Blog Science: Why People Quit on Blogs, Part 1

Hey gang! Hope your lives are chugging down the tracks at a comfy and productive speed. I've been going through some formal edits on a long-in-gestation project, and for the first time I'm actually enjoying the process! Probably only means I'm doing it right for the first time, however, it's still cool when you have those fleeting moments of, "I'm getting better at this writing stuff!"and your work actually reflects it.

Don't worry, it'll pass, and I'll get back to the writer default of "I'm worse than I ever imagined"as soon as the second round of editorial feedback hits my inbox. Until then, LET ME HAVE MY MOMENT! 

*stamps foot and demands applause like a three year old in a room full of busy adults* 

Anywho, as part of my Blog Science series I'm really posting today to get to the bottom of something: Why do people stop following blogs?

I posted waaaayyyyy back on my 100th post about the subject and (after re-reading) I think I summed up my personal feelings pretty well. Consequently, I'm going to re-post that post in this post. (Got that?)

HOWEVER, I'm really most interested in what you think. On Friday I'm going to post a survey (first ever for this blog, I think) as part 2 of this discussion. As such, consider this post a primer for that questionnaire. In the meantime feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

Hopefully see you back here on Friday!

REPOST: How I Know I can Quit You



I'd like to continue my FOUR LETTER WORD theme for the week and discuss blog followers. Actually, I'd like to discuss how we lose them.  The word QUIT came to mind, because that's typically how I'd define the termination of my keeping up with a particular blog.

First, let's take a quick look at why people might follow a blog in the first place.  I follow blogs for a handful of reasons, which include:

They provide useful and/or interesting information - I'm a writer and like to read about, and learn from, other writers.  I also enjoy reading and seek out others who do as well.

An act of reciprocity - The blog world is a community, and the 'Do unto others..." guideline definitely applies.  You must follow to be followed--especially in the beginning.  Simply put: could you make friends and build relationships by walking into Walmart, shouting your name and telling everyone to meet you in in aisle 15 of the parking lot if they want to get to know you?  Heck no.  No one is going to care if you create a blog and start posting stuff unless you make a genuine effort to get to know them too.

For entertainment - Some blogs I follow have nothing to do with writing.  I follow them because they're funny, quirky or touch on some other aspect of life I enjoy.  Sometimes I follow for purely voyeuristic purposes, meaning it's somebody who has an interesting life or (more likely) interprets their ordinary life in a unique way.

Before I get into how to run people off, I'll qualify a few things.  I don't have a ton of experience in 'unfollowing'.  I started following blogs when I started blogging (about a year ago), and in that time I've probably quit following 3-7 blogs.  That's out of the dozens I currently keep up with.  However, I have noticed a pattern in my jumping ship, and that's what I'm going to share.  Reasons I quit following:

Lack of reciprocity - I've dropped a few blogs because I continually left comments on their posts and they didn't follow me (minor offense as I'm willing to accept that not everyone I follow is going to dig my blog and some folks like to keep their lists manageable) or didn't acknowledge my comments (major offense)--ever.  I don't expect every comment I post to receive a direct response, or even be read for that matter.  However, if I comment on your blog weekly over a period of months, at some point it would be cool if you answered my questions or responded to anything I said.  Followers of my blog get a ton of slack in this area, btw.

Continued posting of things I completely disagree with - I can probably be accused of this one myself!  :)  I stopped following a couple of major writing-related blogs because the blogger continually posted offensive content. I'm not talking about nude photos or anything, they simply kept posting things that made me bristle intellectually.  Not to mention one of the blogs posted an outrageous slam of pretty much half the human race and, when commentors began to call them out for it, they disabled the comments.  If you're going to say controversial things in public, you need to be able to take your medicine.  I might delete a profane response to one of my posts, but I'd NEVER prohibit people form disagreeing with me.  As a matter of fact, I think some disagreement is healthy.

Constant pandering to the publishing gods (or being a fake, phony, fake) - We all know this is a fickle business.  It's hard to get started and even more difficult to stay once you're there (so I'm told).  Spitting in the face of conventions is probably not the best thing to do.  That being said, I've dropped blogs because they were constantly trying to mirror things the "industry" seemed to encourage as opposed to being an organic representation of the author's voice and style.  In my somewhat limited viewing, I'd say prospective YA and young reader bloggers are far worse at this than many of the other writing groups.  I don't know if it's a voice thing, a market thing--or something else entirely--but it drives me a little crazy at times.  Don't communicate what you think people want to hear, communicate what you think and what they NEED to hear.  

Again, I'm sure I've done some of these myself.  I've lost a few followers over time, and I may lose a few over this post.  I don't think committing any of the 'offenses' listed above on occasion is going to necessarily lose you followers.  Unfortunately, it might over time.

What say you?  Do you monitor your following?  Do you notice when someone drops you?  Have you quit following blogs?  Why?

PLEASE DON'T QUIT ON ME!

~EJW~  

17 comments:

  1. Like you, I follow quite a few blogs. Some are from recirprocity, others are people I know in real life, and others are ones I've stumbled on.

    Recently I stopped following a few because they were ones I never finished reading the post as it didn't interest me (I read in my Google reader). After a month or more of this, I stopped following so I had time to devote to the ones I do read all the way.

    Oh, and while I might not comment back on my blog due to time constraints, I e-mail back to everyone who comments, even if it's just a simple thanks for dropping by.

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  2. I'm pretty new to the blogging world... having only started last Oct. But yeah, I've unfollowed a couple blogs since then.

    And yes, it was because they weren't reciprocating. I'm a commenter. I love to comment, add my two sense--and I don't expect reciprocation every time, but when it's been weeks and I find that I'm the only one putting forth any effort, yes, I'm going to drop you, LOL. It's work! And time! And we need to support each other.

    There is this unspoken unity between us writers, but if there isn't that bond, you shouldn't waste your time. :D

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  3. Both of you hit on something I've always guessed:scratching backs is VERY important in blogging. Unfortunately, there's always going to be a time quotient involved.

    Some folks treat blogging like a full-time job, others it's a hobby or side aspect to something else they do (like writing).

    Should people quit posting if they don't have time to network back? Should they just expect to be shunned by the community? (These are just general questions, not aimed anything or anyone in particular.)

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  4. Hey, EJ, I have to say this makes sense. I've stopped following blogs that don't seem to talk about anything I'm interested in. Or I felt were insulting or the contents just hurt my eyes a LOT!

    On the convers side, yeah. I've supposidly got 117 followers--WHERE ARE THEY ALL? I can't see my followers (that doodad you have on the side of the blog which identifies people who follow you--and I have this said above it so that people know to leave a comment so I can reciprocate!) Anyway, I have my usuals who come by and I love them dearly (Heather, Shelly, and you when you're able, of course, and some others on occassion). If I get one or two comments, then that's a good day. But I rarely have more than that.

    What erks me is someone on their blog can complain about a hangnail and get 50 responses from buds. I don't get it.

    And I've seen where someone gets that many comments, and I see no response from that person to these comments, and that person has never come to my blog. Yeah I think it's time to weed out a few of these.

    Thanks EJ, you've opened my eyes!

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  5. @Lorelei

    While I'm not sure it's the healthiest thing, I'd be lying if I said I didn't sometimes look at people who get 50 comments on a random blog post with a little green-eyed envy.

    A couple of observations: 1) I think it's sometimes safer/easier to comment on a simple blog post. (i.e. the 'Way to go!' or 'Get to feeling better soon.') 2) As has been mentioned over and over on umpteen pro blogs: Publishing is a small world. Blogging is a small world. Be careful what you say and where you say it.

    I think on a lot of the more serious posts, etc. some people shy away from responding, because they're afraid to speak their minds. Which in their defense, defaulting to the always reliable momma, if you can't say nice things...

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  6. Really, the only reason I've unfollowed people is because, like you, I followed them first, left comments, and they never reciprocated. Feels like a snub, so I eventually quit them. I mean, I blog for the relationships and those are hard to grow when the other person ignores you. :((

    And for the record, I'm shocked at how many people don't bother to follow back. I follow everyone back if I can find a link for them and I can read their blog (some are in languages I don't understand). I don't want to be close-minded about who I might get along with, so even the blogs I may not have sought out on my own, I will still follow. And a lot of them have turned out to be really interesting.

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  7. I follow a lot of blogs, and it's taken me a while to get into the swing of things. (Probably longer than it should have!) I try to make the rounds and comment on blogs I follow on a regular basis, though I know I miss some. I used to be a lot better at replying to comments, and I still try to, but I know I fail there sometimes--there's a LOT that goes into blogging, and trying to balance that with everything else in my life (family, homeschooling, editing, writing, publishing, getting kids to classes, getting myself to Taekwondo classes) sometimes makes it more difficult for me. I've been doing a lot more email responses than blog responses lately, too.

    Thanks for sharing your reasons on quitting and thoughts on blogging. :D

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  8. Wow E.J. I first should say I love your posts. Secondly, I hope I have never offended you, but I do like to write humorous content that can cause someone to over-think my nonsense. I stopped following someone who wrote she didn't like people. Go figure. We all have our reasons or excuses but I hope you still like my blog.

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  9. Great insight into holding your blog follower's interest. Also we should note that people read blogs without following. There are a lot of people who still don't blog.

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  10. I've never unfollowed anyone, but I have thought about it. Sometimes I follow people on a whim, only to realize they never update their blogs or post 1o times a day or are just kind of annoying. Whenever I think about unfollowing them though, I wonder if they will notice that I have vanished and then wonder if it's bad karma to unfollow someone. So I have a million people in my reader, and I'm okay with that.

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  11. Oh you had me at the Brokeback Mountain picture. I shall never leave.

    /tears.

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  12. I've had people drop me on Twitter and on the blog because of either inactivity on my part, or my relevance to them ran out. I don't let it bother me, though. The ones who matter are the ones who stick around or return after a spell.

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  13. LM makes a great point. People read our blogs even if they don't comment. In fact, I've noticed since I joined Twitter that's more and more common. Folks follow the Twitter link, give a quick read and shoot me a message on Twitter, etc.

    Maybe blog culture has changed a little, and perhaps the social rules a little as well?

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  14. The number one reason I quit a blog is lack of reciprocity. However, if I consider the blog author a "friend," I will continue to follow them, but I won't comment as often. Like everyone else, I just don't have time to comment on everything I read or for everyone. So if there's no reciprocity (and I give them a lot of chances), I just move on.

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  15. I love this topic! Most of the time I stop reading blogs only because there are TOO MANY to read.... or I just read ten a day and can't keep up with all of them. That said, there are some that I've read reguarly and stopped reading because the blogger never reciprocated (I respond to all blog commenters), and once I stopped reading a blog because the person swore every five words (slight exaggeration) and it just wasn't interesting to me.

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  16. I have quit a couple of blogs because the bloggers have stopped writing, of course. I quit another because I had a serious falling out with the blogger in question over the way they treated a friend of mine.

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“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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