, the blogs that do well are the blogs that have content that people like to read.

  10. very interesting. something i've noticed as well.

    like you, i don't have time to read a billion blogs, and i won't do the whole "i'll follow you if you'll follow me".

    i've also noticed several writer blogs follow the same kinds of trends and themes (including blog awards and contests). i'm sorry, but i just don't have the time for such things on my own blog.

    i've always figured if someone is interested in what i have to say, they'll read my blog. if not, ok. and i say this as a blogger who is about to celebrate the millionth hit on her first blog (which i no longer update, btw) and maybe gets 5 hits a day on her current blog, haha!

    basically, i blog because it's what i want to do as an individual when i have the time to do it. not because i want to be a part of a community, or because i want to "keep score" by collecting a bunch of followers who aren't interested in what i have to say.

  11. Interesting question... If people follow me, I usually follow them back unless they look like crazy people or are porn or something! Other than that, I follow people who talk about writing or something else that catches my interest.

  12. Hi KarenG,
    Self-promotion turns me off too; I usually don't follow bloggers who do that. And thanks for the recommendation about copyblogger! I added it to my list of favorites; it looks like a cool site.

    Hi, NGS,
    I think that following blogs publicly means your picture will show up on the blogger's followers widget and it'll show up on your own reading list if someone checks out your profile.
    And I think following people who make you think, feel or laugh is a good way to judge blogs. :)

    Hi Michelle,
    Commenting and interacting with other bloggers does take a lot of time, but it's fun. I'm still working on the whole time management thing; I guess I'll have to stop watching so many crime dramas in order to have more free time. :)

    Hi eemusings,
    If you like personal finance blogs, you should check out MSN's blog called Smart Spending at, if you haven't already. My favorite blogger on that site is Donna Freedman, because she always comes up with good ideas for living frugally.

    Hi Coyote Rose,
    Blogging is cathartic for me too. It helps to write about what I'm thinking, because then I can try and make sense of it once the words are on the page (or on the computer screen).

    Hi Catherine,
    Commenting and interaction makes me happy too; I think it's the best part. It's good practice to get feedback from fellow writers.

    Hi janjan,
    I know what you mean; I'd rather that someone followed my blog because he or she liked what I wrote rather than because I followed his or her blog. Otherwise, they might not even read it if they were only following my blog because I was their follower.

    Hi mei,
    I don't know much about fashion, so I probably won't be blogging about it; I still think that overalls and flannel shirts are cool. Maybe I should try bringing them back. :) Tim Gunn would probably laugh at me.

    Hi notesfromnadir,
    You're right; followers should be earned. I didn't respond to the bloggers who tried to get me to follow their blog just so they'd follow mine; it didn't feel right because then they'd be following me for the wrong reasons.

    Hi mi,
    It sounds like you're blogging for the right reasons. I like to think I am too. I started a blog because I like writing and I figured it'd be good practice; I found out it's a lot of fun to blog and I wish I'd done it sooner.

    Hi Talli,
    Tee hee, no crazy or pornographic blogs on my blog roll either. I like blogs that talk about writing too, because they often give good descriptions of their experiences and/or advice about writing.

  13. I came back here from mi's blog to see if you had written another post about this subject, and reread your post and all the comments. Which brings me to the point I'm trying to make-- when I first started I had just a few followers and just a few comments, so it was easy to respond to every comment, and to go back to the blogs I had commented on and actually have an interchange with the person. I miss that, because now I follow so many and comment on a lot of blogs with no time to go back and read what others have said, or what the blogger might reply to my comment. So there are disadvantages to going too far with it. You lose some of the relationship that you started blogging for in the first place!! (Glad you liked copyblogger!)

  14. i should have asked you earlier, but i linked this post on my blog.
    and kareng - your blog is a perfect example of attracting followers because of it's content and how you write.

  15. This is a tricky one.. And I wonder about it a lot. I think at the beginning of this whole journey I really wanted to gain popularity and be a "successful" blogger.. But my intent shifted and for the better. I found that the second I stopped trying to write for an audience and started being real that is when the true audience came out. I come across a lot of 20sbers in the community who leave comments like the one you speak of.. At first I want to call it shallow but I know the feeling of being a blogger crying out for attention or a comment or two. I pay the favor back to those who comment me but overall I think I just pay credit where it is due.. Won't follow someone who does not strike my fancy. And vise versa, I would simply hope people would read me for the blog, not to gain another follower.

    Great post. Really made me think.


    Hannah Katy

  16. Hi Karen,
    Losing those interactions with bloggers would definitely be a bummer. Being able to read people's comments and respond to them is one of my favorite parts of blogging; it's nice to write back and forth to each other. But even if you're not able to write back to everyone, in a way you can still write to people through your blog posts, and that's something.

    Hi mi,
    No worries about posting a link! Thanks! Your post was interesting.

    Hi Hannah,
    Like you, I hope people read me for my blog. I think you have the right attitude about blogging. I've seen other blogs elsewhere where it just seems to be about getting an audience and not about the writing. But I like the blogs where the bloggers are just real, like you said, because then I know that what they're writing is honest and sincere.

  17. See look, I'm back, interacting and rereading comments, and I really like to do it, but I rarely do anymore. (Thank you to mi for the nice words). I have one more thing to say about this topic then I'll go do my usual 4 a.m. activities... Someone left a comment on my post yesterday directing me to her blog. So I went there, read her post which was interesting & I agree with a lot of it, wrote out a long comment, and then it wouldn't accept it because I'm not a "team member." What the?? Why would you direct people to your blog and then not allow them to comment? That was the first time I ran across that particular oddity among blogs. I could read, I could follow (and I did add myself as a follower since she only had 8 and I liked her post), but I couldn't leave a comment!

  18. I don't try to gain followers but if they float on through, go right ahead. There are plenty of people who comment who don't "follow" my blog and that's cool. I don't need their name on there to know that they're reading and commenting. It's a very flawed system, "following" anyway. I would rather have comments and readers than followers. But that's just me.

    Sorry, I'm a late commenter. I don't blog from home and your comment format doesn't work on my office computer.

  19. Hi KarenG,
    That's weird that you couldn't leave a comment; I wonder why that is? I had a spam filter for a while, but I took it off because other people said they couldn't leave messages.

    Hi Palindrome,
    It's nice to get comments from new people. And no worries abotu the late comments; I'm happy to get them whenever.