One of the primary lessons in blogging for better visibility and getting more traffic is to expand your network. In other words, make connections with fellow bloggers, especially in your niche. This is what they call by “connecting with like-minded people” and it’s an enriching experience, and not limited to just gaining increased blog traffic. While the advantages of expanding your network of online friends or bloggers are obvious, we would like to see if there are downsides to it. Of course, these so-called disadvantages are few and are not enough to offset the advantages, but still, it pays to understand why there’s a school of thought that goes to the extent of saying it’s a time wasting exercise.
The Benefits of Following Bloggers
An overwhelming majority of bloggers agree that there are great benefits of following other fellow bloggers. The positives are just too many so much so that it is almost considered a necessity. So, you’re told to increase your network – your tribe – to carry out all your traffic strategies. Let us examine what these benefits are.
#1: Good Learning Experience
Blogging can make you feel lonely at times. But if you’re a loner and a social recluse, blogging can be a kind of culture shock for you. You’re part of a big ecosystem and you need to get out of your comfort zone and make conscious efforts to connect with other fellow bloggers. Many things in blogging don’t optimally work in a vacuum. If you think your fellow bloggers in your niche are all competitors (and hence enemies), you will find it an uphill task to actually make progress. Of course, those bloggers in your niche are all vying for attention from the same audience as you, but there’s so much to learn from each other. Whether they are more experienced than you or are at the same level of experience as yourself, knowledge sharing and exchange can happen that can uplift either side. When you follow and connect with your fellow bloggers, you have the incentive to discuss common topics you care about. You can also brainstorm for blog ideas. There’s even the opportunity to guest blog on each other’s blogs for better visibility and backlinks to your own blog. There’s so much to gain and most of the time is a win-win situation for both.
#2: Keeping Updated
The blogger community is the most news-hungry people on things related to their niche. Whether it’s about the trending topics, the latest SEO buzz, the search engine updates, new strategies, new ways of enhancing your brand, webinar news, success stories, being in a community puts in a good vantage position. It’s a highly active community, and you are able to get yourself updated on the latest happenings when you have a good network of fellow bloggers in your niche. The idea is to confine yourself largely in your niche because it’s more of a cacophony being in groups of bloggers who are not in your niche.
#3: The Art of Reciprocation
One of the best values learned when you become a blogger is the reciprocation of gratitude and appreciation. When you follow a blogger, in most cases you’re followed back. Similarly, when someone follows you, there’s a nudge from inside you to reciprocate the favour. So, likes are reciprocated with likes and comments are reciprocated with comments. It’s all mutually beneficial also. As a blogger, you know how crucial are those seemingly simple likes and +1s on your social shares. Bloggers are conditioned to communicate in polite ways which will go a long way to build up a good personal or business brand.
#4: Network for Business Opportunities
The Internet world is full of ideas on making money online. Many of these ideas work optimally when you have a wide network of fellow Internet marketers. But having a good network of like-minded people happens only when you follow other bloggers. The multi-level marketing (MLM) is one such opportunity. There are businesses run by a group of Internet friends staying in different parts of the globe. The opportunities are not limited to only online businesses and MLMs but extend into traditional offline businesses too. So, the way I see it, following fellow bloggers (and in the process, you get followed) exposes you to numerous opportunities which would not have happened if you had decided to run your show all alone and remaining aloof from other bloggers.
#5: Other Bloggers are More Ready to Share Your Content
When you share your content on your social media channels, your fellow bloggers are the first to notice it. They are the ones who are likely to read it and “like” it too. They even share it on their timeline, thus increasing your visibility many-fold. This is part of the blogging culture and you’re likely to reciprocate the same when these bloggers share their content. Perhaps, it is with the anticipation that bloggers usually return the favour, they show no qualms or reservations in liking or sharing other people’s content.
#6: Better Brand Visibility
Sharing or clicking the like or +1 button by your blogger friends result in greater visibility. That is obvious. But how about the impact on the overall brand image? When fellow bloggers engage themselves on your posts by writing comments, it sends out positive brand signals to other readers. This is seen as an indicator of the value of your content. More the number of comments, better is the brand positioning of your blog. On the SEO side, it is seen that greater engagement on a post is a positive ranking factor. The page-views, time spent on the post, and even the comments all add up to a positive composite ranking factor.
The Arguments against Following other Bloggers
Can there be disadvantages of following fellow bloggers? On the face of it, it is difficult to conceive of the downsides but there are people who profess the needlessness of the whole endeavour. There’s a school of thought that says it does nothing except getting yourself distracted from your blogging activity. Let us see what these people have to say.
#1: Your Fellow Bloggers are Already Familiar with What You Write
They say the impact on your overall traffic because of following other bloggers in your niche is more of a myth. There is absolutely no impact and even if there is, it’s negligible, especially in a make-money-online (MMO) niche. This is because these bloggers are mostly familiar with whatever you’re saying in your content and hence, the novelty factor is missing. Other than a cursory peek or a forced “like”, they do not actually get themselves engaged on your post. Other than to gauge the competition, your posts are of minimal interest to them. Increased page-views or time spent of the post are only myths perpetuated by bloggers for their own vested interests. So, write anything on blog strategies or WordPress, your blogger friends already know them well enough. Meaning, the so-called benefits of following other bloggers are grossly overrated.
#2: There’s Not Much Genuine Engagement
Since the people who follow you are familiar with most things in your content, the so-called engagement you thought you would be getting does not happen the way it was anticipated and whatever happens are not genuine. Hence, the comments might not be incisive or intelligent to actually influence other readers. Mostly guided by the pay-it-forward principle or the reciprocation culture, you are less likely to find fellow bloggers in your network who reads your content word by word. The engagements are mostly faked and are feeble at best.
#3: You are obliged to Like or Share
If you are a blogger with many followers, they are most likely to like or share your posts whether they actually read them or not. The lack of genuine engagement notwithstanding, you’re also obliged to reciprocate the favour by clicking those like or +1 or even share their posts on your social media channels. Of course, it’s completely up to you to return the favour or not but the blogging netiquette demands that you act on them and return the favour. This obligation makes the whole thing somewhat farcical.
#4: Competition among Bloggers
Whether you like it or not, some feel that there’s always an undercurrent of jealousy involved among bloggers. This is more pronounced when you are clubbed in the same niche. Bloggers compete for more page-views and visibility from the same audience. In many cases, the same products are also promoted. So, for some people, following other bloggers is simply to spy on their work and to design their own strategies to gain an upper hand. It’s basically to further their one-upmanship strategy.
#5: It can be Demotivating
Since there’s no real benefit of following other bloggers, it becomes more of a distraction when you make the effort to increase your network. Also, if you’re a beginner, following other bloggers can be slightly overwhelming. Many strategies are pushed right under your nose by the bloggers in your network and that can result in your getting demotivated. You start comparing with them seeing all the strategies carried out by them, you might even start having a nasty inferiority complex. Reading their beautifully-crafted blog posts, rather than getting inspiration, can cause a serious dent in your confidence. It can easily demotivate you.
#6: Waste of Time
Following other bloggers is a big waste of time. It’s distracting and to go through the numerous notifications on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from your followers is actually time-consuming. There are times when you have to react or write back, which is again a waste of time. Okay, there’s the argument that more the number of followers, more is your credibility and better your brand image. Not entirely true because nowadays, there are people “selling” likes and followers. You can purchase those. Hence, saying having a large number of following on your social media channels is a positive brand image is a myth.
Each one of us has stories to tell and the situations are all unique. Blogging allows us to share our stories, interests, and ideas with the world. The catchword here is “sharing”. Forget about the potential benefits in traffic increase and all that. Isn’t it a great thing to connect with people (who are your fellow bloggers) from different social backgrounds and cultures? For all its supposedly downsides, following fellow bloggers is an enriching experience. This post was not intended to cast it in bad light whatsoever. It was to highlight those opinions that seem to go against the popular opinions. Maybe there are some valid points in them, but all in all, the fact remains that you are a part of a big global family. Only bloggers can relate properly to what another blogger says. You can draw knowledge and good practices from each other. Keep connecting.