Alister Cameron // Blogologist

Changing the world. One blog(ger) at a time.

Blogging in the eye of the storm

WARNING: I was high on caffeine, low on sweetness and off-the-charts on dry wit when I wrote this…

girl roar Blogging in the eye of the storm

My pastor at church writes a short piece on the front of each weekend’s bulletin. This week’s words are particularly penetrating:

35,000 feet above the dusty plains of Pakistan, flying toward the 15 million people of Karachi, I studied yet another report on the re-positioning of nations in God’s world. After a mere half century, America is being replaced as the world’s leading nation.

America used to be the world’s biggest exporter, but is now surpassed by China. China also produces more cars than America. General Motors was the world’s largest auto company. This year Toyota has passed it. The American dollar is no longer the favoured form of cash. There are now more euros in circulation than dollars. Wall Street’s capitalisation has been eclipsed by Europe. Saudi Aramco now boasts bigger revenues than the world’s biggest listed company, Exxon Mobil. On purchasing power parity, China will be number one within 4 years. Its GDP will pass America’s by 2027. On current trends China will win more gold medals at Beijing than America.

This century China will also have the world’s most powerful Christian church. Its missionaries are already appearing in the toughest countries I visit.

Bring it on, Lord!

Religious sensibilities aside, this short message from my pastor very consisely paints the picture of the world of today: rapid, unceasing change! And for most of us humble humans, change means pain, confronting fear and accepting a difficult-to-verbalize sense of angst deep in our souls.

But it gets worse for us bloggers! We’re dealing with this thing called the World Wide Web, which has never stood still even for one moment. Heck, it’s hard enough keeping up with WordPress updates, let along new plugins, new widgets, new websites, new services, new social networks, new forms of communication, new promotion strategies, new tricks, and… new emails!

There are so many distractions online, it’s hard sometimes to remember what we were doing here in the first place. I have the far-too-regular 3pm headaches to prove that (it feels like) I’m barely holding on from day to day. How about you?

As I have repeatedly written in one form or other, blogging is not about writing posts. Heck, that’s the least of your challenges. No, blogging is about cultivating a mutually beneficial relationships with an ever-growing online readership, and that’s hard work. And worse still, there are so many ways you are told to do that:

(numbered for easy reference by commenters)

  1. You should challenge/encourage/woo/entice readers to leave more comments, because good blogs have lots of comments.
  2. You should thank first-time commenters because that personal touch will greatly improve your and their sense of relational intimacy.
  3. You should monitor comments on your blog and converse there with commenters to answer questions and help them out. If you don’t do this you look like you don’t care about your commenters either.
  4. You should set up alerting systems and stay on top of your RSS feeds to be on top of breaking news in your niche so that you can post early and look like an authority/thought leader, because that’s what they do.
  5. You should be reading the posts and comments on similar blogs to yours so that you can add your own comments there, and (as it were) promote yourself, get links and “be part of the conversation”.
  6. You should be regularly adding new feeds to your newsreader and always looking for new and interesting writers.
  7. You should take the time to study the content of your competitors’ blogs to look for ideas for your next post.
  8. You should keep up with the latest ideas/tricks/techniques for promoting your blog and should be experimenting all the time with a new link-bait and SEO ideas, so that (ultimately) you rank better in Google and in other search engines, and get more search traffic.
  9. You should be twittering about every hour or so with witty and pithy commentary on the mundanity of your daily activities (trying not to feel so so lame because, unlike Chris Pirillo, you’re not always in a recording studio, airport or funky nightclub).
  10. You should be joining MyBlogLog, Twitter, Bumpzee, BlogCatalog, Digg and a load of other social network sites/services if you haven’t already, because these are the places to “network” with other people in your niche, and in the blogosphere generally.
  11. You should be building your friends lists up on all these services because everyone knows your success on Digg, Netscape, MyBlogLog and the other social voting/bookmarking sites is directly proportional to the number of friends (i.e. people you’ve never met) you have.
  12. You should be following up each blog you post with emails out to some of the gurus and thought leaders and uber-bloggers in your niche in the hope that they will a) read your email, b) link through to your post, c) read it, d) love it, e) post about it on their blog or f) add your blog to their blogroll or g) submit your story to Digg.
  13. You should be learning about and signing up for Text Link Ads, Google AdSense, Chitika, AuctionAds, ReviewMe, AdBrite and working out over time what optimal placement (for highest conversion rate) for each is on your blog page, making sure not to offend your readers along the way. No sense in not monetizing your traffic, now!
  14. You should aim for about a post a day, making sure to write “quality content”. Meaning you need to be original but not bleeding-edge, funny ha-ha but not funny weird, comprehensive but not boring, structured but not fragmented, insightful but not impenetrably dense. Got it?
  15. You should comprehensively “tag” every post so it is properly indexed by Technorati and other tagging services.
  16. You should use a comprehensive, real-time stats package so you can analyze traffic patterns, look at where people are coming from, see who’s linking to you, and so forth.
  17. You should take particular notice (in your stats) of the “long-tail” of your search engine referral traffic, and where you see repeated phrases and keywords, use these as ideas for future posts, in order to get more targeted traffic from search engines.
  18. You should use email, discussion groups, mailing lists, phone, fax, telex and carrier pigeon to cultivate an “informal” collective of diggers/stumblers/redditers/delishers and you should use the aforementioned modes of communication to (carefully and selectively) request “help” to get your best posts submitted/voted on/promoted.
  19. You should participate in carefully chosen discussion forums that are a close match for the kind of readership you want on your blog. The nicer and more helpful you are the more people will follow you back to your blog.
  20. You should cultivate a relationship with the A-list blogger/s in your niche with a view to offering or being asked to write a guest post on their blog; not for the traffic but for the respect you will gain from a different/larger readership.
  21. You should buy a phone that has a built-in camera, broadband connection and blogging facility so you can feel less like a technological neanderthal and more like Scoble or Justin with your moblogging prowess.

And finally…

  1. You should — on a scheduled and regular basis — be standing apart (completely dispassionately) from your blogging to gain a sense of balance and perspective on your efforts, in order to be able to review and adjust your “workflow”, choice of tools, and approach. You will need to accommodate technological change, shifts in expectation of your readership, and the greater and greater need to cater to a Chinese readership, where the real money and traffic is.

Obviously it goes without saying that you have a day job and a family and all that stuff, so don’t get too intense about all the above… it’s designed to fit fairly neatly into an hour before work and a couple of hours in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. You have a real life going on too, after all!

Damn! I’m a good cynic when I’m in that kind of a mood icon smile Blogging in the eye of the storm

Now, where did I put the Tylenol?

blogging, deep-thoughts, humour, productivity, work, change, workflow, technology, future, humour, humor, cynicism, headache, digg, bookmarking, social bookmarking

27 Comments

Note: Commenter website links are not no-followed, in case
you were wondering... I believe in rewarding commenters!

  1. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Superb! You’ve just about summed my daily regime up in a single post.

    You know what? The above should be shown to all those people who are (apparently) creating a new blog every three seconds – kinda like a ‘Terms & Conditions’ for joining the blogosphere.

    Thanks from bringing a smile to my face in the middle of an otherwise lousy afternoon! :)

  2. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Alister, this is the best post I’ve ever seen that sums up the frustration of trying to keep up. I’m a pretty technologically savvy guy, an early adopter and such but blogging…. wow. You nailed it! Thanks for lightening my day.

  3. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Thanks, Alister, I needed that. Is it wrong to want to digg every one of your posts? :)

  4. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    GREAT post. I read it eagerly!

  5. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Wow, did you feel as exhausted after writing that as I did in reading it? I belong to some of those things, but not all. Damn. Now I have to go and join some more things :-)

  6. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Great post Alister

    Even for those of use with more time each day to devote to internet activities, that doesn’t mean it is easy to bang out more than a couple of posts per day of high quality.

    There are a few links that seem to be broken.

  7. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Dang…

    And I thought I had enough to do already. :(

    (All those “shoulds”, and I feel like I’m in Catholic school…)

  8. Alister Cameron
    Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    @Paul and Dave – I’m really glad this post resonates with you :)

    @Andy and others (via email) – I have fixed the broken links. D’oh!

  9. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, and I’ve only been doing this since March.

  10. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Only just came across this, but it’s great. The thing I find even funnier though is your name’s double meaning.. A-lister. Cross your fingers! :)

  11. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Alister, I think your image sums it up nicely.

    Perhaps all of these ‘rules’ are made up by people like us who are trying to figure out how to make the dip deeper for new entrants. Deep enough so they will want to use the points as a checklist, and still join to worship those who apparently ‘made it’; yet not too deep because we need newbies to have veterans.

    It’s the psychology that still underlies the economic engine. Yet those who figure out how to change the game, and not play by the rules, still win.

    As for brand America — I just wrote about how the Mayor of Charleston, SC has built a city with and for the community. We need more of those people in places where they can make that kind of difference, regardless of political beliefs.

  12. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Great post, thanks.

    I know one of the things I “should” be doing is sending a trackback ping when I blog about a post – I’ve just done this with yours but not sure how to send the trackback, can you enlighten me?

    Thanks

    Joanna

  13. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Great list. For a contrarian perspective on tip #15, see Daniel’s Daily Blog Tips post questioning the value of Technorati tags:
    http://www.dailyblogtips.com/are-technorati-tags-useless/

  14. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Great post. I love the emphasis that blogging is not just about writing- unlike traditional journalism, it’s all about building relationships and encouraging conversations.

  15. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Wow, now, seriously, that is the best post i’ve ever read!!
    Sums up really well those “holy cr**, need a break” moments. But still we keep on blogging :)

  16. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I guess you have to do all that in case you want to revenue from your blog. You have to play the game. But what about people who are content with few faithful readers and still like to share their thoughts with them? Am I coming from a different world?

  17. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Great post Alistair. So many things that one has to think of doing that you end up never doing!

  18. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Too much!

    And that wasn’t meant as a compliment.

    I don’t have a day job and my kids are all grown. However, even being retired, I have way too many things I want to do that aren’t getting done to subject myself to such a regimen.

    It’s just too much — at least to an old fart like me.

  19. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I love this post. :-D There’s been a pressing question I’ve had to ask myself in regards to blogging: “I can’t network in real life, so how in the blue blinkie dinkies am I supposed to do it online?!?!?!”

    I think people should just blog for the sake of blogging, and if you’re unique enough, and your content is engaging enough, people will come to you. Let everything else from Digg to MyBlogLog to Google be damned to hell.

  20. Posted 7 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this.. This is the great tips.. I will use to improve traffic to my blog.

  21. Posted 7 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    Hi. Here for the first time. I thought your post was hilarious!!! Sums up all the eggs I’ve been juggling for the past few months being a new blogger and all. As for wordpress, updates were the least of my problems. Had to figure out how the dang thing worked for starters! Had a headache for 2 weeks after upgrading to 2.1. I write lists of what I want to accomplish for each day/week and gradually tick them off as I do them. Most of all I try to have a laugh about things especially when I’m feeling swamped. I was grinning until the end of your post. You are hereby favourited, bookmarked and subscribed to. Have a blessed day.

  22. Posted 7 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    An excellent post, I was smiling but also nodding my head in agreement as I think, bar no 22, that I have done all of the above. Trouble is I enjoy the part that entails visiting other blogs because of social networking memberships and mutual ‘I’ll pat your back, you pat mine’ submission sites. I end up totally off track often with 30 plus Firefox tabs still open when I finally call it a night. Lots of research gets done but very little posting. I have learned a lot about increasing my site traffic when I do post more though and did you know that Willis Island 400k off the coast of Australia has a population of 10,000 (birds) and 4 meteorologists (they are the humans).

  23. Posted 7 years, 2 months ago // Permalink

    Hi Alister,

    One more tip about comments and engaging your audience. Most readers don’t engage. Thats why we created ClickComments to make it easier for more readers to engage with your blog simply with one click. Please check it out.

  24. Posted 7 years, 2 months ago // Permalink

    Some great advice there and gives me something to think about and implement.

    Contest going on over at my blog.

  25. Posted 6 years, 12 months ago // Permalink

    Great Post. Very helpful for a newbie blogger like me. I have some good content and some great ideas..now just need some people to come read my site :)

  26. Posted 4 years, 11 months ago // Permalink

    Excellent hub I wish mine were as good as yours.http://hubpages.com/hub/fishing-tackle-review. Please have a look and tell me what you think,i would appreciate your advice.

  27. Posted 4 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    wow the great job and the tips are really awesome and really helpful to get the best and to maintain the blog that is really effective.
    i would like to generate a community that is really special for the muslim onlile network…

16 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  7. blogging in the eye of the storm, including all the things bloggers need to do and be signed up for and how often to write and how to build readership and so on and so on. in fact, reading the list itself wore me out! it also made me feel very behind the times. as i read it, i

  8. [IMG External link]

  9. digging, bumping, favoriting, faming, fuelling, stumbling, submitting, tagging, dobbing* , befriending. If I have missed out a particular term used by a social networking site, please let me know. Alister puts it beautifully when he says “everyone knows your success on … social voting/bookmarking sites is directly proportional to the number of friends (i.e. people you’ve never met)” The following don’t take me much time unfortunately as Alister has not met a lot more people than I have not met. commenting, thanking for comments, commenting on comments, researching the best way to comment, thank for comments and comment on

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  14. [...] WARNING: I was high on caffeine, low on sweetness and off-the-charts on dry wit when I wrote this… My pastor at church writes a short piece on the front of each weekend’s bulletin. This week’s words are particularly penetrating: 35,000 feet above the dusty plains of Pakistan, flyin. (continues) [...]

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