on being approachable
Iím going to stick my neck out on the chopping block here and disagree with Kate.
Kate doesnít really care for email from her readers. She would prefer that you leave a comment and not send her long personal emails, because she doesnít have time to read/answer them.
Every minute a blogger spends reading e-mails from some lonely individual who hopes to strike up a lifelong friendship by exchanging the minutia of their daily lives is one less minute the blogger has to actually blog, which is presumably what attracted the reader in the first place.
While I may not be the best at answering my emails (I always do, sometimes later rather than sooner), I love reading them. In addition to the slew of hate mail I receive, I get long, detailed letters from people who want to expand on thoughts they left in my comments or feel that what they have to say is too personal to leave in the comments. What Kate says to that is:
...the best way to a blogger's heart is through his or her "hit counter."
Not this blogger. Yes, having a steady readership is nice. Being a Mortal Human in the Ecosystem is good for the blogging ego (and yea, I'm a little perturbed that I fell to #5 on the Blogrolling Top 100, but that's just because I have this need to be above Pirillo). But I don't want my readers to just be a number on my sitemeter. I like to know who they are, where they came from, why they're reading, what they think. Stats mean absolutely nothing if you know nothing about why people are reading you.
Kate gives some tips to people who are considering emailing bloggers.
Next, ask yourself this: 2. What am I hoping to accomplish from this e-mail? If your answer is "to make a friend," then you need to realize that the best way to a blogger's heart is through his or her "hit counter." So comment, visit, and tell your friends about the blog, but let the blogger do what he or she set their hearts on: Let them blog!
When I first started blogging, I considered some bloggers unapproachable. I was intimidated by writers with huge stats. I thought huge stats equated huge egos. I was wrong. Iím glad I took the time to email some of them, because we either struck up friendships or their replies made me realize that being a blogger with a giant hit counter doesnít make you better than anyone else at being a human. I started my blog to connect with people. Iím certainly not going to turn those people away when they want to strike up a conversation outside of my website.
When I wrote about my sonís bullying problem, I received over 100 emails about it, ranging from people who had been bullied in school and wanted to relay their experiences and how they got over them, to people who had been the bullies and wanted to give me tips on how to keep DJ from getting beat up. I got emails from educators, attorneys and people I had never corresponded with before who wanted to reach out, but didnít want to do it publicly.
I get emails like that every day. I am honored that people want to share their stories with me. I donít think they are looking for a life-long buddy like Kate does. I think they just want to share part of themselves with someone who has shared part of themselves with them. Part of the glory of writing in a public place, for me at least, is that I make a connection with people. I like to hear that someone has been through the same thing and survived. I like to read the emails that encourage me, give me strength or send me off in a direction I hadnít thought of.
I have made friends through emails like that. Iíve made very good friends that way. Maybe I will take ten days to answer your letter, but I always will at some point. And you can be sure that I read it as soon as I opened it. I donít delete or discard or throw into a folder to read some other time. I feel if someone has taken the time to write to me, especially if is not hate mail, they deserve my attention. I would feel awful if someone poured their heart out to me and I never acknowledged their mail.
I do get a lot of crap mail. I get people begging me for links, people asking me to help them write their high school essays, people who want to engage me in a flame war that I want no part of. Most of the mail I get in a day, besides spam, is from people baiting me into a war of words that I want no part of. So when I do get long, personal letters from someone responding to something I wrote, I pay attention.
I never consider emails sent to me from readers a burden like Kate does. I consider them a honor. So go ahead, email me. Iím all ears and eyes.