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Does Professional Blogging = Non Interactive Blogging?

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?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I think Blogger 3 will find a real ceiling to his business. There’s a level of personability that not only helps to build friendships with other bloggers, but will inevitably come through in your own writing on in your relationships to the writers you hire.
    A good example of a blog that made it BIG without anything but personability (and good photos) is Dooce

  2. I think this type of scenario could apply in any industry. No matter what you do, if you’re rude or non-interactive with your suppliers/customers/community you’re going to limit your success.

    It will surely become more prevelant in the blogging world as more ‘entrepreneurs’ come on board, but you reap what you sow, just like anything in life.

  3. I have been through this recently. :)

  4. Bruce says:

    I’m appalled by blogger # 3, even # 1 bugs me a little bit. I understand time constraints…I sure do, but you need to make time for your customers/readers/visitors especially the ones that take the time to contribute something to your effort. There are days in which I get over 100 emails…I do my best to answer every one of them, even if it’s just a short note, or a simple “thanks” for them taking the time to write me.

  5. Ben says:

    Fascinating situation Darren. As a purely amateur blogger, it seems to me that if you eliminate the personal and interactive dimensions of blogging it becomes something more akin to broadcasting. The back and forth between blogger and audience is what makes it worthwhile. Sounds like Blog Number 3 needs some help – or a holiday.

  6. Smart Money says:

    This is an example of the difference between a business and a hobby. Most blogs are run as hobbies, even ones that are done full time and generate 6-figure income. In a real business you would hire an assistant who understands your business so that as you grow you can maintain the level of communication with you customers [readers] that a communication based venture demands. In a business proper, the owner-CEO should only be doing the tasks at the very heart of the business; trained staff should do all other tasks. If this is not the case, then a business cannot grow, because the demands that are placed on the owner will grow exponentially and the burnout or breaking point will be reached.

  7. Carla says:

    It occurs to me that the entire point of blogging is the personal interaction. If I just wanted straight news, I’d head to a news service like rueters or the local papers online. I understand that as a pro blogger, there are a lot of emails to sift through. However soliciting such emails and then reacting like blogger 3 just isn’t on, there’s just no excuse for it. I think he’ll find he alienates a lot of his readers if that’s his standard of interaction.

  8. Nicholas says:

    I agree with Ben. I don’t know if any blogger will be able to get away with that for good. Blogging is about communication, and if someone is unwilling to communicate on all levels with their audience, there will be a line of bloggers just waiting to take their place.

  9. Duncan says:

    Id be interested to know whether the 3 bloggers were pro or ameteurs…because if their pro’s this is no way to run a business. Sure, we all have time constraints, but there is no reason to be discourteous.

  10. Darren says:

    Guess it depends how you define ‘pro’ Duncan. If you mean money making blogs then all three are – with substantial traffic, numerous ads and evidence of good earnings.

    If you mean behaving professionally – I’d have to say yes to 1 and 2 but not so with 3.

    Just to clarify – I’m not expecting a reply from every tip I send – I’m not even expecting a link up – but I found the response of 3 pretty surprising. I’d rather have no reply at all – but if I was annoying him I guess I’d expect him to let me know also – but perhaps in a more gracious way.

  11. Andy says:

    The personal touch is vital, in my opinion. Of course, with the few interactions I receive to my own blog, it’s easy to stay personal. This becomes harder with increasing size. However, businesses of all kinds (should) know how important the personal touch is – customer service and recognition – even if some of that is automated. At least the automated responses you received acknowledged what you had submitted, and the fact that your tip was published later on the blog, proves that the auto-response was truthful. I would like to think that, should any of my current or future blogging/site projects increase in popularity and interactivity, that I would still be able to devote enough time to communicating and community-building, than simply being on the production line. I don’t believe good writing can exist in a vacuum and neither can the ‘firewalled’ blogger.