Friday, April 23, 2010

GUEST POST: The Blog Trap

Michelle Davidson Argyle, better known as Lady Glamis, is the co-owner of The Literary Lab (with Davin Malasarn and Scott G.F. Bailey), and also the proprietress of The Innocent Flower. She's focused mainly on Literary fiction, and is currently working on a novel called Monarch. Michelle is also an accomplished photographer.

Hey, everyone, I'm happy to be a guest blogger here today on The Secret Archives! I've noticed the running theme for the week has been blogging and social networking. Today I'd like to talk about the BORING BLOG. I've spent way too much time worrying if my blog is boring, trying to come up with frequent posts that will generate comments, driving myself crazy over follower and hit numbers.

Bad idea.

In my years of blogging, I've finally come to the realization that I'm a writer, and I shouldn't be putting more effort into social networking than I do writing. Scott Bailey did a post yesterday on The Literary Lab about blogging. He makes some good points, and I agree.

Like many writers, I've been sucked into the blog trap. Maybe you're not at risk for it, I don't know. I'm just speaking from experience. I've had days, sadly, where if a post didn't do well or get many comments, it made me depressed. Crazy. I think all of us crave attention at times, and all of us like to be liked and acknowledged. Blogs, especially successful ones, can fulfill those cravings daily. It's addicting.

So, back to the BORING BLOG.

Yes, boring - to a huge audience, anyway.

Some of the best blogs I frequent have few followers, few comments, and the posts (often infrequent) are usually specific to a certain audience - either book reviews or excerpts or something that requires a lot of effort and thought from the reader. Like Matthew states in his post earlier in the week, participation is key in building readership on your blog, but I'm not sure that a huge readership should be the goal for most us. I don't know why it has been a goal for me in the past, but my own participation has helped me gain a moderate size following. And, in a self-feeding cycle, I feel somehow guilty if I don't try and return the favor to every commenter on my blog by reading their blog and commenting, or at least responding to their comment. It's this little maddening cycle, while fun and rewarding at times, seems to have caught me in a trap to the point that blogging has become work.

The truth is, I love my blogs. I love comments and interaction and posts. The problem is I spend too much time doing it. What about you? Have you ever been caught in the blog trap?


L. T. Host said...

Oh, absolutely. I get caught up in worrying about my blog so much that I worry about it every day. Can't say the same for my WIPs. Sad, really... but I like blogging. Sometimes it feels like a chore, but it's definitely more instantly gratifying than writing a novel. There are layers to everything.

I do get worried that I'm just boring though too!

Natalie said...

YES!!! I think the thing that's been most frustrating to me is that I really want to read all of the blogs on my bloglist, but it is getting impossible. A part of me longs for the what my blog was 6 months ago, when I only had about 30 people on my list and I could read every blog every day and actually have an ongoing conversation with people. We want more readers, but more readers really do come at a cost. I feel like I've lost the friendship aspect of the blog and in a lot of ways that was the most valuable part of blogging.

Joshua McCune said...

Great post, Michelle... particularly like the point about spending more time writing than blogging. Though I post rather infrequently, I still find myself being sucked into other blogs... as Jen said yesterday, it's almost better to completely unjack sometimes.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

L.T.: See, it sounds like you're worrying tooooo much. I've been through this cycle one too many times. It needs to wind down and get to a manageable level.

Natalie: YES. That's exactly what happened to me. I follow like 600 blogs or something. I get over 300 new blog posts a day to read. I don't read them all. I've become very good at filtering through to what I have time to read, and what looks interesting. Good luck! It is a conundrum.

Bane: Yes, I used to unplug once a month, but I don't anymore. I really should do that again, but then I feel like I have to "catch up" and that's even worse! I just need to cut it way down and not worry so much about it. That way it will naturally filter down to a manageable level, I hope.

Christi Craig said...

Definitely, yes, I've fallen into the Blog trap. Articles and posts about the importance of platform and "growing a following" are usually the culprits that snag me into Blog worries. And, staring at stats is never healthy for me.

But, I recently convinced myself that two posts a week is just fine - and a lot more manageable. I'm more relaxed and am finding more time to write as well as read.

And, aren't those the true keys to becoming a successful writer?

Great post. Thanks!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Christi: Sounds like you've got things figured out! Writing and reading are the most important for me, yes, and I think for most writers.

Kirsten Lesko said...

I am 100% stuck in the blog trap right now. I dedicate so much time to it & have no idea if the effort will ever pay off.

I enjoy the friendships I've made from the blog - that won't change. But I just can't see it as a crucial tool in the marketing plan yet.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Kirsten: My guess is that the effort won't pay off in publishing. Maybe in more sales? I'm not sure. Everyone's different, but my blogs have paid off in the relationships I've made, that's for sure!

Anonymous said...

Well, it'd be easier to keep track of all the blogs I follow if the people who write them didn't friggin' guest post and drag me over to OTHER blogs that I must then follow because they're clearly entertaining, and those bloggers guest post and the cycle continues and I lose all my free time and sleep and stop eating real food so I can keep up with my commenting responsibilities and eventually go all cat-ass as if I'd spent 72 hours on a WoW bender. You know how that goes.

Um... yeah.

*runs off to check own blog comments and maybe tweet for a while*

Unknown said...

Well, yes and no. I do spend a lot of time reading and commenting, but the rewards are worth it - I've met some amazing and inspiring people in the blogosphere.

Downtime from writing to socialise is important, so I don't begrudge the time too much!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Simon: Wow, do I know that feeling! Yes, except for Twitter. I've never really been too into that.

Merrilee: I have met some amazing people, as well, and it's nice to guest blog at lovely places like this.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I'm totally in the blog trap right now. I just started blogging about two and a half weeks ago (starting my own blog was a birthday present for myself), and now I've totally become obsessed, not just with writing my own blog but reading what other people have to say. It's really interesting and fascinating, but I have found that blogging has become a reason for me to procrastinate when it comes to working on my manuscript. I just need to find a balance, I guess, so it'd be nice to find out how others do that.

Andrew Rosenberg said...

Sometimes I think about it too much. But I limit myself to 2 blog post per week, and I don't read them unless I have time or the subject sounds really interesting.
I have no idea how many people read my blog, and some posts get very little response, but I do it because I like to, and it gets me thinking about my writing outside of what I may be working on at the moment so I get perspective.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Neurotic: Good luck! If it's any consolation, I think I was most obsessed at the beginning. An important thing, for me, to remember is that my amount of followers is not a direct reflection on me or my writing skills.

Andrew: Your blog is smaller and very focused, and I like that. Not that a big blog is bad. There's many popular blogs I enjoy, too.

Adam Heine said...

Ever caught? Yes. Just yesterday I realized I had this thing in me saying, "If you don't comment on people's blogs, they'll stop reading yours." Had to tell myself it doesn't matter.

erica m. chapman said...

Oh yeah, I totally have fallen into that trap. Last night I wrote a blog post instead of revising. Woops.

Great post, definitely relevant and helpful.

*Off to follow your blog* ;o)

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Adam: Yes, even though it's nice to get comments, I sometimes forget to stop hanging my hopes on a lot of them. Even one is a great thing! But to give up half my day to reading blog posts because I feel obligated isn't always a good thing.

Erica: Ahhh! I hope you don't do that next time you need to revise. :) Thanks for the follow!

storyqueen said...

I am one of those twice a week bloggers posters. That's all I can manage, so that's what it has to be.

What is funny is that I have no idea how to gauge what type of post will garner a response or not. Sometimes I post stuff just for me...some issue that I'm struggling with that I simply want to give words to...and that will be the post that gets lots of responses.

It is only sad for me if I get 0 comments, otherwise, I'm happy with even just 1.


lotusgirl said...

I've had issues with this in the past. I'm finding that I'm doing the unplug week more (like this last week--no blogging). It really helps me keep things in perspective. If I were to blog all the time, I'd never get my writing done or have the time I need with my family.

dolorah said...

See, now I'm caught up on my blog reading for the week. Thank goodness many of my favorites only post mon-fri. Gives me the weekend to catch up. but today is a whole new day and so many more out there (like myself) wait for weekends to do their most posting.

Do I sound addicted? Too caught up?


Michelle D. Argyle said...

Shelley: I think you have a great attitude toward blogging!

Lois: I need to do unplug week again, but Scott and Davin don't unplug, so I feel bad doing it completely from the Lit Lab. You seem to have blogging under control, and that's great.

Donna: You're not too addicted or caught up unless you feel like it's encroaching on other things, I'd think.