All the opinions in this post are mine and mine alone. They reflect my prejudices and personal tastes. You may do things very differently and this should be in no way seen as any kind of comment on or criticism of your approach.
Hugh at Hugh’s Views and News has posted about awards and the ‘to accept or not’ conundrum. This prompted me to recall my journey to an award free blog. As with Hugh the first award caused me a real boost. Someone cared enough. I was at the time and remain very grateful to anyone who nominates me. That they think of me at all is a boost.
But… After a short while I knew I wasn’t enjoying them as they are meant to be enjoyed. I’m not a great one for answering the questions – my answers swing wildly between the rude and the surreal. But mostly I do not like the nominations one is expected to make. To me, and this is my weakness everyone, it feels too much like a chain letter. So I stopped nominating and answering and that left saying thank you (which of course I did and do) and displaying the badge.
And there was another problem. The look of my blog.
Everyone needs to decide what their blog looks like. For me I do not like a cluttered blog with lots of information competing. And the truth? After a while that glittery butterfly and the adjective heavy pieces of bling grated. They weren’t me.
Which made me ponder – what do I want my blog to look like? And in particular what goes in my widget bar?
At that time I had just published my first book. That had to go somewhere and I didn’t particularly want my header to be an extract from the cover because more book were going to follow and then what? So I decided my books could appear as widgets. That may change but for now, with two out there that works for me.
But what else would I allow to appear? As I say, I don’t like cluster so to stay there had to be a compelling reason.
A lot of bloggers have a selection of the blogs they follow in amongst their widgets. You can have up to 50. Once I reached more than 50 blogs I was following it became a ‘last in’ list which was unfair to my early follows. I could have chopped and changed it but what was it really doing? Maybe it’s my problematic ego but when I see other’s lists I look for my picture. Dreadful, huh? And so far I have never clicked through from a name or picture to find another blog. So if I didn’t what did others do? If everyone (anyone) else was like me, then I wasn’t going to encourage such weaknesses. I and they could do without.
I do want people to follow so I left in the follow button. Initially this came with a number showing how many WordPress followers I had. There was a separate number showing all followers across WordPress, Twitter, Facebook etc. When I started out, seeing others with a significantly higher number of followers was, frankly rather intimidating and I had qualms about following people with 1000s of followers. I’m not sure why but they had to be really good for me to follow. So I removed the numbers. If you want to know how many WordPress followers I have, it appears in your reader, whenever you look at any of my posts in the reader. If that matters to you. You see I assume people may be like me and make assumptions about things like numbers – it’s why I don’t tell you how many public toilets I might fill with my annual viewer numbers, or whatever people depositary is used to measure these things. I want you to read my blog for the words and pictures and not be influenced in any way by a random set of statistics.
You can have links to Facebook, you can have a line of your latest tweets in your widgets. Maybe other social media can appear too. I don’t yet do any others. For me, and this really is a personal matter of taste, if I see a Twitter feed of a ‘like me’ button I pass swiftly on. That’s because I’m still struggling to come to terms with how best to use social media. I don’t have an author page on Facebook. I pretty much only post my blog posts on Twitter. So it would seem to be redundant or repetitive and thus risk boring readers. Maybe one day but not yet.
I’ve kept a search facility. You can search by word or look for a category. I’m not sure how helpful they are but I use them from time to time so that’s why they stay.
And that’s it. When my next book comes out I may have rethink how I publicise them on the blog. Until then I will continue with my minimalist approach.
Did any of you notice any of this? Am I missing some major trick here? I’m a novice so any words of wisdom, better still if you’ve learnt a painful lesson I might avoid but some sage advice then I’m happy to be helped! How many widgets do you look at? And is it that first visit only? Like the about me page, do you look ab initio and never again? Or are you an assiduous reader of the widget bar? Do you check out the awards and do they make any differed to your attitude to that blog? Is this all a bit post post modern, IKEA-ish flat pack blogging?