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.