Synergy: The human side of blogging

by guest blogger SBA of Bolden Productions Web News & Tips

whoisblogging
whoisblogging

When you tell people you have a blog, the more polite ones will ask what is your blog about. You will eagerly recap some of your latest posts. If they haven’t excused themselves, you’ll lament about how much time it takes and how you have so few readers right now. Occasionally some brave heart will ask , ‘Well then, why are you blogging?’

Even if you have lots of readers and don’t spend most of your waking hours blogging, you should ask yourself why you blog. The answer can reveal your true motivation and define who you really blog for. Not only should you ask the question, but you need to make it known to anyone reading your posts. Only then will you have what I call blog synergy, not to mention a greater focus and peace of mind. Communicating your motivation has a definite effect on your visitors actions. If you ‘connect’, then there is a synergy or greater return for both of you. Exposing the human side of your blogging allows you to truly understand, not just measure, your success as a blogger.

Why you blog – what the survey says
There aren’t many thorough surveys of why people blog, but I found two that compiled valuable data. One by ProBlogger predefined six categories to sample its readers. The responses were: Money (885), Fun (800), Fame (300), Business (250), Networking (225), Other (235). As to what his blog is about, Darren says “I started it in September 2004 mainly because I wanted to keep a record of what I was learning about blogging for money…”

Another survey by Molly.com solicited free-form comments from over 140 people. Most of them would fall into the first survey’s Networking and Other categories. There was little or no mention of Money or Fame. Not a surprise, given the synergy of bloggers and their readers. Here’s what Molly says: “Molly.Com exists primarily to share my web design and development work and personal thoughts. However, it was also conceived as a means of demonstrating a site that uses structured markup (XHTML 1.0) and CSS.”

Here’s a summary of social and psychological motives for blogging:

  • desire to make a difference (if not blogging, they’d volunteer), reach bloggers (people) who desperately need help;
  • form a community of like minded people for support and socializing;
  • monetize a customer base to achieve financial freedom to do more important things;
  • build ego or social standing and respect; getting attention; increase public profile (fame);
  • sheer love of writing, if not a blog, then some form of publishing; born to write;
  • freedom of expression – can rant, express opinions and creativity in ways not possible in real world.

Who are you really blogging for – and on whose terms?

  1. “Yourself” – online diary of expression or self-healing; business blog for personal or family income.
  2. “Friends & Family” – a specific group, sharing same interest; substitute or supplement face-to-face; expand physical reach.
  3. “Strangers Within Global Reach” – those who can benefit or just want to listen.

If you blog for yourself, yet make it public, you still attract regular readers — like a newspaper, not a diary. While you don’t need to study SEO in depth, and whether you acknowledge them or not, they are out there! Some may be waiting for an invitation to offer support. Their comments could help you in someway.

If you blog primarily for your readers and make changes based on different reader needs, then you could end up on a roller coaster ride. If readers don’t get what they need from your blog, there’s plenty of stars in the blogosphere. Blogs need to take new directions, but only if your motives and goals become clearer. I found that my blog is different from what I originally envisioned. However the shift is closer to my passion for learning and explaining things to others who want to benefit.

The real answer may lie somewhere in the synergy you and your readers create. Each mix is unique and can only be modeled to a limited degree. As someone in Molly’s survey said “my blog is a hypertext representation of myself too. I don’t change the design or fit my writing to exactly what my readers want. But just as in real life, I don’t waste my breath saying something no one will listen to.”

sufriends
sufriends

StumbleUpon (SU) has a way of telling you based on your ‘interest’ tags who is likely to make a good ‘friend’. Friends often read each others blogs. Using my profile and Timethief’s, SU says we’re a 60% match. Timethief and I have only a few friends in common. This is natural because as Stumblers we are interested in different readings. It’s more the learning side of your personality. Secondworld is another of my SU friends, with a profile match of 76%. He and Timethief share my interest in business and marketing. The two of them became friends based on these and other tags that I may not have. Both contribute to my blog’s community in comments, email and social media shoutouts. They provide ‘real life’ friend support.

How do you measure blogging success?
Many blog posts tell us to measure success by the numbers — subscribers and/or dollars earned. Too many new bloggers obsess over traffic and end up doing little to improve content, define goals or increase loyalty. Taking extensive measurements too soon can be depressing or divert your energies.

You need to assess the human side of success, evidenced by the actual community you want to create, your passion level and personal satisfaction. Create a solid foundation (circle of family/friends) who add value, and fuel your motivations. Unless you’re blogging to make money, you may need only a handful of readers to start.

Learn what motivates your readers and how you can mesh or work together. On some level, readers are looking for someone they can trust to help them in someway. What you offer is not available, too expensive or inconvenient in the real world. You present a different perspective on the topics ‘pinging’ around the internet. They are willing to pay for some services to keep you in “business” so they can return. They should want to keep YOU happy!

Summary
Writing, like speaking, is a way to communicate basic needs to other humans. It easy for anyone to blog: no large expenses, no searching for a publishing house, no editors, and often no censors. If there ever was a situation where ‘you can’t please everyone’ it’s in the land of blogs. So do what you need to find readers who complement your blog’s personality at different stages. As in the real world, you have some life-long friends and you have friends and associates for a specific age, job or activity. Remember,

  • You are what you write. Make sure blog visitors know why you’re blogging. Don’t have them guess if they can ‘connect’ with you. Share your motivation and what you want out of this blogging thing.
  • As a blog reader, don’t be a wall flower or sit on the sidelines. Form a community with the bloggers you admire; spend quality time; create synergy for more successful blogging and growth in your community. If you’re shy, send a private shoutout. Let them know you were there. Sometimes it’s just what they need to hear at that point.
  • * Stop flitting from blog to blog. If you have too many blogs, then find those you need most at this time of your blogging life. Put the others on a shelf to browse as needed or rotate into your lineup later. Why not have a list of your main “Fav 5” bloggers ? For those multi-taskers like Timethief, make it your “Fav 50!”

Can you enhance your blogging experience by showing more of your human side?

photo source: ‘guess who’s blogging’

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17 thoughts on “Synergy: The human side of blogging

  1. @HamdaniAmin – Thank you for being a good example as well as a friend! I wrote a post about ‘do you really want to showcase a blogroll’ from the point of leaking visitors from your blog to someone else. Especially if you’re just adding them for reciprocal link value. That was the RSS/SEO influence speaking and I intend to revisit that early post!

  2. @Susie- I agree with you. I create a photo calendar every year as a visual family history. I enjoy photoshopping the images and doing something creative. It’s also very very time consuming and I ended up begging for current photos. So I’ve modified my time and the content to a level that meets both our needs. I spend the extra time doing other creative projects.

    I too enjoy finding ‘pen pals’ around the world. A young blogger from Japan needed some help with template changes which I gave her. She ended up teaching me how passionate even young folks can be — she always added to my ideas rather than just take as is.

  3. @Carolyn – That is an interesting study of factors contributing to successful corporate blogs. One point made was the readers want transparency: “Many bloggers believe transparency has more to do with the content of a blog and how open a blogger is about their reasons for writing content..” Especially for corporations; no hidden agendas. Thanks for the link.

  4. @pentads – Thank you for the compliment! Nice to know when someone appreciates a post and takes away something.

    @Dr.MohamedTaher – It’s also food for thought for me! I now have to make sure my blog has enough information in the right places. Thank you for your encouragement.

  5. @Robin – Your response is more than I expected! I was both honored and anxious about my first guest post. But I knew that Timethief had confidence and that motivated me. Not everyone will respond to this type of post, so I’m glad you did. Your printing this post to revisit shows how committed you are to showing your ‘true self’ in a way that draws in those who want to connect.

    I like that you reach out to your ‘shy’ visitors, after all they came to your blog, so why not see what you have in common/can learn from each other. Someone has to make the first move! You and your ‘friends’ don’t have to blog about the same thing. As long as each gets something from the connection. You give ‘love’, some may need that ‘love’ to inspire them in their ventures.

    Redefining your focus (finding real motivation)is exactly what I wanted to suggest. To paraphrase an article I read in the newspaper today “happiness happens when you are using your signature strength.” People are drawn to that!

  6. Thank for mentioning my stumble profile. Over time I learn a lot from social media. It’s actually not much different in real life. Some friends (profile) share a common interests and very much likely very supportive (synergy), some more on glamorous effect (a lot of friend but none reciprocate) and some more on the effect of sorority club ( a lot of follower but the person not reciprocate or never try to give something back).

    As more I blog and use social media to reach out, I get comments, sometime bitter and a lot more of sweat. Sometime just crap (spam)I just delete.

    I’ll setup a list like timethief, two of the blog will be this one and SBA.

    No doubt, from this post, I will receive a lot more friend request at SU, that also translate a lot more responsibility to add value to those friendship. Thank SBA.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, I was captured the at the first sentence, I have a few blogs that I write for, and started about a year and half ago with a personal art site, educating and sharing my drawings. Not one of my family in a year and a half time has ever commented on my blog or the other’s they shyly ask me about and say…what is it you do?

    I never wrote a lick of anything before I started blogging and it’s turned into a passion. I love the communication with people across the globe, it’s like a deskside seat to the world. Finding different views on things I like, and lurking on things I don’t understand.

  8. This is a GREAT post. It really made me think, because I started blogging because I have book coming out next year…but blogging for that reason just didn’t work for me. Forget it! I can’t write or do something for those reasons. So it took me awhile to let all that go and rediscover that I blogged because I love touching people’s lives and being touched by their heart and soul. Once I realized that I just wanted to express the love and truth in my heart through sharing my own experiences and thoughts…my blog took off. It’s almost like once I forgot about blogging and did the thing I enjoy doing most, which is to just “love” people…that was it…I can barely keep pace with my blog now. I am ASTOUNDED at the number of truly good remarkably people in the world.

    I also think, and maybe this is what you mean, that there is an certain energy that develops between me and people who come to my site. There are people who have come to my site and just left, but I click on their avatar and check out their site. If I like it I get excited and leave a comment and then connections form even if we are blogging about two totally different things. I LOVE that. So for me it hasn’t so much been that all my commentators have the same interest, although a few do, it’s another type of energy that clicks. For me all I can call it is Love. I truly get some beautiful people to my blog. They are heartfelt, compassionate, concerned, sensitive and wise. It’s exciting!!!

    Although I think I am going to print out this post and reread it as I am still feeling a need to pinpoint a bit better where I am going with it all. So thank you SBA :) for such a thorough post and helpful post.

    Great job!!
    Robin

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