Last week, my tip was to put your follower gadget close to or at the top of your blog.
I ended my post last week with a warning that having a follower gadget on your blog, which displays how many followers you have, can have a bad effect on your psyche.
This leads me to this week's tip:
Although we all blog for ourselves and in order to share our love of reading, it is very easy to become obsessed with the number of followers you have. You begin to wonder why more people aren't following your blog, and then you start comparing yourself to blogs with more followers than you. Then it's all downhill from there.
I admit that I go through periods of time where I pay more attention to the number of my followers than I would like to. It was actually part of the reason I was inspired to write my recent post "A changing blogging community and some self evaluation".
Why having followers is a good thing
I hope that I made it clear in last week's post that there is nothing wrong with wanting a following and hoping that you will attract one.
It's normal to want followers and it's normal to do things that might attract followers. It's also normal to worry about how many you have sometimes.
We spend so much time and effort on our blogs, it only makes sense that we hope that other people will see our websites and enjoy the work we have put in.
Making attracting followers your priority
The danger though, is that you can then fall into the trap of doing anything you can to attract followers, instead of concentrating on the quality of your content and participating in the blogging community.
These are example of what I mean:
Competitions that are only open to followers: One half of me understands the argument people might make for this practice. The blogger only wants their prize to go to someone who follows their blog and not a random person in it for the prize.
The cynical half of me though thinks that this is often just a way of covering the fact that people are hoping that by having a competition only open to followers, they will gain new followers because people will sign up just to enter the competition. Those new followers might up your count, but they are still in it just for the prize, and not because of any original admiration for your blog (I am a very cynical person, I should warn you).
The follow back syndrome: This is where bloggers advertise that if you follow their blog they will in turn follow yours back.
On the one hand, this could be seen as polite and a valid form of participating in the blogging community, if you then actively participate in all of those blogs that you have signed up to follow in return for their following.
But that's the thing. Does everyone then actively participate in everyone else's blog? What I think is more likely is happening is Blogger #1 in an attempt to grow their following, advertises that they will 'follow-back' anyone that follows them. Blogger #2 therefore becomes a follower knowing that they will gain a follower in return.The your feed becomes cluttered with blogs you aren't necessarily entirely interested in. Everyone has different interests, and so it makes sometimes that someone might follow your blog and yet the content of theirs doesn't 'float your boat' so to speak. That's ok. It's variety.
Why could becoming obsessed with followers be bad?
I think it probably comes down to what you want from blogging and what you want for your blog specifically.
Do you want it to look like a lot of people follow you, or do you want genuine participants?
I would suggest considering quality of your following, not your quantity. Do you have 600 followers but your post gets 3 comments each? Or do you have 200 followers but you get many more comments on your posts from people keen to offer their views and experiences about what you have written about?
By becoming too follower focussed I think that there is a significant risk that people might lose what it really means to be part of a community. Don't we want to meaningfully participate in discussion with other bloggers and have other people do the same with us?
Good quality content and a genuine interest in participating in the blogging community are great ways of attracting followers.
#1: The Follower Gadger