Monday night saw the 2nd meet up of the new-born Hebden Blog Club at B@rplace. Lively discussion centred around a couple of topics, which could be summarised as how to get more readers and/or how to make fame and fortune from your blog. Robert has put together some thoughts and ideas on his blog, Society Fabric, which is interesting.
Some of the talk – both on the night, and later, discussing with OH – was about why should you do anything to get readers, or higher Google rankings, or whatever. Is it just vanity, or subverting the medium to want to monetarise or pursue popularity? A lot of the people in the group seem to make a living from writing, in one way or another, so for them, time spent blogging may necessarily be time spent not writing something which will pay their bills. So if you could have a magic trick to make your little old blog instantly famous and flooded with readers, who would then commission you to do other things, or buy your book, or whatever, then it’s be a good thing. A lot of the blogs I have listed from hebden are actually attached to businesses – so even if they are not directly selling anything, then hopefully the blog is a useful publicity stream for fabulous products, as well as being an interesting insight into the way things are made, or how the businesses are set up or run. I hope the people writing them are doing it at least 60% for their own benefit though, as it would be sad for it to be thought of as a chore.
The question is – why are you blogging? Is there a point? I blog primarily for myself. There’s something about it that I like. It’s not quite diary, not quite website. I can witter away, share things, keep track of interesting stuff, and if someone else out there reads and finds something interesting or useful in what I have said then hooray. I do like to get comments, but I’ve never got a great many, even on my old blog which was to some extent better “optimised” than this, and gets more hits. If I would like to get more readers it’s to increase the chance of getting comments, or being interesting to someone. But I have no expectations of fame or fortune, I just don’t write anything that interesting or good.
However. If your answer to “why are you blogging?” is for example “to raise awareness of x” then obviously, the more readers you get, the more awareness you raise. “To improve may understanding of y” – the more people who comment, the more you may learn. “to get people to use my service / buy my product / like my work” – then there comes the money and the fame.
Whatever you’re writing for, you have to think, who do you want your readers to be – and then provide them with content to suit. Do what it is you do to the best of your abilities, and communicate with people. Use Twitter to publicise, and find others who are interested in the same things as you. Read other similar blogs or websites, learn from them, and comment on them. Respond to their posts with posts of your own, and be yourself. If you deserve popularity, I’m fairly certain it will find you. But don’t push too hard. I personally hate the over-use of Twitter for marketing. If that’s all someone ever tweets about, I’m likely to unfollow. If someone sells, but also tweets personally, that’s ok – but if I say “I need some new shoes, these ones have a hole in them” @Shoediscountstore yelling “50% off Manolo Blahniks in Minneapolis” at me is not part of any conversation I need to have.
Tagging and SEO and whatnot are all very good – but it’s content that matters. Imagine you’re walking through town and you see adverts everywhere for a new florist. You follow them, and find a beautiful shop front, painted green with beautiful pictures of flowers, and signs detailing “Gladioli, Lilies, Roses, Hyacinths, Bluebells, Agapanthus, Alium, Tulips”, and yet when you go in, all you find are some wilted daffodils and a potted geranium – you’re going to leave and never go back.
Next Blog Club meet: 5th Sept, 8pm, B@rplace