This post is no judgment on how people run their blog nor is it a post to say what is right or wrong. Rather, it is some thoughts that I’ve been thinking on for some time.There isn’t one right or wrong way to blog. I’m not going to get into anything about if follower counts matter, follower inflation, the right way to gain followers etc. etc. That’s neither here nor there for this discussion. You do what you do. The blogging police is not all up in this post. Rather, I’m going to explore what I feel the difference between getting blog followers and readers is.
Like many blogging communities, there’s always chatter around Twitter and the blogosphere about followers. There are follower hops, giveaways for reaching a certain follower count and many of us are silently (and not so silently) counting follower widgets and Feedburner subscribers. The idea of our followers, subscribers and readers is a big part of our blogging experience in many ways.
For myself, as I’ve waded through the blogging waters, I’ve found that there is a big difference between getting blog followers and getting blog readers and thus varying degrees of importance in my eyes. Now obviously a good chunk of our followers ARE in fact readers. But I’m talking about the times when follower counts are made to be seen as THE “worth” and tell-all of the blog.
It’s easy to get blog followers but definitely takes a lot more effort to get and keep blog readers.I can’t tell you how many blogs I “followed” but have never been back to. It’s a really easy, non-committal thing to do. Readers on the other hand…they come back. They are loyal. They are interacting whether it be via comments, Twitter or email. They respond. They start discussions or keep them going. They make MY reading and bookish experience all the more better. I learn new things from my readers and I honestly cherish every single comment and thought that my readers share with me. They are my GO TO people. My readers aren’t my SOLE reason for blogging but it sure would get old to me if nobody was reading. i might as well just write my thoughts about books in a locked diary.
I consider my follower count as nothing more than a useful measure FOR MYSELF because I know it IS in fact a true indicator of how my blog is growing as I don’t do things intentionally to get followers….followers for the SAKE of the numbers that is. I mean, yes, I want more followers if it means I have more readers…but to me, quality of the follower always trumps the quantity.
I blog for my readers and not for a follower number. When I see blogs that have thousands of followers yet they literally only get 1 or 2 comments on EVERY post, I have to wonder how fulfilling that is? What’s the goal for them in blogging? To have a lot of followers? At what point does that get boring when nobody is reading or responding? I mean, as I’ve said before, getting blog comments is that affirmation that are readers our there and I find that to be satisfying. Obviously I’m not them so I don’t know what makes them tick..this is just me trying to understand.
Now I’m not saying in ANY way that followers or stats or anything aren’t good. I get that they are a way to measure one’s progress and growth as a blogger (if that is something you care about) and give us something to feel good about when we spend time doing it. But for me, there is a big difference between followers and readers and I choose to focus on my readers and not my numbers…because there is fulfillment in that for me which might not be the same for others.
The days I feel the most alive and gung ho about blogging is when I have genuine interaction on my blog or when people seek me out on Twitter to respond to something on my blog. It honestly makes me so giddy. I love genuine comments on my blog and I love stepping off my blog to BE an active reader…despite the fact that wedding planning has made me fall behind!
When I’m perusing blogs, I’m more likely to hit the follow button or add you to my RSS feed if I see a slew of comments interacting with you about something you posted…even if you only have 30 blog followers. I can tell you’ve got something that readers want..and I want to get that from your blog too! If I got onto a blog with thousands of followers and I’m hearing crickets…I’m likely to move on.
EDIT: Thanks to a great comment pointing out something in the paragraph right before this I’d like to clarify. This isn’t the end all of how I “judge” a blog firstly. It’s just a statement that in general..that’s what I’d do. Also, when I am on a blog and deciding to follow it…I don’t judge it based on one post. I actually tend to go back a page or two in older posts and just see the variety of their posts. I see on my own blog that some posts are just not as popular compared to others..so I’d never base my following a blog on one post.
What about you…do you see a difference between getting readers and followers or do you think I’m just splitting hairs? I’d love to know!