For my final installment in this blogging etiquette series, I would like to share my thoughts regarding relationships with other bloggers. If you are like me, then you read your favorite blogs everyday, leave a comment, and those same bloggers visit your blog and leave a comment. That is usually how these relationships develop. Or, one day you come across a new blog and after reading a few posts you realize that this blogger “gets you.” Her world is similar to your world, so you decide to email or leave a comment, and a new relationship starts to grow.
Most, but not all, bloggers have a blog roll. There is not a right or wrong way to create your blog roll. When I started blogging, I just listed my favorite blogs in the sidebar. I did not ask permission to link to their blogs. I did not email them to let them know that I had linked to them. That is not to say that I think it is a bad idea to do so. Several bloggers have emailed to let me know that I had been added to their blog roll, and it is always fun to get messages like that! It also gives me the opportunity to read their blogs and decide if I would like to reciprocate with a link.
Your blog roll does not have to be static. Keep in mind that your blog is your blog; you ought to feel free to add and delete links to your hearts delight. Adding blogs to your blog roll is the easy part. The difficult part is deciding to remove a blog from your roll. Should you email the blogger to let her know? Should you explain why? I will leave that up to you and your conscience. What if she notices and emails to ask why? Be honest in your answer.
Here is how I manage my blog roll: If I enjoy a blog, and I read it a few times a week, then I put a link in my sidebar. My list has really grown over the last year, and not every blog on my sidebar has a return link to me. I have a relationship with another blogger and she still has not linked to me. I know that she likes me, but for whatever reason, I am absent from her sidebar. I spent a little while wondering why, but in the end decided that life is just too short to waste time fretting over blogrolling. I am keeping my link to her blog because I like her blog. I’ll never ask her about it because I prefer to keep my blogging hobby pressure-free.
A huge part of our blogging relationships is commenting. I have noticed that some of my most inane posts receive the most comments, while my more deeply thought; personally convicting posts receive very few comments. The temptation is there to write fluff all of the time. Bloggers must keep in mind that those posts that are rather convicting have an effect on readers, but oftentimes, your readers may not feel able to leave a comment immediately. When I read a moving post, I sometimes find it difficult to find the right words for a comment. Just because a particular post does not receive many comments does not mean that no one likes it. It is important to keep this in mind so that you do not compromise what you write just to keep the number of comments high. You are not writing for comments. Keep your blog a true reflection of who you are. (Now I am sounding like an after-school special.)
There is enough room on the internet for every kind of person and blog. At the writer’s conference I attended last weekend, Claire Cloninger spoke about writing with your unique voice. You may think that no one is interested in what you have to say, or that what is on your mind has already been the subject of many-a-book (or post in this case), however, only you can say, or write, exactly what you want to write in the way you want to write it. God only made one of you. It does no one any good for you to try to copy someone else. Keep writing until your unique voice emerges on your blog.
Whether you have been blogging for a few months or a few years, you have probably noticed your own little community emerge. I can attest to the sense of community among the Christian women in the blogosphere. Don’t you think it is wonderful how women bloggers are not satisfied with just talking via email? Soon the relationship progresses to instant messenger, then, the telephone. Next thing you know, you are checking your day planner and scheduling a shopping trip with your new best friend. This online community is real. You can see it when bloggers post pictures of their latest get-together. You can see it when another blogger gets sick, has a baby, or faces a difficult situation.
Consider for a moment when one woman finds out she has cancer, or a child is dying, or a relative passes away, and she writes about it on her blog. Not half an hour later about twenty other women will post a call for prayer for her, and pretty soon hundreds of women are praying for this one who had the courage to voice her need. Consider the fact that Boomama has spearheaded fundraisers that have collected more than $25,000 for two bloggers who are facing serious illness and mountains of doctor bills.
On the lighter side, consider the many comments that come through when a mom-blogger asks for her readers to answer a question to help a kid with a school assignment. Or when another blogger has something wonderful happen, like the birth of a baby? With online wish lists and sidebars with all kinds of clues as to what a blogger likes, it’s easy to send gifts or email gift certificates to your friends. Even I have benefited from a couple of generous women who blog! We care for one another and we help each other as much as we can, thanks to the internet.
Bloggers have created their own vocabulary that does not make sense to people who do not blog. Blogging is a strange hobby. It is difficult to explain to non-bloggers exactly what it is and why I enjoy it. Even stranger to convey is that I have a few real friends who I only know via blogging and email or IM. Still, I am happy that I jumped into this huge web of people. If you blog, then I bet you are, too.