Much ado is made of blogging consistently among those who strive to increase their subscriber counts. This is almost always among the first (if not the very first) pieces of advice that new bloggers will get from veterans of the blogosphere: be consistent!
Generally, I agree with this. I mean, what’s to disagree with, right? Everyone likes to know when their favorite television and radio shows will be on; and it’s no different with columnists and bloggers. Certainly, in terms of building your readership, it’s better to publish one post on a weekly basis than to publish several in quick succession and then abandon your blog for several weeks.
Recently, however, I suddenly saw this idea in a different light, based upon my own experience thus far on WordPress.
Who is your primary readership?
I would love to know if any of you disagree with me on the following – the people who most read your blog are other WordPress bloggers.
Am I wrong?
I don’t think I am.
So I think it’s fair to reflect upon what kinds of relationships we have with other bloggers… without whom we would have pretty much no readers at all.
Are “online” relationships part of “real life”?
Now, based upon lingo that I picked up decades ago, I’ve gotten used to referring to friends that I interact with in person as RL (real life) friends, as opposed to my online friends, which would include WordPress bloggers that I’ve never met (and am unlikely to meet) in person, some of whom are completely anonymous to me.
Perhaps justifiably, I’ve received some pushback from other bloggers upon making using of these terms. The argument has been as follows: “real life” in the modern day includes our online interactions with people all around the world. Therefore, it’s wrong to suggest that “online” friends are somehow not participants in our “real lives”.
This has left me thinking a lot about what the differences between “online” and “in person” friends really are. Are “online” friends part of my “real life” to the same extent that “in person” friends are?
The main difference
There was a point at which I thought that anonymity might be the main difference between “in person” and “online” friends. That seemed like a very major distinction to me, although I knew, even then, that some of my “online” WordPress friends knew me better than many people whom I interact with regularly in person.
At this stage, I’ve come to feel that anonymity is only marginally significant to the quality and nature of the friendships that I’ve formed on WordPress. The greatest downside to “online” relationships with other bloggers is something else entirely.
The difference, I think, is that the friends whom I interact with in person do not simply disappear from my life without my knowing what has happened with them, whereas “online” blogging friends have (and some, it seems, without so much as a thought).
Let’s say that I were to entirely stop posting on the Skeptic’s Kaddish and ceased responding to emails. At what point would you notice my absence? What would you do once you had? How would you check up on me? What efforts would (/could) you make to determine what had happened to me? At what point would you be likely to give up?
Food for thought, right?
Consistency = (“Online”) Friendship
This train of thought has completely reframed the “consistency” blogging mantra for me.
While bloggers may be nothing more than entertainers for some readers, it is obvious that we become much more for many others. Look at the comments sections of our respective blogs where we show support, appreciation, and concern for one another… is that merely entertainment? Are those interactions merely reflective of our drives to increase our subscriber numbers?
So… looking at “consistency” in this context imbues it with an entirely different significance, doesn’t it? With “online” friendships, if we are to consider them part of our “real lives”, consistency is absolutely and unquestionably essential.
After all, if you’re going to become emotionally attached to somebody that you’ve never met who lives far across the world from you… don’t you at least want to know when you can next expect to hear from them?