There used to be a rather hearty debate online about what exactly defines a blog. What sets a blog apart from a webpage or magazine or other online format?
This is not one of those posts. Instead, it is just my pixelated version of asking the question: to be successful at blogging do you need to read and comment on blogs?
I think if you want a certain amount of traffic and influence the answer is yes. And this has presented me with a more and more pressing dilemma.
Because I don’t really read a lot of book or literary blogs anymore; and almost never comment if I happen to stumble upon a post. Basically, my free time has been squeezed by work and family and I have a limited amount of true free time. Since I love to read, books take up a chunk of that time.
Much of the time I have left gets eaten up by social media; Facebook, twitter, etc. In fact, any blog reading I do will usually come from links found at these sources. Add in the fact that I have a wide variety of interests (I not only read a lot of different genres plus non-fiction, but I also focus on issues like sports, politics, and faith. This means a lot of people to follow and information to process which creates a dangerous time suck.
More and more this means very little blog reading and no commenting to speak of.
I think this does a couple of things. First, it limits my traffic. I am not really part of a community of bloggers anymore and so few people know about this blog or have an interest in what I say. When I was engaged in the lit blog world, I had debates, left comments and generally had a sense of a larger group.
Except via Twitter to some degree, I don’t have this sense anymore and it impacts the site traffic. The vast majority of traffic comes via search engines with a little from direct links and social media.
I am not complaining. Really, I am not – I haven’t put in the hard work that builds traffic and I know this; neither am I some natural genius when it comes to reviews. I am just noting this as part of my thoughts on the subject.
The other thing it impact is comments on this blog. When you frequently comment on other blogs people are much more likely to comment on yours. Again, because you are part of a community and engaged in the debates and discussion they entail. And because of a natural sense of reciprocity.
A perfect example of this engagement is the young adult books debate I have posted on a couple of times lately. These post have much high traffic and have comments because they are part of something more than just my stream of conscience book reviews. They engage an ongoing conversation and touch on what others have written.
The irony here is that it is unlikely I am going to change my habits much. I just like reading books more than blogs. And if I have to sacrifice something it is going to be blogs not books.
Allow me to apologize in advance for not reading your blog, or commenting on it, but if you have something to share about this post please leave a comment (be sure to post your URL so I can come and visit).