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Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Great Follower Debate

I remember when I first started blogging and I was so consumed with getting followers that I actually Googled “How to get followers on your blog”. This was completely useless and I eventually started reading discussion posts on Book Blogs and the Blogaholic Social Network, and even on Parajunkee’s site. A lot of people have been asking me about followers on Formspring so I think this will be a good topic to address. Don’t concern yourself so much with follower numbers, you’re going to burn yourself out and you’re going to go crazy thinking about it. If you’re passionate about what you do, and you have good content, people will come! I may have over 1,000 followers but every time I get a new one I'm ecstatic! The fact that anyone gives a crap about what I have to say means so much to me, and I love and appreciate every one of you :)

Remember, these are just my personal excperiences and opinions. I am in no way an expert on this topic. I would love to hear about other blogger’s experiences so please leave a comment!

Are follower numbers important?
This really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re looking to chat with publishers and receive review books then yes, followers are important. Molli from Once Upon a Prologue told me she actually had a review request denied by Harper because she didn’t meet their minimum follower number. So in that sense, you should probably have at least 350 followers before you request from Harper. If you’re not concerned with talking to publishers and what not, and you’re really just looking to meet new people and chat about books, then no I honestly don’t think follower numbers are important. I don’t judge a blog based on their follower number, and I don’t deem a blog “unworthy” of my time because they have less followers than I do. Who cares? I like your content, not your stats!

How do you have so many followers?!
Someone asked me this question after my ARCs post and I’ve been thinking about it for awhile now. How do I have so many followers?! Because I am awesome! No just kidding… I have no idea really. Ok I have some idea… NETWORKING!
  • Comments: Visiting other blogs and leaving MEANINGFUL AND PERSONAL comments will go far when it comes to getting visitors to your blog! If you comment on a review I wrote and say, “Great review!” and then leave a link, I’m not going to bother, what was so great about my review?! Did you read it?! Meaningful comments go a long way people! Even a sentence on a WoW post that says, “Hey I love this cover, this sounds like an awesome read! Thanks for sharing!” will get you a visit from me!
  • Twitter: If you’re a blogger and you’re not on Twitter I don’t know what’s wrong with you. GET ON TWITTER STAT! I say this because Twitter is a GREAT way to get people to visit your blog!! You know those 5 or 6 Tweets I send out every day promoting whatever post I have up? They work. People come. “If you Tweet it, they will come” (HAR HAR!)
  • Blog Hops: If you don’t know what a blog hop is, it’s basically just a meme where you go around and visit other people’s blogs. Think, Follow Friday, TGIF, WoW etc. Typically, you find a lot of new blogs this way, you leave a comment on their post and tell them how awesome they are, and then you follow and pray that they come back and follow! This can be a great way to socialize and meet other bloggers.
  • Giveaways: This is an incredibly controversial topic, and a lot of people consider it “buying” followers, but I’m on the fence. Yes, I require a follow for the giveaways that I fund. Sorry, but I’m paying for this item and I don’t really want random people winning it. Sure, you can always unfollow me when you win, but hopefully you won’t! If I’m hosting a giveaway where someone else provides the prize (a publisher, author, other blogger) than I won’t require people to follow me, but I will have following me as an extra entry. Like I said, it’s up to you! A lot of bloggers require a follow as a main entry, but that’s completely your choice! Just remember that the people who follow you strictly for giveaways might not come back to read the rest of your content. 
As I said before, the best way to get followers is to network. Be social, don’t just expect everyone to flock to your blog the day you start it. Put yourself out there. You have to reciprocate, so if you’re not visiting other bloggers they’re not going to visit you. I’ve had a couple people tell me that they never visit other blogs but they have no idea why no one comes to theirs. There you go, that right there is why.

What draws you to your favorite blogs?
Since I’ve been on the blogosphere for awhile now, I’ve racked up a LARGE list of blogs I follow in my reader. Seriously, it’s over like 500 I think. Within those 500, I have about 100 that are in my “Favorite Bloggers” folder. These are the blogs that I drop everything for, daily, and I check out their posts because they have good things to say.
  • Be Honest: I think a lot of people are afraid to write negative reviews because they don’t want to piss off publishers or authors, and who cares? If your only goal in blogging is to lie about what you thought and get more free books than I don’t want to follow you. You’re a disgrace. If your goal is to tell people your honest thoughts about a book than YES, I want to hear about the books you didn’t like!! If you write a ton of reviews that are all telling me to read this book and that book because they were so amazing, and I read all of them and they suck I’m not going to trust your opinion. BE HONEST.
  • Be Interesting: Don’t fill your whole blog with memes. That’s not interesting. I want to know you as a person, and I can’t do that unless you write honest reviews and other fun posts!
  • Your Layout/Design: Ok, I’m being honest here. I will never ever ever try to tell someone that their layout is good or bad. If they like it, then that’s all that matters. However, I have particular pet peeves when it comes to layouts that will keep me from visiting regularly and even following: 1. Your blog takes too long to load 2. I can’t read your font 3. Your sidebar images are spilling onto the main page 4. You have horrible grammar/spelling; please proofread your reviews before posting them! 
Quality vs. Quantity.
I think the important thing to remember is that just because you have a million followers does not mean that everyone is visiting. The follower number is there, but the quality of followers isn’t. If your followers aren’t coming back to your blog, then what’s the point? I think it’s important not to get caught up in the numbers and focus more on your content and networking.  If you write good posts and you involve yourself in the community then there’s no reason for people NOT to come back!

Remember guys, GFC is leaving non-blogger blogs which means those people will have a harder time tracking follower numbers! That being said, I think this will be good for a lot of people, because we tend to get obsessed about the numbers sometimes and that just makes blogging less fun.

What do you guys think about follower numbers? Do you find it important? How has your experience been with gaining followers? Do you have any tips or tricks you'd like to share?

43 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. I found it very informative and as someone who's been hoping to gain more followers, it makes it easier to know exactly what others are potentially looking for!

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    1. You're welcome!! I definitely think it's important to be a part of the community and be really diligent about commenting and making your comments meaningful! I love interacting with followers and I'm more inclined to visit them back if they make an effort! Just like this nice comment right here :)

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  2. OOOOOOO GREAT POST!!! you know this is such a funny thing. being so new, i think that there is a large emphasis on it. because you like is anybody every going to want to hear my sorry ass talk about book crap all the time?! and then the number grows and grows and grows! and i admit that i did the giveaway to get more, but i also promoted the crap out of it!! and i also learned that next time, im not going to do that. i would much rather have a few followers that come every day, than hundreds i never hear from. these are all very VERY good points! sometimes we just get so caught up in the numbers and think "gees why does so and so have more than me, is there something wrong with my blog?" but you really do have to love what you post, and if you love what you are doing, then the numbers shouldn't matter. and yea it might suck to get denied a book, but there will ALWAYS be more books!!!

    Tara

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    1. HAHA I KNOW! When I first started blogging I got to like 25 followers and I was like OMG YES THIS IS SO COOL YEAH!! I think it's incredible that random people we don't know in real life care about what we have to say.

      I think the people who have more followers tend to post more, network more, and have more experience blogging in general. No one is going to get a bunch of followers over night, and they shouldn't expect to!

      Someone told me they look for bloggers who are honest, and I think that's the complete truth. I want to know YOU, so just be honest and be yourself and people will love it :)

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    2. OH HECK YES!!! for me to follow a blog i like interaction!!! i like the blogger to be a real interactive person and not just a name on a post. to me that gets me to follow more than anything else. i also like a blog to have a voice and not just feel like a robot. its always difficult thing. the number of followers doesn't define how successful your blog is!!! but yea, followers also take a long time!!! i think the longer you have been following, the more you will get! but its not without effort!

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  3. Hello there, Anna!

    You brought up some good points about social networking - leaving comments, twitter, and blog hops - but I think it's also a good idea if a blogger can be active within a group of bloggers/readers/book lovers offline as well. For instance, there are a bunch of YA writers and bloggers who live in the DC area and we get together to go to the YA bookish events that are hosted by various independent booksellers and libraries. Bloggers can use twitter to find other YA readers/bloggers in the same area and then meet up. Now obviously, I didn't already know every single person when i went to my first event but if you just talk to the people sitting around you, you'll make friends! This is where having a business card for your blog will come in handy too; that way they don't forget the name of your blog and are able to visit it when they get home. Also, if they're on twitter, goodreads, or any of the other social networking sites, they'll be able to find you. I'm not saying these people are necessarily other bloggers, they could be a person who just likes to read a lot and that's great!

    Wonderful post :)

    -S

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a nice and meaningful novella ;)

      I totally agree about going to bookish events and meeting people! I've met a lot of awesome bloggers at the Not Your Mother's Book Club events, as well as people who just love to read!!

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  4. What a brilliant post - I totally agree with most of the thing you've said there. I admit, as a blogger, I used to panic about follower numbers, but now I don't so much, and the reason for that is that I tend to get fairly regular comments on my posts from people who aren't necessarily following - so it's readers rather than followers I guess.

    Admittedly though, I would like my numbers to go up, so I'll definitely be following some of your tips - thanks!

    Tara @ Hey, Tara

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  5. Great post ! I think Twitter and leaving real comments has been really helpful. I actually like it when I am somewhat familiar with the people who are following/leaving comments.

    I only started a few months ago and I went on book blogger Nings and forums to learn the ropes and make connections. I like to use memes as a way to "browse" other blogs and see what's out there.

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    1. Yes! BookBlogs.Ning is a GREAT resource for bloggers! I met a lot of great people there! Also, BlogaholicSocialNetwork is a good one too :)

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  6. Hey Anna! Thanks so much for the tips! I found them very helpful.
    I've only been blogging a couple of months and I found that I was very envious of blogers like you with so many follows when I only had 2 - my friends from school. But once I started getting the hang of things, like what memes are a how they work, I started to incorp them into my blogging. I got 7 new bloggers in the first week! I was so excited, I visited everyone of their blog and looked at every nook and cranny of they blog. I still do.
    So I think that's a good way to get others to follow your blog, to follow theirs.
    I still don't have that may followers, so I've considered hosting a give away. But I'm hesitant to do so in case no one enters, or only one person does... Do you think that is likely to happen?

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    1. I've learned that a great way to get people to get the word out about your giveaway is to put one of the entries as "Tweet about my giveaway"- then they do the work for you! :)

      Also, Im a Reader Not a Writer and a few other blogs have weekly giveaway listings where you an list your giveaway!

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    2. Thanks! That's really helpful! xD I shall try that.

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    3. If you're looking to get your blog out there via giveaway you should check out the I Am A Reader Not A Writer giveaway hops! Basically, you link up with anywhere from 200-400 other bloggers and people just go from giveaway to giveaway! It's definitely an awesome system for giveaways!

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  7. I saw this on my blogger feed/thingy and I thought, how weird, I just left a comment on one of her older posts about this topic!

    And you answered some of my questions that I felt kind of silly leaving on such an old post too, like how many blogs you follow (I only follow about 50 or so and sometimes it feels like a lot to go through, but seeing as how you have 500, or even your top 100, I don't feel quite as overwhelmed when catching up!) and how design/layout on blogs can get kind of... annoying. I visit blogs all day long and if they have more "stuff" (and by stuff it's usually team "so and so" stuff which can get kind of tedious when they list each and every "team" they're on for every book available) on their sidebars then they have content in their posts, I don't even bother going back. Yes, a cool design can grab attention, but a simple design with lots of awesome and interesting content can draw even more attention.

    Last thought: I've read on a lot of blogs about how leaving their first negative review was pretty intimidating, but most of the negative reviews I've read are actually really entertaining! It becomes pretty mundane when all book publishers claim their book is the new "this book meets this book" and how awesome it's going to be. I've actually been so entertained by a negative review that I've added it to my TBR pile because for that reviewer to write so passionately about how horrible some aspect of the story was, it makes me want to experience it too!

    Thanks for this post! :)

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  8. Isn't this an old post!? haha. TWITTER is a MUST! :D
    That is all!

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    1. LOL! Old to you, since I've been sitting on it for about a month

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  9. Once again you've hit the nail on the head. It's all about networking in my opinion. When I see bloggers like yourself, and Giselle from Xpresso Reads (who is a commenting genius), managing this networking thing so well I must admit I watch in awe LOL. Seriously though, I wish I had time to comment more on other blogs because I know that's a big part of the networking equation (other than twitter, etc.) I've also been hearing a lot about Pinterest lately and how people are linking up their reviews there and actually getting followers from there. I recently started doing that myself.

    Thanks for the wonderful tips as always. My blog will be 6 months young this Friday and I am so excited to be hitting that milestone. I've managed thanks to blogs like yours who do not hesitate to share information with newbies like myself.

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  10. Very good advice! I realized comments are a great way to make followers. All your tips do work and I agree I am a little iffy about using giveaways to gain followers. the thing about twitter is that i need to figure out how it works before i start using it. I'm sure it is easier then it looks. I would love a post explaining the best way to use twitter.

    Thanks for taking the time to give all this advice! :)

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  11. Hi Anna!
    This was such an interesting article you wrote here. I only recently joined the Book Bloggers world and I really didn't know how I could get people to follow my blog.
    I don't worry about it too much now. Although, I might only have few followers, some do regularly read and comment on my reviews and I really appreciate that.

    Nevertheless, I will follow some of the tips you've given.

    This was brilliant!

    Nick

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  12. Awesome post!! I know at first I was a bit obsessed with followers, but now I have calmed down about it. I remember when I got to like 20 followers I was over the moon. Haha! I mean of course I love followers, but that's not why I have my blog. I love doing my blog and I have some awesome people who stop by on a daily basis. I love the community and it is one of the best decisions I ever made to start my blog.I follow a ton of blogs, but realistically there are about 50 that I check daily, and about 20 I stalk a few times a day lol! Social networking is definitely a big thing. I always visit back when people leave meaningful comments on my blog. My one pet peeve is when people leave me comments and ask me to follow them. This was a great post Anna. You make so many good points.

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  13. I like the part about commenting. Not very many people take the time to comment. Not that I don't appreciate the simple comments, but the thoughtful ones can light up my day. The simple ones take me back to High school. You know that last day where everyone passes around their yearbooks? Where you count how many people bothered to figure out how popular you are? Then when you sit to really read them ninety percent are "Have a great summer!" Well, those are great but the ones from your true friends are always just a bit more. And the best ones are from that guy who admits that he has a crush on you. Of course this is a good looking guy, so you are left on cloud nine. I always imagine those comments on my blog are either the authors or bloggers I have hero worship for. Anyway, thanks for the great post.

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  14. Great post Anna! This touches on a lot of good topics. While looking through the comments on this thread I've noticed people have get together's with other bloggers. I wish I lived in an area where there were other book bloggers near me. And with the thing about honest reviews *claps hands* I don't want to read a review just because they felt the need to give it that due to the publisher or author. I want an HONEST review because I may end up buying that book off the review and don't want it to suck. <3

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  15. I love this post so much!! Especially when you said, "I don’t judge a blog based on their follower number, and I don’t deem a blog “unworthy” of my time because they have less followers than I do. Who cares? I like your content, not your stats!"

    Because sometimes it feels like some of the "big" bloggers only associate wih other "big" bloggers.

    Purddddy much, I think everyone is obsessed with followers at one point. But I know that as I really settled into blogging I realized this wasn't something I could afford to stress over, that blogging is sheerly a means of fun and an outlet to express my love of books with people who care!

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  16. Definitely a wonderful post, Anna. And many great points you covered. The blogger community has been growing over the years and the amount of people surfacing goes to show. The one thing that I enjoy about being a blogger is talking to those around be about books and even about blogging in general. Twitter is such a great way to learn about new things in the community, about authors, to find new people and blogs, and everything. I have to say if it wasn't for Twitter I never would have met you Anna and I'm glad that I did because you are such an awesome friend :D

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  17. This is a really, really fabulous post. :D I love what you said about commenting and blog hops. It's very true; while giveaways certainly give you followers, leaving meaningful comments on other people's posts is how you get a sort of community. It's all about interaction.

    I'm actually going to bookmark this post, so I can give it other people when they ask. Thank you for writing this. :)

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  18. I think this is all great advice! Especially the giveaway part. I've only done one giveaway before, mainly because I'm a bit poor right now, but if I'm going to fund my give away, I don't want to give a book to someone who'll never come back to my blog again.

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  19. Thanks for this post. I guess the most important thing to stress is number is not important. I would love to be some amazing blog that has a trillion billion readers, but I also would be just happy having three. (None, though, would make me sad). I once read an article that asked the question if you write for yourself or for others? Take that to blogging. Do you blog for yourself or for others? Sure, if it's just for you you could make it private, so sharing does signify for others, but do you post it to make others happy or because you want to put it out there? If you truly write for yourself and don't think about pleasing others you can come up with some great stuff that someone will be interested in.

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  20. What a great post. As a new blogger, this is on my mind all the time. I got a lot of followers by doing a giveaway hop. I think while some people just enter for the giveaway, I also "market" myself to other bloggers too who enter and follow my blog. Otherwise they might never find my blog, but I agree with the comments. I love getting comments and going through my reader finding interesting posts! Like yours!

    Ning @ Reading by Kindle Fire

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  21. I just started a blog, literally just last week, and I read your post from start to finish! I got a lot of useful info from you, and I want to thank you for that. I'm definitely just starting it with the idea of having a place to post my reviews and meet some interesting people, and not on numbers at all, so I really appreciate all the help that you have given me :D Networking is very scary for me because I'm not an outgoing person, but I'm just going to have to get over that, aren't I? LOL
    jwitt33 at live dot com

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  22. I completely agree with everything you said. Especially the part about blog design and overloading with memes. I also love it when blogs have discussion posts like this because I find that I am more likely to get engaged and comment on discussion posts. I wish I had more free time, so I could comment on every blog and post that I read, but it just isn't possible. But I one of my resolutions this year is to be more active in commenting and letting the bloggers that I love know that I love them! You are one of them! You are polite and engaging and really nice. We need to talk more on twitter. ( I have been awful about getting on twitter lately) So hopefully you will see me around more. I love Molli too and she said you might have an interest in joining tribber. If you do just let me know, and if not thats totally cool too. I just wanted you to know that you are welcome.

    Thanks for the awesome post. It looks like you put a lot of time and effort into it and it shows :)

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  23. This was such an immensely helpful post! I was wondering about the how many followers for publishers bit so I'm glad you answered it. I knew publishers like around six months for blogging but I wasn't sure about the numbers. I really do try to leave meaningful comments and you're right, it does go a long way! It's still surprising (& makes me so happy!) when people actually follow my blog after I leave a comment. Thanks so much for writing this post and being so informative! :D

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  24. So happy to see another one of these discussion posts because the last one was really helpful and informative! :)

    I agree followers are important if you are going to request books. Of course I love gaining more followers and everytime I get a new one I get insanely happy. However, it takes work to get followers. I've been blogging for a over a year and I don't have a huge number of followers but I appreciate the number that I do have because they generally do take the time to comment on my reviews. I rather have followers who actually come back to my blog over and over again.
    It did take me a while to come out of my shell and start interacting more with other bloggers and that definitely raised my number of followers. I think commenting is the best way to gain followers because it shows that you genuinly do love everything about blogging. I know that if I read a meaningful comment on my blog I will definitely go and follow that blogger back. Also another great tool that you mentioned is twitter. Thanks again for the informative post, I definitely learned a few great tips!

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  25. Thanks...you answered a bunch of my questions with this post, and i am marking it to come back again and again, though i do follow your blog. i would like numbers, cause i would love to review for Bethany, Harvest and Zondervan, but i also love to network, so i guess i'm a bit of both. i have been trying to comment more, and you gave good tips on that too. So thanks for now, and keep up the good work

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  26. Wow this is SUCH a fantastic post! I remember when I first started blogging I didn't even know what the heck followers were until I got my first one. In fact I didn't even know what comments were! Hahaha yeah, I was a naive little blogger once! I agree that follower numbers are not that important. Some people can have a TON of followers from hosting giveaways but not actually have a lot of people who really read their blog on a daily basis if at all. I've come to the discovery that stressing over follower numbers is not worth it. :)

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  27. I don’t care about followers. I don’t care about followers. I don’t care about followers. I don’t care about followers. I don’t care about followers. I don’t care about followers. I don’t care about followers.

    If all you care about is having followers then there’s something wrong with you. I don’t care about it because it was in the beginning something that spoilt the fun of actually blogging. There was no passion because all my worries were being turned towards having followers. It’s just something in the way of being who you are and reaching your true potential within your writing, your posts, your blog, your communication with others, and just blogging in general.

    I do my blog not for followers -- I had GFC with nearly 500 followers before I changed to wordpress and then got rid of it. My true followers and those that I call friends. These friends being many or mostly all of my fellow Aussie bloggers who comment on nearly every post I do and like every status I post. That is what I love. And although seeing my subscriber count ONLY AT 30 (and although I’ve been blogging for over 1.5 years) for email subscribers and feed followers, it’s not something I take notice to a whole lot.

    Here with the Australian publishers follower counts and pageviews is not considerated at all. Meeting personally and making friends with the publishers and authors and agents and editors and TELLING them about my blog, is way more awesome than having followers -- if you know what I mean. Followers are great, comments are great, but it’s not the be all and all.

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  28. Oh wait I forgot to add something.

    Great post.









    hehehehehe Love it when you do these posts Anna.

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  29. This was such a great post. It's so easy to get depressed about follower numbers and I sometimes worry that people will judge my blog as not worth their time just because I don't have hundreds of followers.

    I knew when I started throwing myself into book blogging full tilt, that my follower numbers weren't going to come quickly because I'm not interested in doing memes and I'm not real keen on giveaways for the reasons you mentioned.

    Your post was the pat on the back that I needed: if I keep trying to write honest, interesting content, then the followers will trickle in. Thanks!

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

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  30. This is a great post. Anna, I just want to compliment you on your writing. It's been a while since I've been to a blog that has felt so well-articulated to me. Props to you for that. I can also really feel your own personality and voice throughout your writing. It's no wonder that you have so many blog followers. I think it really comes naturally to you.

    As for the discussion post, great topic. If it's one thing I suck at, it's discussion posts. Mostly my blog is book reviews, IMMs, and giveaways. I rarely do memes and I hardly ever do discussion posts. Truthfully, I probably never will. I have to do what feels natural to me. I'm very happy with my follower count, and I'm not blogging to get more followers. I blog because I like to write and it's an outlet for me. I think if you are good at what you do, people will come regardless.

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  31. I totally thought I replied to this already! Anyway Anna, great post as always. You brought up some great points, the number one being "networking," which isn't as scary as it sounds. I think a lot of new bloggers don't really know how to go about it all - I know I didn't. I'm trying to do more posts like these on my blog to hopefully reach out to newer bloggers so they'll have the pointers I didn't simply because I didn't know.

    I agree about your layout point. People should do whatever they want with their layout but I'm sorry, if you have music/sounds playing, book widgets everywhere, if your site takes FOREVER to load, I'm not staying, or coming back that often. Ugh.

    I've started worrying less about followers and more about the content of my posts and just trying to keep in touch with the bloggers that I care about, although I will try to visit a blog I don't follow if the person commenting leaves me a nice comment with a link (something more than "hey, come visit my blog!)

    I want to go on and on about this post, Anna, but basically I agree with everything you said!

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  32. I am a new blogger and this post was extremely helpful. I am trying to get followers and what you said makes sense. So thanks for posting this!

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According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from Goodreads.com unless otherwise stated.
 
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