On Monday I alluded to a fine post by Jeffrey Beesler on the topic of following as in doing something because others were doing it. The comments on this older post of Jeffrey's reopened and I noticed this comment from Michele Gregory of Beautiful Chaos:
i'm a crowd follower too, but am trying to change that. i'm cheating at this - doing all my posts ahead of time, and i know i can't get to every blog. i can barely get to the blogs i follow now. on top of that, it feels fake to follow a blogger just to get a blogger to follow me. i should probably do a post about that. or maybe not. (I've added the underlining to emphasize my topic for today.)I asked Michele if I could quote her in this post. She responded with this clarification:
no problem. it's the topic that i think of most when i hit the follower button. i want to be genuine in all my interactions with people and though i follow because i think a blogger has said something that resonates with me (as in i don't just hit the button to get someone to my blog), i know my chances of getting back to that blog to comment or read is iffy at best. i have a few i always read no matter what, some that interest me sometimes, and others i wonder if i should stop following because now i'm not interested and my time is limited.
on the other side, i've met some really great bloggers because i followed them or they followed me - you, Kristie Cook, Lisa Yarde, Alex Cavanaugh and others. i might have missed those friendships if i hadn't followed their blogs. i don't think there are any easy answers. and i do want people to follow me because i try to be encouraging, etc. it's not so much about promoting my books as it is to give readers a lift. i know that i have to follow and comment to get people to come so they'll read those posts.
not sure if any of that makes sense, but there you go. and you can quote this response too if you'd like.
What Michele's said does make sense and I want to thank Michele for allowing me to quote her because she expresses concerns that many of us think about. In the list below I want to try to clarify my personal opinion, philosophy, rule, or whatever you'd call it concerning the multiple definitions of "following"
1. I want to have a large "following", that is number of followers to my blog. With this comes the understanding that not all of the followers will always be readers. The numbers are mostly for show, but also for that possibility that a non-regular reader might occasionally come back to check out what's happening on my blog. A large following looks good to most people (including agents or any professionals wanting to see something about my platform).
2. I believe in the reciprocation of the follow. Whenever I can I will follow back anyone who follows my blog. It always helps if when someone follows my blog, they let me know in a comment so it is obvious to me. Silently following me does not guarantee a follow back. I want to be told.
3. There is no limit for me as to the number of blogs I will follow, but no matter if I'm following 200 or 20,000 blogs, I will not be "following" the majority of these in the sense of reading them on a regular basis. I will prioritize according to the commenters on my blog first, and then the ones that happen to catch my interest.
4. If the follow has to do with reciprocation then I don't think there is anything fake about it. I believe it is a ritualistic blog act that is often found associated with blogfests and "follow days". When most of us hit the follow button I think we know that there is no guarantee of a close, lasting, on-going relationship. It can develop, but it is something that relies on mutual interests and goals.
5. I will unfollow only if a blogger is rude, crude, or is in such extreme opposition to my values that it might hurt my reputation if anyone knew I was following that blog. That has happened very few times.
6. I tend to be wary of those bloggers who invite me to follow their blogs as though they are in some way so special that they never have to visit or follow anyone else's blogs. Unless the content of that blog is so utterly amazing that I am compelled to stay, I will unfollow them eventually if I have happened to follow from their original invitation. Those bloggers do strike me as fake and not at all interested in any mutually beneficial relationships.
7. I only hit the follower button if I feel that there might be a possibility of some future blogging relationship, even if it seems remote at the time. There have been blogs that I have followed that initially seemed of little interest to me, but there was something there that spoke to the future. The act of following may amount to nothing in the long run or it might eventually blossom into something special in the future. It's like a business adding people to a mailing list. Not everyone will become a customer, but maybe someday they will.
Those are some of my rules about following. The main thing is to distinguish between the ceremonial ritual of following as in collecting numbers of little portraits, the building of an actual list of potential blogs to visit, and the literal act of following as in reading blog posts. I wish Blogger had come up with a different term than "followers".
On Monday I passed 700 followers and currently the sign-ups for A to Z are most certainly destined to go past the 600 mark. That's a lot of blogs that neither you nor I will ever be able to visit on a daily basis. I don't think anyone has been fooled into thinking otherwise. Just like the local library has more books than I'll ever be able to read in a lifetime--but it's nice to know that they're all available just in case there happens to be one I'm looking for.
Have fun blogging. And enjoy the treasure hunt.
What are your blogging rules? Are there any of mine that are still unclear or that you disagree with?