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A Secret Blogging Alliance?

handshakeYesterday morning I tweeted about an article from Problogger about a secret blogging alliance he stumbled across while interviewing one of the members. Basically, it’s a group of seven bloggers, all about the same size in their particular niche, that teleconference weekly and work together on all sorts of blog projects. Of the seven, five blog full-time and the other two could be full-time if they wanted.

Both Jackie (Farm Lane Books) and Beth (BethFishReads) tweeted back after I posted and we had a little conversation about the idea of blogging alliances and how that might or might not work in book blogging.

Both agreed that book bloggers sort of form “alliances” naturally — nothing official, it’s just something that happens when we ask each other for advice on issues that come up with our blogs. Jackie pointed out that women sort of naturally make groups, she said it’s funny that men have to organize them. Beth said she feels zero competition, only community, among book bloggers.

One benefit for the alliance that’s mentioned in the article is that they work together on giveaways (promotion and funding so they can do bigger giveaways). With book bloggers, doing co-giveaways could make it easier to ship internationally. Nymeth (things mean a lot) also chimed in with the idea of an “Angel Network” to try and help fund international giveaways so that more of them could be international. Those both seem like great ideas to me.

I’m still curious about the idea of competition though. For the bloggers in the alliance mentioned in the article, the idea of collaboration seems more of an anomaly because, on some level, these bloggers should be competing with each other for ad revenue in their niche.

Book bloggers, on the whole, don’t have that sort of competition to make your blog a source of income. Most of us blog as a hobby, and I think most don’t do much with ads to make money. But there are other perks to book blogging — ARCs, reviews for bookshelves, author interviews, and recognition from the book publishing community. And as bloggers get even more recognition from publishers, is it possible that competition might make a blogging alliance desirable? I’m not sure, but I’m very curious what you all think after reading the Problogger article.

Do book bloggers compete with each other? Or, because most of us do this as a hobby, the competition fueled by money isn’t there? What do you think of the idea of a blogging alliance, and how might that work in book blogging?

Photo by Rob Gallop

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ladylynn631 August 26, 2009, 6:54 am

    For me not to impress with blogging.
    Can,t even get replies yet alone try to make money at it.at this point would be happy with just replies.
    I must have written to over 50 post not one reply.

  • Anastasia August 26, 2009, 9:48 am

    I think bloggers do compete with each other, just not for money. We compete for readers, for subscribers, for…other stuff I can’t think of at the moment. I think nearly all of us are working to improve out blogs in some way, and if we weren’t trying to compete with other blogs (or with ourselves?), then I don’t think we’d bother.

    (Is that making any sense? I am barely awake here, lol.)

    I’m not sure how a blogging alliance would work in book blogging, except maybe in the giveaway sense, but I do think that it’d start a shitstorm of in-crowd/out-crowd complaining. Remember when people were stressing about whether or not they were in the cool crowd of bloggers? Same kinda thing. And even if the out-crowd people wanted to form an alliance with themselves, ain’t nothing as good as being in an alliance with the in-crowd people.

  • Natasha @ Maw Books August 26, 2009, 10:30 am

    When I read that article I couldn’t help but think of blogging buddies. I think a lot of us have them and we love them. And yes, we compete in the way that Anastasia mentioned above. But it’s for other things. Not money. And usually, it’s a healthy competition. We all help each other out. Help grow each others blogs.

    And many of those in that “secret” blogging alliance were all using blogging as a source of income, so much so that blogging was their livelihood. They worked from home. That’s all they did. The day that a book blogger makes enough money from blogging that it’s their only source of income and they can actually pay all of their bills and go out to dinner every once in a while, well . . . then I’d be “officially” jealous.

  • Jackie (Farm Lane Books) August 26, 2009, 10:49 am

    It is a very interesting thought. If I was doing this for money then I would love to form a secret alliance. I love the idea of a secret society!

    I think most of us naturally form alliances with those blogs we enjoy. I often post comments on blogs, just because they are my friends. I would be interested in forming alliances with others though. It would be interesting to see what could be achieved if several people worked together to the same goal.

  • Nymeth August 26, 2009, 11:34 am

    I agree with Beth Fish: I’ve never felt any competition. I guess it depends on the goals you set for yourself and your blog, and it’s of course perfectly fine that we all have different ones. I also agree with those who said that we already have formed alliances, in the sense that people come together to make cool things happen: helping Amy with BBAW, the Weekly Geeks team, the Nerds Heart YA tournament, etc.

    The one thing about the article that makes me uncomfortable is it being secret, though: if I were to link to, promote, stumble or tweet posts by a group of bloggers because we were part of an alliance but didn’t tell my readers that, I’d feel a bit like I was deceiving them, you know?

  • Dorte H August 26, 2009, 12:20 pm

    I donΒ΄t feel I am competing with anyone but myself. I want to blog well and get some interested comments, but I donΒ΄t think I miss anything because other bloggers get many comments as well. It is not as if people can only follow ONE blog. On the contrary, many bloggers seem to follow so many it makes my head spin.

    Obviously I like the idea of more international give-aways. It is one thing that can scare me off American blogs: one post after the other about give-aways – for other Americans. Personally I prefer having a few give-aways but sending books world-wide.

  • Melanie August 26, 2009, 12:22 pm

    I agree with Anastasia. We do compete in ways. You’re right as well. These groups form naturally in the book blogging community. I think it could turn interesting if a few people made it official.

  • Debbie August 26, 2009, 3:08 pm

    I don’t feel like I compete with other book bloggers, but very occasionally I do feel compared to them. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the idea of a _secret_ alliance (though the article made it sound like a very open secret). I do enjoy the naturally forming groups we get in the book blogging community.

  • King Rat August 26, 2009, 3:35 pm

    There’s already a book blogging alliance. The circle of blogs that more or less make up “Book Blogger Appreciation Week” is already a loose alliance that promote each other, sometimes to the exclusion of excellent book bloggers who aren’t part of that circle. That’s not to say folks like Amy don’t write excellent blogs. They often do. I read a number of them every day (including this one).

  • Nicole August 26, 2009, 3:48 pm

    I don’t really feel a sense of competition with other book bloggers, although I DO get a case of blogger envy every now and then. πŸ˜‰ But I’m not sure I approach my blog in the same way a lot of other people do. I’m not in it to get recognized by publishers or receive ARCs.

    Mostly, when I started reading and researching book blogs, I saw a community with things happening and discussions going on. And I wanted to be a part of that. Badly. I started my own blog as a portal to that community. It’s my platform, the mouth through which I participate in discussions, and my home base for all my book blogging friendships and interactions.

    That said, I was really fascinated by this article. Thanks for posting it, Kim. I think there’s a lot of great information there for people looking to get serious about blogging. And I think a lot of it could be adapted by the book blogging community.

    A secret alliance though? That sounds like something that would be awfully divisive within a community that accomplishes so much already by standing together.

  • Natasha @ Maw Books August 26, 2009, 4:26 pm

    But KingRat BBAW is open to EVERYBODY. No alliance about it. In what problogger is talking about, only a certain number of people get invited and they exclude everybody else.

  • Valerie August 26, 2009, 4:52 pm

    Good discussion going here!

    The article was interesting, especially the part about the bloggers leaving comments on each other’s blogs to encourage various readers to also leave comments. I think a lot of commenters feel kind of shy about being the first one to leave a comment, especially if the blogger is relatively new and doesn’t get very many comments yet.

    I like the idea of trying to include more international book bloggers. It seems like so many of the ones I see are American, including myself, and I’d love to read more book blogs from other countries’ point of view….although one problem might be (for English speakers) whether they are in English or not.

  • Amy @ My Friend Amy August 26, 2009, 5:13 pm


    I tried to start a link exchange group, where a group of bloggers would agree to exchange links on a weekly basis. I opened it to all. For awhile it worked fine, but then it became too much work to keep up with.

    When trying to start this group, however, there was tons of resistance about exclusiveness, etc so on and so forth. So I think book bloggers are generally quite opposed to the idea of anything being secret.

    And yes BBAW is open to all and I would love to see more blogs take an interest. TBH, I see it more as the so-called excellent blogs excluding me than the other way around.

  • Eva August 27, 2009, 3:31 am

    Oh Kim! You’re such a good journalist, throwing out the controversial questions. πŸ˜‰

    I read the article, and I think it’s a great idea to create a support network for yourself as a blogger if you’re really into it…after all, people in your f2f life might not understand or care. Plus, as an example from my own blog, when I was travelling/got sick, it was a great thing I had Marg as a wonderful co-host for Library Loot-otherwise the feature could have just died (and then my TBR list would start to wither away, you know?). The whole secrecy/trying to drive up traffic to increase ad revenue thing isn’t super-relevent to book blogging, but I think the gist of it is good. I also think most people do this in an ‘informal’ way, as the author of the article points out.

    Ironically enough, all of the perks you list for book blogging are things that I avoid. I occassionally accept an ARC, and I’ve had one author guest post (by one of my favourite authors ever! woohoo!), but I have no interest in developing ties to the publishing community. Or in getting to know authors personally. For me, it’s about the reader and the book.

    As you might have guessed, I fall on the ‘non-competitive’ side as a book blogger. I can’t even imagine what I’d be competing over! When I consciously try to improve my blog (which isn’t that often), I only use myself as a comparison…I should review more of the books I read, I should include more pictures in posts, etc. When I think of book blogging, I think of it as much more about reading than about blogging. About pushing myself as a reader, about discovering new incredible books, about talking with other readers. Of course it makes me happy that people read and comment on my posts (who doesn’t love comments?!), but I don’t really want my blog to grow anymore. And if I had to choose between blogging, or just connecting with other readers (aka book bloggers), I wouldn’t even hesitate. Blogging is a means to an end, not the end itself.

    One thing I think would be cool is to have some kind of mentoring system. πŸ˜€ When I was a baby blogger, it was depressing to not have comments/feel to shy to talk to other bloggers/etc. And that was back in ’07, before the community got as huge as it did. I try to find newbie bloggers now and help them out where I can, but it’d be neat to have a formalised resource, like they do in college sometimes. πŸ™‚ And I really like the idea of collaborating on giveaways!

    Wow-this was a really long comment! Sorry about that. πŸ˜‰

  • Meghan August 27, 2009, 4:59 am

    I’ve never felt that blogging was a competition. It would certainly be nice if I earned money for it, but I love reading and reviewing what I’ve read, it’s my hobby. The goal isn’t really blogging but getting involved in a community of readers who love what I love. There is so little of that in my day-to-day life that blogging about books gives me an outlet. If it gets me a few free books, great, but since I moved to the UK, this happens far less frequently, and I still love blogging.

  • bermudaonion August 27, 2009, 9:52 am

    What a great post and great comments too! The funny thing is, with Twitter, I already feel like I belong to a not so secret blogging alliance. For me, Twitter has been a great source of information and support. I’ve looked at and commented on posts because someone on Twitter has asked me too. I’ve learned about and bought books because of Twitter. The only problem is it can really be a time suck.

  • justicejenniferreads August 27, 2009, 3:02 pm

    This is interesting to me because although right now blogging is just a hobby that I’m meddling with, the idea of being able to get ARCs, and test products for free or even make money from blogging is incredibly enticing. I mean isn’t it everyone’s dream to make money doing something they love?

    I don’t know … I just feel frustrated with blogging – wishing I started earlier, had more time for it, and could be better at it fight off the bat. The idea of an alliance – of constant assistance is incredibly glorious to me. I know that all the blogs I follow have an incredible amount of knowledge to share about books, blogging, and well, all sorts of stuff!

    Great post and an interesting concept. Thanks for sharing!

  • Eva August 27, 2009, 3:04 pm

    Let’s test the waters with the mentoring thing. πŸ™‚ It occured to me last night that it wouldn’t have to be one-on-one; I could mentor, say three new bloggers, and they could all support one another as well (perhaps commenting on each other’s blogs?) so it’d be like a little family or something.

    I’ll blog about this soon!

  • J.T. Oldfield August 27, 2009, 3:30 pm

    My husband is in internet marketing, as many of you know. But what you don’t know is that we’ve been kicking around the idea of making my blog profitable. He has all sorts of ideas, most of which are technical and I don’t really get. It’s part of his plan that includes a few other side projects.

    BUT, if, like Natasha said, my blog should ever get to the point where I can pay my bills and go out to dinner every once in a while, I hereby state that I will do everything in my power to promote other blogs, whether they are for done as a hobby or done for money. And if you are crazy jealous, Natasha, you can be first.

    It’s a lofty goal to get my blog to that place, but I thought I’d throw it out there for you guys to be able to hold me to what I said if I ever get to that point.

    Also, some day when I write the Great American Novel, I’ll thank you guys in the acknowledgements.

    Shut up, I am not delusional. πŸ˜‰

  • Rebecca August 27, 2009, 3:40 pm

    I get vibes (and clues) from certain bloggers that they are in competition with me and everyone else, but for the most part I think the book blogging community is very collaborative and friendly. I wonder if the blogging alliance is to help each of the 7 stay on top so that no underdog can take over. Like 7 of the most popular book bloggers banding together to create an alliance so that they always stay the most popular (in fact, I would not be surprised if this has already happened). But luckily with book blogging, it is a lot about individual personalities that come through as well, and not always about who has the biggest giveaways or the most friends or the most ARCs, etc. And that is one reason I continue to enjoy the book blogging community.

    I would also like to agree with everyone who has mentioned Twitter as a great way to engage yourself in the community. Terrific discussions (like this one!) are started on Twitter. It is also a simple way to ask for help or feedback, to show off a new blog post or to find new book blogs you did not even know about. I have become friends with people on Twitter and found their book blogs through Twitter. You don’t have to be on it all the time, but it does seem to matter what time of day you are on it.

    With Twitter and those who subscribe to my blog and comment a lot, I have found good friends. We are not an alliance, but we do have things in common and we do support one another. Twitter is great for new bloggers. Another great idea for newbies is to visit lots of book blogs and comment. On your posts you can ask for feedback. Sometimes I will ask what someone thinks of what I have written or whether they would read the book I have reviewed. It gives commenters something to write about.

    I don’t know about mentoring programs but I would be willing to help out if someone was interested. I know I help out others when I can, sending them links or sharing a Blogger trick with them, or giving them specific positive reinforcement in their reviews and posts. Maybe if we all just do that for each other then we wouldn’t need to designate anyone to anyone else specific.

  • Rebecca August 27, 2009, 3:40 pm

    I apologize that I just wrote a book in your comments section.

  • Amy @ My Friend Amy August 27, 2009, 3:48 pm

    lOL Rebecca! πŸ˜‰

    Interesting about the 7 bloggers making it so no one else could break out…if there is such an alliance in the book blogging community, I’m unaware of it.

    I do have a few bloggers with whom I’ve asked permission to vent when something frustrates me or read something before i post, etc. They are the aforementioned blogging buddies. But I definitely link to others and talk shop with other bloggers and do feel honored when anyone asks my advice. πŸ™‚

  • Jenny August 27, 2009, 4:04 pm

    I hope I am not repeating anyone here. I mostly am addressing the mentoring thing. Has anyone here had a look at Soul Food Cafe? It is a blogging ‘community’ for writers and other ‘creatives’. To encompass so many and so many interests and personalities it is based on a sort of pretend country (stay with me here – I DID say writers and creative types) It is MASSIVE. and complex. Each member needs a blog account to be a part of it ( like a wordpress one). There are tutorials. There are all sorts of ways to be supported. The woman who started it runs blogging workshops everywhere, and particularly works in schools with young adults. She, Heather Blakey, is ALWAYS open to helping ppl. She may be able to make some comments and suggestions. As a template towards the mentoring thing – you might like to take a look.
    (And it is free to join) (And I don’t have any vested interest πŸ˜‰ just fascinated by it)


  • Florinda August 27, 2009, 4:11 pm

    Since I’m getting here late, my thoughts are a bit rambly – sorry about that!

    Re: what Chris said:
    “I would feel like I was pulling a fast one on my readers if I was promoting other bloggers only because of an alliance.”

    Good point. Related to that, I think that a “secret blogging alliance” in that respect pretty much undercuts the “Blog With Integrity” concept – key relationships are NOT being disclosed.

    I do a link roundup nearly every weekend. It’s totally my own, featuring posts that struck some kind of chord with me during the week and that I want to share. I’m promoting other bloggers just because I WANT to. There are some bloggers I may feature more often, but that choice is based on how their posts resonate with me, and I don’t always let them know that I’ll be linking to them. (But I’ll tell you: this post will be included in Saturday’s review. Excellent discussion here!)

    I do feel some sense of competition with other bloggers, but in the sense that it spurs me to improve what I’m doing.

    I love the mentorship idea, though, and am interested in seeing where Eva goes with it!

  • Pam van Hylckama Vlieg August 27, 2009, 4:45 pm

    I didn’t have time to search through all the comments here but I read the article and skimmed a bit and wanted to chime in..(as always).

    I think a blogging alliance is something we already have in our community. We have problems, we ask questions and people answer, via Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms. I always retweet links and try to promote others blogs. I did give up on Google Reader, I keep a list of blogs there that I absolutely love. However when a link is posted that I see on social networking (such as this one) I always go and read and if I feel I have something relevant to say I comment.

    As far as an in crowd, I didn’t know there was one, or at least haven’t felt that I was excluded from anything.

    I have been saying for a while with the negative publicity book bloggers seem to be getting recently that we should educate instead of alienate new bloggers. Teach them the proper ways to blog, linking back and what it means to recieve ARC copies. How to better work inside of the community and with publishers. The only way to improve our society as a whole is to enrich it with education.

    I have the good luck to be a marketing professional and be married to a Senior Web Architect. I have been lucky in asking him opinions and being educated in tech and proper ways to market. When I have a book blogging question I tweet and loads of people are there to help. It’s a lovely community.

  • rebeccareid August 27, 2009, 8:09 pm

    I’m really late to the party, and I don’t have anything new to add. I like the idea of mentors and I don’t feel any competition — unless there is a giveaway I want to win!!

    But I want to comment anyway, so I can get the rest of the discussion by email. πŸ™‚

  • Wendy August 27, 2009, 11:44 pm

    I have a couple of thoughts. First, I think to some degree competition is a natural thing that happens when people are vying for blog traffic, ARCs, recognition, etc… on the other hand, I find the book bloggers to be some of the most non-competitive people out there. By that I mean that they are quick to help other bloggers, combine efforts for community events, and in general are a friendly group.

    Early on, I tried a bit of advertising on my blog and found it to be pretty much nil with regard to income…even though I get what seems like a lot of traffic. I quickly deleted the ads from my blog and decided that making money was not what motivated me in regards to blogging. I like the community connection and conversation about books.

    I like the idea of alliances…and I think they happen naturally. Group blogs for challenges are a good example of alliances…readers who come together to create a blog based on common interests. I also see certain bloggers with similar interests naturally coming together to work on projects or events. I agree that women tend to do this more than men (yay, women!!)

    Thanks for this interesting post!

  • Wendy August 27, 2009, 11:44 pm

    Crap, I forgot to click on “notify me of comments” so I am posting again so I can click the box πŸ™‚

  • Jeanne August 31, 2009, 12:55 pm

    All these mentoring suggestions are good ones… I’ve found that if I ask questions, “older” bloggers have been extremely helpful in answering. There’s one in particular I go to for advice (but I don’t want her to be deluged with questions because of me). I’d bet most of us would be willing to pass some of that kind of good will along. (I use the contact info for the blog writer–another good reason to have contact info.)

  • Cara Powers September 2, 2009, 5:20 pm

    I’m a 3 month old blogger who found 2 other newbies through the Blogger coffeeshop. I found a 3 day old blogger by announcing this year’s BBAW’s in the coffeeshop. I think what we really need is a way to find other bloggers reviewing the same books at about the same time so we can link to each others reviews. That would be helpful to readers and to bloggers wanting to get their numbers up.