The Sticky Ickiness of Particulars
At the start of this year , l began the journey to ‘defining my blog’. Identifying what l wanted to write about – the frequency, topicality, diversity, entertainment factor, enjoyment and so on – what was working as well as what l liked, and my readers also enjoyed.
All new bloggers travel through this initial courtship with their blogs – we either decide to marry into the concept or we leave looking for new pastures. In January l had been blogging for around 16 months already and l was really starting to understand my blogging style, but l knew l still had a ways to go on this learning curve.
This post isn’t directly about blogging; it is about the bloggers themselves though. During that same month [January], l received an email from an unknown party who was quite angry with my new way of formatting my response to receiving Awards from fellow bloggers. Furthermore they ‘challenged me’ and said that if l thought the older awards were so bad, why did l not create an award of my own?
I gave this some serious thought, so much so, that 12 months on – l do have an award of my own – and it is different – but in many ways, it isn’t an award as such, but a gift. It doesn’t work like an award; it works like a compliment from one person to another and it doesn’t have huge expectations attached to it that consume time.
It is easy to create an award, anyone can do it, and many do, but what isn’t easy is really to take the time to understand what and why awards are liked, hated and detested and just tolerated … but equally for some reason awards are still quite popular. What was it about receiving an award that bloggers both appreciated and disliked with a passion at the same time? The answer is ‘TIME!’
I like a challenge l can bite into, and l believed that this would be a worthy project, it has taken me 12 months to finalise it after hours and hours of watching, observing and noting reactions from people.
First off my thanks to a friend who gave me some cracking advice back in the early part of this year and that was to look at my fellow bloggers About sections – so thank you Ursula. This proved beneficial as a key to the awards. It was indeed the About sections which helped me understand what people liked and didn’t.
A Journey into About and Time!
As a blogger, l write for an audience equally as much as for me and all of us are basically the same. Any blog that ‘hosts’ prompts are with deliberation offering a feature out that they hope will further encourage and motivate readers to respond, as in comparison to simply writing a blog entry where upon some readers – may respond. When a reader does in fact respond, that is a hit.
A ‘like’ without a response, is also nice, but of course sometimes honest likes are misinterpreted as bulk liking or false liking – those who haven’t read the post but have hit like in the Reader Directory dashboard.
It’s a common practice by many of the community and it is performed for several different reasons – friendly support, to show to the blogger that the post was liked and also, because not all of our readers have 1] anything of value to add to your words but they like what you have written and 2] we have a lot of shy readers who do not respond to posts but hit like to show they liked the post and they are supporting you.
We then have what l term the Likemonli’s – these are the readers who have not read what you have written, but they have blindly ticked Like in the Reader your post as they scroll through the many thousands of posts that are produced daily.
Now NOT all of the Likemonli’s are terrible – but when we create a post it is either appealing to another person’s eyes or it isn’t – it is usually when readers have become accustomed to your content that they first like but may not read, like and read and don’t comment, then like, read and maybe comment to like, read and always comment.
Time and the restrictions of is mostly the reason for whether a post gets read – all of us, from readers to writers alike suffer with time problems! We run out of the stuff when faced with the reality of life!
We can’t do everything, we are not bots, we are people! There are only 24 hours in each day, and realistically if you are working, have children, have a full time job, are not retired and have an active social life and your blog is not your business then your time is precious … so if you only have an allocated time per day to read, comment and write then you must balance that.
This year alone, l have very deliberately cut back on my production of published content. At the start of the year including shares of other blogger’s work and my own internal reblogs of older content, l was producing in addition to prompts and my written posts on the day an average of 15 posts daily. That’s a lot! It’s a lot of time consumed as well not just from me, but l placed a huge expectation on another’s time and that was bad of me. But we learn. I had to learn also, moderation and regulation – notable arch enemies of mine.
I am a verbose guy. This is also an item of consideration to those whom are short of reading time – if they know me and well, then they know that some of my posts are going to be … long!
There are a LOT of reasons for readers who choose to read or not when they see posts – the first few lines of the post seen in the reader, the images used, the title of the post and the content. I write and run a lot of series, over time readers become used to seeing the same titles especially on the series and so they know what to expect …. there is a whole range of as many diverse reasons for reading from a reader’s point of view as there are for writers to create their written content. At the end of the day, our posts will either appeal or they will not. Never mind the length of the content which will also and always be a consideration.
Readers will read what they want – in the Reader especially – they will either genuinely like your content after reading or not, or they will only ‘Likemonli you!’ I used to worry about this, now l don’t. It’s the way of life on a platform that publishes millions of words every day – it isn’t down to the readers to filter through every post, it is down to us to make and create an appealing post worthy of reading. But we still always come back to one thing – readers will read what they wish to and have the time for. If you accept that as a creator, you’ll never have a problem or suffer from a hang up.
The Blog Awards
When l started to change the way, l received awards it was not with a deliberate intention of upsetting anyone – the giver or the creator. I always make a 100% effort to create a post that gifts quality back to both. My reason for change was not to insult anyone, my reason was because the awards were too Time consuming and l personally didn’t think they made arrangement through scaling for veteran bloggers who struggle more with time restraints than those first starting out.
I didn’t like some of the wording either – maybe my Aspergian brain struggled with the terminology or maybe logically some of the words were just not right. I removed the use of the word – Nomination, l replaced it with Gifting which l found was more appropriate and more in line with the reality of the gift l had received. I replaced the word Rules – with Guidelines – because if we are under no obligation to respond and there is no award for a nomination as a prize then why are we being ruled?
Then we have the problem with the sheer volume of questions posed and the further tagging’s of other bloggers. Some of the awards ask for 11 of each that’s a lot already for anyone new or veteran – then at times the awards are changed by over enthusiastic bloggers who decide that 11 of each is just not enough!? I have had awards to me before where l received 15+ questions to answer and not forgetting to create and pose back and l had to further tag another 15 bloggers!
That’s too much of an expectation and too demanding an obligation.
Awards are lovely, and l mean that – they are – l love to receive them and l am always grateful, but they demand a lot of things from each blogger and sometimes, it is not reasonable, realistic or even fair. Many a time the award criteria is not met and then any blogger is tagged – Sunshine, Mystery whichever they each have a certain criterion for helping you to choose your bloggers – but most of the time these are no longer adhered to. Then we have the pomposity of the ceremony – creating the response – it’s all a consumption of time.
What l noticed over this past year is that a lot of blogger’s like the idea of being tagged or gifted but are completely turned off by the demands … so they choose to not respond, not participate or only answer questions and ask their own … maybe, or never tag and the list goes on and also people detest the further tagging of other bloggers and see it as a chore!
It has in some quarters become almost taboo for bloggers to even want or wish to tag anyone and not just on awards but many things and so what they do is they leave it open for anyone to join in if they want the award … that’s a bit defeatist.
The other nightmare is the bad reputation these awards have acquired – being referred to as chain mail shite, which is a shame, because the genuine intention of thought originally in the creation of the award was kind. But abuse and neglect and a misunderstanding of requirements has led to some bloggers absolutely detesting these awards.
So, What’s the Answer Then?
People love to be complimented for something they are doing … something they love doing, that they are passionate about – that’s it. They further love the idea that they have perhaps made an impact on you.
So, in the process of looking to create an award of my own, l had to take much into consideration … what is it that people really didn’t mind? It came back to basic ‘goodwill’. It came to people being complimented without having to run around looking for 11 other people to compliment because they were and had been.
“I like what you do, l like your style!” There we go, paying a compliment is simple. The response is simpler ‘Thank you’.
It didn’t require rocket science to see what was needed … a no fuss, no ceremony, no pomp, no additional tagging, no questions, no obligations, no expectations, no guidelines, no rules, no nominations, no answer requirement even. So when l saw that, l realised that an ‘award’ as such wasn’t needed – a gifted compliment was enough to say
“I really like what you do and l wanted to tell you in a way that made an impact for you as much as your words have impacted me!”
So, l created a simple “Gifting the Compliment” that’s it. I gift bloggers a compliment based upon content and style of theirs. I am always behind on my reading, as hard as l try l am always behind, it is rare that l see posts from those l follow on the day they create them … it doesn’t not happen, but it’s rare. So l tend to be about 2 – 3 weeks behind with my reading even with restrictions on writing l still struggle, but when l read l come across some absolute gems – because l do read bloggers posts and l never like anything unless l have read and more importantly really liked it.
I don’t reblog other blogs content anymore, but what l do is take down the name of the post and the link and save it to a document – because these are posts that are really good and l really liked them – they made an impact on me they made a difference to my day and by sharing them again they may have an impact on others too.
In the first post of the day from tomorrow onwards l will be starting to gift the compliment to blog posts l have read over the last few weeks that have made my day as a reader. There is no obligation attached to the gift, it is purely a compliment from one blogger to another – from me to you.
I have two designs, one for the month of December, and one for the rest of the year … every few days to once a week reflectively l will compliment three blog posts – l currently have a small back log.
Thanks for reading.