I’m always fascinated by the approach that different bloggers take when it comes to interacting with their readers and other blogs. I’m not going to name names but this week I’ve had a number of email correspondences with editors/owners of three medium to large blogs (bigger than any of mine) that have highlighted the variety of approaches that people take to this.
In each case I’d emailed them to notify them of stories that related to their blogs tipping them off to a development that I thought was relevant to their blogs – I included a short statement summing up the story and a link back to where I’d posted about it. I don’t normally do this with many bloggers – but all three ask for such tips on their blogs with links to contact forms or email addresses to help us to do so (I’ll qulaify now that none of these blogs are on the topic of blogging – its unlikely that anyone who regularly reads this blog has anything to do with any of these).
So how were my tips received?
• Blog number 1 – had an automatic reply that emailed me an acknowledgment of my tip, thanking me and letting me know that they read all such tips but that they receive too many emails to reply to all. I heard nothing more from them but they posted the story with a link back to my blog (and two others who had submitted the same story).
• Blog number 2 – emailed back a personal thank you from the editor who explained that they already had the story and were posting about it with another source. He thanked me for the tip and asked that I keep submitting them as it was tips like mine that kept his blog a cutting edge blog.
• Blog number 3 – emailed back asking me to remove him from my email list because he gets too many emails each day. He told me he follows my blog via RSS and doesn’t want to be barraged with my emails.
Now before I go on, I’ll admit to some frustration with Blog number 3, I’ve tried to build a relationship with this blog for months by linking to them, asking how I can help them with their stories better, seeking to work with them etc. My reasons for doing so are partly selfish ones – it would be to my advantage to have a positive relationship – but they are partly genuinely wanting to connect and build them up because I think they do a great job in their niche and I’d like to support what they do.
I do understand the demands that this blogger must face – their blog is popular, read by many thousands each day and must get a lot of ‘tips’ from people like myself. The demands are great upon them and it must be frustrating on some levels.
However I’m also a little shocked by the response. Partly because the tone of the email was so blunt (bordering on rude) – but partly because one of the things I love about blogging is that for the most part bloggers are so willing to share information, work together and build relationships. Even the fiercest of competitors in a niche often work together in co-operation for the mutual good of both.
I’ve been pondering Blog number 3′s response for the past 24 hours – waiting for my initial reaction to subside before I posted something i’d regret. I’m still a little peeved but most of the sting of it has gone (life’s too short).
The concern that I have is that as Entrepreneurial blogging continues to grow that exchanges like the one I had this week will become more and more common. I don’t say that because its happening regularly to me (99% of my interactions with other bloggers are warm and engaging) but I worry that as the pressure of running a business increases that some bloggers will sacrifice some of what blogging was built on – community, relationship, generosity and transparency – in order to build their businesses.
I’ll be honest and say that I’ve been tempted to do this myself (and may have actually responded like Blogger 3 also at times). As my blogs have grown over the past few months that I’ve had a lot more requests from other bloggers for wanting to connect, work together, ask questions or give tips. I live with a growing tension that I cannot possibly respond to everyone who emails and still keep the quality of my blogging up – I feel Blogger 3′s frustration some days.
However I don’t believe that just because blogging has become a business for me that I have to suddenly switch into non-interactive mode. It is the one on one and personal contact that blogging is built on that is a key to its further success and growth. Its also a strong belief of mine that in addiction to being rude, to react like Blog 3 is also not a good business move. Guess what the chances of them getting links from me are in future? Yes I’m not that important to them, but take this approach with enough bloggers and readers and you’ll start to see the results of your aloofness.
As Professional Bloggers I’d like to hope that we can live and grapple with the tension between running businesses and keeping the values of blogging alive and that we can answer the question of whether Professional Blogging = Non Interactive Blogging with a resounding NO.
What do you think?