Today, I’ve been thinking about blogging.
I recently received some nice comments from a blog/website and then, like getting the bill at a restaurant after a nice meal, they asked me would I please follow them.
What are your thoughts on comments like these? Do you reply? Do you mark them as spam? Do you do what they asked and follow them?
I almost replied that this isn’t how the blogging world works, though I know Instagram, Twitter and other social media work very much like this.
But then I stopped myself: Wait a minute, maybe this is how the blogging world works. What do I know? Here I am, quietly growing my blog organically (without any marketing tricks or bought followers) and genuinely enjoying every authentic, human-generated comment I get. Silly me.
When I first started blogging, everything was new to me and so I spent some time studying blogging etiquette, for example, as well as advice on how to create a blog that’s easy to navigate, and so on. I soaked up every word, I was so enthusiastic. I thought everyone else was doing this too: why would you set up a blog if you weren’t passionate about it? I guess I was pretty naive. There are a million reasons to set up a blog and only a few of them involve passion for creativity.
So, after reading all about etiquette, I was always under the impression that it’s generally frowned upon to ask someone to follow you or to add links to your own blog in a comment, and I’ve considered those kinds of comments spammy – unless there’s a reason to add a link. In any case, there’s a link to your site through your profile Gravatar, if you bother to add one, so people can find you: there is no need to appear spammy and tacky.
I decided long ago that I would only follow blogs with topics and posts that I genuinely wanted to see in my feed. And I’ve stuck to it. I don’t do the follow-me-and-I’ll-follow-you thing. That’s where I’m drawing the line. I’m sure twenty-something “social influencers” would laugh at me at this point. But it has worked well for me.
But there’s still something I can’t wrap my head around. Over here, in Finland, online newspapers (which are more and more like gossip sites) promote some blogs. I usually never read these blogs because they are all sponsored, commercial blogs. Advertorials.
They invariably feature a cool hipster woman wearing lipstick in oversized clothes that she clearly likes, posing on the street like a model, and showing off her manicured hands wrapped around a tea mug in an Ikea-designed home. The topic of the day is whatever product she is advertising. There’s nothing of interest in them for me and I’ve always wondered who reads these blogs. The writing isn’t professional or creative, and, worst of all, they never seem to respond to their comments. If you scroll down to the comments section, you’ll either see no activity at all, or a few unanswered comments.
That’s what I don’t get. Why would you have a blog and not answer comments? Wouldn’t it feel like you are talking to a wall if you didn’t get any comments at all, are you not grateful for them? Even if it’s your job to blog (which always sounds so funny to me), wouldn’t it in that case be a professional way to handle your job to respond to readers’ comments? Why would anyone sponsor a blog like this? Why would you waste time writing a comment to someone who’s not going to write back?
I do understand that not everyone has time to respond to comments, but in that case you could just close off the comment section altogether, or write a polite little note above the commenting space saying that unfortunately you will not have time to respond. But I haven’t seen this done. I think it’s actually quite rude and even egoistic to expect people to read about your life and take the time to comment without offering anything back.
Why do people read these blogs and why are they sponsored? The answer to both questions, I believe, is publicity. Finland is a very small country with small social circles, and if you know the right people, you can get your blog onto the websites of magazines and newspapers, and gain readers. You’ll even become a “celebrity” (over here not much is needed for fame to come your way).
How are these things in your country? Do your local newspapers regularly link to lifestyle bloggers’ websites as if their blog posts were pieces of news? Do you follow any sponsored blogs? How do you feel about not responding to comments?
Lately, whenever I’ve told a new acquaintance that I have a blog, I’ve seen raised eyebrows. They seem to think I’m aiming to be a sponsored blogger or an “influencer” since those are the only types of blogs that most people know of over here.
Blog lists over here don’t even have an option to list your blog as a photo blog! I used to be proud of this little hobby of mine, but now I’m almost embarrassed or feel like I need to explain. “Blogger” has become a synonym for I-think-I’m-special-and-I-don’t-want-to-work-for-a-living. Maybe next time I should just say I have an online journal?
The photos are from lovely Hawaii, too long ago…