by guest blogger SBA of Bolden Productions Web News & Tips
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?
- “Yourself” – online diary of expression or self-healing; business blog for personal or family income.
- “Friends & Family” – a specific group, sharing same interest; substitute or supplement face-to-face; expand physical reach.
- “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.”
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!
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’