Lead or follow?

I’ve been reading the new posts provided by WordPress on their Freshly Pressed page. Not only do they now display the top 19 selected fresh posts of the day (I had no idea it was this many!) but they also have included a feature roundup of the previous month’s top 10 posts. I scan and skim and read what appeals to me.

I used to read them all (thinking there were only 10) when I first started blogging. I made comments to try to entice feedback and traffic to my own blog. I found myself making comments on posts that didn’t interest me or appeal to me directly. I had to ask myself why I was commenting on a blog that a) I was not that interested in, b) had nothing to do with my blog, and c) whose target audience would likely not be drawn to my own.

I write a running/life blog. This, to me, means that I write about my running and training, but also whatever interests me and what I find I’d like to write about. This is different than writing for a target audience – unless I am writing about running, I am not targeting a specific audience. Consequently, I often gain followers after I have posted a running post. It hasn’t stopped me from posting non-running-related posts, but I also know that those posts are more about me improving my writing skills, than gaining followers.

If your blog is public, it’s fair to say you probably want followers. I like the interaction with my fellow bloggers/followers through comments. I like knowing that I am writing for someone; knowing there is someone reading my words makes me more accountable. I try to create a finished product before I hit publish.

I don’t know many of my followers personally. Some are friends, one is family and some have shared interests. I don’t know the interests or habits of most of my followers. When creating a post, I try to make the post as honest as possible and strive to create a sense of appeal. I’m realizing that the more universal appeal my post has, the more followers I will have.

Posting more frequently is a way I try to gain more followers and create an audience. If you post more often, there are more chances for other bloggers to find your blog initially. During the summer months it seems a lot of bloggers have tapered their posting schedules and I find myself going through blogs and not finding new material. This is understandable, but the appeal of a blog is also that the material is new and refreshing.

Blog Machine

(Photo credit: digitalrob70)

I have a lot of blogs I follow, probably too many to manage well. Some I joined initially because they were Freshly Pressed, some post topics I am interested in, and some because the writing is inspirational. For these latter blogs it doesn’t really matter what the subject matter is, it’s that the material is handled so well and the information flows so easily that I read it all.

Reading other people’s blogs can help a lot with my own writing. I read something and when I’m drawn in, I go back to analyze what the appeal is to me. I know that the Freshly Pressed folks often suggest that photos are a great way to visualize what you are trying to express and help to break up the post. They provide another sort of stimulus to a post’s material and help to solidify what the author is trying to share. I agree that photos are a great way to augment a post, although at times the writing on its own does not necessitate the support of photos. I find sometimes I read to the end of a post before I even realize there are no photos.

Blog Header

Are you a follower? (Photo credit: John “Pathfinder” Lester)

*My question for this post is about who you follow. What appeals to you and what do you find inspirational?  Are the blogs you follow closely related to what you write about?  What do you find consistently “works” in a good blog post?

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6 thoughts on “Lead or follow?

  1. For me it’s the writing. If you’re a great writer and I’m interested in the topic, I could care less if you have photos. However, I also follow quite a few photo blogs, where great photos are the main focus and the writing becomes secondary. I rarely check Freshly Pressed. I do tend to follow other blogs about running, travel, and photography.

    • I agree that photos aren’t the make-or-break aspect of a post for me. They can certainly add to a post, but again I think the writing is what is elementally the greatest draw for me. If the writing is good, I won’t skim, photos or not.

  2. Seeing as my blog is more of an outlet than a blog with a specific subject or theme, I vary quite widely in what I will read or follow. I do follow a lot of photography blogs, any that I find particularly inspirational or beautiful. But like you say, I follow most of them because they have inspired me or moved me in some way.

    • I like blogs that make me think about things in a different way. Or address odd topics, like everyday life.
      For me it still comes down to how well something is written and I can find inspiration in just reading well-written words, even if the topic is insignificant.
      Thanks for your comments!

  3. I hear you on many of your points!

    Regarding Freshly Pressed, it definitely is a great avenue for getting traffic back on your blog, but such a waste of time if you are reading the FP posts that aren’t of interest to you.

    I also agree that having consistent new posts is a good habit to maintain if you want to ensure that people stick around. On the other hand, if you post too frequently, people could also get turned off. Or just not read all of them.

    To answer some of your questions: I find positivity appealing in other blogs — I find it motivates me to keep positive myself. I like when blog posts make me think about things (like this one 🙂 … What works in a good blog post is not just good content, but also good structure, especially if it’s a long post.

    -Janice

    • Hi Janice,
      I agree that good structure is also key to a good post. There can be a lot said, but if it’s well organized than it will be an easy read.
      I have found myself wasting time on FP when there is nothing that really interests me.

      I also like inspiring and motivating posts. Thanks for your kinds words, and your comments. 🙂

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