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October 27, 2009

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Laura Grayson

Indeed blogging is something that should be for fun and for personal expression. Yet we cannot deny the fact that together with the other changing things in this world, blogging has also changed. Indeed it is sad when the joy of blogging is robbed because of competitiveness but then you should never let it affect why you blog.

elleica

i have been blogging since 2005 and like you i started it as a hobby. as time passed and people praised my writing, i was also led to enter my blog on those sites that ranks them. then my blog started getting nominated to blog awards. it was a nice feeling. and i almost thought blogging was to that end. but thankfully i realized what blogging should be and now i just enjoy the recognition as they come but still adhere to what blogging originally should be. :D

Chic Mama

I've only been blogging for a couple of months but must admit that I have been shocked at the competitiveness of some bloggers. In fact I have stopped following a couple because I can't stand the 'networking' and bitchiness....so I can't really comment on any changes over time, just that it is quite obvious that some bloggers have an ulterior motive for doing it.
I have found it a fantastic way of venting my sadness and anger whilst going through the worst time of my life, I have 'met' some wonderful people through blogging and am especially grateful for finding other people affected by addiction.
Lets hope it's not all spoiled by the minority.

Dan

I think that the ranking thing is a bit like blog stats. It's a good and valuable service and can be fun, but you need to make sure you aren't putting too much importance on them.

It's not easy though. I myself got very sulky when I thought I'd dropped off one of the lists the other day.

As you say, the important thing is the community. If a certain blog has an attitude that I'm not comfortable with, then I just let it slide out of my feedreader. They rarely notice I've gone. Sometimes the blogoshpere feels very small, especially when there is a group of bloggers all referring to each other in a network. But in reality it's pretty bloody big and there are always new blogs out there.

NotSupermum

Great post Rosie, and something I've also been thinking about recently (and one of the many reasons I decided to take a short break from blogging). I'm guilty of also getting caught up in the ranking thing, and trying to think of ways to improve my ranking - but I've decided not to bother anymore, I'm just going to do what I started out to do: blog for the fun of it. I also like the connections I make with other bloggers, and reading some fantastic posts from people I would otherwise never have had access to.

I also get a bit annoyed when some bloggers disapprove of reviews, etc. I have done a couple of reviews but they have been for products that are relevant to me, and that I would actually buy in the real world (Disney films and Ecover products). I don't see a problem with that - I haven't actually sold my soul to the devil!

Josie @Sleep is for the Weak

I struggle to understand the whole competitive edge.

Sure, there's nothing wrong with wanting a little validation and enjoying building a readership but 'popularity' seems so fickle and subjective. Having ten or twenty regular readers that I enjoy engaging with is worth so much more to me than anonymous statistics of much greater numbers. To me the measure of my success is, are people enjoying what I'm doing and enjoying what I have to say? If yes then that's a 'win' for me - what everyone else is doing or how I rank in terms of specific metrics is not important.

The thing that most irks me about competitive blogging is misguided sense that 'rank' = worth. To me it doesn't matter how many points you score or how often you are recognised - that doesn't mean that your blog is any less or more worthy. The thing I love about blogging is having so many unique and interesting voices - all of which are equally worthy and 'successful' in my eyes.

Whistlejacket

Sadly no matter what you pursue in life, there's always an element of competition. I'm fairly new to blogging and often feel like you. I didn't start it to get on a list somewhere, I didn't even realise blogging could be like that. Despite the lists I think there are different blogs for different people and I'm happy to find ones I enjoy whether or not they're ranked somewhere. I like Sally's top 100 list as it's a good introdution and from there you find other blogs which aren't listed but are just as good and sometimes better than those in the 'charts'. Yes it's nice to be recognised and easy to have a wobble if you're overlooked. We should all remind ourselves why we enjoy doing it.

Surprisemum

You know I nearly gave up blogging recently for exactly that reason. I wondered if I was cut out for it given the current climate.

I was flattered to be given the odd review etc, but that isn't why I blog.

In the end I stuck with it because it is fun, your blog is fun, which is just how it should be.

Insomniac Mummy

It's hard to find that balance isn't it?

After much thought I've just agreed to do my first review. I do worry what readers will think but ultimately it's my blog, my space and I'm essentially writing what I want, well, because I and any of us can.

As a relatively new blogger I find sometimes that it's easy to feel pressure, and much as I was thrilled to be included in the Tots 100 last month, life would go on and so would my blog if I weren't. The index is just needles in a haystack. There are probably thousands of parent bloggers out there with excellent blogs who are unaware of it and BMB.

I do enjoy the community aspect and always enjoy coming across new people and getting to 'know' them. I also like to step out of my immediate community and dip into the wider blogosphere. I follow new blogs everyday because the world is just so full of interesting people.

Blogging has made me realise that perhaps I'd like to take my love of writing further as, admittedly, I enjoy being read but at the end of the day none of those stats and ranking are as important as my 'real' life and family.

Will stop waffling now.....

Mwa

I know what you mean, and you are right. I like it when it's just about the writing and about learning and supporting each other.

TheMadHouse

I have to agree, I blog as a way to record our family life, after a double mastectomy earlier in the year. it is my choice. I am not competative about it, but I would get upset about really nasty comments, sometimes mothers are the harshest on other mothers

Spiragirl

I have been blogging for nearly 2 years now. I don't even know what these lists are! I blog because I enjoy it. I love reading others blogs and find the whole thing fun.

sam

I completely agree. We've been blogging for 6 months and when I started I don't think I thought anyone would read it. However, in a supreme example of beginners luck, we were listed in one of the Top 100's in our first couple of months. Each month subsequently we haven't featured and I had started to feel a slight flutter of panic that we were wasting our time and effort. But then I get individual comments from readers, saying thanks for the advice, or that they enjoyed a post, and it all seems worthwhile again. Maybe we all need to think in terms of the 'quality' of our readers and our impact on them, not necessarily the quantity.

Natalie

Like you, I have been blogging for a while - now over 5 years and have seen blogging change during that time. I've never submitted to lists, I don't check the various ranking things, and I try to keep a safe distance from the competitive element. I am fortunate enough that I turned blogging into my career although I keep my personal blog out of it. I find the sniping, competitiveness, and oneupmanship really uncomfortable. I agree that there seems to be cycles of it although it stems from being involved in communities within the overall blogosphere. I still keep in touch with some of the people who blogged back when I started - some don't blog, others went onto publish books, some still write their blogs - whatever they have done, I've been happy for them. Each to their own. I think what can be perturbing is that there can be a slight air of resentment from some. It's not nice. That said, the key is that unless they're someone who you value their opinion/relationship, it's best to rise above it because everyone does things for different reasons. Being competitive is not a bad thing per se, but maybe it's a case that people need to decide who they are and why they're doing it as it makes it easier to know who you want your 'community' to be made up of.

Tara@Sticky Fingers

This is something I've struggled with for a while too Rosie. I do not like the competitiveness which I have noticed creeping in to this blogging community.
I think it has changed the way a lot of people write and interact too - and not for the better.

While I'd love to be thought of as a great place to stop by for a read I don't really care if I'm number 1 or number 100 in any chart and so I pay little attention to it.
Sure it's nice to be named and lauded, but I don't want to get caught up in that whole 'where am I this month' thing. I've got enough things to worry about!
And I don't want to compete with anyone else. I blog because I love the community and I love to write. I don't care if a blog is in a top 10 list or fresh off the blocks, if I like it I will read it.
And there are plenty to discover at the British Mummy Bloggers site right now!

I've been blogging for nearly 3 years now and while I love that it has really exploded and brought lots of new writers out into the open, I'm not keen on the way it's heading either.

Sally

I really don't see so much competitiveness or sniping - maybe I'm looking in the wrong places. But I suspect it's more about the expectations bloggers place on themselves.

Yes, I know some people take the Tots100 index way more seriously than it's intended. Yes, some people go out of their way to post things that they think will boost their audience and their ranking. But that's not new (and I'm not just saying that because I'm increasingly feeling like the Grinch who stole everyone's blogging joy and I kinda want to just delete the whole thing at his point).

Before that I bet people were competitive about who had most awards, most followers, most comments, most fancy blog header.

You know what? People ARE competitive. Are you going to stop driving because someone is competitive about cars? Or stop having children because some Mums brag about their little genius offspring? You either take it on board, or ignore it.

So if you enjoy blogging, sod everyone else, just write your blog. I'd read it even if you weren't one of the UK's TOP mummy bloggers ;-)

Emma @ Not such a yummy mummy

I've only been blogging a couple of months and get excited if I get even 5 hits a day or 1 comment. I'm never going to end up in Tots 100 and I can't say I'm that bothered. Of course I would love to be popular and have people talking about what a wonderful writer I am but I can't see it happening!

I haven't really noticed competitiveness when I've been reading blogs (might not be reading the right blogs) so can't comment on that. Each to their own I think. If someone judges themselves & others on how successful they are then I think that's a little pathetic and they should be pitied.

Liz

Extremely interesting, Rosie. I agree with Sally, actually - most of us are competitive whether we want to admit it or not. I think that if you write a blog for the 'wrong' reasons you'll be on a hiding to nothing, you do have to enjoy what you do and write about things you feel strongly about/care about,which is why your posts are so readable.

But what I would add is this. The Indie top 50 was (I think I'm right in saying) a complete surprise to all the bloggers on the list and I think that's lovely - it wasn't compiled through metrics or anything else, just a list chosen by the person who put it together. It's the same kind of feature I've done a thousand times where I've chosen the 'best of'. That's not to denegrate it in any way - what an amazing thrill to be on that list! But I don't think anyone's taking it too seriously... are they?

Personally, I'm thrilled by the fact that today's carnival (as compiled by Hot Cross Mum) has been flagged up on Alpha Mummy, but as a journalist who has worked in a 'bylines-mean-business' culture for 20 years I guess that's a hard habit to break.

Of course if your blog carries competitions or advertising or anything else, or it's sponsored or hosted, then metrics are important, which is why the Tots 100 is so valuable. I also use it as a good way to lead me to different blogs to read.

I'm a relatively new 'mummy' blogger but I've been blogging for a while. I love the fact that a thought can pop into my head (hopefully not too random!) and I can write a post about it and I get that instant reaction from people... when you're working in magazines and newspapers you hope that you'll get a reaction but of course until the sales figures are in all you can do is hope for the best!

I also love your blog Rosie, and most especially I love tweeting with you. x

Littlemummy

I have always respected your opinion and read both of your blogs and I'm glad you've brought it up because I don't think you're alone.

I've been blogging for three and a half years - practically the dark ages now and I can vouch for the fact that there was never any competitiveness, or certainly if there was I didn't notice it.

I'm an extremely competitive person and would normally thrive on competitive lists and ranks but I don't think blogging is like that and I would hate to think that potential bloggers would be put off starting because of it.

I understand that these lists are ust for fun, because it's impossible to rank blogs with a system that is completely accurate, every time a metric is changed or added the whole list would change.

We all need to relax and get back to enjoying our blogging, it doesn't bother me if someone is a the the top of a list or a complete newbie, I'll read anything once :)

zooarchaeologist

I know exactly what you mean, when I first started a couple of years ago I dont think there were even that many mummy bloggers. I wasn't part of anything and didn't particularly want to be, I just did it for me. Mainly to learn about the internet and have a creative outlet whilst on maternity leave.

I think that in the last year it was become competitive, for me who is naturally very competitive I think this is a bad thing. I joined BMB and then I left as I thought that for me it was fuelling the competitiveness, I was finding it compulsive reading and I simply didn't like being part of a crowd with all the constraints that brings. Whether perceived or not.

In terms of the reviews and stuff, well, I proudly do them on my blog. I dont get that many offers and I am not all that picky, I just say exactly what I think. I don't actually care if people like it or not. I am not writing for an audience, its not a magazine. I write for me andmy family and friends and if others choose to read then fine and great. The free review stuff is all part of our life and what happens to us so I think its valid to write a review and I am grateful to people for asking me as I could not afford the stuff otherwise.

I reckon its best to try to stand aside, read what you fancy and not worry to much about lists and awards (I dont even bother with them these days as I dont think they are very relevant to my blog). I agree lets not make it a competition!

clareybabble

My friend started a blog and told me about it, so I decided to start one too. She wasn't part of BMB which I found by accident through Crystal Jigsaw's blog when it was a blog of note.
I don't have mum in the title (I'm not berating anyone that does though, there are some fantastic blogs with mum in the title!) because the blog was supposed to be about me and my family (I didn't know about 'parent blogging') and not just about me being a mum, although it is often like that!
I love being in the Top 100 and if by being in there, someone finds me and likes what I write, especially stuff about Little S and his needs, then that's great. I think most bloggers who get in there feel a sense of achievement and to be honest, quite flattered to be in there!
I recently thought about stopping blogging because of all the stuff said about reviewing, but now I have a review site where I review stuff I want to review because I can. I try not to care what others think now.
I don't think I've noticed too much competitiveness, probably because I'm a bit blonde and it goes over my head, but I'm sure it does exist! Most bloggers I 'know' have proved to be lovely, lovely people who I consider my friends :)

Sorry Rosie, that was a post in itself, I'll stop rambling now! xx

Working Mum

Do you know, I was thinking the same thing recently. My blog is a hobby. A way of letting off steam, writing for fun, recording things about my daughter I may forget and being part of a largely supportive community of like minded people. It's not a business for me, I'm not a writer and I don't want a book deal (I'm sure writing a book is a lot, lot harder than is sounds!)

I was even considering removing the gadget about being in the top 100 Parent Blogs because that's not what I'm about. I don't even know how I get in there every month because I don't advertise, I don't chase comments, I don't create links to increase my index, etc. I just blog for fun.

And I read blogs I enjoy, not because they are top of a list (I got very bored with Wife in the North!) Let's keep blogging for fun!

cartside

Like Sally and Liz, I think most people have a competitive strand. To be honest, I do get excited about every single follower and I'm extremely chuffed if I get into some top 100 list. But it doesn't affect my content. Above all, I blog for myself and because I enjoy it. I admit to trying to get more readers in the past, and BMB was clearly to blame - if you suddenly discover so many blogs (and my reading list has gone up from 10 to 100 subscriptions) and see how many followers others have, how could you not feel some sort of pressure? It's important though to take a step back and not let it take over. We're all different, and we like different things. I know my blog will never be a top blog - that's fine, I'm not that ambitious anyway and have too many other stuff going on in my life. Personally, I'm happy where my blog stand now and I no longer do anything to encourage more readers or comments. Which is a nice and honest position - I now only read posts of blogs I really like and comment on posts/blogs that connect, not ever for the sake of commenting or getting a comment back.

It definitely feels better that way now the competitive phase has been and is gone.

Liz@VioletPosy

I tend to agree with you, my heart sinks whenever I read someone getting upset or stressing about not being in a list or getting an award for something or other. I've been blogging on and off since 2005 and I swear I was just writing to myself for the first year!

I treat it now as something I do when I have time, there's no need to post every day and it's supposed to be fun not a chore. The people I most admire Amanda Soule, Alica Paulson, Sheye Rosemeyer and Tara Frey all treat it in the same way and I think it's the most sensible way to be.

Metropolitan Mum

Very interesting post. Although I think competitiveness doesn't have to be a bad thing. Blogs I consider better than mine inspire me to think harder about what to put up, which picture to choose, which theme to use. But my better isn't necessarily your better. And for sure it can't be measured in stats, comments or links.
I would not do reviews, but that's only because I am rubbish at it. I enjoy reading them on other blogs.
What I don't like are rankings that give the impression to be objective and representative for a certain community, when they clearly aren't. Transparency, thorough research and journalistic integrity is something I would love to see more often.
So far, Sally's list seems to be the only one that covers those principles.

If I Could Escape

I couldn't agree more, oh wise one!! I almost got all caught up in all that too, but decided to rise above it. I write for my own pleasure and amusement and if someone happens to enjoy it then great! I need to go and clean up my blog of all those sites I originally signed it up on coz they make my blog look messy and I'm just a bit OCD like that!!

Rosie Scribble

Laura Grayson, I agree, the blogging world is changing and we should not let that affect why we blog. Some of those changes are really positive and exciting. I have certainly been given some fantastic opportunities recently.

elleica, if is definitely great to gain recognition and to enjoy the process of achieving that. Let's carry on enjoying the process.

Chic Mama, as the comments there rightly point out, life is competitive and it affects us all to different degrees. There are positive sides to this as well as negatives. The important thing is to carry on enjoying what you're doing.

Dan, you are absolutely right. Ranking and blog stats can be a good and valuable service, and fun to look at. We do need to make sure we are not placing too much important on them, if doing so leaves us upset and stressed by the whole thing. Seems to defeat the purpose of blogging, which can be great fun.

NotSupermum, blogging for the fun of it sounds a good idea, and I agree that making connections is wonderful. I've met some great people through blogging and discovered some great blogs.

Josie@Sleep is for the weak, I like your measure of success - enjoying what you are doing and enjoying saying whatever you have to say. I can relate to that. And that is what I plan to continue doing.

Whistlejacket, I agree, there are different blogs for different people, and it is great that we are all different. Without variety, life would be dull!

Surprisemum, yes it is fun, never give it up!

Insomniac Mummy, I enjoy the community aspect too and discovering new sites. I hope it does encourage you to take your writing further.

Rosie Scribble

Mwa, yes, and we will continue to write, and learn and support each other.

The Mad House, I think a lot of people blog to record fanily life, it's a great way of doing it!

Spiragirl, Hooray! I plan to continue enjoying blogging. It is fun. I am guilty of taking these too seriously at times.

Sam, no, you are not wasting your time and effort. You blog and your tweets are great. I love you comment about quality over quantity. Very good point.

Natalie, As you say, each to their own. You are right, competitiveness is not a bad thing, per se. It's important that it does not affect why we blog.

Sally, yes, I think we all put high expectations on ourselves. No! Don't delete the Top 100. Ranking can cause an element of competitiveness, which as people have commented, is not necessarily a bad thing, per se. The point is not too get so caught up in it all that it affects the blogging process and takes the fun out of it. The Tots 100 is also helping people to find other blogs to read and many people are honoured to be in the list, me included! ;)

Rosie Scribble

Emma@Not such a yummy mummy, Quite a few people have also said, each to their own. We are all individual with unique blogs. There's something for everyone. Let's keep doing it!

Liz, I agree, we are all competitive, to an extent. It is human nature. It is a thril to be included in these lists, I agree, and they are a great way of finding other blogs which is why I would hate to see them disappear. They are a valuable contribution to the blogoshere. My point is that I want people to continue enjoying what we are doing without getting too stressed about the whole thing.

Littlemummy, Thank you very much. I think your attitude is exactly right. We all need to relax and enjoy blogging. Exactly my point!

Zooarchaeologist, I like your point about standing aside, reading what you fancy and not worrying too much about lists and awards. Whilst they have their place, they can be taken too seriously which takes the enjoyment out of blogging.

Clareybabble, Your blog is great and I think your posts about Little S as his needs are helpful to others too. I know you have received many supportive comments. There is a great community out there that we would have no contact with without the blogosphere. Let's continue doing what we are doing.

Working Mum, I agree, it is a great way of letting off steam and recording events that would otherwise be forgotten. Let's keep enjoying the process of blogging no matter why we do it!

Rosie Scribble

Cartside, I agree, it is important to take a step back and not let it take over.

Liz@Violet Posy, I really like your point - I treat it now as something I do when I have time, there's no need to post every day and it is supposed to be fun not a chore - I could not agree more!

Metropolitan Mum,Yes, competitiveness does not have to be a bad thing at all. I also agree with your point about transparency, thorough reaearch and journalistic integrity.

If I could escape, I am rarely called wise, this may be the first time, but thank you! Writing for pleasure sounds a great idea, and enjoying what we are doing.

A Modern Mother

Nice post Rosie and well needed. I'm not going to try to pretend to understand competitive drivers ... I do know that next year same time there will be more bloggers ...our community is just going to grow and grow. I'd say just write for yourself. That's what get readers anyway.

Tattie Weasle

I love writing and blogging. I origininaly started because of a competition in Country Living Magazine way back in 2007. I wanted to see if I could write and if anyone would be interested enough to want to read it. Much to my surprise many did. It was such a buzz. I continue to write about all sorts of things and review as well form time to time. I have also picked up paid work for my writing and it all started form a competition.
The one thing I would say is this never be cruel in your writing, be aware of other's feelings and don't take yourself or any publiciity too seriously!

Iota

I still think of you as Ingenious Rose.

I understand what you are saying, and I have had brief times when I've lamented the old days to myself. But the blogosphere is a big place and there is room for all.

To me it's like going out for a drink. You meet up with your friends and have a good chat, find out what is going on in their lives, air any moans you have about your own, enjoy a laugh together, talk about what's in the news... One of them might have brought a friend along, and so you meet a new person.

Meanwhile, the pub will be full of other people. Some of them will be doing the same thing as you. Others will be worrying if this pub is the hip place to be, and sneakily assessing the other drinkers. Others will be flaunting their new clothes, and looking around at what everyone else is wearing. Others will be talking in loud voices about their careers and seeking to impress everyone within earshot. Someone might come in seeking to promote their own live band. You might get someone coming round collecting for charity. This is all going on around you, creating buzz and noise, but you can still have a nice cosy time with your friends. You don't have to engage with the people strutting their stuff if you don't want to. That's what it feels like to me. I can do my thing alongside others who might be doing something different - though it looks the same.

I guess the pub might get too noisy and the atmosphere too obnoxious, and then we'd have to leave, but the blogosphere is a big place, not confined to four walls. The analogy falls down at this point!

Rosie Scribble

A Modern Mother, thank you. It is exciting to see the community growing and growing, it is all positive and there will be new blogs to discover.

Tattie, what a fasinating story. yes, you are right, we should all consider the feelings of others and enjoy the writing process. Thanks for visiting.

Iota, you are absolutely right, there is room for all. Your analogy is brilliant and written like a pro. Thank you.

Jo Beaufoix

Late to the party but this is a great post Rosie and you know I agree completely with it. I've decided to keep on writing as I always have and just enjoy it. My blog is my hobby and a creative outlet, and it's been fantastic for my health so I will continue to blog whatever. Yes it's lovely to have people say nice things about you, but as so many people have said in all these brilliant comments, the friendships and support I have are so much more important than numbers.
And ok, the freebies are nice too, but at some point they will stop and we will carry on.

Deb

I'm a bit outside the mummy blogging sphere (I'm a mum who blogs about gardening) but I can see how it can get competitive. I guess if people really don't want to be involved in that there are ways to remove yourself.

I love what Liz@violetposy wrote. She is my all-time favourite UK mummy blogger and has a really healthy, generous attitude to blogging. I want to be like her when me and my blog grow up.

Tim

You know, I'm not going to lie. I lurve getting comments, and I was sooo excited when I made the Top 100. But then, I'm a man. (At least, I was last time I looked.) We love competing. Maybe we should all go to the pub after the Tots 100 index has been published?

Her on the Hill

I haven't had time to read all the above comments, much as I would like to - and then hop over to each and every one of you to have a look at what you are writing! - so I apologise if I'm repeating what people have said above.

I agree with Rosie's post i.e that I sense there is a potentially slightly unpleasant air of competition out there these days. Once Wifey got all her publicity (but hey, she was a journalist and had all the contacts, let's face it!) things really took off - and as more articles appeared in national newspapers about parent bloggers then, of course, more and more people leapt on the bandwagon with a view to being 'recognised'. Sure, it would be fantastic if someone threw me a book deal. Sure it would be great to get my name in a newspaper or magazine - sort of. But this is the rub: the moment you get 'noticed' I think you change. You are no longer writing from the heart. The innocence is lost - and, for me, I find the blogs and bloggers that have been 'discovered' run the risk of losing the charm that made them readable in the first place. But then I've always run a mile the moment something becomes over-commercialised or over-exposed (I never DID go and see 'urassic Park' for that reason alone!).

I know nothing of lists, indexes (I've got a technorati widget but I actually have never really understood how it works and never check it anyway). It is lovely to have people appreciate what you are doing - and I really value that - but I'd be a wreck if I worried about it more than that. I write because I want to about what I want to write about. That's the one most important thing to hold on to. THAT is the freedom of the blogger.

PS: have just gone up and read Iota's comment and it is absolutely spot on - the perfect analogy as far as I'm concerned, even down to the fact that the analogy breaks down in the last sentence!! Marvellous.

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