A few days ago, fellow writer and virtual friend, Andi Cumbo (of the Andilit blog and a valuable resource for those of you looking for online writing classes and training) passed along an interesting blog post from Chatting at the Sky, entitled For Those of You Who Don’t Comment on Blogs. The blog post is a sort of open letter to readers of the Chatting at the Sky blog. It seems that many folks have met the blog’s author, Emily Freeman, in person and felt a bit sheepish about being a regular reader who doesn’t participate in comment-box discussion on the site.
Emily does a nice job of calming the fears of the non-commenting blog reader. It is a thoughtful post.
It is a post with dozens of comments following it.
Emily’s readers are obviously engaged, and that is a beautiful thing. And, while I do agree that there is no mandate that says blog readers MUST comment on every post, I also know how satisfying it is, as a blogger, to have a post that sparks discussion or speaks to someone.
Many young writers (and I mean this in the sense of publication history, not in respect to age) are out here in the world of blogs for a couple of reasons. Let me share a few of mine.
First, I always enjoy sharing what I know, what I think I know, and what I wish I knew. There are some folks who have stopped by this blog, by chance or on recommendation, and they’ve found some bit of information that they find useful or inspiring or validating. That is, for most writers, the highest compliment, and a motivating force to keep writing.
Second, having a blog gives me some accountability. I have several hundred potential readers (according to WordPress) and I’d like to think that if I went weeks without blogging, someone would notice. Having an audience gives me another reason to write, and it is a positive force to push me to write, even if I don’t quite “feel like it.”
Finally, as a young writer, I’ve been told that it is important to build a “platform”: a group of people who can and will, eventually, help me promote and champion my writing. In order to do this, the young writer is charged with engaging and cultivating others in such a way that a mutually beneficial relationship can be established. Blogging (and other forms of social media) help us meet new people, expand our reach, and engage in areas where we might not otherwise be engaged.
So, while acknowledging there is no requirement for reader involvement, I’d like to encourage blog readers to consider some of the ways you can buoy the spirits of your favorite bloggers and fledgling writers. It is a case of “a little effort goes a long way.”
- Comments – Don’t comment every time, but do know that blog comments are cherished by serious bloggers. Those of us who do this on a regular basis love to receive those notifications that say, “You have a new comment on your blog.” Comments that say, “Great post” are fine, but adding your own perspective, additional information, or deepening the conversation is even better. Serious bloggers will respond to as many comments as they can, as quickly as they can, because we want to stoke that fire of participation.
- “Like” buttons – If the post was a good read, but you don’t have anything specific to add to the conversation, using the “like” button is a very simple way to say “KUDOS!” to the blog author. (Not all blogs have these.)
- “Share” buttons – Most serious bloggers will have the option (usually found at the end of the post) for you to “share” the post to other social media outlets. If you like a post, Tweet about it. All you have to do is click the Twitter button, and the tweet will already be written for you! Share to Facebook or Google + or any of the other sites you regularly use. This not only tells the author you liked their blog post, it exposes that author to your circle of friends. This is something that every writer craves: being introduced to an ever expanding circle of friends.
- Sign Up! – Most bloggers have an option for you to sign up to receive email notifications when a new blog post is published. This isn’t a way for bloggers to capture email addresses to be sold to insurance agents or male enhancement mailing lists. This is just an easy way for you to know when a new blog post has been published. Unless the blogger is so prolific that they post multiple times a day, this is a low-hassle way to keep up.
- Follow – Many of us have Facebook pages and web sites and are hanging out on LinkedIN and other social media outlets. We put our contact info (for example, my “Contact” tab, above) out there so we can be contacted. If I didn’t want an emailed question or a new Facebook friend or whatever, I wouldn’t make that info public. So, if a blog author has made his or her info available, you should feel free to reach out, ask a question, suggest a topic, start a conversation. Or, just say, “Good job. Keep writing. I’m reading!”
- Link – If you have your own blog, linking to another writer’s blog is a great way to show blog affection. Often, I try to make Friday’s post a Friendly Friday, where I point my readers to other blogs, other publications, whatever. Share, share, share. It is the beauty of this digital age.
Writers are, generally speaking, constantly fluctuating between brimming self-confidence and abject terror that they are a hack. A little positive reinforcement can really help turn a writer’s bad day into a good one. It isn’t mandatory that we support our favorite bloggers with a word of encouragement here and there, but it sure is a friendly thing to do.
This post wouldn’t be complete without a great big, warm and deserved THANK YOU to all of you who read this blog. So many of you leave comments or tweets or notes on Facebook. I really do appreciate your time and energy. You help keep me going.