A lot of people argue that the blogging community is getting saturated and that starting to blog now isn’t a great idea. With everyone else clamoring for attention as well, it appears to be fairly easy to get drowned in the din and the ruckus. I kind of agree with that statement (the part where it says the community is over-saturated), but not with the ‘don’t bother blogging now’ part. If a community appears over-saturated, the best thing to do is stand out. Offer something else, make yourself unique, have your voice stand out from the crowd. It’s no longer a competition of who was here first and has the most audience, it’s about who can be the most creative!
I feel like this is a very over looked point. There are too many cookie-cutter blogs, all talking about the same things, in the same style, in the same region. It’s these types of blogs that I feel have the greater need to ‘build’ a community where they’re looking at each other’s stuff and commenting and keeping a close-knit group so that they stay afloat, as opposed to maybe getting a little more creative with their content or even looking outside the box to see other things.
Or maybe they just really love make up that much. I don’t know.
I’ve been blogging for about four or five years consistently. I slowly learned about things like blogging communities and twitter chats. I guess you could say I was an extremely slow learner since I was often too busy to do more than just post my post and get back to my usual work. I have now been in a couple of twitter chats, fewer instagram pods, even fewer facebook groups and an equivalent amount of whatsapp groups and while I don’t think that gives me the authority to call myself an expert, I think it’s enough for me to have a valid opinion.
Yes, I have a couple of valid salty opinions.
I will not publish your press release content.
There seems to be, especially in Pakistan, a rising trend in what I like to call “copy paste” bloggers. There are companies here that will send typed up press releases and lots of DSLR pictures all neatly tied up in an email. It’s details for an event that happened about two or three days ago. Perhaps it happened in your city, perhaps it happened in an entirely different city. Either way, there’s a polite request to please publish the press release and the pictures on your blog and to reply with the link of where you published.
Can we just sit down and talk about how many levels of wrong that is? You want me to publish something I didn’t even write, about an event I didn’t go to or was invited to, with pictures I didn’t take, for an audience that isn’t even mine. It’s such an incredibly cheap sort of move for me to take. I write my blog and it’s totally mine. I have a set standard of rules and types of content I want to see on here. I don’t care how big a brand or event planner it is, I am not publishing that content. There’s no discussion of payment either, not that I would have done this low hand trick for $5.
I thought other bloggers would have the same sort of stand but oh my God. When I went through some of the (Pakistani) bloggers feeds, it was the poorest blog writing I had ever seen in my life. Press release upon press release, advertisement pictures, mixed in with the occasional selfie that just went to show the photographic flare (or lack of it). And over one thousand followers. For such poor content.
To say I was outraged is an understatement. I was livid. Here I am, working hard, trying to take good pictures and write decent content, and then there’s those bloggers who publish what’s been neatly tied up and presented to them. I have less than 300 followers on Instagram. They have 1000. My only solace to this situation was that at least my posts got an average of 50 likes. Theirs only gets 10.
I will not follow back everyone in the pod
I don’t know why instagram pods have the rule of “follow back everyone in the pod”. I personally think that’s the most ridiculous rule that could have been implemented. Nobody is obliged to like your content, but because we’re in the same pod, we are now under the obligation to ‘like’ the content. As if that wasn’t enough, we now have to follow you as well?
It’s one thing if the pod was filled with bloggers of your own niche or you happened to get into a pod filled with people who talk about your interests. But if you end up to be (God forbid) in a pod where some people have the spammy advertisement bot accounts like detailed above, then I wish you the best. It is difficult enough to ‘like’ these copy paste posts that are on at least five other accounts, I could not bring myself to follow these accounts.
I brought up this sentiment in instagram pods too. I talked (very diplomatically) about how it was unfair on everyone in the pod to have to follow each other. It was unfair for me to follow these spam accounts and have to see content I greatly disliked on my own feed and it was unfair on the spam accounts to have a follower who hated having to see what they were posting. Even though it seemed like a win win situation on the outside (you get more followers and likes and so do they), but it’s been proven that instagram pods really don’t boost engagement the way we think it does. That’s why I thought it was better to just like posts as they came and only follow people who I genuinely wanted to see on my feed.
Unfortunately, this sort of sentiment is also not widely shared. I politely left the instagram pod before a ruckus broke out and never looked back.
“Returning all comments” is a lie
This one is aimed at mostly comment threads on twitter. You know how it goes, there’s an anchor tweet and then there’s everyone replying with links to their blog posts. I personally like the idea of comment threads because they give you an overview, a glance of sorts, at all the current fresh posts that you can look up and you might even find a really cool blog to permanently follow. Most of these comment threads don’t really have a theme (ie, anyone can comment their post, so there can be lifestyle posts and travel posts and art posts) so the chance of finding a gem is fairly high. You can also pick and choose which posts to comment on, since most of these threads require you to comment on at least two or three posts.
I take a few steps forward and comment on all the posts that appealed to me and that managed to get me to click on them. Most of these posts have the author writing “returning all comments!” which sounds like such a great inclusive thing to write. It’s like “oh yes you visited my house and gave me a gift, I will visit yours too and return the favor”. I’m not saying that I comment only on these types of blog posts because I expect a comment back, but I mean. If you’re offering it yourself, then it’s a little unprofessional not to follow it out.
Which brings me to another point. Comment threads are also a little exhausting because more often than not, you’re commenting on a bunch of blogs you wouldn’t comment on otherwise and don’t really get the same kind of engagement back. This used to really make me feel bad. I would put in time to craft nice, thoughtful comments and in return, I would get either nothing or comments consisting of 5 words and self promotion. I managed to keep up with comment threads for about three or four months before finally backing out; I was tired of the unbalanced engagement I was getting.
Now I think of it in another way. I’ve decided that it’s okay if I don’t get comments back. At least I have left a link to my own blog somewhere else on the internet. Maybe, someday, someone will go through the comments section and think “wow, this is a very thoughtfully written comment” and would click on my blog link to see what else I have to say. Now that I know about things like backlinking, I don’t feel as bad about not getting comments back. If someone doesn’t feel like commenting on my blog, I probably don’t want a half-hearted comment like that on my blog in the first place.
“Increase traffic on your blog! Drop your links! Do my blog first! Happy blogging!”
This is a typical feature of most Facebook blogging groups (I’m only in two facebook groups….). It’s basically people boosting their own blog under the guise of “this will help you too!”. If there’s anything that screams self-serving, it’s these posts and I stay far far away from these types. Another similar category of self-serving blogger tricks is the “follow train” trend.
You know about it. You’ve seen it at least once a week. There’s a tweet or a post saying “drop your links and follow EVERYBODY in the thread! Boost your followers!”. I could bring up the point I made earlier in the instagram pods part here as well. This is, in my opinion, a coercive tactic to garner fake followers. You heard me. I think these follow trains are just one step behind purchasing bots and that the followers are near equivalent to having bots.
Here’s why: first of all, these followers followed you for NUMBERS, not your content. Secondly, they followed you so they’d get followed back and their own numbers would rise as well. However, in my honest opinion, the odds of this happening is pretty low. After all, only the anchor tweet gets noticed, not the ton of replies underneath with links. So yes, this is a super unfair tactic used by a multitude of bloggers and whenever I see these tweets going around, I’m pretty much disgusted. Last, but not least, these are not genuine followers. They don’t really care about your content in the first place, they followed you because it’s a follow train, not because you’re a good blogger. This leads to a false portrayal of your blog. After all, doesn’t it look awfully weird seeing a blog have tons of followers but no comments, conversations, interactions (all of the things we blog for) at all?
It’s these types of actions that makes some of the blogging community look extremely shallow and seem like they are just out for views and numbers and clicks. The fact that most of the community also thrives through these shallow methods is also something that really puts me off. It’s such a pervasive thought process (views and clicks being a measure of how good your blog is) that affects bloggers who focus more on creating content instead of catering to other bloggers to create a closed loop circuit of views and ad clicks. Yes, it’s heart breaking to see good content blogs not getting the same response as the cookie cutter blogs and blog posts, simply because the majority of the readership are bloggers who just want views.
I could talk about all the ways to fix this, but it currently feels a bit of a hopeless task. There’s only so much one person can do, right? What are your thoughts? Do you feel the same way or do you think this is just a truck-load of unneeded pessimism and salt? Let me know in the comments! Have a nice day!
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