My Blog Readers

The internet is a nameless, faceless place if you want it to be. But all the same, it’s populated with people. Just like you or me. It’s like being on the road. Those cars seem to be trucks or sedans or tiny Beetles hurtling down the road but they’re really not.

There are people behind those big machines and just like people, they have natures of their own.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some people read my blogs recently. As I’ve interacted with some of them, explicitly through comments, or implicitly by observing their “likes,” or sensing their lack of interest through absence, I’ve been thinking of them as people (as I did in My Blog Audience).

But I have also been thinking of them more specifically as readers.

Like
Like (Photo credit: afagen)

I’ve been pondering a couple of questions. Is there a way to figure out how people read my blogs? Once I do that, is there a way to determine what aspects of my blog appeal to what kind of readers? Once I answer these two questions, is there a way to retain the interest of each kind of reader more effectively?

Now, of course, the content or subject matter of one’s blog is the most important aspect here. If I’m only interested in dating and relationships, I probably won’t check out your technology blog. And if I’m looking for funny blogs at the end of the day to unwind, I probably will go for the humour section. If I’m especially tired, perhaps only those blogs with more pictures and less text will appeal to me.

But then, we’re people, not cars. In the case of a car, a Beetle is a Beetle and an SUV is an SUV. But people can be a little of this, a little of that, and something else too.

We may be wanting to read sad blogs when we’re sad and happy blogs when we’re happy. But we’re unpredictable. When we’re sad we might go for  happy blogs and when we’re happy we might go for  sad blogs . As if this isn’t enough, to complicate things,  the poet seems to have been right: “our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.” Go figure!

So I don’t know what to think!

Beary Confused
Beary Confused (Photo credit: Jenn and Tony Bot)

The number of hits could be an indicator of what people like but then, this is not always accurate. It would have been a good indicator had blogging been synonymous with advertising but thankfully, it’s not. It could just be the time of day that made people load your page or the title, but once you’ve had them do that, you may not retain them as readers.

And “like” could mean anything from “look at me” (usually within a few seconds of posting), “I’m a bot” (why can’t there be more intelligent bots that wait out the reading time?), “I read you,” “I read the first few lines” to “Thanks for the effort of writing,” “Liking you because so many people did,” “I really like you.”

In my experience, I’ve had the following kinds of readers. Again, most people are a bit of this and a bit of that.

The browsers. I say hello. You sometimes say goodbye.
The picture seekers. I say, look at my writing too. Please!
The likers. What did you mean by like? Please explain sometimes.
The self promoters. Be subtle and read me too. We’re all a symbiotic community here.
The self reflectors. You only like me when I echo you. Fine. I’m happy with that.
The nice folks. You always have nice things to say. Thanks. What didn’t you like? I want to improve.
The engaged critics. Thanks. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Let me know how I’m doing!

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95 thoughts on “My Blog Readers”

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  4. Hi bottleworder, thanks very much for visiting my blog and liking my post. It was greatly appreciated, especially because I am a new blogger and just getting started. I love your blog, especially your musings on the nature of writing on the internet. Keep it up! Thanks again.

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  5. Thanks for liking one of my posts (the one with the Hemingway quote).

    I think people hit the LIKE button when they’ve read a post and enjoyed it, can relate to it, agree with it, but don’t have enough time to comment.

    I appreciate the LIKEs and the comments I get. Whichever one is fine. It’s nice to know that people stop by my blog and read my post(s).

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  6. As others have said I think the best reason we should blog is for ourselves, to say how we feel or what we think, the rest is incidental (or maybe “should” be incidental). Hopefully what we write from the heart has interest for others, then they will read. Granted when we bare our souls for someone we hope they find something in our words that touches them on some level, and it may not always be the case, but we need to keep writing.
    I think posting only to garner “likes” or to increase our stats is missing the point. It’s a great side-effect but not the point. Write for writings sake. If your site is monetized then of course that’s different.
    I like what you do, and by like I mean I enjoy your writing and your sfyle. I can agree with much of what you say, and how you say it. Keep it up!
    ps thanks for “like”ing my post LOL

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    1. 🙂
      I must say that even though one might think audience is incidental, there’s a lot to learn from readers. For example, I learnt a lot from the comments on this blog than I knew before, when I wrote this.

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  7. I love this, especially because I came here after you liked one of my recent posts! I was curious to see what kind of blog you write, that you might maybe be interested in something I had written. I was pleased to find this thoughtful musing right near the top. I plan to keep exploring for a while.

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  8. Oh jeez. I read this post and about a third of the comments. I have so many of the same questions. I really like the way you’ve broken it down to describe different kinds of readers. I agree: there is so much to wonder about when writing in such an immediate format. The instant feedback (or lack thereof) really triggers my compulsive tendencies. Why are people reading? Are they really reading? Who’s reading it? Why aren’t they commenting? It’s crazy-making.
    I’m not self-promoting here (really) but did want to share a post I wrote on this subject called Windows and Mirrors that has to do with what we are seeking when we use social media. A view into somebody else’s world, or a reflection of our own, or both… it gets confusing.
    I can’t stand it when people seem to “like” or “follow” my blog just so I’ll go check out theirs. It seems like a lot of people do that simply to build readership, and then they have a bunch of “yes men” who click “like” on every post even if the writing is terrible.
    I’ve only been doing this for a few months, and there is sure a lot to learn… a lot that has nothing to do with the craft of writing.
    And again, I really appreciated your comment earlier today. It was the first comment I’ve ever gotten that had anything to do with style and structure of my writing, and it was so wonderful to feel somebody “got” what I was trying to do. Plus, it introduced me to your blog, and now you have a new honest-to-goodness reader.

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  9. I believe the readers are also writers who are looking for a connection to other writers. Sometimes I “like” a post but not the overall content of the blog. Once in a while I am not as affected by the writing as I am by the effort so I may leaving an encouraging comment on a particular post. There are blogs I “follow” and other blogs I visit regularly. Typically, I read for a while to gauge whether or not my comments would be welcome before I start indiscriminately blathering on.

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  10. I often wonder these things as well. All good writing keeps the audience in mind, but it is also impossible to connect with every reader. Whether the writing is humorous or melancholy won’t matter as much to the readers without honesty. This is what I try to keep in mind because that’s what will resonate most with readers.
    Your writing is honest, and I enjoy your writing style. I have been reading, and I am sticking around to read more!

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    1. Thanks 🙂 Honesty in writing–that’s a very complex thing to ponder about. I wonder if honesty in writing is the same as honesty in real life. I mean, in journalism, it would mean honesty in the sense of reporting what is true. In other kinds of more creative pursuits, it’s worth thinking what honesty might mean. But I know readers are very sensitive to honesty in writing as you say.

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  11. BottledWorder, here’s one good way to get some idea of what your readers like to see. Go to your Site Stats in WordPress, then go to Top Posts and Pages, then click the “Summaries” link and click on the All Time link. This will give you an idea of which of your posts have been read most often by your blog readers.

    I like to analyze trends and patterns, so I check this area of WordPress sometimes. I am conscious that my readers have taken some precious time out of their busy day to read my blog, so I bear that in mind as I’m writing and do my best to make reading that day’s post worthwhile for them. Knowing the kinds of topics readers like to see is helpful.

    But I also agree with Ankoku and Grapes that determining a person’s specific reasons about why the reader likes a blog, follows it, etc., is difficult since everyone has their own motivations. Writing a blog of high quality, such as yours, will always attract readers.

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Eagle. Will try this. Since you mention quality, I’ll say one thing I forgot to mention in the blog itself. It’s amazed me how sensitive readers are to quality. I used to post blogs quickly, immediately “as they came” earlier but when I started waiting a while (even as short a period as half an an hour), re-reading it, editing the content and then posting it, there were so many more positive responses. That’s not to say you ever know what people will like the most but knowing that your writing will not fall below a certain level.

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      1. Heh! I know what you mean. I sort of cringe at some of my early posts. I have taken to writing them offline, reading them through and then waiting till next day to re-read and edit before posting.

        And I’m still not sure they’re reader-worthy. 😦

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  12. I so relate to your post but.. It seems odd to me that as soon as I publish a post I immediately get a like or 2. Given the length of “some” of my posts it isn’t possible that the bloggers actually read my post. What does this mean? I really do appreciate feedback and not just a “like” for the sake of bringing you to my attention (LOL). Still, I have to admit that I’ve found some really cool blogs that way! Keep it positive. The purpose of my blog is for me to have a place to create. While I truly love the comments and such I have to remind myself that , for me it’s not a popularity contest.

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  13. In this day and age, where “Liking” something can have so much meaning, I try to make it simple…
    If they clicked the “Like” button, then something I wrote, some idea or even something I said stood out enough for them to click the button. It’s the same reason I click the “Like” button. But I also try to leave a comment when I feel I have something to share, whether I agree or not, or if I liked what I read in general.
    I hope that people do the same with my blogs, but in the end, I’m blogging as a place to express myself. If no one read it, I’d be bummed, but I’d still blog and post. No matter what you write, you do it for yourself first.
    Keep writing! 🙂

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  14. Well, normally I’m a “liker” mainly because I don’t have time to read and comment on every blog post I read but want the author to know I’ve taken the time to read their post. I do think it’s interesting to figure out why people come to my blog, or any other blog and choose to read, follow, like or just pass through.

    Although, honestly, I don’t think it’s possible to categorize every person who comes to any blog. As you said, we’re all individuals with individual motives. While I might assume someone who always likes but never comments isn’t reading my blog or just wants me to look at what they’ve written, they may simply have nothing to say, or English may not be their first language (making commenting difficult). While I think you’ve made a decent list of the people who could be stopping by, be careful you don’t lump people into categories. That’s the best way to turn all your individual readers into clicks and email notifications.

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  15. I came upon your blog because you “liked” mine. ha. yet there was no comment from you? 😦 are you a bot?… or did you really like it?.. lol… interesting blog… good information for someone like myself who is new to blogging…. Thank you! 🙂

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  16. I’m a liker and here’s why: That little Like button is a way for me to say, “hey, I stopped by and read what you wrote, and it struck a chord.” Many times I don’t comment because I either have nothing to add to the comments already there, or it would merely be “Good post.” because I’m crunched for time. “Like” is a wave. I can’t stay for a cup of coffee and a chat, but I can salute your words. 🙂

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  17. Hm. Interesting question ‘who visits and why’ and one I have pondered along with how do I reach more people and how do I engage more people? This is relevant as I want to be published and I am considering self publishing right now.
    New to this game and don’t yet understand how to reach people at all. Stats go up and down and I haven’t reached the dizzy heights of your blog. However, sometimes I visit and like within seconds. This usually means I’ve been before, read, gone away and thought about it. So don’t knock the flighty ones. Also, I have your blog by email, so have often read half of it before I arrive.
    By the way, how do you know how long people are on your blog? Do the stats tell you that? I try to keep up to date and read the people I’m following. If I fall behind, then it takes ages to catch up.
    What keeps me with people?
    Their voice, that truth within their writing that means they touch me and I identify with something within them. Not fussed on photos (that was why I moved from Blogger after 3 days, just too many photographers and not enough writers).

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    1. who visits and why: I think the only way available would be to visit their blogs
      how do you know how long people are on your blog? Don’t know. But those who “like” almost simultaneously with my posting it appear immediately as that orange notification on top
      Thanks for telling me all this. Visitors to the blog also emerge through comments like yours.

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  18. I wish I could sit on the sidewalk outside my blog and say hi to everyone who walks through the door. It’s always hard to say how much people are getting out of what you write, but for every engaged reader there are usually a lot of others who enjoy reading but won’t ever take the time to comment. So I like to assume for every positive word I hear about my writing there are approximately ten or twelve billion people who are thinking the same thing but haven’t bothered to email me. My numbers could be a little off though.

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    1. That’s a great context to imagine. It’s like this WordPress forum is a great street fair and we all have small kiosks here. People walk by, peep in, stay a while, get engaged, participate or look from a distance. Even when no one stops by, one spends the afternoon arranging one’s own fare while looking at other kiosks and enjoying the aromas and din drifting in from other stalls! Your numbers are not off–it’s twelve billion 🙂

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  19. I’ve been thinking a lot about this, too. I don’t “like” every post I read, only those that resonate with me for some reason. I did visit your blog because you liked mine, but I wouldn’t keep coming back, nor would I have followed it, if I didn’t enjoy your writing and your topics.

    That said, I’m currently obsessed with the “stats” page of my WordPress site. I’m simply astonished that in the last six months, I’ve had visitors from 19 different countries! That just blows my mind…I love being able to look at that, and see how many people found me through Facebook, through search engines—and even the search terms that led them to my blog. Too cool.

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  20. We blog for many reasons, and I know who I follow changes with the seasons or what is going on in my life. I write as a journal, just for me and I’m a new blogger with wordpress. I have written for other blogs, but this is new to me here. We all relate on different levels and as long as we stay true to who we are as our own person, the right stuff will follow. 🙂

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  21. Interesting subject, bottledworder. I’ve been thinking about the subject matter/focus of my blog as well lately and how that relates to how it is received.
    But, what if you are not simply a “happy blog” or a “sad blog”, what if you are sad sometimes and happy others? Sometimes you post photos and sometimes you post a long form essay?
    Is versatility a good thing, or can it keep bloggers from developing a readership?

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    1. As far as I’m concerned, a good blog is a good blog–long, short, illustrated or otherwise. All writers usually have a touch that’s hard to define and if I like that, I know I’ll like it.

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  22. I follow a few blogs, but my time is very short, so I’m careful not to “follow” more than I can keep up with. I read every post of those that I choose to follow. I hit that “like” button when it makes me laugh or elicits some sort of an emotional response. I admit, if I’m on my phone and the dang thing gives me grief as I try to log in, I sometimes just say, “Forget it. I’ll “like” it later”. Of course, often times I forget. Can someone explain why some posts get delivered via email in their entirety while others only give a little bit? Do the ones which deliver by email count as hits for the author whose blog I’m following? I’ve worried about that. Is some poor author out there thinking no one reads their posts, when in truth people do, but via email? I’m still fairly new to blogging, so forgive my “newbie” questions.

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  23. To me a “Like” says so much without actually saying anything. Sometimes readers don’t have the time to leave comments or critiques but when they take time to hit that “Like” button it’s telling me they took the time to read it. Great job!

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  24. Look at all these comments you’ve generated! That says something right there. All those carefully typed words and sentences that sprung out of your brain resonated with your readers. Maybe that’s your answer?

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  25. I have had many of the same questions you do–some cannot be answered definitively – but usually when I just leave a like it is because I liked the post or pics but have nothing relevant to say but want the blogger to know I appreciated their effort, their point of view and their writing. A like takes some effort–you are not automatically deleted at the email stage.
    Btw – I like your blog and if you want criticism, you won’t get it here.

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  26. I did the same as a commentor above, visited your blog because you visited mine. But I don’t generally “like” blogs just because the blogger liked mine. I only hit “like” if I actually like it. This one qualifies. 🙂 I know I’ve tried not to get drawn into the numbers game. But I know when one of my blogs surpasses the hits, comments, or likes of the other blogs I’ve written, it’s hard not to feel especially popular. Of course, comments are my favorite. 😉

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  27. I started reading your blog because you visited mine and I always check out people who do that. I like that your writing seems authentic to me and you make me think but not in an excruciating way.

    I don’t click like on most blog posts I read; I want to make my “likes” mean something. I get likes on posts that I know haven’t been read. While I try to be considerate of my readers, I’m not twisting myself into a pretzel to get them to stay and actually read or to attract more of them.

    Sometimes I “like” something but don’t have any sort of comment that might make sense.

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  28. I read your blog because I like your writing style. I know you’ve said before that you have not yet been able to settle on your brand and I’ve struggled with that myself.

    I’m definitely not a Picture Seeker, Browser, or Liker. Of the other varieties, I’d like to think I am a Nice Folk and Engaged Critic. I would like people to read my blogs too (I’ve definitely not had a “like” 0.05 seconds after posting…), so maybe there is a smidgeon of Self Promotion. I’m more likely to ‘Like’ a post that appeals to me directly so there is an element of Self Relfector in me.

    And I wish the WordPress stats were more revealing, who are these people, where are they from, what are they looking for, when do they read?

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  29. Would now be a good time to let you know that I have nominated you for the Reader Appreciation Award? Well, I hope so, because I did. I try to read you everyday. I don’t do a lot of “likes” because they just don’t mean much. I would rather make an informed comment, so you and other bloggers know that I did in fact read your whole post. Ok, back to the award–please follow the link to my blog for the rules if you are interested. Please keep doing what you are doing. I enjoy it very much.

    http://cheekydiva.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/well-ill-be-dipped-reader-appreciation-award/

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  30. I started out with a food blog, because I had become gluten intolerant and wanted to share my thoughts and recipes with others that had the same condition. Just this past week I started a writing blog, because I love to write. If people like what I write great! If people don’t….well that’s fine too. My writing blog is a place I can pour my words out. In however way I feel. Some may be humorous, some serious. Some just plain silly. But, it’s MY blog and I won’t be limited by someone else!

    As for “liking” a blog. I click like because, I’ve actually read it and I’ve liked what I read! I read all sorts of different blogs because I have all sorts of different likes! The one reason I started following your blog is because I enjoy how you write and I enjoy what you write! My motto is this:: Keep true to yourself and you won’t go wrong!

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  31. I hear ya! It’s hard not to be curious about who’s reading or why. I feel like a lot of people have been talking about the whole “like” thing. It’s super annoying getting a “like” 0.05 seconds after posting something! But what can you do… It’s true what you said, we are unpredictable. I think we read posts based on our mood and how much time we have to spare. 😉

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  32. This is something that I have pondered about a few times and had a lot of fun with more often than not. Nothing in the stats that WordPress gives tells you why anyone likes, follows or re-visits your blog. The search terms are a grab bag of words, terms and sentences that often leave me scratching my head, but give me fun blogs to write.

    I enjoy getting followers and likes, but I don’t try to craft my writing to any particular audience. I write what I like to write, when I want to write about whatever the subject is. That is why I follow your blog; you write what is on your mind, there doesn’t seem to be one topic that you write about. When I “like” one of your posts, it is not because I feel obligated too, but because something you wrote made me smile, think or otherwise engaged me.

    My question to you is, lets say you figure out who your varied audience is, what would you do to retain their interest? How would that differ from what you are doing now?

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    1. Your last paragraph here is exactly what makes this blogging community here so amazing. It’s just such a brilliant question. I think I have to keep revisiting this question as I grow as a blogger. Even if I were to figure out what I would do to retain interest or what the audience wanted, or how that would differ from what I’m doing now, there is an additional question: does the audience know what it wants or can audience taste change as it interacts with the writer (same goes for the writer)?

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      1. Does that audience know what it wants, yes. I think that any audience knows what it is looking for. Can an audience tastes change through interaction with a writer, most definitely. Each time they read something they are influenced, over time that influence change generate change; closer to the writer if they agree with the writer or further away if they don’t. As for writers changing, yes as well. We are affected by what people say about our writing. We are affected by what people “like.” Just those two forces from readers can influence a writer to change.

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  33. This is so funny as I was thinking about this yesterday (especially after I post something and IMMEDIATELY there are likes). I don’t have any answers for you other than another blogger wondering the same things 🙂 I can’t even tell you what makes me read some and not others. My answer? Just depends. On mood, timing, content, etc. Happy writing! 🙂

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  34. I’m only commenting based on observation and my own opinions.

    My own little blog doesn’t get many hits, but I’m not really looking for hits. It’s a page meant to show a little bit of my writing and some of my mind. Completely crafted for self-gratification. If people like and follow me, awesome. If not, no biggie.

    The problem with turning your blog into something specific like a humor page or something similar is that you suddenly get trapped into only blogging about that. The moment you try to blog something your followers were not expecting then you start to get negative comments. Those comments and messages end up being along the lines of, “Please stick to just posting about humor. I don’t want to see anything having to do with politics.”

    Like if you’re running a blog about cats and you suddenly blog a picture of a dog. Your followers/viewers will get upset because it isn’t what they were expecting from you so they voice that they are displeased.

    It’s an inherent problem with becoming a popular blog. I’ve seen it time and time again and the blogger can become so despondent that they start up a new blog just to be able to post what they wish. Even if that other blog doesn’t get nearly as many views, the blogger at least gets some creative freedom.

    To use your metaphor, a person who drives a bright red sports car tends to get more tickets than other slower cars. They can end up getting so many tickets that one day they decide to drive their very plain four-door sedan just so they won’t get that ticket.

    As for your list I’d have to say that I’m a little bit of a “Liker”, with a dash of “Self Reflector”, and a smidgen of “Engaged Critic”.

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    1. Thanks for this very involved comment. I agree that over specialization in blogging can lead to despondency. You also bring up a very imp point–how do we write differently when we imagine an audience and when we don’t?

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  35. I ponder the same thing when I look at those who have “liked” or “followed” my own little fledgling blog. I’m always surprised at the different types: an economist blogger, a technology blogger, a handful of fellow creative writers, photographers, fashionistas, etc. etc. Why are they here?

    If you’re curious about specific aspects of your readers, ask or try a poll! I’ve been following you for a little while now and remember you writing that you’ve gained quite the following since being “freshly pressed.” It would seem there is no better time than the present, with a nice large collection of readers, to find out something.

    That said, I’d like to add that I thoroughly enjoy your posts! Your insight mingled with humor and an easygoing style always make for a nice read.

    Like

  36. I “like.” Meaning…
    1. I READ your post.
    2. I LIKED your post. (Meaning… A. Nothing “objectionable here that I would not want to “endorse” with a “like”… B. You shared something funny/ thoughtful/ thought-provoking/ human/ interesting… I got a peek into your mind.)
    3. I was here. Even if/when I didn’t have a useful comment for the discussion.
    4. Thanks for being part of my blogging experience!
    🙂 Kana

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  37. I blog because it’s a fun hobby for me; trying to get or retain readers would only make it stressful for me so I don’t think about it! One thing I sometimes get though, is a “follower” who “likes” every single post but never reads it, as reflected in the stats. That drives me nuts. Rest assured that I will only comment or click “like” if I really appreciated what you wrote.

    … and personally, I enjoy humor or any blog that includes a bit of self-reflection, whatever the topic may be. Good luck to you!

    Like

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