Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blogging: A conversation, or an announcement?

Someone on the QuiltArt list  recently asked about how to generate traffic to a blog.  I posted a response, and I thought I'd post it here because I'm interested what other people think.  Am I naive to think about blogging as part of conversation?  Or is that just me, liking blogs because I *feel* like I'm participating in a conversation when really what I'm mainly doing is reading someone else's half of the conversation?  I'd be interested to know what you think.

So here's my comment to the list:

In my view, blogging is all about networking.

I’ve been blogging for over seven years, and I run the Artful Quilters Blog ring, a ring that connects blogs about art and contemporary quilting.  Over that time and through my observation of a lot of blogs, I have a couple of thoughts about the world of blogging and how artists use them.  The main thing, to me, is that the appeal of most blogs is that they set up a sense of a relationship between the blogger and the reader.  That’s why a lot of people prefer reading blogs to trolling through visual websites – it’s far more personally, usually, and there’s a sense of communication with the blogger that’s akin to reading a letter from a friend.  And it’s that relationship aspect, however “virtual” or distant, that in my mind is at the heart of being really successful with a blog.  You have to think of it as a two-way communication, and your part of the communication isn’t just posting entries on a blog.  It’s about responding to comments that are made.  It’s about having some interest about who is reading your blog – not just in terms of statistics, but about who the individuals are.  It’s about taking the time to notice who comments and go look at their blogs and leave a comment there.  In my view, for all that blog readers want to read and experience your creative world vicariously, they want to see themselves in a conversation with you, even if you as the blogger are doing the bulk of the talking.  I’m not saying that a blogger has to strike up a personal, direct friendship with every reader.  But I think readers can spot quickly someone who is blogging as a marketing tool (however nicely done) and someone who is blogging to share and participate in conversations about the corner of the art world she occupies.  I suspect (this is pure hypothesis) that if for every blog entry you posted, you took the time to either reply to a comment from a previous commenter, or go leave a comment on someone else’s blog, you’d slowly build the reputation as a blogger who isn’t just advertising and marketing in a pretty way, but who is interested in engaging in a conversation. 

There’s a difference in tone that, to my mind, is instantly detectable, between a blogger who blogs only to talk about herself and market herself, and a blogger who blogs to generate conversation and some level of communication flow.  I think it’s the latter type of blog that over the long run generates a bigger and more loyal following.

And here’s my other observation.  A lot of blog readers are people who have blogs themselves.  If they’re reading your blog, they’re also likely to be reading other blogs.  So being part of the blogging community can enhance interest in your blog.  Someone might see your comment on another blog and be intrigued enough to click on your name and find yours.  People will list your blog as one they read – and one way a lot of people end up getting to new blogs is by following the links from a blogger they trust.  Participation in a blog ring can help a lot too, because a reader who finds one blog on the ring can click and get to blogs on the same topic they hadn’t discovered.  You can find out about the Artful Quilters blog ring here, by the way: 


There’s a SAQA members’ ring.  There’s a quilting teacher ring.  All of those will add your blog to wider community and help people find you. 

So my main advice for how to get more people to read your blog?  Get out there and read other blogs.  Comment on other blogs.  And respond to those who comment on yours.  Think of it as a networking process.

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11 comments:

Colleen Kole said...

Thank you for this post and thank you for your comment on my blog!

I appreciate my blog as a means to meet others with like interests and to not feel so alone in this pursuit of being an artist! I am encouraged by those who share freely their successes as well as their failures.

I, at times, feel intimidated to leave a comment but have realized how much I appreciate comments. So thanks for this gentle prompting to keep commenting. It's a big community out there and I have had the privilege of meeting some of my virtual friends-feels the same as my local friend.

Ruth said...

I agree wholeheartedly - the more effort you put into commenting and reading others blogs, the more people will learn about you and your blog.

Gerrie said...

For some strange reason, I have a very popular blog. I often wonder why people stop by every day. I never really think about how many people are reading it. It is just my way of journaling my life, sharing my art and generally putting stuff out there.

So, I think you are right. The blogs I like most offer a glimpse into the author's life and often I feel uplifted to know that there are kindred spirits out there going through the same experiences - exciting, sometimes funny and often mundane.

I am not very excited about the blogs that are only for promoting the authors work, teaching, books, or whatever. I think you need a blend of that with some folksy stuff.

Miki Willa said...

I agree with you about the interacting part of blogging. I have "met" some very nice people as a result of my blogging and commenting on other peoples blogs. I have received and given advice when asked for. I am always inspired somewhere along the line. I tend to return again and again to blogs where process is discussed and where people talk about their lives a bit. Thank you for this interesting post.

Diane Perin Hock said...

Gerrie, it's funny to me that you say "for some strange reason" your blog is popular. I think you best illustrate my point -- you read other blogs and comment generously. So people read your blog because you are so generous and open to the interactive aspect of blogging and participating in online groups. So it's not strange to me at all! You're one of the best examples I know of using a blog to participate in the art quilting community.

Renate said...

This was a very informative post Diane. Informative enough for me to actually act on your suggestions. I quickly checked both Colleen's and Geri's blogs. Will be heading back there in a moment. Their blogs are both very interesting and I agree, you feel like you are more a part of a conversation when you leave a comment and visit often.

Terry said...

I think it takes a certain courage as well--to be yourself and be open to the world. I read blogs where the author uses a phony name like "quilt mama" (I just made that up) and never posts a photo of herself and refers to her family in only the most cryptic ways for fear of being stalked or targeted in some way. It does not make for a very interesting blog, nor one that anyone really connects with. After nearly 7 years of blogging I have not had a bad experience and love when someone in the real world recognizes me. They always say something nice. If you want to remain anonymous perhaps blogging isn't really your thing.

Great post and good thoughts!

mageez said...

I know I'm a week late on this but am I the only one who uses a blog to keep a running diary of what they have been working on and what they've completed? Mine isn't ment for the world. As far as I know it's only my personal friends that read it. I appreciate and enjoy those bloggers who put their entire lives and families on the internet but some of us are just more private.
maggie

Diane Perin Hock said...

I don't think you're alone and I think that's a good reason to keep a blog. To me, that's the best thing about blogging -- you can make your blog be whatever you want it to be, for whatever reason.

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