Why Do You Keep Coming Back?

Conversations with your dentist have nothing on conversations with your gynecologist.

I had an appointment today for an annual check-up. My doctor remembered that I had a novel published and asked how that was going. Then we talked about blogging. Several people had told her she should blog, but she didn’t know what to write about. The obvious answer was medical topics, but after a long day at work, she needed a break from that. Doc asked if my blog had a focus. I laughed. Lack of focus is my focus. She laughed and related, I think. And then she asked the $64 million question:

What keeps people reading your blog if there’s no focus?

I thought for a moment about what makes me return to a blog. A particular post draws me in initially, but the personality of the blogger and the relationship we develop keep me coming back for more. It’s no different than the connection I feel in person when I meet a kindred spirit. I guess for me, a blog and its comments are like conversations I might have with my non-cyber friends. Those are not on just one topic, right?

So, what do you think? What keeps you coming back? Enquiring minds and one gynecologist want to know.

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57 Comments

  1. February 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I’m just like you. I seem to connect almost right away with some bloggers and then I’m hooked. I agree that it’s rather like chatting with friends and the conversation possibilities are endless. I enjoy having no idea what the next post will be and what opinions will be shared. I don’t think I’d like to write a niche kind of blog. It’s more fun running with whatever is happening at that time. Did the doctor happen to mention why you have no hands? I hope you didn’t write your fingers off ;)

    • February 28, 2011 at 8:57 pm

      I enjoy not knowing what the next post will be, too (whether I’m writing it or reading it). I had a completely different post planned for today and then this event happened, and here it is.

      I removed my hands just before they weighed me. Every little bit helps. ;-)

  2. February 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Of course there is a topic, it just happens to be Margaret Reyes Dempsey. I think it’s natural to enjoy some writers and want to follow them. It reminds me of TV series that I’ll watch just because I’ve come to know a character and want to see what’s going on with them in ach new episode.

    I follow what is going on with a lot of people that I’ve met playing one of the now less popular mob games on facebook. Many of us have known one another as opponents or comrades for close to two years and we hope that our cyber friends are doing well in their real lives.

    • February 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      It’s true, Royce. The cyber nature of the relationship doesn’t make you care any less. I have some wonderful friends I met online. We live in different parts of the world, but we’ve already taken two annual vacations together that were a blast.

  3. huffygirl said,

    February 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I love the picture :)

    I agree with you and the commenter above – it is indeed the personality of the blogger and the connection you make- not unlike one you might make in person. We’ve all met people with whom we’ve “hit it off” immediately, and those who, although they seem like fine people, you just can’t connect with them. I predict this topic will spur a lot of comments and debate.

    As far as blogging with only one focus – I’ve read many a “how to start your own blog” kind of column that insists that bloggers should pick a theme or focus and stick with it. I tried that at first and found it did not work. If blogging is only editorializing, than this might work. You put out your opinion time and again on ___________, and everyone interested in _______ can read and comment on it. But if blogging is about connections -how many people only talk about one topic with their friends? Sorry for the long comment – didn’t mean to start my own blog here.

    • February 28, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Comment away, Huffy. This is exactly the kind of blogging I love.

      I started my blog back in 2008, before I learned my novel was going to be published. Once it was out, I started to feel pressured by the many blogging experts to focus on a single theme. But, you know, I’m just not wired that way. I didn’t want blogging to become another job.

  4. February 28, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    This is super timely for me. And not because I just came from the gyno. I have a blogging group and the question today was “What is the radical influence your blog is trying to make?” I think questions like this can be helpful. However, I find I am tasting ice cream when I’m reading these words. Maybe I’m just looking for a place to be me and make new friends. Radical thought.

    • February 28, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      I’m with you, Rebecca. Life is busy and it’s hard to make new friends let alone find time to get together with your existing ones. I look forward to settling down at the end of a day with a cup of tea and my blogging buddies.

  5. jesswords10 said,

    February 28, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    If I wasn’t already subscribed to your blog, that picture alone would have done the trick. lol.

    I come back because time and time again you make me laugh and do things I would’ve done too. I told you, we’d be awesome roommates! And through your comments you are always so supportive and encouraging to other bloggers, which we (me) love! So thank you, Margaret!

    P.S. Could you please start washing your half of the dishes? I mean seriously, I’d like to see the bottom of at least one sink! C’mon roomie, it’s called courtesy!

    • February 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      Thanks, Jess. Right back at ya!

      Hey, I was going to wash those dishes, but the bits of mustard-covered bread crusts and bologna string just freaked me out. :-P

      • jesswords10 said,

        February 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm

        *gasp* oh it’s on, Roomie! *rifles through desk papers* Where’s that photo of you eating a whole hock of meat as a toddler?!!

      • March 1, 2011 at 12:06 am

        I’m choking on my own spit. Stop! :-D

  6. Zahara said,

    February 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    You’re drawings are a riot, and I mean that in a good way. You removed your hands? Chortling.
    Well, I’m so glad I’m not the lone blogger without a theme…..
    Had no idea how interactive and personal and fun blogging could be.
    Chau!

    • February 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm

      When I was a kid, my grandmother taught me how to dance while my grandfather taught my brother how to draw. They say there are no regrets in heaven. I beg to differ. ;-)

      • Zahara said,

        March 2, 2011 at 12:16 am

        M, your drawings get the point across with no unnecessary fluff to sort through, and they make me laugh. What more do you need?

      • March 2, 2011 at 8:15 am

        Thanks, Z. :-)

  7. February 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Hi Margaret,
    I’m in that blogging group Rebecca @ altaredspaces mentioned (she sent us over here) and as she says, it’s a timely topic.) On one hand, I can see that it might be good to stay focused on a particular theme, particularly if you’re trying to market a product… but one of the things that makes blogs appealing is that authenticity and the personality of the blogger. If your blog sounds like marketing spin, you’re going to turn people off. So… I think a little mixture of focused and anything goes is good. I always feel a little guilty when I have an unfocused entry that is about some random thing that happens to be going on in my life… but often those are the posts that get the most comments and certainly the type where I feel like I’m really connecting.

    Oh… and I love the picture, too! Very funny! (And THAT’s gotta be a big reason why people come back!)

    • February 28, 2011 at 11:49 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Yvette. I wouldn’t object to a mixture of focused and anything goes. I just have no idea what I’d focus on. :-)

      I like how you’ve taken the theme of love and covered it from different angles in your blog. My eyes bugged out when I saw how long you’ve been blogging. I don’t think I knew what a blog was in 2005.

      Congratulations on your book!

      • March 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

        Thanks, Margaret! Yes, I was an early adopter and have been quite addicted ever since! I love this ability to get to know people all over the world through their writing and I’m drawn to those who seem to have a message I can relate to. I think a good sense of humor and depth is what brings people back!

  8. Kate said,

    March 1, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Well what makes me come back to a blog is simply the posts which I had read before. It’s the interest and connection with the blog which drives me back to the same blog again and again .
    The Blogging Test
    What kind of blogger are you?

    http://www.3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/blog_test/blog_test_instructions.asp

    • March 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Your comment made me think about how my visitation patterns differ for the focused blogs I read. If the blog offers mostly a blast of helpful information on a single topic, say blogging, I’ll visit occasionally when I want to know more on the subject. But in the absence of any personal sharing, I don’t find myself returning every day.

      Thanks for chiming in, Kate.

  9. Val Erde said,

    March 1, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Personality. If I don’t like the personality of the blogger (as it comes through in her/his blog posts) then I tend not to return. Your blog posts are great, I never know what to expect so little bits of your personality come out and go ‘boo!’ at me!

  10. JJ said,

    March 1, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Well like others have said it’s personality, and I like randomness.

  11. bronxboy55 said,

    March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    You do have a focus. There may not be a general theme, but you’re completely focused on whatever theme you’ve chosen for each post. I always get the feeling you’ve given a lot of thought to what you’re writing about, so you approach it from a running start. You also manage to inject humor into an otherwise serious piece, while your humorous posts have an underlying layer of serious insight. It’s all worth coming back for. I even learn things from you. Like, I didn’t know women had to stand on their heads at the gynecologist; it’s even worse than I thought.

    (I tried to be nice all the way through, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. I promise to come back and be completely nice in my next comment.)

    • March 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm

      “Completely nice” is never required on this blog.

      I definitely have perspective issues when it comes to drawing. I figured I’d play it safe and not attempt to draw the examination table. The couch in my Chocolate Gelt post ended up looking like a skyscraper with me pinned to the top of it (wearing a New York Islanders skirt). :-)

  12. Richard said,

    March 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Personally, what keeps me coming back is the dirty pictures. ;-)

  13. Linda Lewis said,

    March 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Like you, I have no single focus. Sometimes I think that is even more of a challenge than being subject specific. I enjoy blogs that have a variety of topics, are well written and entertaining…like yours, dearie. I thoroughly enjoy the relate ship that develops with regular readers. They start feeling like friends. We should be grateful to Zahara for “introducing” us.

  14. suzicate said,

    March 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    It’s all about the connection. At first, it was mainly because I wanted to write, but really I don’t need a blog to write. My blog opened up a whole new world to me.

    • March 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      I don’t think I had anything in particular in mind when I started my blog. It was something new to explore. But, like you, I have discovered a whole new world, and what a great one it is. Thanks for stopping by, Suzicate.

  15. Melinda said,

    March 2, 2011 at 12:02 am

    First of all that picture made me cry laughing. We woman never have a problem with conversation – even during the strangest of circumstances do we? Just keep on talking…and talking…”Slide down? OK…and like I was saying I might draw a picture of this for tomorrow’s blog…..”

    I think people are naturally attracted to people that have the same sense of humor, personality, craziness, or interest. We get each other. Just like your friends you hang out with…the same goes for the blogs you hang out at. I think the favorites become that way because you see familiar people commenting…and it is a bit like walking into Cheers and someone yelling “NORM!” as you grab a seat.

    • March 2, 2011 at 12:12 am

      Cheers…that’s a great way of putting it, Melinda. So which one are you? ;-)

      • Melinda said,

        March 2, 2011 at 9:21 am

        Probably Kristie Alley’s char that I can’t remember the name. The clumbsy spaz.

  16. March 2, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Good blogger draws special audience. A particular audience of the like-minded. An experience to be part of that audience and read their comments as well as the post. Reciprocity ensures loyalty. Keep coming back because when a blogger becomes part of your day they remain part of your day. For example, I am very sad because one blogger no longer posts and I don’t know what happened to her. Something’s missing but you move on and finds new dynamic bloggers as commenters and the chain expands. An educated person can also share and the blogger and commenter can relate due to common denominators of history, literature, art, music and the like. That’s why I return.

    • March 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm

      “…when a blogger becomes part of your day they remain part of your day.” So true, Carl. I look forward to the time I spend catching up on my pals’ blogs.

      I can relate to what you said about people suddenly dropping off the radar. When you become friendly with people online, you often don’t have any personal contact information for them. So, if they suddenly disappear, you find yourself worrying and wondering.

  17. fordeville said,

    March 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    OMG. The picture. I can’t get past the picture.
    What keeps me coming back is the ongoing dialogue and connection between bloggers. And some kick ass wit to boot.
    So, if your blog’s focus is a lack of focus, you’re sort of the Seinfeld of blogging, no?

  18. March 3, 2011 at 5:09 am

    Hmm, interesting subject. And not one I can claim to know the answer to. I think it’s partially because I never know what I’m going to read next. I love real people that don’t mess about. Your blog picture showing you leaning forward in some way entriced me. It made you look “interested” and personable.

    Overall, I find that the fear that people won’t come back stays in my head most days. But I just write. And hope that there’s at least 1 person in the blogging world of millions that may actually want to state their opinion (or even the lack of it). Top post ;)! K

    • March 3, 2011 at 10:06 am

      Interesting comment about my photo. I never considered that in the mix.

      I think just writing is probably the best thing. And I’ll always pop in to comment. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by, K.

  19. girlboxing said,

    March 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    This is a great post and a great question! Had you asked me six months ago, I would have talked about returning to blogs because of content — primarily informational. Now that I write one, my feelings about blogging have changed. I look for deeper levels of emotional connection, affinities and the overall fun of the blog, not to mention the character and friendship/kinship I feel with the blogger.

    • March 3, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      Thank you, GB. I laugh now when I think about my beginnings on Blogger back in 2008. It was just Me, Myself, and I and I somehow thought people were going to find me. I found it a lot easier to meet people once I moved to WordPress. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I’m happy it’s so.

  20. March 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Great point about not talking to your non-cyber friends about one topic. I agree usually a certain post pulls me in, but the other thing is that a friend recommends a friend they think you will like. Just like real life.

    Blogging friends are the best kind of friends. You never have to worry about intruding or waking them up or when you will see them again. They will come when they have time, they will comment when they feel something touches them, and they inspire when you least expect it.

    You inspired me today. Thanks.

    • March 4, 2011 at 7:35 pm

      You’re welcome, Techy. Glad I could return some inspiration.

      Another great thing about blog friends is that they never know you’re in your pajamas…or that maybe you haven’t brushed your teeth yet…or that you have a big zit on your right cheek even though you’re going to be 46 years old in a few months.

  21. Jessica S said,

    March 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Your honesty and roll-with-the-punches humor.

  22. March 9, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I’m late to the party but PICK ME, I KNOW THE ANSWER!

    Well, one of the answers.

    Not the answer to why people come back to your blog — that’s obvious from the previous comments — we love the writing, pictures, and personality you bring to this, M.

    But the reason THEY tell us to pick a focus and keep it is because THEY are talking about blogs (um, people) who are trying to make money with their blog. Write lots about hot rods so that you can sell hot rod tee shirts, specialty parts, ad clicks, and, I dunno, tickets to events. That sort of thing.

    People who write books tend to gain a different kind of audience. Friends. People who enjoy the author’s company, style, sense of humor.

    And there you have it. Narrow focus = hard sell. Sprawling focus = real people.

    • March 9, 2011 at 10:41 am

      Wow, Lisa. I’m so glad you showed up at the party. I just had an a-ha! moment, thanks to your comment. Everything you said, I know in theory; yet seeing the words really made it all come together in my mind. That’s one burden lifted. I’m finished obsessing about what my focus will be. Thank you so much.

      By the way, there are tons of people out there like me who have been brainwashed to feel they’re doing something wrong if they’re not focusing. You should take your perfectly worded comment above, and broadcast it to the masses.

      • March 9, 2011 at 10:59 am

        Yay, us.

        Btw, you’re gonna be 46 soon? Me too. Nov 10.

        So that was utterly outside the focus of this post, or maybe perfectly within it. I love this place.

      • March 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

        I’m a slightly older woman…June 10th. ;-)

  23. Ray Colon said,

    March 30, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Hi Margaret,

    I arrived at your blog today from a comment that you left for Val, so I can’t respond to this question regarding your blog specifically. Generally, if I like the first post that I read I’ll subscribe to the blog. After a couple of weeks in my reader, I’ll know if it’s a keeper.

    The focus of the blog doesn’t really matter to me, but two things are essential. The writing and the interaction. A blogger who writes interesting posts and responds to comments is irresistible. From the two posts that I’ve read so far and the number of comments on each of those posts, I’d say that that combination has worked well for you.

    Ray

    • March 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm

      Thank you, Ray. I’m sure there are plenty of people who treat their blogs as personal journals, but I am energized by the exchange of ideas and banter, and I am so grateful for the buddies I’ve met online.

  24. Brenda said,

    April 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    The writing – the topics, too. I am not interested in fad diets, what Paris Hilton was or was not wearing, and since I am relatively new to the blogosphere, all I know for certain is it’s the writing itself that brings me a’calling. Brenda


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