Monday, April 5, 2010

Blogging to Your Heart's Content

Steve Hodson recently wrote a very interesting post concerning the world of blogging. He explains how most bloggers are actually in a bubble, where their dreams trick them into thinking that their blog will bring them fame from the inner circle. Despite my adversity toward pessimism, it is true. This very blog gets little over one hundred views on a given post. It saddens me to consider these statistics, but it gives me all the more reason to write this post, because there are a few things Steve left out that at least I think are very important in blogging: motivation, your inner circle, and interaction. Without these three concepts, blogging is exactly how Steve describes it: a cold dark world.

Motivation is a reason to do something, the driving force for why you play soccer, go to school, or write a blog. Knowing your motivation for doing something is key in making sure you keep doing it, because if the motivation disappears, then so does the activity. The reason motivation is important in blogging is because without it you would not blog (this is obvious enough). But even more important is making sure you have a motivation that is not transient. If your dream bubble is the motivation for your blogging, then you'll find yourself going online much less often once that bubble is popped. So if fame, conformity, or popularity are not the proper motivation for blogging, then what is? Quite frankly, I could not give you one answer. It varies. But I can say with confidence that one of the safer motivations is to organize your thoughts. They say that you do not really know something until you teach it to somebody else, so imagine your blog is teaching your topic to your readers. The point of this is so you blog to think, not blog to talk. So even if you are like me, and have less than a hundred page views per post, you can at least take away the satisfaction that you can slam the gavel and say you made up your mind, this is what you think.
(On a side note, if you can read sloppy handwriting, the handwritten note in the image of this post is pretty interesting.)
But for some people that's just a load of bullshit. But as I said, this is only one. You could blog for another person, say somebody close to you. You could blog just so you can say that you blogged. You could even blog just to prove to yourself that you have an opinion, and that you are not one of the statistics that conform with the crowd's thoughts on a certain issue. Either way, a good strategy to take on is to blog as if you were the only person reading the post. Imagine you are back in the walled garden, and only your eyes will pass over the words you write. Of course, don't take this so far that you start actually thinking your posts are private, and you start putting personal information in your posts. That's going too far.

Another thing to think about that could be your motivation in and of itself is the inner circle. I'm not talking about the actual inner circle, where Louis Gray, Robert Scoble, Chris Brogan, and Steve Hodson all drink tea together and have a party. I mean your inner circle, where you and your friendike a magazine.s talk endlessly about what you're thinking, debating this, arguing that. Who gives a damn if you know the top-tier bloggers on a personal level. Who cares if a hundred million strangers read your blog every day if you cannot leave the computer and say you actually formed a friendship with one of them. Blogging may be more informal than actual newspaper-style prose, but it is not the same as talking with somebody who will listen, and having them talk back. Your inner circle is the difference between you having followers (like Twitter) and you having friends (like Facebook). And as I said before, your inner circle could become your motivation in and of itself. All you need to do is blog for your friends, and stop obsessing over how many people from Silicon Valley read the first two sentences of your post before closing it in disgust (because that is probably what they really do).

And this brings me to the last concept: interaction. What is blogging if your posts do not breathe and grow. People should respond to what you're thinking, and you should respond back. Opinions are nothing unless they are conversations. And even conversations are nothing unless both parties actually respect what the other is saying. (I would go into the entire ethos, pathos, logos ordeal, but that would just confuse the heck out of everybody.) Your inner circle is there for interaction, and without it, why should you even blog at all? Anyway, enough of my ranting.

Essentially, what I hope the smaller bloggers pull away from this is that you should read Hodson's article, and pop that bubble, because there are real reasons to blog, and there are real people to meet. I mean its blogging for God's sake, not a rock band where groupies hop in your car and you forget their names the next day. So while the timing of posts, blog design, and other "tips" Steve gives are important, you should worry about writing for yourself and your friends before worrying about people who would be turned away from your blog because the design looks too different from the norm. (On a side note, if you can read sloppy handwriting, the handwritten note in the image of this post is pretty interesting.)

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