Beyond the solitary writing exercise and the somewhat “dry” technical aspect of managing a website, blogging includes a more social component. Indeed, posting an article online is a bit like sending a bottle off at sea: you hope that, somehow, it will be found in the cyberspace and that someone will care enough to read it, subscribe to the blog, follow it, and maybe even interact with you. Crazy, eh?
I think I’d still write even if no one was around to read, but let’s face it: having a small audience makes things much more enjoyable. For me, this is not a popularity contest. Sure, everybody says that… But, I mean it. I refuse to compete with anyone but myself. I decided popularity contests weren’t for me back in middle school, and I got a nice reminder of why the other day when I asked Mark which one he liked best, the cute dog he just petted or mommy. Don’t worry, I still made him dinner. No, I didn’t serve the dog…
People are often quick to make fun of lame websites, poor grammar use, navel-gazing thoughts. This is not my blogging community. The blogs I follow are funny, informative, thought-provoking, serious or touching. One of the reasons why I started blogging was because I genuinely enjoy reading articles online. Blogs were a great addition to my reading habits—books, mostly literary fiction and thrillers—because each provide an interesting snapshot of a person, a situation, a place. For me, reading blogs is like getting a spoonful of each ice cream flavour at the store.
Today, I still follow around 50 personal blogs in English, French and Spanish, plus dozens of bigger new outlets and online magazines. Of course, not all of them publish new content every day and many stop blogging along the way, but I enjoy following these authors and their 1,000-word-or-less updates. I’m mostly drawn to the lives of other immigrants, not just in Canada but around the world, and I love travel blogs, articles on cultural differences and good writers with a sense of humour.
I try to foster a good community spirit around this blog as well and do my part to thank all those who took the time to read my thought, share insight or debate around a topic. I reply to every single comment, usually once a day. If a new reader also has a blog, I always visit it, out of politeness and curiosity. This is how I discover many gems, hidden in the World Wide Web! However, I never “force” myself to read a blog if I’m not interested in the main topic.
I don’t participate in link exchanges, contests or memes much anymore, mostly because I got tired of it and I found very little value in these activities. Link exchange is often a “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” and many blogs are abandoned by their author, but I still have a list of my favourite often-updated blogs here. As for memes, a few are fun to read but I find most are “fillers”. Once in a while, I follow up on interview requests (duh, it’s flattering…), participate in real-life events or even meet up with other bloggers in person.
Anyone can also contact me through an online form. Every week, I receive dozens of emails that mostly fall into three categories. First, typical blog services spam, such as:
I came across your website, and noticed that you may be interested in getting lazer targeted traffic to your website fast. You can get 5,000 targeted people interested in your businesses niche coming to your website in only days.
Best of all, unlike pay per click where you can spend thousands to get this much traffic, we are offering it to your business for only $39.00.
Since I don’t give a fuck, I hit “delete”. See how easy it is to manage a blog?
The second category is trickier, this is people with questions related to Canada and immigration. I used to reply to everybody, then I got tired of it. A few years ago, I publish “guidelines” and How To NOT ask for help. Now I simply ignore questions that are no prefaced by “hello” or other normal social nicety and urge me to “answer fast” without any “thank you” thrown in somewhere. I don’t have the time nor the skills to untangle immigration matters, mentor prospective immigrants or marry someone for citizenship (no, really) and I have zero patience for people who expect me to be at their service.
In the third category are genuine questions, usually specific and relevant, comments following an article or fun offers. I reply to all of these emails.
Now, your turn, dear community!
Do you care about the number of readers/comments you get? How do you discover new blogs? Do you have any cool blog to recommend? Can we stay friends??