Friday, 10 December 2010

Friend Friday - Reader Connectedness

Tea dress: Mango

This week's Friend Friday is another in the series of blogging navel gazing and the topic is our readers and reader connectedness.  Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email katy_rose1@yahoo.com

1. How important do you think reader connectedness is to the success of your blog?

I think it depends on what you define success.  I certainly think a successful blog is one that engages its readers.  My goal in starting the blog however wasn't about gaining readers, it was and still is to develop my writing skills on a regular basis. In that respect it has been very successful in helping me realise that goal.  Even if I didn't have any readers I think I would still use a blog as a platform to explore my writing.

So is a blog that nobody reads any different from scribbling in a notebook that goes back onto a bookshelf?  In a notebook I can write whatever I please.  I might have nobody commenting or no hits on my blog but as long as it is open to public view there is still going to remain the idea, the possibility, that someone might see it and that immediately changes everything.  That alone makes me put much more effort into my writing.  No stream of consciousness, blue sky thinking and rubbish punctuation.  That's for the notebooks.  A blog is for some prose with a bit more polish with the added benefit of combining it with imagery.

There has never really been a lack of motivation on my part to write a post for this blog in the absence of a large audience.  If you want to write you are going to do it whatever.  I did blog for six months with just one reader to my knowledge - a dear friend I trusted and shared it with.  My friend would (and still does) tell me her thoughts on the odd post via email or over coffee and convinced me to make it public so she could read it without signing into her Google account.  If it wasn't for that initial encouragement and kick out into the blogosphere from my first reader I might still be blogging away behind the scenes.

That said I do think that interaction with readers makes a huge impact on your blog and as a writer.  It's suddenly like walking out onto stage and realising that there are people in the audience and they are watching, waiting to see what you will do.  It is intimidating, yet exhilarating at the same time - you suddenly want to give them the best performance you can.  I am also very fortunate that I have readers who actually read my posts, leave very thoughtful, encouraging comments telling me when they have found the posts engaging and who return to read more.  It has turned blogging to meet a personal goal into a very rewarding and enriching experience.

2. What do you do to draw readers in and create that writer-reader bond?

Sometimes I try to be entertaining, sometimes I try to make people think, sometimes I'll just share something I find beautiful or interesting.  But always, I put a lot of effort into writing well.

For several reasons I've chosen to blog anonymously and not show my face in photos.  This probably puts me at a distinct disadvantage to other bloggers whose readers have a name and face to put to a blogging voice. Although I'll admit that it probably makes it easier for people to relate to a blogger whose face they can see I don't think it is strictly necessary in order to engage readers.  As a result of my perceived disadvantage I try to inject my writing with more personality to compensate, which can only be a good thing for the reader.  For the record some of my favourite blogs are written by anonymous or pseudonymed faceless bloggers.  I find that because the blogger can't rely on a pretty smile to gloss over what amounts to inane prattling a lot more thought actually goes into the content.

I've noticed that my posts that have received the strongest response from readers (and I don't necessarily mean number of comments here) is when I talk a bit more about my personal life, such as when I answer questionnaires about my wardrobe or my favourite things or ten random facts.  I guess everybody harbours some curiosity about the people behind the blogs they read.


3. What is one way you could improve this connection?

I am happy so far with the connection I have with my readers and can only recount what I currently do. I don't buy into the advice that is often tossed around that you should find out what your readers want and give it to them, or pander to some notion that your blog has to be useful and helpful to people in order to increase your readership.  I would rather be true to what I want to do creatively and connect with readers who appreciate that.

My stance is that if you love doing something you will be motivated to do it and to do it well, even if you don't have an audience or are not being paid.  If the love for what you do shines through then there will always be readers who will find what you have to offer engaging.  If I pursued doing something that I didn't really have an interest in just to court favour with readers than the lack of interest would soon show in the posts.

I think the most effective way of connecting both as a reader and a blogger is through commenting.  I always try my best to reply to comments on my blog - so if you leave a comment check back on the comment board in a few days.  Nine times out of ten I will get back to you.  I also try to visit and read my readers blogs and leave meaningful comments. Commenting makes everything feel a little more like a conversation albeit a short (and sweet) one.

4. Is there a blogger you think does a great job creating that writer-reader bond? Why? 

I'm not going to name names or pick just one because there are so many with their own distinct merits.  I will say that the underlying theme would be blogs that have personality.  A lot of the blogs I get drawn into let you into their personal life just enough to get you interested in them in people.  Also if I know that after leaving a comment that the blogger is likely to reply I'll return to read the reply - now in these social networking times of a thousand facebook friends you've never even met that sort of behaviour must count as a serious relationship!

There are also some blogs I find really engaging that are not really about writing and more about imagery.  I may not be a reader but I am still digesting the content and returning for more.  Some are just awesome outfits and styling - I am a fashion addict after all and in fashion a picture can say a thousand words.   However others are more a moodboard or scrapbook collated by the blogger from which one can draw inspiration, or equally build up a mental picture of the blogger as a person in the same way you would walking around an exhibition pondering the curated works of an absent artist.


5. What do you do to cultivate new readers? How do you get them to your site in the first place?

Not that much, I spend most of my blogging time writing the post!  I think most of my readers came from joining IFB and participating in Friend Friday.  I post an alert about my new posts on the wire at IFB and I always submit a post on IFB's Links a la Mode regardless of whether I think it is going to get included or not - I figure some poor sod has got to read it and hey, they just might like it enough to read something else I've written.

Visiting other blogs and commenting has brought some readers and funnily enough so has having an active presence on Twitter.

20 comments:

  1. Great answers, V! You're right...a successful blog IS one that engages its readers. I think you're doing a great job keeping the connection here and on other blogs as well.

    Have a wonderful weekend!



    ♥ V
    http://www.gritandglamour.com
    twitter: @gritandglamour

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  2. Strange thing is I'm actually drawn to anonymous blogs because I blog anonymously too.

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  3. I'm going to say it...you are one of my fave FBFF bloggers. Love your answers each and every time. I agree that some of the anonymous blogs are some of the most well written.
    No Guilt Fashion

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  4. I really, really liked your answers. You explain the 'I would be blogging if noone was reading' thing really well!

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  5. I always really enjoy reading your answers to FBFF b/c they are so thoughtful and articulate, and I tend to feel that I can learn a lot from them as a blogger/reader/writer/human being/clothes-wearer. I really appreciate what you're saying here about focusing on your written content irrespective of so-called blog-building advice - the things about writing to your audience, always being helpful- which to me effect the dumbing down of the internet (which I'm not sure can get much lower) - I feel like you stand up to that, and what you say about your purpose results rather in the elevation of internet content by individuals. So well done.

    x
    Laura

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  6. I think blogging personal even anon has power to it. It is the idea you're after right? I think it shows that you put a lot in your posts, and you will gain readership for them. However, the more YOU we feel in the blog, the more connected we become. So even if you choose not to show your image, you can still convey who you are, and that is essential to engagement. Keep up the good work!

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  7. Hmm. Your answer to number 1 is really thought provoking. I have thought of myself as a creative writer for most of my adult life, but I have filled notebooks with many, many ideas that have never seen the light of day...in part because I need a safe place to try them out. I know that because I need to write something doesn't always mean that any one needs to read it. My blog writing is subtly shaped by my audience and it IS great to have more immediate feedback rather than delayed, which is what happens in publication.

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  8. Amen!! Well said as always. And the dress is cute too : ).

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  9. I remember first reading your blog months back (through IFB, I think?) and have noticed how your readership has grown. The comments you receive, as you say, are so thoughtful and appreciative...but then, so are the ones you leave on other blogs (including mine - thank you for that). You convey a real sense of yourself through your writing and have real integrity - I admire that about you. Plus your posts usually make me laugh!

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  10. Hey ! you're good in writing ! Even if my english is too bad to understand everything...
    http://selenite.weebly.com/

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  11. Estoy pasando unos días en Málaga y sólo tengo un segundo de ordenador para decir hola. amigaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  12. One of my problems reading your always well thought-through and written posts is I have so many thoughts and ideas while reading that I have to write them down while reading on… otherwise I forget them. While I’ve stopped commenting back to the ‘commenting machines’ – the people who leave you comments like ‘Cool outfit’ or ‘lovely’ (ahem) and you know exactly they haven’t even looked at what you are doing, I am finding the communication with other bloggers one of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects. I also realise that – with a full-time job and blogging just being a hobby – I have to find a balance between the time I need for my own blog and the time I talk to others. With the blog getting older I've settled more in my ways and have established a fixed group of 'blogging buddies' I love talking to (that doesn't mean I'm not open for others, I just don't actively search for them anymore).
    Although I agree with you that bloggers who show themselves are at an advantage (I CONSTANTLY try to dazzle everything with my beautiful smile ;) in the end it comes down to strength of personality; e.g. I feel a strong connection to you though you might cross me on the road and I would never recognize you. xoxo

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  13. You're so right to write what you want to write. I don't think that bloggers need to pander to their readers as there are always other blogs if they don't like one, they will find another that they do. If everyone did the same thing it would be sooo boring! Plus it would show if you weren't loving it too.

    Love the blog :) By the way!!

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  14. Another thoughtful post. You are a really good writer.

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  15. Just because you don't have your face on your blog does not put you at a disadvantage! You can be as cute as you want, but if you're content isn't engaging, readers lose interest! I think the fact that you can have a fashion blog without having your identity known is awesome and not many people can pull it off!


    As far as success is concerned in your eyes, I think you made it because your writing is awesome!

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  16. @Grit and Glamour - thanks Vahni, and re: keeping the connection - I certainly hope so!

    @Mrs O - just goes to show there is an audience for everything even semi-visible people like ourselves!

    @No Guilt Fashion - oh you are so sweet! Thank you from the heart!

    @Franca - thank you, while I don't wish to discount that growing a readership is important for a blogger I do think that for me it is more of a case of wanting to keep up the routine of writing that is important to me.

    @twofortheclothes - thank you so much for your comment because I think you really understood what I was saying in this post. And I am really, really glad you made the point about the dumbing down of the internet because I could not agree with you more!

    @Citizen Rosebud - yes I guess that was the idea behind this post (blogging anon) and thank you very much for your encouragement!

    @Terri - I think writers need and benefit from having both - a safe place to try things out and a public platform to try out more polished things and get feedback - a blog is perfect for the latter, in a way it is one step better than going through the filtering process of getting it accepted by a publishing house because you are probably showing it to the average reader immediately and getting a reaction.

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  17. @Goldmine Trash - thank you sweetie! And that is one of my favourite dresses.

    @Mrs Bossa - what a heartwarming comment - BIG thank you!

    @lady sélénite - merci beaucoup! Do you have a google translater? I used to write and speak very good French and it all got displaced by Spanish :(

    @Jazzy hivennn - thank you, glad you enjoyed it!

    @SabinePsynopsis - I know exactly what you mean about settling into a comfort zone of blogging buddies - think I am in exactly the same place at the moment. Don't worry if I crossed paths with you and recognised you I would certainly let you know about it!

    @Shopgirl - EXACTLY! Whatever happened to variety being the spice of life? Why the rush to report on Lanvin for H&M when you know a gazillion others will be saying almost exactly the same thing in the same week - SNORE! If everyone started offering the same "how can I help you make your blog better" posts all the time I think I would lose interest in reading blogs pretty quickly. Don't get me wrong - there are some bloggers who do this REALLY well - Grit and Glamour for example - but does everyone have to jump on the same bandwagon to have a meaningful contribution as a blogger?

    @jill815 - many thanks! As I don't write for a living it is always a pleasant surprise to be told that.

    @MJ - bless you MJ for your lovely comment, coming from a writer that is a compliment indeed!

    @

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  18. thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. your hard work is paying off- your blog looks great and people really like coming here, obviously! :)

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  19. I think you connect very well with your readers. I am right there with you in using your blog as a venue for improving writing skills. I am doing that myself.
    Hitting that publish button after writing a post is so different than writing a piece in a journal.
    You are doing a great job!

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Thank you kindly for your comments! Please be aware that comment moderation is on to weed out the spammers and I can only check comments once a day, so please don't worry if you don't see your comment come up at first - it is probably there and will be up later xx

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