I haven’t been blogging on my own for very long, about four months. I have made a real effort to think about my audience when I write my content, to keep away from the controversial anti-vaccination discussions and other such click-bait controversies, and to write about parenting from my point of view. Then I got my first negative comment.
I know I’m putting myself out there, and I know that by writing opinion pieces I’m asking for people to disagree with me. Still, even telling myself that couldn’t stop me from feeling first sadness, then anger, then failure when I read my first negative attacking comment. I wasn’t prepared for being personally attacked – for being accused of thinking I’m perfect, for insinuations that I might be stupid. I was dumbfounded.
I spent the day mentally crafting responses in my head. I had some good ones too. I stopped short of posting them, saying to myself “Don’t feed the troll!” Though, in my mind, this wasn’t a troll. This wasn’t someone looking for a fight. This was someone who was generally angered by my post and who questioned my abilities as a blogger.
Once I got over the rage and shame, I gave more thought to the piece I posted. After all, the day of the comment coincided with a loss of a few Twitter followers. That might mean nothing as Twitter followers come and go, with many following you for a follow back and nothing more, but it gave me cause for concern. What was wrong with this piece of content?
Straight away I can tell you that I stand by what I wrote. It was an opinion piece, and it was my opinion, there’s no disputing that. Yet, when I take a step back I realise my reason for putting it in the public domain was I thought, “this will get me some clicks”. Yes, I’d stopped thinking about my audience and started thinking about my traffic. I thought that by posting something where I make sweeping generalisations about other parents – with a kickass headline – I would get some traffic. I didn’t. Oh sure, I got some good comments from people who agreed with me, and even negative comments help my SEO, but it didn’t give me the spike in traffic I expected. It fell flat.
I made another mistake. I committed a cardinal sin – I judged others. I broke my promise as a blogger and as a parent, and I judged others for my own gain. I’m not saying we can’t judge others, maybe we shouldn’t but most of us do, but using it as click-bait is shameful, and I’m ashamed. In short, I’d compromised the editorial integrity of my blog as I became hungry for stats. And I have suffered for it.
Now, I’m not saying my negative commenter was right. They weren’t. They attacked me personally and I don’t agree with that tactic in any shape or form. But I’m no better. I attacked mums and dads who were choosing to do things their way. I’m not going to give my commenter airtime by writing his exact words. I’m not going to promote the blog in question. I’m going to stop trying to get clicks for the sake of clicks. I’m going to refocus my energies on writing for me, and for my audience, and not for spikes in traffic. After all, my engagement rates have always benefited from this strategy, and I’m grateful for the one negative comment that refocused my energies when I got distracted (albeit briefly) by the bright lights of Google Analytics.
5 things I ask myself before I post a piece
- Who is my audience, and what will they think of this piece?
- Have I maintained my editorial integrity?
- Have I unfairly judged others? (I use the term unfairly as I think you can go too far about worrying about others when you post your content)
- Does this blog add value to my overall content mix?
- What is the purpose of publishing this piece, and if it’s purely for traffic purposes, is it worthy of publishing?
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I love that you’ve have taken so much from this experience but I’m worried you’re being a bit hard on yourself. I hunted out the post (of course I did) and I felt a twinge of guilt. I strongly suspect the commenter in question did too. If what you wrote was authentic what does it matter if you hoped to gain attention for it? You stirred up emotions, that’s a good thing. When people write things they don’t really care about just for clicks thats when it smells fishy xxx
Thanks. That’s lovely of you to say.
Sorry to hear about you first negative experience but did love reading about what you have taken from it all. Thank you for sharing this #twinklytuesday
I read this at the right time as I was writing a post that probably is a little judgy so I’m going to assess how i go forward with that. Hugs to you, our blogs are like our babies and any criticism hurts like hell..now i have to admit I’m going hunting for that post too lol #twinklytuesday
Gosh you have been so honest here – thank you – I’ve only been blogging for a month and I’ve yet to do a post about anything too controversial – I’lol definitely remember this post if I write such a post and I’ll question myself about my motivation behind it. Am desperate to read your original post tho now 😉
I felt sad for a whole day after my first negative comment. Its so hard and you want to tell the person to be kind and remember how much timer and effort a blog takes. You wouldn’t tell an artist their painting is rubbish, to their face, but the internet seems faceless. I think you’ve reached some sensible conclusions so well done! #twinklytuesday
I’m a complete nosy parker so I’d love to know the post you are referring to, but hey ho. As Oscar Wilde said “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” so don’t be too hard on yourself! #twinklytuesday
I applaud your total honesty by writing this piece and I also try to blog with integrity. But I do believe that my blog is a space to give my opinion too. If people don’t agree then don’t read, click somewhere else. I suppose it depends what you blog for. Yes I want clicks, I am sure every blogger wants people to read their posts and gets a buzz when there is that spike but I try to write opinion pieces from my heart not from statistics. #brilliantblogposts
I’ve been lucky because in four years I’ve never experienced a negative comment and I get what you are saying about considering your content etc but for me my posts are ultimately mine first, if people don’t like them then they don’t have to read them #effitfriday
Hey we live and we learn! You can’t be right all the time and blogging is a learning curve for everyone – mistakes will be made! I like it when people disagree, it means you’ve got them engaged and it opens up a discussion. BUT there will always be idiots out there who have nothing better to do then be mean – just shake it off ! #effitfriday
I’m nosy so I went looking through your posts. Reading the comment I felt it was harsh. You can disagree with an opinion (as others did) without resorting to nasty name calling and pulling up on blogging style. I hope it won’t stop you from posting opinion pieces. Thanks for linking with #effitfriday
I write a lot of opinion pieces, but I have always been lucky. Obviously I’ve had people disagree with my opinion, that’s to be expected, but I have never felt like I have been personally attacked. For me, if someone resorts to calling you stupid etc then they have lost the debate before it even starts. I’m glad you learned something from the experience, but please don’t let it put you off doing opinion pieces. #effitfriday
I would say you have learned your lesson which is to think about your audience and not your numbers. I am probably not a very good blogger though so don’t listen to me! I waste WAAAAAAY too much time writing about what interests me and what I enjoy writing about and not nearly enough time (read: none) writing what will eventually make me an income from blogging. Hence why I just see it as a hobby and hopefully a way to help a few people by offering them support! Anyway good for you for being honest. Now I need to go and look out that post!
Don’t change what you write or how you blog because someone felt the need to leave a nasty comment. It’s one idiot in a sea of wonderful, supportive bloggers. Don’t let that one idiot win.
I thought this was an interesting post and I liked how reflective you’ve been over the whole experience.
I went through a similar deliberation recently. Given my blog’s subject matter I felt I needed to be honest about where I stood on some controversial topics. It was a tough call but I’m glad I did it. When I hit publish I was still nervous though that I’d be trolled in response.
So far I haven’t been but I think negative responses are probably par for the course in blogging. Reading this post was helpful in terms of thinking about ways to respond (or not!).
In respect to your original post (yup I’m nosy too and sought it out), I think there is a difference between
– seeking controversy for it’s own sake (which I didn’t think you were doing at all)
– just being honest about your perspective (which is why people want to read your stuff in the first place).
The Crazy Stork Lady | http://www.breakingupwithcontraception.com (via Brilliant Blog Posts)
My first ever negative comment was in French and it was only a while after I actually realised what it meant … so that somehow negated the anger of the poster! #bigfatlinky
‘I’m not going to promote the blog in question.’
Well, that’s a perfect example of reverse psychology, because I like many others couldn’t stop myself from hunting down the post in question. And while it stings a bit — I sometimes spend time on my phone when I’m around my daughter (because it can be utterly mentally exhausting to be constantly ON in the way that I have to be to engage with her, as she has ASD.) — I agree that the comment you received was unnecessarily harsh.
Honestly, I think the post could have been worded a bit to come across less judgemental and a bit more understanding, e.g. ‘Hey, look up from your phone every now and then; you’re missing it’, rather than ‘Stop this completely or you’re a s**t parent’, but, look, it’s your blog, and your opinion. What I am impressed by is how you’ve thought this through and used the comment as a learning experience. But really, don’t be so hard on yourself. #effitfriday
I love the honesty of this post! What a great reminder for old and new bloggers alike…why did you start blogging and does this post reflect that? I will keep your thoughts in mind as I move forward on this blogging journey. #twinkleytuesday
It’s hard when you get your first negative comment. Even after 5 years of blogging I still get a tad upset. Sounds like you’ve taken a positive step and learnt from the experience. Thanks for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky hope to see you there this week