Survey: Are Blog Awards Useless?

Veegaland awards

Each day, WordPress.com bloggers nominate each other for at least 22 awards. (I arrived at this rough estimate by searching posts tagged with “Awards” and counting those published in 24 hours.)

So far, this blog has been nominated for three, and The Liebster Award is by far my favorite, as it reflects the philosophy behind this blog. As YA writer Annie Cardi said, “The Liebster is designed to encourage bloggers who are new or don’t have a huge following, which I think is awesome.”

So, if it’s such a fantastic way to encourage bloggers, why is the response rate to nominations close to zero? So far, I’ve nominated a total of 28 blogs and only one—fellow fountain pen enthusiast Jack Spratt—decided to pass the award through. That’s a whopping 3.57% response rate! (Disclaimer: I’m neither upset nor bitter.) [Edit: Xarglebook apparently responded as well, increasing the response rate to 7.14%.]

WASTE OF TIME?

Perhaps it’s not surprising, considering the amount of time required to post a response to award nominations. Julie Israel was kind enough to respond to my little survey, amidst her busy schedule in getting her sci-fi thriller, “Shifters”, published:

Awards are like the blog equivalent of networking. They’re a good way to get to connect with other bloggers in ways you might not have before (so many encourage us to share “facts” about ourselves) and find new bloggers, too. Both of those (connecting with new/similar bloggers as well as mutually expanding readership) are pros, in my opinion.

However, I do find that participating can be time-consuming, which is a big negative– it detracts from other posts we might rather be reading or writing!

If it’s time-consuming, why do bloggers keep handing each other these awards? “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity,” said Tony from A Way With Words, fellow recipient of The Liebster. Sure, vanity is undoubtedly at play, but are there other pros to compensate for this big negative?

A WAY TO DISCOVER NEW BLOGS

Since I posted The Liebster Award, it has generated at least two click-throughs to each of the nominees’ blogs, for a total of 24. The post itself has been viewed 60 times in total, which means almost half of them result in click-throughs. (Of course, some visitors click on more than one nominee’s link and most don’t click at all.) A. L. Watson of Writin’ Fish even said explicitly, “Thanks for the shout-out (and for the list of other authors/bloggers I’m having fun checking out)!”

The Parasite Guy, who has recently been nominated for the Liebster himself, confirmed:

To be honest, I can think of a few reasons why these awards keep going around. For starters, they tend to be excellent prompts for posts. Mainly, however, I think that they’re a good way to make people aware of each other’s blogs; I tend to look through the nominated blogs when I see award posts.

KEEP BLOGGING

Beside their obvious social-networking elements, blog awards are a way of showing that we appreciate someone else’s work; telling others to keep blogging. Jerseyan blogger Roy McCarthy said, “I don’t really ‘get’ blog awards but I’m always flattered if I get a nice mention.” Another blogger, L. Marie, also said, “When I started blogging, I didn’t know if anyone besides my family and friends would read my blog. After all, there are so many blogs. So, it’s nice to have a virtual pat on the back.”

Ernest_Hemingway_in_Spain,_1959_picmonkey

Ultimately, the writer’s journey is a lonely one, as Jeff Yeager wrote in the Writer’s Digest recently:

[W]riting is, almost by definition, a solo endeavor, and doing it full time can leave you feeling isolated. Online interaction has, to some extent, become many self-employed writers’ stand-in for face-to-face contact.

When it comes to peer support, we are more fortunate than writers of old. Writers are an insecure breed—we ask ourselves constantly, “Is someone going to read this stuff?” We are fortunate to have fellow writers who support us every step of the way, who read our work as we publish them, who show their appreciation even from the other side of the earth. We are fortunate that we can connect instantly with readers everywhere; garner their encouragement in what we do, every day.

Melissa Janda wrote this beautiful response to my survey for this post:

Writing is an emotionally volatile experience. One day you’re up, soaring high, feeling like you can conquer the world. You can do this thing… become a published author. The next day you hit rock bottom, doubting every word that you’ve placed on the page. What am I thinking? I’ll never be good enough. This is crap.

Then you read something that another blogger has written in a post. It may make you laugh or cry or stare in wonder at the beauty of the writing. You’re inspired, uplifted, re-energized. You want to let them know what their words mean to you. You comment on their post. They reply. A connection is made.

Writing is a solitary pursuit. You sit alone at a computer and pour your innermost thoughts and feelings onto the page. Like Hemingway said, “All you do is sit at the typewriter and bleed.” It’s encouraging to know you’re not alone, someone can relate to something you’ve written and that affirmation is more precious than gold. It gives us the strength to set aside the doubts and press on.

Awards are a way to show your appreciation to the writer who inspired or encouraged you. You can even view them as badges of courage. It takes courage to be a writer because with it comes judgment. It’s inevitable. Whether you like it or not, the words you put on a page will be critiqued and not everyone will like what you have to say. Those can be dark times for a writer.

The awards are a way of shining a little light on that darkness… saying, ‘Yes, you are good enough.’


Top image credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Hemingway photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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33 thoughts on “Survey: Are Blog Awards Useless?

  1. Thanks for this. Great post. I can see the pros and cons to the awards. The pros you listed here–the valuable connection to others and the affirmation. One reason why I think some people refuse the awards are the stipulations attached–having to nominate a certain number of blogs or even having a specific number of days in which you have to post about the award. If you have a set schedule of posts planned or obligations to fulfill, an award nomination would interrupt that schedule. Still the awards are a way to get to know other bloggers and their work.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting. (And thank you for participating—albeit unknowingly, perhaps.) 😉

      Yes, naming the nominees can be bothersome for some, maybe, and inventing questions takes energy too, I suppose!

  2. Thanks for writing this post – now I don’t have to. I have been thinking about doing this since around my twentieth award nomination, and my twentieth, “Thanks…reading, appreciating, and nominating me for an award is reward enough.” There are several less time-consuming ways to connect, and people will connect if you’ve got anything to say to, or entertain, them with. My first reaction to my first one was – this person nominated fifteen people while being one of fifteen, and she/he wants me to nominate fifteen, and they’ll nominate fifteen – 15 times 15, times 15, times 15…if everyone is being nominated and even a small percent are getting them, big deal. If everybody’s got one or six strung along the side of their page, are they any better than a blogger with none? Must stop…see why I’m glad you wrote this?
    Later….

    • Haha. I know what you mean. I always feel flattered when someone nominates me. But I definitely agree with what you said about other ways to connect. I know awards are great “window decoration”, if you will—much like the top image of this post—but no, they don’t really say anything about the blog’s quality. The only thing they attest to is that the particular blogger has inspired others and connected with others. Unless the ones who nominated them didn’t have anyone better? But let’s keep our thoughts positive! 😉

      • That’s funny, and I had thought about it a few times, when people nominate me for inspirational or sunshine blogger…with my sarcasm and sometimes irritating content. “Hmmm, only fourteen followers – how ’bout this guy?”
        Later…

  3. I agree on all points. Awards are a great way to network, but also time consuming and potentially not very meaningful. I think I’m sitting on three awards right now that, naughty girl that I am, have yet to respond to.

    The main reason for my procrastination is finding the right blogs to nominate in return. I’ve already nominated many of my fave blogs for awards and those I haven’t have already received them. So, what’s a blogger to do?

    Well, I am apparently hoarding my awards while I wait to discover the right blogs to pass nominations along to. Maybe not the best approach, but oh well. I’ve also decided that I don’t care if someone already has received the award. They can have my praise anyway 🙂

    • My thoughts exactly. I’ve nominated a few bloggers who have received the awards, sometimes because I forgot to check, but yes, they can have my praise anyway. 🙂

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Absolutely agree about the significance of being able to connect with other writers (I hope I conveyed as much in my blurb! Haha). Interesting what Yeager says, too.

    It’s nice to see a thoughtful post on this– something relevant to not just writers but all the bloggers of WordPress and beyond! Good one, Daniel.

    • Your blurb was much appreciated, Julie. All I can think of now is whether I could’ve chosen a more “attractive” title, so more people could’ve read it! 🙂

      Thank you very much for your kind words.

  5. Great post Daniel. I plan to respond to your nomination so that response rate will improve yet again. The time I spend blogging is often interrupted by the demands of two little beings. They are my top priority 🙂

    • Thank you Melissa. I know, I understand, I really do. I have a son myself, and he can be extremely demanding as well. But they’re so worth the time and energy, and whatever else we may sacrifice, aren’t they?

  6. Excellent, thoughtful post. Thanks for including my quote.

    I’d like to expand it, though, to say that while vanity may motivate us to share awards, they still serve a vital purpose. It is self-serving, of course, but nonetheless useful (hence my vote).

    I should note that I have accepted and passed on over a dozen in my short life as a blogger – and I have two more waiting in the wings.

    • I included that quote because it’s so you, and it added some humor to this otherwise “serious” post. 😉

      Of course, without a healthy dose of vanity none of us would have written anything. You totally deserve every one of those awards, Tony, and I’m sure your nominees appreciate them.

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  8. actually the only reason I participate in ‘awards’ is because I have found some marvelous blogs from it!!! They do often take a lot of time and energy, to share the ones you like, and sometimes you feel that you are leaving out some great blogs! I often do not “follow the rules” instead creating “my own” or what not. But they can be great fun!

    • I know, awards are perfect for that purpose. I wish I had more time to answer questions and respond to every nomination—not that I have received many—some of the questions people come up with are very creative. (Some can even be regarded as writing prompts!)

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  10. Awards do seem to elicit some polar responses, and one can never be sure how they’ll be received, but even so your poll would seem to show that most people find them valuable! A really insightful post, Daniel, investigating a phenomenon we almost take for granted. Thank-you xx

    • Thank you for reading and your sweet reply. Indeed I wasn’t expecting the majority to find blog awards useful, as the response rate I found in my brief research was very low—nowhere near the percentage of bloggers who voted “useful”! Of course, it’s a casual, non-representative research, though. 😉

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  12. So glad to see someone else addressing this question! I did a post on this myself when I received two blog awards and didn’t have a clue who to pass them onto. The stipulations can make it really stressful to follow through, and I hate the idea of just searching for a blog that fits the criteria just so I can pass a graphic along…feels really fake to me. I truly tried at first to find other new blogs that I could enjoy and share the Liebster with, but after literally three hours of finding interesting blogs but nothing with the right number of low followers I gave up and wrote this post:
    http://hopecook.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/i-am-an-ungrateful-brat/
    But when a blog award is genuinely given that is a wonderful thing and very encouraging…everyone likes to be noticed!

    • I think everyone understands if a nominee doesn’t respond or pass the award along. As I said—and as you said here—responding to an award can be very time-consuming. No need to feel bad about it. 😉

      It’s funny you mentioned “genuinely given” because Scott [coyotero2112] mentioned it in a comment above. I think that, even though the award is not “genuinely given,” it can still mean a lot to the other blogger. Sure, it’s a bit phony, but the feeling of encouragement is still real. Don’t you think?

      • I think it really depends on the blogger who receives it and their personality. I have a dry sarcastic sense of humour and tend to be pretty hard on myself, so I have a bad habit of usually seeing the worst case scenario first…it’s a bad habit, I know! I think it’s great if other bloggers can just see the sunny side of things.

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  14. As what I’ve written in one of my posts before, the good thing about writing is that when you can’t trust yourself, you could always choose to trust your work instead. Writers don’t get the privilege of seeing and appreciating their own works the way other people see it. For the writer, something is always lacking. His own words hardly come off as the best words to use. The emotions are always to strong or too lame. That’s because we know about the whole writing process. How we overthink about using a comma or semi colon or a period. How we know about the “real ending” of a story we choose to give an open ending. How we can see through the core of our characters. It’s a struggle. Always will be.

    That’s why when people say they got inspired by our work or they loved what we wrote, we feel an unexplainable joy. It moves us to write more and to write better. It inspires us to hear that what we think of as completely flawed and messed up turns out to be wonderful and nearly perfect for others 🙂

    • That was a good post you’ve written there. I totally agree; I think I waste too much time deciding on punctuation. A story, to its author, is so much more than what’s written on paper (or on screen) because we’ve been there every step of the way—we see the “bigger picture.” So there’s something about letting this creation roam free in others’ realms of imagination, growing into vastly different shapes from what we could ever envision it to be, until it finally comes back to us in a praise, comments, analyses and criticisms—and we may not recognize it, but it’s exhilarating all the same.

      • by the way, i just finished watching the video link about the creative genius thing by elizabeth gilbert. It’s really great! Thank you for sharing. I feel like reading her book Eat Pray Love right now. See ya! 🙂

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