Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blogging Myth #9: "Big" Bloggers Are So Cliquey

It's time for another round of Blogging Myths. This series explores the common misconceptions that many bloggers and readers have about blogging. If you're new to my blog, you can start from the beginning of the series here.

Myth #9: "Big" bloggers are so cliquey. 

Suzie Blogger (insert popular blogger's name here) is probably too busy to help me with my question or respond to my comment. It seems like all she does is give shout-outs to other Suzie Blogger-types.

Every so often, I'll see a comment on another blog, or a mention on Facebook where someone complains that popular bloggers are too busy mixing and mingling to return comments or interact with their audience. I can see how it might be frustrating to spend time reading and commenting on a site, and to never hear a word from Suzie Blogger. As someone with a small to mid-size blog, I have been disappointed once or twice to not see a reply after leaving a heartfelt comment for someone.

If I've ever felt that way, I forced myself to stop and think about why I was commenting. Was I commenting because I enjoy the blog and find the writer's posts and projects inspiring, or was I commenting because I wanted clicks, a return comment, etc? If you've read my Commenting 101 series, then you know I see comments as a way to encourage others and build community--for me, it's not so much about hearing back from a blogger.

John Donne said it best: "No man is an island...." We all want to connect-why else would we blog?

It's easy to see posts and pictures from some of the successful bloggers out there and feel like you're looking in on an exclusive club. Yes, there will always be a few bloggers who use the old "look how great my friends and I are" approach to blogging, but you'll see that with blogs of all sizes. It's easy to single out larger blogs for this behavior because they are more noticeable.

The problem with that mentality is that we forget many of the popular bloggers we enjoy have been writing for two or three years, some more than that! Before the blogosphere exploded, there were far fewer blogs out there, particularly in the craft and home blogger fields. Many of those bloggers bonded early on, so it's only natural that friendships would have grown over the years.

There's something to be said, not so much for exclusive cliques, but for support groups, "commenting buddies," or tribes. Crafterminds.com is an excellent example of this: a website geared for the promotion and support of bloggers in the craft niche. Through campaigns, helpful Twitter chats, and a Facebook page, Crafterminds encourages bloggers to support each other. The site is run by several highly successful bloggers!

I have to be completely honest here and say that I usually find the bloggers with large followings to be more helpful and accommodating to their readers/fans than new bloggers or bloggers who are just starting out. I chalk it up to experience.

A lot of new bloggers have commented or emailed to let me know that they had no idea they could email responses to comments left on their posts, or that they could build a readership by returning visits made to their blogs. "Big" Bloggers may receive dozens and dozens of comments on each post and are unable to return every visit made to their blogs, but most do realize that connecting with readers is important. They learned this from their experience in growing a blog!

Many bloggers with large sites enjoy connecting with their readers on Facebook and Twitter. I've found that joining them via social media is a great way to ask a quick question or receive some feedback. They may not have time to visit your blog and comment on your latest post, but most are happy to take a minute or two to help a reader out, whether it's by answering a question or even retweeting/sharing one of your links. Some of them devote a lot of time to featuring other, smaller sites!

Don't be afraid to email someone with a larger blog than yours for advice. Bloggers are people, plain and simple; and most are very approachable. Just be patient, knowing that Suzie Blogger probably receives a hundred emails or more every day. I have personally been impressed when I receive an emailed reply from a blogger I admire, when I know they are busy with sponsors, conferences, posts, and networking.

So what do you do if you look around the blogosphere and feel like the odd man out?

Form your own support system! Find a group of bloggers with sites similar in size or niche to yours and promote/encourage each other through comments, Tweets, and Facebook "Likes." Whether it's a formal Facebook group or a casual bunch of commenters, you'll feel so much more connected if you make the attempt to interact with others.

Remember that we all start out as new bloggers with an empty "Followers" space on our sites. As a new blogger, it's easy to get frustrated when you see "Big" bloggers sharing and promoting each other within the blogosphere while you would be happy for just one comment. Chances are, most of those bloggers remember exactly how you feel right now: overwhelmed, maybe a little confused, not sure how to grow your readership. Don't be too scared to reach out and ask them for advice, encouragement, or even positive criticism.

You might be surprised!

How do you connect with your readers?

48 comments:

stephaniegiese said...

I agree that the big bloggers are so friendly and approachable most of the time. I've emailed Beth from Stories A to Z, Sandra from Sawdust & Paperscraps, and Marion from Miss Mustard Seed and received responses from all of them within a few days. I've been trying to get together with Beth for a while because we live very close to one another, but her schedule is crazy! Sometimes it does make me feel like a freshman inviting a popular senior to my lame birthday party, but I understand that she is just crazy busy.

Kristina said...

Thanks Amanda for this post, I found it very helpful as a new blogger. It's so easy to be overwhelmed at the beginning; I think I just have to be calm and know that it gets easier with practice. Have a great day! :-)

Kristina

Simply LKJ said...

Great post Amanda! When I take the time out to personally email another blogger (big or small) with a specific question or comment, I have almost always gotten a response. I realize they too are just a busy as I am, as blogging is only a part of their life not the whole thing!

Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish said...

So true! As a blog grows it can be harder and harder to keep up with comments!

melissa * 320 Sycamore said...

I always feel like I need to be so much better at this, but sometimes it's such a tricky balance: answer emails/comment on blogs or take my kids to the park? Everyone I have corresponded with is very understanding, even if the answer to the email is over a month old...:)

House of Smiths said...

I totally agree with this post and love it! You hit the nail right on the head :) I don't know what is considered "a big blogger" but I definitely know how it feels to get a lot of emails with very specific, detailed questions or requests, like: "Can you help me decorate this space?" or "What do you think about that idea and can you give me suggestions?"
I would love more then anything to drop all that I'm doing and answer questions like these, but alas, there's just SO little time in my day, and if even a small amount of readers were ALL sending these same kinds of emails, I'd never have time for anything else (like blog business related work or my family!)

That's why I feel like it's so important to make your site as navigate-able as possible, and to cut out the "guess work" for any NEW readers, or even long-time readers who want to ask simple questions about past posts. I also try to quickly send them links to other blogs or posts that may help them with their question... in general. OR, if I get the same question often, then at that point, I'll write up a dedicated post about it :)

I don't know how other bloggers feel, but I try to comment back to EVERY comment, if I can. Even with just a simple "thank you so much!" because even now... I have blogs that I leave comments on (and have done so numerous times) and have yet to EVER hear back from the blogger themselves. It's disheartening and a bit frustrating to take the time to actually leave a nice word, and then not even get a "thank you" in return. And plus, let's be frank... seeing a personal response in your inbox from someone you look up to is like opening a present on Christmas morning! It just makes you feel good :)

As far as the "clicky-ness" is concerned, I kind of feel like everyone just wants to be liked and have friends, am I wrong? lol. And once you find those few friends who you feel comfortable with, and can confide in, then you tend to stick with them :) I know when I first met some of my blog friends a few years ago, it was SUPER weird! You could tell we were all looking for a support system in this crazy world of blogging, but didn't know quite how to approach each other.
Making friends, when you're a blogger feels a bit like online dating (not that I know what that's like... hee hee) In a sense, we are all trying to achieve the same goal... "Love of the people, justification that our projects or ideas are worthwhile, and hopefully make a great connection!"

In all honesty, blogging CAN be a lot like high school. A bunch of insecure people running around trying to find where and who they fit in best with.
It's just part of life, and while I DO think that we grow out of the "drama of it all" we never outgrow the feeling of wanting to be accepted.

Sorry for the long comment, but again, I think you hit the nail right on the head, and I loved your view on this topic! Thank you for sharing with us! :)

Jennifer S. said...

Great advice! Right now I use my blog as a journal to document our lives, but someday would like it to be something bigger. I don't know if it ever will but this series will help me get there! Thanks again :)

Dawn said...

Hey Amanda! This post rocks! Thanks so much for it!

I have to admit that I did feel like some bloggers were clique-y...until I started communicating with them on Twitter! Many of the bigger ones probably get so many comments that they just can't respond to everyone. On Twitter, I feel that they are very open and responsive!

-Dawn @Eventually Cottage

Amy {The Idea Room} said...

Such a great post Amanda! I totally agree with everything that you said and the other commenters. I have been in both situations as a blogger and remember being able to visit many of my followers blogs and pages in the early stages of blogging. But now it is almost impossible to do that and still have time to blog and keep up on the emails. But blogging is an interactive community so it is important to keep up those relationships as much as possible. It is a balancing act for sure!

I do think that you would be surprised to find out that many of the bigger blogs still feel as insecure as when they were smaller in size!

Love this series Amanda!!

Amanda said...

Great post Amanda!!!! Well said girl!! and I LOVE Shelley's (House of Smith's) response!

Makeup By LisaMarie said...

Great Post I'm so glad I stumbled upon this :) Your blog is so cute!!! Have a great week!!
http://thislittleshabbychicvegangirl.blogspot.com/

Colleen @ MuralMaker&More said...

Good stuff, Amanda! I agree completely.

A couple weeks ago I was having problems sealing a bookcase. I dashed an email off to Kate @ Centsational Girl & Marian @ MustardSeed. But I thought, I doubt they have time to respond to my question, so I scoured their blogs for an answer. Before I got too far, I got an email from Kate which was so helpful! Marian responded also in a couple of days.

They're my heroes! They were before but now I'm truly loyal! Thanks for the great post.

Anne said...

This is a great post, and I've found that most of the "big" bloggers are much more responsive on social media. There have only been two who have never once responded to me - emails, comments, tweets, etc. But there will always be people like that. For the most part, I've found that big bloggers are even more responsive than smaller ones, and I've had some great conversations with people I never thought would have time for lil ol' me - just because I reached out to them on twitter, or asked a question.

Blogging is a lot like real life - there will always be people who are kind, helpful, and encouraging. And there will always be people who aren't. Fortunately - in my experience the former have far outnumbered the latter. :)

Tip Junkie said...

Well done! You hit the nail right on the head. I've been blogging for 4 years and have formed a very close bond with so many amazing bloggers over that time period. It's like we've grown up together and have a close trust and friendship.

I love getting questions over on my Facebook page and that's where I do most of my chatting with readers.

Right now I'm actually online a lot less than I ever have been before. I got to the point where I had to choose where to spend most of my time - and I chose my family.

I'm SO glad that started the conversation and really shared such an important point of view.

Hugs,

Laurie {Tip Junkie}

Wendy @ The Shabby Nest said...

Such a great post!! I worry about my inability to respond to everyone that comments, and it makes me feel so bad sometimes. But as other commenters have mentioned, we all have families and other commitments besides our blogs, and finding balance needs to be the priority. I just choose to assume the best of everyone, and if I don't hear back from someone whose blog I commented on, I choose to believe that they are just plain swamped and doing the best they can. Just like me. ;-)

Anna@Directions Not Included said...

Thanks for this post. It is very informative. I'm a new blogger who is slowly trying to build up my readership. I truly love getting comments (like all of us do) so my only method now is making sure I reply when I get them.

Chris said...

Amanda, you couldn't have written a better post about this. Everything you said was so spot on, and I hope that little and big bloggers alike take it to heart.

So many things you spoke of are what I think about, what I worry about, and what I try to work on. Shelley made a brilliant comment about those feelings just being a way of life. We can definitely grow out of the immaturity of insecurity, but it's always there. We look for validation. Blog friendships give us that.

I can't tell you how many times my blog friends and I have bounced ideas off of one another or called on because one of us received a nasty comment or we're feeling overwhelmed by something.

It is my opinion that women don't spend enough time lifting one another up, and blogging has been (and should be) a way of doing that. However, I should also make it clear that my blog friendships have taken a long time to nourish. You will not instantly make friends because you blog. Give it time. Let it grow. We are a generation of "instant gratification" and then we get upset if something doesn't happen quickly.

Thanks so much for writing this post. I imagine it will help bloggers on BOTH sides of the spectrum!

Richella said...

Amen, amen, amen! Wonderful post, Amanda--and just look at the response you've gotten to this post! It's interesting to me that several of the comments above are from really big bloggers--yet they've taken the time to write thoughtful comments. Look at the one right above mine--it's from Just a Girl Chris. Her blog is huge. She has a family. And she works full-time. Yet she's taken the time today to leave a heartfelt comment on this post. I think that's excellent evidence of the point you're making.

I've never done a good job of responding to comments left on my blog, and I need to improve upon that. Thank you for challenging me to do a better job of blogging!

You've written about this before, but now would be a good time to reinforce the fact that it's REALLY hard for a blogger to respond to you unless you include an email address. Many big blogs now have comment fields that require an email address, but not all. I'm not a big blog, of course, but even I get frustrated when I try to respond to a comment and get the dreaded "noreplyblogger" message. We all crave intereaction, so let's make it easy for people to reach us!!

Thank you for this excellent series. You're doing such an awesome job with it!

Prudently Painted Vintage said...

Great post! I am a smaller blog and I even find it hard to keep up with comments and reading blogs I enjoy. I try to reSpond to every comment even if it's just a "thank you!". It's even hard to do that sometimes. So I totally understand when I don't hear back from a bigger blog. Thanks for a great post!

Sallie said...

Another great post Amanda! Of course I love to receive e-mails from bloggers when I leave comments on their blogs. You set a great example by replying to comments you receive.

I reply to all the comments I can either with an e-mail or going to the reader's blog and leaving a comment there. It gets frustrating when people leave a comment or a question, but no way to contact them.

Many bloggers, large and small, reply to my comments. If I leave several thoughtful comments, and never hear a peep, I'm tempted to stop following that blog. I don't think readers want to be taken for granted. There are too many blogs out there, and too much competition to ignore your readers.

Kerry Rossow said...

I started a widdle blog this summer and I was too clueless to be intimidated!
I just asked questions of the bloggers that I read- I related to what they had to say!
Looking back, I think "Holy gravy, I can't believe I asked such trivial questions of such busy folks!"
No matter because they were so gracious, in spite of me!
THANK YOU, AMANDA!
Kerry at housetalkn.blogspot.com

Crystal (theweekendhomemaker.com) said...

Great topic, Amanda! When I leave a comment, it's typically just that, a comment. I don't expect a reply but am thrilled if I get one. My blog is small and between being a wife, mother and having a full-time job (other than blogging), I find it hard to keep up. I can only imagine the volume of comments, tweets, etc that large bloggers get.

Maddie Kertay- The Domestic Anarchist said...

Love the post and looking forward to going back and reading other thoughts on the subject. Like most things I think that blogging can bring out the very best in us as well as the most insecure parts. The duality of this is a bit weird and stressful at times but gives us all and opportunity for growth and expanding and centering on who we really are and how we put that out there for the world to see. In the end for all the hard times the fact that a mother who also lost her baby feels less alone after reading my post makes it worth it to me.. so big or small we each have a place out there in the bloggy world and supporting each other is just the right thing to do.

Maddie

Catie @ Catie's Corner said...

Wow Amanda, I can't believe the response to this post! Some comments are soo long. It is a great post though. My blog is teeny tiny and so far I've been able to reply to pretty much every comment. But I know, if my blog continues to grow, that I probably won't have the time to respond to every one. For now I do it because I can and to let them know I really appreciate them taking the time to read my blog. I'm also hoping that by doing that I may gain an extra reader or two.

You have always been soo good at replying to my comments. And Sarah (Thirty Decor Chick) is great at getting back to me too. : )

Again, great post!! I have just loved this series.
~ Catie

Jessica said...

Hey Amanda...just saw mustard seeds retweet on your post. Love it! I'm a newbie and have no clue what is going on....I'm still trying to figure out RT on twitter! ha....I'll get there :)

Carole @ The Blue Chateau said...

Great information here, Amanda. Thank you!

Though I've been blogging since 2007, I've "worked" in three different blogging arenas: food, then travel, and now frugal home decor.

Sometimes I find myself wishing I'd stuck with just one blogging arena. However, I love the experiences the first two arenas gave me. And, I'm happy to start all over with The Blue Chateau.

Thanks for your comments on my new blog. :)

Randi~Dukes and Duchesses said...

Great post ... even if I did laugh when you called your blog small to mid-size. :) It seems pretty darn big to me.

I know, from experience, that it truly does seem that there's a "clique" of big bloggers but I also think it's due to the fact that they've grown those relationships over time and they've collaborated on different projects together. I do see a neat support group at work there and I think it's great.

Janice@GypsyFarmGirl said...

Thanks for a great post! It seems like I have had 21 followers for ever. I've always been the shy type on striking up conversation, but know I need to if my blog is going to grow.

Jen @ tatertotsandjello.com said...

I loved this post Amanda!! You are so wise. I agree completely with what you said.

I love blogging. It is the most satisfying job I have ever had. My favorite part about it is connecting with people and forming friendships. I love talking to people and promoting blogs and projects that I find.

When I first started blogging I loved going to the linky parties and going through every single project and leaving a comment. I made so many friends that way! Now I don't have as much time to leave comments and that does make me sad. But I agree, Facebook has become a place where I can connect with people and for that reason it has become my favorite place to share new ideas and projects that I come across.

I still love to comment back to people that leave me messages, but sometimes I have to turn the computer off and spend time with my family. It's a hard balance. And there are so many times that I write an answer to a question or just a thank you and push send only to find that that person doesn't have their comment linked up to their email. I wish everyone would do that.

Thanks for such a wonderful post and sharing all of those points of view. I admire so much. You have a talent of bringing people together and you leave the most wonderful, thoughtful comments.

xoxoxoxoxox
Jen

The Tall Chick said...

GREAT post! I have been so impressed by the bigger bloggers I've contacted and think you nailed your post. Especially the points about the importance of responding to your followers. Great advice.

Vivienne @ the V Spot said...

SUCH a great post! I think that you really have struck a chord here! I love the idea of supporting each other and I have found that yes the bigger bloggers (I call them The Big Girls) are absolutely warm and friendly and helpful. We're all in the same boat as far as wanting to connect with each other while staying connected to our families. :)

Pam@OurAdventuresInHomeImprovement said...

Great post! I just started blogging this year. I have asked questions of Beth from Stories of A2Z and Susan from Between Naps on the Porch and both have been amazingly sweet and patient with me! (and they each have thousands of followers!) It means a lot that they'd take the time to help!

Have a great day!
Pam

Erin of HomeSavvyAtoZ.com said...

Great post, Amanda! I have only been in the blogosphere for a few months, but am holding my first Freshman Friday this week for new bloggers to learn helpful hints for building their blogs... and to link up and shamelessly promote their sites. :) I am posting this week on building a FB Page for bloggers sites. However, I was wondering if you would be interesting in being a guest blogger with this post the following Friday. Thoughts?

I am a new follower! Thanks for sharing your great post!

Ashley | Domestic Fashionista said...

Great points! I think what you said about figuring out why you commented is huge! If you are doing it to be noticed, you are no better than those who are too big to visit you! I used to hold this grudge but realized I was more interested in what they posted than building a friendship...though that would be a wonderful thing. I have a much smaller blog than some of the very large blogs out there and sometimes I struggle to follow up on comments. We forget sometimes that bloggers have lives outside the internet. It is so easy to get caught up in the comparison and popularity game when in fact we are only doing it for ourselves. Love blogging for blogging! Great post Amanda!

Kristin said...

Excellent words of advice lady! Being a new blogger can be so confusing when trying to navigate the great, vast blogosphere!

Vinny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nina Patricia @ The Adventures of Nina Patricia said...

I may be the only one who disagree with this post. I blog mostly as a way for me to journal, when I do comment yes, it is because I want to sincerely make people feel better or be friendly and I don't get offended when I dont get a reply back-so ok I may give you that.

However I find that big bloggers seem to always mention other big bloggers and comment to each other, then you read their post stating how their comments have dropped...I get that they have lives (I don't have time for much myself) but maybe, just maybe if the stop scratching so much those other hyper mega blogs people could relate more to them.

Just my humble opinion.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Great post, Amanda! I think those of us who have been blogging a long time are always sad at the lack of time to return comments. I know I had to give up the guilt a couple of years ago & do the best I can. By far building friendships has been the BEST thing about blogging & it has been an amazing journey for me. I truly still love blogging & all the community involved in it. I have always done my very best to help new bloggers along the way & always answer emails I get. I just wish I had more time for comments these days, but that is what has had to go for me. I hardly have time to even keep up with my friends anymore. It has gotten SO big out there, just exploded in the last 3 years. A good thing, but makes it even harder for everyone to get to know each other. Great idea for everyone to look for friends that they can rely on and get to know in their own niche. That is what all of us have had to do! Great job on this post, Amanda. You have always been a great commenter too! xoxo

Kirsty said...

Great post! It's a very generalised idea and I don't think it's true. Of course there are some out there like that but there are some that aren't too :)

Heather said...

Fantastic post my dear!! And... equally amazing comments!

A To Zebra Celebrations said...

WOW! What a fantastic post!! You are so right....It's hard to comment on all the blogs that we all follow. I love facebook for many reasons, it's quicker to respond and interact with your followers. I love Shelley's input about blogging being a lot like "high school" where everyone is trying to fit in. I know we all love comments right?....so take the time to comment and pay it forward!! :) ~Nancy~

Get Craftlicious said...

I absolutely LOVE this post! As a newbie blogger, I have often thought to myself that the "Big" bloggers can be somewhat unapproachable. However I have found that using the social media sites (like FB and Twitter) totally made me see otherwise. I think it's important to know that just because they haven't responded to your comment, it doesn't mean they didn't love getting it. Irregardless of how big or small a blog is, it's important that we all try to understand each other, so that we are better able to uplift and support everyone.

Shona said...

Thanks so much for this series. It was very helpful. I'm not a "new" blogger, but I'm a new "getting serious about this" blogger! Now I'm off to read your "commenting 101" series!

Sue said...

I'm glad I stumbled onto your blog today as it's very insightful, as are the left comments. Thanks for the perspective it's given. I'm off to find my own cool crowd.

Leah said...

So true! I have been pleasantly surprised at how friendly other bloggers are, in general.

Madigan at madiganmade said...

Wonderful post, Amanda! I understand that not every comment can be returned as one's blog grows. But I'm always thrilled to get replies to any of my comments(big or small).
Very often, I find that the 'big' bloggers are the ones who reply almost immediately to my comments... I took that as a sign that they knew a thing or two about time management after all these years! (and it was a habit I needed to learn!)

Kim said...

I just found your blog today and I have enjoyed reading this entire series. It is all very helpful for a blogging rookie like myself!

Xazmin said...

Some of the "big bloggers" were some of my first blogging friends - and they are definitely sweethearts! Also, I wouldn't call your blog "small to mid-sized" - you have quite an impressive following!

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