On Blogging

Not too long ago, I got a “like” on one of my posts from a blogger I hadn’t run across before. Out of curiosity, I jumped over to her blog to see what she liked to write about. Turns out she’s a Christian. Which is fine — I certainly have many Christian friends, and several of them even “like” my posts from time to time. But I understand why they do it. With this person, I didn’t get it.

I still don’t know what caused her to hit the “like” button, but I’ve started to get suspicious of that kind of thing. I’ve noticed that there are number of people who seem to blog simply to see how many followers they can attract. I’ve been amazed at how many followers some blogs get, especially since many of them are pretty new. How do they get such high readership? And then, I’ll often see that their posts have almost no comments on them. What’s up with that?

I assume that many of them scour the internet for blogs that they can follow, whether they blog on similar topics or not, just hoping that they’ll be followed in return. But what does this really accomplish? Does it really get quality readers? I’m not so sure…

And while I’d love to have thousands of followers, I’m much happier having actual dialog on my blog. I’ve never gone out looking for readers. The people who have come here have usually found me in WordPress or Google searches, or I’ve made an actually substantive comment on their blog, and they’ve come over here in response. This has made the growth of my blog a very slow process, but it feels more genuine to me. I’ve gotten this audience for the right reasons.

I was glad to read two other blog posts in the last two days that kind of echo what I’m driving at here. My friend Nila wrote this post about the merits of having something worthwhile to say, rather than focusing on a writing schedule. And someone in the comments section of that post linked to this article on “slow blogging.” In other words, thinking about what you want to say before you rush to say it. It’s refreshing (to me) to see that not everyone is being swept away by all the meta reasons to have a blog, but are still interested in conversation.

76 thoughts on “On Blogging”

  1. I follow people I follow. I have no interest in advertising myself. That’s why I chose the option to close down search engine crawling. Not to say I won’t come back to it one day but for now and that past years, less is more.

    As well, the people I follow well I do it to advertise them. My hope is that those who drop in will see what I’m reading and maybe chose to follow someone I follow. I have those people there for a reason. I see them meeting someone’s need, whatever it may be.

    As for the like button. It can be a great way to let someone know you are there and reading. You might not be able to comment or may get back to it later, but it’s better than nothing to know someone was there. It also can be a great way for lurkers to slowly build up confidence to jump into the fray.


  2. Maybe we should ask that stone god to be nice occasionally
    Well, as those of us who stalk him know, one of his biggest pet peeves is people who indoctrinate children into their religions (which is pretty much ALL religious people) – she happened to mention she had children —


  3. Nate,

    People do a very similar approach on Instagram (instablogging.) Instagram is my favorite social media outlet by far, because I love photography and the art and creativity you can convey through it . Plus I’m super intetested in interior design and fashion, and what better way to display those creations than through photography?

    I digress, I know some people literally go through and like everyone’s photos that have hashtags the same as theirs, just to have “likes” returned. (Patrick used to do this to his music clips so he would gain momentum).

    I blog simply because I like to. Yes, I wish I had more followers and interaction through discussion and comments, but I’m just not there yet. And I may never be. Who knows? But I always appreciate when I do get a comment. :))


  4. Wanted to stop in and say ‘Thanks for Blogging, Nate’. I appreciate your thoughts and perspective.

    I also wanted to throw out an apology to anyone who was involved in my most recent commenting on this blog some months ago. I wasn’t in a very good place in my thought-life, and wrote some things I regretted, and then ran off embarrassed. That wasn’t very nice or adult of me. So, apologies to everyone who was involved and felt, likely, rather snubbed.


  5. Hey Josh,

    If you are talking about the meaning/purpose post I don’t think you need to feel bad or apologize because I thought you had some good thoughts to contribute and didn’t feel like you “ran off”. Maybe you are referring to another time.

    Anyways, I actually dedicated an entire blog post to that discussion we had had and I mentioned you in it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping you would have added your thoughts there. (How’s that for pressure. 😉 ).


  6. Yeah, it is a great display of character. But for what it’s worth, I agree with Howie — I don’t recall any time where I’ve thought you said anything worth apologizing for. Glad you chimed in though! You’ve been missed. 🙂


  7. @susane —

    Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I feel the same way about blogging. I just enjoy getting thoughts out there, and the conversations here have meant an awful lot to me.

    As far as readership goes, it will probably pick up for you. I’m lucky that I’ve connected with some great (and verbose) people, so most of my posts spark a discussion now, but it took a while for that to happen. A lot of my earlier posts didn’t get any comments — and even when they did, the conversations didn’t go on long. Now, nobody wants to shut up. 😉


  8. Thanks. You guys are being more gracious than I was 🙂
    Howie – I’ll take a jaunt over to your place!


  9. I hate this blog as every time I visit these days that bloody Arch is ragging on me for something or another. In fact, he seems to turn up on every blog I go to. Sheesh!
    This would be a great blog if it featured more Jimi Hendrix and less Arch.


  10. I am relatively new to blogging, and began only in April this year, so as a neophyte have little idea of the many ploys there doubtless are as to garnering readership. Although I eschew any social media marketing and live more or less as a hermit in the world, I seem to have gathered c.350 subscribers in the first eight months. It has become obvious that only a fraction comment (at around the same levels you get here Nate); and from the site stats, I calculate that only something like a half to two thirds read a new post in the first few days of publication. I therefore conclude that I have about 100 ‘rogue’ subscribers currently: roughly 1 in every 3.5 subscribers.

    For myself, I regard blogging as a writer’s medium which has another somewhat uncertain foot in the social media camp. I take the view that if I can produce decently written articles around an overarching theme (in my case psychological/emotional well-being), then over time readers will slowly accrue. I occasionally stumble across blogs which are bland, facile and poorly written, yet which purport to have hundreds or even thousands of putative ‘followers’. I can only assume these are instances of manipulation via social media, or as others commenting here have suggested, computer programs that somehow skew the stats.


  11. I’ve been blogging for around four years and have a meager following. I mainly write for myself. It’s cathartic. Sometimes I write a post and a few people will “like” it and when I go over to check out their blog I wonder why. Did they even read it? Certainly based on their posts I can’t imagine they actually liked what I wrote. I suspect that a large part of those who do follow my blog only did so to get an obligatory follow in return. I don’t really subscribe to that many blogs, myself. I only follow if there’s content I appreciate.

    I’m not surprised that your readership is growing, Nate. Barring a couple of recent blips on the radar it’s the friendliest blog on the net. Don’t tell the Friendly Atheist. 😉


  12. @ Josh,

    Like Howie and William I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. We’re all entitled to our opinions and when it comes to religion/faith we can all get a little more emotionally involved and charged than we meant to.


  13. So, Nate,

    (1) Have you resolved to turn off the “like” button? (I have turned them off, for the obvious reasons you mentioned in this post).

    (2) Do you get e-mail notifications when someone “follows” your blog? (I turned them off too — for the same reasons. I only visit blogs linked to the comments I enjoy – believers, nonbelievers, it does not matter. I like insightful, uncantankerous comments.)


  14. I think there’s pros and cons to all the settings we can do on our blogs, and certainly turning off the like button is an option if one feels the cons out-weigh the pros.

    I personally think Zoe had 2 very good reasons for keeping the like button. I personally never press like until I’ve read a post fully, and I only do it if there really was something I really did like about it. Sometimes I don’t have much more to add of my own thoughts and I just feel like giving the post writer a virtual high-five for a cool post. I guess I can understand how some people get turned off by it though – I’ve heard some people say it turns the whole thing into a popularity contest. But for me the pros outweigh the cons.


  15. @ Howie,

    Of course it is individual preference, and I care less what Nate is doing. But I was curious since he wrote a whole post about it and does not mention his conclusion — or I missed it.

    I have a poetry blog too where I turn them off. I don’t desire the virtual high-5s either, especially since those are loaded with the — read me, read me, virtual high-5s.

    But even among comments, a huge percent make comments showing that their barely read the post and are just reacting to the Title of the post, just to hear themselves talk. Or if they did read it, they don’t get the central point but instead choose one or two of their favorite trigger words to react to.

    Getting quality commentors can be tough. I’ve been lucky for the most part. As have you guys, I am sure. The lower quality ones eventually drop out if you don’t feed them, eh?

    Anyway, still curious to hear Nate’s decisions — we now know yours Howie 🙂

    There certainly are pros and cons, and it is our weighings that illustrate our choices.


  16. Love that skill you’ve got of taking things to another level Sabio. I wasn’t saying you cared more or less, just wanted to add my thoughts about it like you did.


  17. I tend to view it the way Howie does. I like the “like” button, and I use it myself for the exact same reason Howie mentioned. And honestly, I don’t even mind when people seem to use it for fishing purposes. I was really just writing this post to discuss the point of blogging. I don’t understand those who seem to only do it for popularity reasons or just simple stat-building. More power to them if that’s what they’re into, it’s just bizarre to me.

    And Ruth, thanks for the great compliment! I won’t say anything to Hemant. 😉


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