I’ve been fascinated by blogging awards and similar activities for the entire time I’ve been blogging. Today I’ll share my take on them and give a few pointers to bloggers who are thinking about inventing their own. I’m talking about blogging activities that have the following characteristics:
- A blogger writes a post and nominates other bloggers to participate in the activity by doing a similar post and nominating others.
- The nomination post comes with rules, but blogging being what it is, they are a bit like the Pirate Code — more guidelines than actual rules.
- Nearly always, one of the first two rules is to link back to the person who nominated you.
- The idea is to keep the activity alive, spread it through the blogosphere, and get bloggers linking to one another.
I like these activities, but not everyone does. To some people they feel like chain letters or like a way of pressuring other bloggers for links. I don’t look at them like that. Well, they are a bit like chain letters, but in a way that I find appealing. The reason I like them is that I enjoy linking to other bloggers, and enjoy posts in which bloggers link to a other blogs that they follow. I discovered most of the blogs that I read often through such posts.
I also think they’re a good way to pay a compliment to other bloggers. I usually add a disclaimer to nomination posts which says, basically, I won’t be offended if you choose to not even acknowledge this award. It’s just my way of saying your work is worth reading. And I try to get some inkling of how a blogger feels about awards before I nominate them. I try not to nominate people who actively dislike them or who have award-free blogs. I think of this as basic good manners.
All that said, these types of posts do have a few drawbacks. How significant the drawbacks are will depend on your blogging style and the amount of time you have to devote to blogging, so your mileage may vary here.
- They ask people to write a post, and write it in a particular way.
- The more extensive the rules, the greater the investment of time and mental energy required to participate.
- The post itself, once it’s done and published, asks other people to write a post, and write it in a particular way.
Even for those of us who thrive on engagement and collaboration, these are not drawbacks to be taken lightly. Diana and I had a long conversation about the pros and cons of award participation when we received our first few. I think of blogging as a subculture, and it’s one that values autonomy and independence. Telling people what to do with their blogs, or straight-up asking for links, is a bit of a taboo.
I don’t think blogging awards rise to that level. If I did, I’d have an award-free blog. But it is important to keep in mind that, when you nominate people for things, you’re at least strongly suggesting that they write something with requirements another person came up with, even if you’re careful to be clear that you aren’t asking them to write it. That’s why we always attach the disclaimer.
I have an idea for a blog hop, but it’s not fully developed yet and I likely won’t have time to think about kicking it off until October at the earliest. Developing it has got me thinking about how to design an award post that has a chance of succeeding and becoming popular. Here are a few thoughts on some things I think you should and shouldn’t do if you’re starting an award.
- Don’t ask people to write too much.
- Do make sure your questions or prompts are open-ended and not too personal. Ten questions is too many.
- Don’t ask people to nominate too many other bloggers. Even if you’re very efficient with the keyboard, locating and embedding links accurately is time-consuming.
- Do keep in mind that many, many bloggers only read a handful of other blogs. Nominating 15 other bloggers is too much to ask.
- Don’t phrase your post in such a way that people feel pressured to respond.
- Do expect that some people won’t even acknowledge your nominations, for any number of reasons. They might not see your pingback or comment telling them they’re nominated. They might not like awards. Etc. Be prepared for it and don’t take it personally.
- Do take the time to make or acquire an original badge for people to use. Lots of bloggers like to have these trophies of participation on their sidebars and awards pages. It’s a little perk and it’s important.
- Do keep in mind that as flattering as it is to receive awards, receiving too many in too short a time can be overwhelming. Especially for bloggers (like me) who are perfectionists or who pride themselves on answering a high percentage of the people who comment, link to them, etc.
- When you write the kickoff post, make sure you nominate bloggers who you’re pretty sure will pass them on. If you know a few bloggers well enough to discuss it, bring it up with them in a neutral way, ask them for input, and see how they respond. Ideally, I’d want two or three other bloggers all doing kickoff posts in the same week, and all nominating entirely different bloggers.
Those “Dos” and “Don’ts” up there are the things that keep me from writing more award posts than I do. My awards page here is woefully out of date and I honestly don’t know how many unanswered award nominations I have. My policy is to thank people for nominations, with a link on my front page if possible, within a week or so of receiving a nomination. Whether or not I nominate others depends on my schedule, the amount of work required, and how difficult it’s going to be for me to find others to nominate. Every award isn’t right for every blog, and I’d never nominate the same blogger for two awards in the same month.
I’m hoping that eventually, someone will catch on to the fact that I have nominations literally piled up around my ears and nominate me for a Lazy Blogger Award, which is a cheeky award for bloggers who accept awards but don’t pass along the nominations in a timely manner.
We can discuss ways of encouraging participation in more detail on the thread if you like.
I’ll also throw out another idea here. A couple of friends have suggested to me that I do a Sunday post or two on using WordPress, and especially about the dashboard. Would anyone find that helpful? If so, what, specifically, would be most helpful? I can’t pull the entire dashboard apart in fewer than ten posts, so if I do this, I’d like to focus on things people actually have trouble with.
Done. Have a great week!