Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, November 1, 2010

As I See It: Losing Followers and Offending Readers

A friend of mine suggested I post about this topic. I said, "Why don't you write it?" And she said, "I don't have many followers and I never say anything offensive."

And I do?? It is true though that the longer we do this, the more comfortable we get and stuff can slip out that might be offensive to others. Here's a short list of how one might lose followers and offend readers:

Self-serving  Buy my book buy my book buy my book

Bashing  Agents, editors, political parties, query letters, religions, governments, men, women, dogs, cats, self-publishing, ebooks--the list goes on and on.

Negativity We all have bad days, and it's ok to vent now and then, but don't be a downer all the time. (That's why I only do it on Mondays)

Too wordy and hard to read  2000 word excerpts from your WIP, which btw is badly in need of editing

Too serious Crack a joke now and then. People like to LOL

I mean we can't be perky, happy and socially acceptable all of the time. Sometimes we will let our freak show out, and hopefully people let it pass and aren't too quick to push UNFOLLOW THIS BLOG. *shudder*

That's how I see it. Now what's on your list of how to win friends and influence people lose followers and offend readers?



56 comments:

  1. You mentioned politics and religion - those are two areas I could sooo easily stray into, but which I try very hard to avoid. I mean, I'm obviously right but some might disagree ;-)

    That all said "being boring" has to be one of the major sins. So, yes, jokes and a few graphics can help a lot ...

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  2. I don't have a list of how to's! I do try to keep my posts to under the 700 word, except for the last one. I did reduce it, but I still felt it was a bit on the long side.

    My follower list seems to ebb and flow. But WOW look at you with over 500 followers.

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  3. Yes, Karen, I agree with Ann. You're obviously doing lots of things right on this blog. I wonder what makes someone choose to follow and then unfollow. I don't think I've ever gone back and unfollowed someone. I may not continue to visit that blog, but I don't unfollow. It's a mystery. But yes, keeping blog posts informative, interesting, and not too negative are good rules of thumb.
    Karen

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  4. I haven't yet unfollowed a blog, but I suppose I might be tempted if any of them slipped into persistent negativity. The occasional dip into Debbie Downer-ism is understandable, but a daily dose? I don't need it.

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  5. This is a really interesting topic. I think there is a fine line between offensive and controversial -- and I firmly believe it's okay to be controversial -- to say something that not everyone will agree with -- as long as you do it nicely. In fact, if we didn't all have opinions, we wouldn't have much to write about, now would we?

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  6. I tend to unfollow when I realize nothing on the blog interests me...mostly blogs I started following a long time ago, but I never really visited cause I had no clue what I was doing when I first started. Other than that I don't unfollow, atleast I haven't for other reasons yet. I'm pretty laid back and figure its your blog...say what you want.

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  7. Being myself could either win people or lose them! LOL!!!
    :-)

    Take care
    x

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  8. Ref: Now what's on your list

    Cursing. I'm no prude and have uttered a few expletives myself, but if bloggers can't make a point without every other sentence containing the F-bomb I am obviously not their audience.

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  9. Self-serving is the biggie to me! You can tell bloggers who appear to be offering advice or help or whatever, but their BOOK always makes it into the post somewhere.
    Arrogance turns me off, too. And l-o-n-g posts!

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  10. Unfollowing seems so conspicuous somehow. But I think you're not breaking any of your own rules and your following speaks to that.
    I agree with Colette that controversial is not a bad thing as it can get a discussion started - like now. You don't need to be offensive to get people talking.

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  11. LOSE friends/followers? Hmm... probably like you said, bashing, getting too political. As for blogs I keep up with--I like the ones that are motivating, give inspiration, commisserate, and offer help--like yours! :D thanks~ <3

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  12. I have unfollowed some blogs that I signed up to early on, but never because they gave me offence, more that my interests changed.

    What would annoy me would be a self-serving blog or persistently foul language.

    I recently lost a follower and don't know why. I'd like to say 'sorry' for whatever it was they didn't like.

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  13. I don't even know how to unfollow someone.

    Of course I don't want to lose followers, but I think being true to yourself is important (although maybe not if yourself is racist, predjudicist or anything like that) and if you lose anyone, then it's no one's fault.

    But religion ... I stay away from that.

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  14. I've only unfollowed one blog, and here's why: I began following the same day I posted my first comment. I commented two other times. My comments were just like I comment everywhere, that's to say, friendly and upbeat (I think, anyways :P) This particular blog was a writer's blog, and the owner had her security set so that she had to approve every comment before it would be published. Fair enough, right? But here's the thing, not only did she never respond to my comments, she also never approved them. Once, maybe twice, I can understand she overlooked my comments. But three times? And, she published other people's comments that came in about the same time I'd made mine. Don't know what her problem was, and I don't care. I unfollowed her and we're probably both happier now.

    Great post, as always!

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  15. Gosh, I frequently write whatever pops into my head without giving any consideration to it offending anyone. But now that I think about it, some of the stuff I posted might have done that. Luckily, at the time I didn't have any followers to offend or lose ;> Go me!

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  16. Great post! Only on rare occasions do I ever unfollow a blog. If I have made every effort to repeatedly make nice comments and follow a blog and the person never acknowledges it or ever comes over to my blog, I figure, what's the point? And I stay away from controversial subjects, as much as possible.

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  17. I rarely unfollow because I can't be bothered to do so; I just skim over it! I guess I would unfollow if it had really strong racist content or something like that...

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  18. well I did hear that blogger puts a limit on how many pple you can follow, if that is true and i get to that point I guess I will have to prioritise blogs but for now if pple say something controversial I just don't leave a comment

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  19. I second Simon. No politics, no religion, and make 'em laugh!

    And I don't think I've ever lost a follower.

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  20. Hey, Karen. :) I'm negative all the time, so maybe I should be more perky! XD

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  21. How very dare you? That's it, I'm unfollowing you right this instant! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Just kidding. I rant and rave all over my own blogs all the time, and if someone doesn't like it, they can unfollow me all they want ;)

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  22. I'm torn between being "authentic and let the chips fall where they may", and trying to be "polite and not offend people".

    I'm seriously getting ready to unfollow an agent's blog, as many of the recent posts have been (IMO) mean. Not snarky/funny mean. They just come across as mean (to me).

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  23. This is a clever post and I agree with most of your list :-) I don't like posts that have a ton of links because it makes me feel disorganized trying to open all of them (odd feeling, I realize). And I don't like it when a blog post forces you to 'click to read the rest' It really drives me crazy for some reason. Clearly I have issues with a lot of windows open on my internet browser! :-)

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  24. Only negative on Mondays!!! HAHAHA!!!! That should be a weekly thing: Moody Monday

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  25. I unfollow when I realise I'm not reading any of the posts any more. One example was Cake Wreks, which is a great blog but I just wasn't reading it any more.

    Blogger doesn't understand that though and my Google reader always starts to refollow after a few days (which is why I'm using BlogBridge).

    I know that one of my own followers who had multiple accounts has died and I wonder how many other followers have tried to unfollow me but without success. It means I don't place a lot of reliance on my follower count!

    Oh, and I've discussed strong language a lot and I think that could put people off because I'm not averse to giving examples of the words I'm discussing! I find it harder now that I know people are reading my blog. When I started I just wrote what I wanted.

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  26. I don't mind if someone has different opinions than I do on politics or religion, but swearing bothers me. That said, I think that people should be themselves. Swearing doesn't bother everyone.

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  27. I think you pretty much nailed it, Karen. I don't have anything to add to the list.

    Jai

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  28. If I don't want to keep following someone, I just don't go back. Some of my followers probably do this too. You can't follow everyone consistently, anyway, if you have a lot of followers. That's life--making choices.

    One nice thing about blogging: if something offends you, you can just opt out!!

    You've never said anything offensive!

    BTW, thanks for coming over and re-following me! My blogger "glitch" has given me the opportunity to rethink where I want to go now with my blog, and whom I want to keep following. Mixed blessings, as is always the case, it seems, in life!!!
    Ann

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  29. Ha! I love your Monday posts! :) And now I feel the need to write a ranting post about the evils of Prairie Dogs! Wait, no. Those guys are cute, even if they are technically pests. :)

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  30. Just read all your comments and had to LOL, which feels good because I'm up in MN with my mom. She had a massive stroke on wednesday and is doing so much better.

    I had 2 posts automatically scheduled, this Monday rant and another post on Thursday, when I'm returning home. Anyway, thanks for all the comments here. I'll report in later this week and come round to visit your blogs.

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  31. Excellent post. The things that stop me reading are blog posts which are too long, with no paragraph breaks, and when there are too many different subjects within the post that require a variety of comments - I just don't have time!

    So sorry about your Mom, I'm glad to hear she's doing better.

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  32. I have lost followers and I always wonder why. I flatter myself that it's just that have too many blogs to read and someone has to get cut. . .

    I don't unfollow blogs myself, but if I find a few posts in a row don't interest me, I may be less likely to read. That said, a good subject line and first sentence will still lure me back!

    I don't post about religion or politics but I don't mind at all if others do. And I keep my personal life stuff to a minimum. As an unpublished writer I do wonder why anyone would be interested in what I have to say - but we all like books, so when all else fails, I talk about books!

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  33. LOL. I'm negative quite often, (whoops), but there's always a lesson to be learned, and I always end up explaining how the experience made me grow. I think that's the key. If you're going to whine, there needs to be a point to it!

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  34. I just made my own list about how to lose followers (sorry, I didn't know you wrote about the same thing until after I posted mine. But we're still friends, right? :) You're right that it's a mistake to bash agents and publishers in particular, because what if they read the blog?

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  35. Just when I resign myself to being myself and letting my blog become the virtual extension of my house (full of books, mess, and dog hair) and my yard (full of unpruned vegetation and aggressive squirrels) you post this. Sigh.

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  36. I'm totally laughing at your friend's (probably unintentional) suggestion that YOU could blog about it... I'm sure she meant you just have the loyal following... and I think that's it. I've lost readers on a couple blogs... usually it is when I give a rant, though sometimes I hedge over the PG line too far...

    But those of us who've blogged a long time have some credit to work with--people know what is really us and what is out of the norm. I think I totally agree with you on what scares readers, though some negative snark can work if it is written as 'in-group/out-grou'--for instance, i generally enjoy the Rejectionist, and most of that is negative or mocking, but it acts like all READERS are 'in-group' and some 'out there idiots' are who is being mocked (although most of us would probably fit a rant now and again)

    Still, I stand by, if you want readers, what you need to be is helpful or entertaining. If you are those two things, people will read.

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  37. Wow Karen, looks like you hit a nerve or at least a vocal chord :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  38. Nice post, Karen. That list is filled with excellent advice.

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  39. I'm late to the party ... but I'll agree with most of the comments: I avoid politics and religion (both areas I have VERY strong feelings about). Of all the subjects in the world, those can incite rage faster than any other.

    During the last presidential election I "unfollowed" several blogs because of their rabid opinions on politics.

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  40. Crack a joke, huh? How about a little Southern humor?

    "Your momma's so fat, when she stepped up on the scale to be weighed, it said 'To be continued.'"

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  41. All great points. I don't read excerpts anymore. Just direct me to the synopsis and I'll decide if I want to read it. Oh yeah, poorly edited excerpts are even worse.

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  42. Thanks...being a brand new blogger I will take your advice to heart!!

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  43. I click the unfollow button when the blogger repeatedly tells me what to do. How I should live my life, how I should eat, what religion I should be.
    I enjoy comfortable blogs, such as yours, Karen. Friendly, informative, fun and just the right amount of ranting.

    PS: I do have some unedited snippets on my blog. I am sharing a few from my NaNo scribbles. It keeps me on my toes, by sharing I am less likely to give up. so I can be forgiven for them...can't I? ;0

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  44. Only like you all the better now! :)


    Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral

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  45. I TOTALLY agree with you Karen. I think you've said everything I'm picky with. Another thing is don't lecture me. I get enough of that from my kids (hee hee).

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  46. Self-promoting whether obvious or subtle, if done incessantly, is probably the biggest reason I would stop following a blog.

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  47. I haven't lost anyone yet (that I know of...I don't pay too much attention to the follower widget), but I have gone and unsubscribed from a few feeds. There were a couple that were way off in left field with religious/political talk. I wasn't offended, I just didn't want to read it regularly. I hope they didn't stress at the loss....

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  48. Karen, you totally crack me up. I haven't unfollowed anyone yet on blogger, and only once on Twitter. He only posted political stuff, and that's not why I'm on there!

    For me, the short blog posts win the day. I have a short attention span, and I'm not too proud to admit it.

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  49. The only thing I'd like to add is cursing. That'll do it every time. I get tired of being perfect all the time.

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  50. I've pretty much had all the don'ts covered at one stage. I just be myself and be transparent. I don't sell myself, my website is for that. I've unfollowed on twitter for hateful tweets, but Im loyal to blogs. I followed Julie Musil to get here. Just saying hi. Hi.

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  51. Terrific post. I'll even follow you because of it. :)

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  52. Great post. :-) I hate that my posts lately have been all about my book, but I feel like I'm in a cave. Today's post is about giveaways on various sites. :-) Nothing about me.

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  53. I've unfollowed a good many blogs, and here's why: I read through my Blogger dashboard, and when it's continually cluttered up my content that I no longer read, it becomes disorganized. And I like everything organized.

    I've lost a few followers over the year, but I don't take it personally. My brand of humor and commentary might not appeal to everyone, just as others don't appeal to me. We've got limited time in this life, so why waste it reading stuff only out of guilt?

    Actually, that's just my philosophy on most things in life...

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  54. Summer, My feelings exactly, esp. about the dashboard. That's good you don't take it personally when someone unfollows. I'm getting to that point.

    Mary, actually I like reading your posts about what you are doing to promote etc, because I have learned a lot by them.

    Jeannie, Thank you, and I'll stop by your blog. I think I already follow it. I've been kind of out of the loop lately with my mom in the hospital.

    Simon, Welcome, and I'll come by to visit your blog too.

    Dana, totally agree with you on that one. Twitter f-word users get unfollowed by me on the spot. I'm more tolerant with blogs, esp if they're ones I'm fond of, but I skip over posts with a lot of cursing.

    Julie, I can't believe you still follow me then if you like short posts LOL.

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  55. I'm always a little interested in why people blog in the first place. The issue of "following" and "unfollowing" is a tiny bit alien to me. I'm one of those weird folk who blogs from their own domain rather than within Blogger or Wordpress or LJ or whatever.
    I can't tell who's following me (or in fact, if anyone is following me). There's no simple button to press that automatically slides my blog into your blogroll (other than good old fashioned "Add to favourites").
    I switched off the requirement to be registered to comment on my posts because it all just seemed like too much hassle for most people.
    It's quite possible that I offend people all the time, but I doubt it. Of course I self censor - much the same as anyone does in polite conversation if they aren't intimately acquainted with all of the participants, but I've adopted a policy of being open and frank in all aspects of my life, and I think that has served me well. I'm not particularly tolerant - in fact, I'm probably a little impatient with people, I tend to point out sycophants for what they are and I've been known to deal rather swiftly with those who do not have the life experience to back up their opinionated expulsions - but I'm also humble, polite and respectful of those who have not earned my disrespect.
    In short, I'm just a human being, like all other bloggers, and unless all of us human beings deliver unto the internet's welcoming maw the full variety of our collective selves, it's going to be a pretty bland and uninspiring place, full of political correctness and inoffensive nothingness.
    Of course be age appropriate. Of course don't go out of your way to offend - but surely all reasonable people do those things in their everyday lives anyway...
    The rest of the time - be yourself. Be honest. Lay it on me, warts and all

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