One of the great appeals of blogging is the fact that it allows you to enjoy a certain level of fame. That fame may only be among a handful of other bloggers, but it exists nonetheless.
According to my statistics (courtesy of Sitemeter – see the bottom right of my sidebar) I get on average about 50 visits to this site a day. Some of these are me, checking to see if anyone has commented, and some are random follow-throughs from that “Next Blog” button up on the top right corner of the page. I don’t know how many readers I have that never comment – the majority, I suspect – but I do have something around 15 to 20 (ish) visitors who aren’t afraid to leave a comment every now and then. With replies and occasional debates, it’s not unusual for me to get in to double-figure comments to any particular posting; sometimes less, sometimes more, but pretty respectable. I’ve twice broken the 30 barrier – the last post about the 6 thing meme and weird things about me, and the only other being back in October when I did a piece called “What is an Agnostic?”
When seeking blogging fame, the numbers can become all important. I remember back when I was getting on average only one or two comments (mostly spam, before I switched on the word-verification option), that I would marvel at people who got 20, 30, 50, or even 100 comments per post.
The first one I really noticed with big numbers was Chase Me Ladies where it’s not uncommon for Harry to reach in excess of 40 comments per post. Then I noticed Natasha at I Moved Your Cheese, Moron who could get 60 or 70 posts and on a few occasions broke into 3 figures. Ok, exactly half of them were her replies as she'd post a comment back to each one individually, but still - pretty awesome.
For a wee while I contemplated getting involved with HNT – Half Nekkid Thursday as members comment figures would shoot up into 60 to 80 posts on a Thursday as everyone did the rounds on each other’s sites. Obasso himself will get in excess of 200 comments on a Thursday these days, although on any other post he will get anything from 2 to about 30. Which got me thinking about quality vs quantity. Yes, I could bump up my weekly stats, but to be honest I noticed that most people posting on HNT did little other than leave a “Happy HNT” comment and disappear – no thought, no reply to someone’s ideas. I light-heartedly accused Atilla the Mom of a shameless attempt to bump up her viewing figures the other day, by getting involved in Thursday Thirteen, but there’s a little part of me that’s concerned that while it might introduce new people to her blog, chances are most won’t bother reading it but will just leave their comment in the hope that they can attract new visitors to theirs. Atilla produces good quality stuff and she deserves more than that.
I do feel a certain level of smugness that the quality of my visitors and the comments left tends to be very high, but in order to maintain this it can be incredibly time consuming. The fame you get round here is reciprocal. You can only expect other people to visit your blog and get qualitatively involved if you’re prepared to visit theirs and develop the relationship.
I can waste entire days moving from one blog to the next, before starting the cycle again to see if anyone has replied to my comments. There are the blogs I visit daily, ones I visit at least weekly and others that I visit when they comment here and I realise I’ve not been there for a while (where I then feel the need to read several back-posts to catch up).
There are various blog groups that I visit – there are the Down’s Syndrome related blogs, the Blunt Cogs crew, ones I discovered via Used Kitty Litter, Knights of the Round Bottoms (see my Losing a Hundredweight blog for more about them) and an assortment of individual sites that are unrelated. An hour can be easily lost just reading the latest entries – and if I comment then of course it’s even longer – and that’s all before I compose my own blog posts or reply to comments here.
It’s turning into a full time job to run these Ramblings, Blunt Cogs and Losing a Hundredweight, but it doesn’t bring in an income or the prospect of future wealth.
Most of us yearn for a certain level of respect from others, and few of us receive as much as we’d like. So getting people who regularly return to the blog, leave comments and even encouragement is quite a thrill, and contributes to the instant-high quality familiar to so many of our addictions.
But with this mix of the time constraints and the addictive buzz of getting positive attention, it does worry me about the degree to which blogging could be interfering with me trying to pursue my longer-term goal of becoming a professional author. Why write 100,000 words and spend months, if not years trying to get a book published in order to get the glory, when I can write 1,000 words once or twice a week and have people I’ve grown to like tell me how wonderful I am?
Without this being a sly attempt to bump up my comments figures (honest), I really would be interested to know how other bloggers are dealing with these issues, whether they are even issues at all, or if it’s just me struggling with an addictive personality disorder.