Not all travel blogs are built the same.
For about a year, I’ve been creating content on my travel blog here to post about once a week. I blocked all spam accounts so there won’t be fake statistics on my Google analytics. With regards to The Petite Wanderess, I have a few principles – the main one being it should contain things I truly want to feature or write about. If you’re not familiar with web stuff, SEO is a b*tch to crack. With plenty of content being created every day by countless people in this world, it’s a tough task to get your voice (in this case, your site) heard among the noise (in this case, Google results).
Everyone has a travel blog these days.
This particular travel blogger that I admire had mentioned before to not spend too much time trying to build an audience via commenting on others’ blogs. Because your target audience should be people who want to travel, not the bloggers that are already travelling and writing about it. True, maybe one of their fans/commentors will notice your comment and click on your link, but well we’ll get to that in a bit, read on. More likely, the only reaction and attention you’ll get is from the blog-owner, lol.
I blog because I want to.
If people (bloggers & none-bloggers) came across my site and found my posts useful and enjoyable, that will be a bonus. If one day, my blog has the power to open new doors or give me opportunities for travels, that will be a double bonus.
There are Facebook Groups with ‘Engagement Threads’.
This is how a FB Engagement Thread works: You leave your post’s link. The next 10 people who leave theirs will visit your post and leave a comment. You will also do the same for the 10 links above yours. It’s like a loop. Threads like these guarantee engagement in the form of exchange — you give 10 comments to others, you get 10 comments from other others. You can even ‘report’ people who didn’t commit to the rules.
This also means, all or almost all the comments in your post are from fellow travel bloggers! Whahaha. If that’s not ironic, I don’t know how else to define it.
Engagement threads increase your blog visits and with a decent number of comments, it appears that your posts are indeed well-written and people enjoy them. Surely your posts should be considered high in value! At least it appears so, to the advertisers that want your blog to feature their services.
I’ve participated in engagement threads about 2, maximum 3 times, especially when I feel I did a killer post (a.k.a a post that took a super load of time and effort) and I needed to promote the shit out of it. Using these engagement threads, I’ve also discovered a few interesting blogs and learned about cities I’ve never heard of.
So today, there was a blogger who tagged a few people in a particular thread and mentioned that our comments had been too short and “impersonal”. Before you imagine I left irrelevant Instagram-spammy-like kinda comments such as “Cool!” or “Awesome!”, I did not. My comment was based on the blogger’s article which I’d gone through and replied accordingly to. My comment consisted of 2 sentences, not 2 words.
But it was not long or personal enough for the blogger’s liking.
I was a little taken aback by this response, and rather turned off, honestly. Because if someone had visited my post and took the time to leave a comment, I will appreciate the effort.
The blogger’s response made me think about various scenarios to apply for reviewing my own blog. What if:
• Your content is actually not that interesting?
• The reader just could not relate to your content?
• Your writing is actually not fantastic?
• The site design is quite awful?
• Your photos are awful with a disturbing tint because of the filters you put them through?
After the incident, I began to ponder about the entire purposes of these Engagement Threads. The action of leaving comments are tactics to pass through either the gates of SEO, or the blog’s potential clients — people/organizations that partner with travel bloggers. And I kinda wondered whether, in a way, I’m ‘cheating’. Of course, to each his own. I’m not saying bloggers who do this are intentionally cheating. It’s just that the method does not go well with me personally.
This incident also got me thinking real hard about WHY I blog, WHO I’m blogging for, WHAT do I want out of this blog, and WILL I STILL BLOG even if no one’s reading? (The answer to the last question has been decidedly yes ever since I started a blogging habit more than a decade ago.) I started to think about the creatives, writers and artists that inspire me to this day, and what is it about their work that makes them inspirational or keeps them going.
With that said, the content of my travel blog is of utmost importance to me. I spend shitloads of personal hours just to craft one post – pure hard work and passion! Blogging can get tiring and does not earn me any real income [yet].
For now, I won’t be participating in any of these Engagement Threads. I will still visit travel blogs, and will only leave comments if the posts did stir a reaction in me or if I want to show support to a fellow blogger. I’m not sure if I will join Engagement Threads ever again because one should never say never, but one thing I know clearer than ever is:
I prefer to build a loyal following using MY ways.
Even if my methods don’t guarantee results and are much more tedious. At least, they feel more solid and real to me.