Why Do You Write, Read, and Comment on Blogs?

Last week, Bob Bly asked a simple question on his blog – …why not just read books, periodicals, and Web sites? Why do you read blogs … and bother writing posts on them?

Here was the comment I left in response to his question:

I own a few of the books you’ve written. I like them. One in particular has helped me in my career. I thought of writing you in thanks, but never did. I always thought you were too busy or must be receiving unsolicited input all the time. In short, I always thought I’d be a bother.

Then you started to blog and as such, I had an easy means to reach you. You opened a dialogue and I can communicate with you as easy as leaving this comment. Since then, you’ve emailed me a few times in acknowledgement of comments on your blog. We even had a short conversation on the phone. All because you blog.

Why visit your blog? You are very good at offering insght and opinion – opening a conversation. Books, magazines, newsletters and such are often better thought, more informative, and better written than blogs I read…but I never “met” you until you blogged. You’re better here than in your books. You’re human, one of “us.” You lead and participate in the conversation. That’s why I read and comment on your blog.

I blog because it makes me think. I learn from what excites people, what gets them talking, and what leaves me speaking in the “dark.” I’ve met and joined in conversations with people across continents, and have learned from comments left on my blog.

Blogging makes me better at my profession – that’s why I blog.

For those of you that blog, why do you do it? For those of you that read and comment on blogs, what do you get out of it? Why participate? Why blog?

Does size matter?

No, this isn’t a post involving a dirty subject, Darren has had all of us guest bloggers sign in blood that we will behave ourselves here at Problogger, but it is a serious question. Does size matter in terms of blog layout.

There is any number of different theories on this one, but its something else to think about whether you are starting a new blog or overhauling an existing blog.
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Blogs Are an Incomplete Customer Communications Tool – How Would You Make Them Better?

Blogs are interesting tools of business and business communications. There are a lot of useful things you can do with a blog. Interestingly, they’re lacking in the one benefit most touted – customer communication. Only the blogger can open the conversation, the reader can only respond.

That’s poor communication.

Readers are without doubt the most valuable part of a blog. Without the reader, the blog is nothing more than a stream of conscious pouring into an empty room. The blogger and reader need each other, otherwise his dialogue and exchange of ideas never takes place.

The reader is the one that really makes the blog.

How ironic then that it is only the reader that can’t start a conversation. Only the blogger can open a topic for discussion. The blogger decides what and when something will be discussed. That isn’t the nature of communication, that’s not how we’d communicate were we together at a party, conference, or business gathering.

Sure, a reader can always send the author an email or contact them in other ways to initiate a post or topic for discussion, but that’s not the issue. The issue is how do you make it an integrated process? For example, anyone in your neighborhood can stop at your house and say hello, but how do you make them feel welcome to do so and part of your home?

On my own blog, I started a feature called Your Turn to Speak. The concept and process is simple, a reader submits a post for publishing on my blog by filling-out a short form. The reader can now start the conversation and the rest of us can follow. While the reader could always send me an email or call me to open a topic, no one ever did so until I invited them and gave a process. It’s a new feature and too early to tell if it increases conversation. There may be a better, simpler, and more intuitive way to integrate the reader…we’ll see.

Do you believe blogs are lacking in providing two-way communication? If so, how would you better integrate the reader? What are some creative ways you can think of to better integrate the reader into the blogging experience?

Browser compatibility of your blog

I’ve put up a different version of this post up at The Blog Herald, but knowing that Darren is a Mac user I wanted to share a slightly different version on the theme here at Problogger: professional bloggers are ignoring compatibility issues.

I know from experience that many of the better bloggers in this world are Mac users, and I do honestly envy you. If I had a couple of thousand spare dollars sitting in my account to buy a new computer I’d most likely go with a Mac. The unfortunate reality is, that whilst Weblog Empire is going well, it’s not producing similar figures yet to Darren’s Mac powered network. Mac’s cost more, and while I can still build a new PC from parts for around $500 AUD (a decent one at that) I’m not changing yet. I also know that the chances are that the majority of you reading this use a PC running Windows as I do. Whether Macs are better or not is irrelevant, as Probloggers we specialise in content delivery, not whether one OS is better than another.
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Blogging at work

I just read Blogging On The Boss’ Time and it got me thinking, how many of us “Probloggers” who still have day jobs blog from work? I know many companies are starting to monitor blogging activity, but part of my job is actually blogging at work. But I find at times I’m blogging on my own sites. Usually I restrict this to very short posts, slow times, or something that just can’t wait. I’ll often post something at lunch, but that’s my time.

Personally, I try to blog whenever I can but I try not to take advantage of my employer. I don’t want to get dooced, after all. So, I thought I would ask, how many of you post from work (your day job) and does your company have a blogging policy?

Marketers are turning to blogs for online ad spending

Research out of Forrester is showing a growing interest to place advertisements on blogs and/or in RSS feeds. This should be no surprise, given the mainstream business coverage of blogs that has issued recently.

Of those surveyed by Forrester, 64% would be interested in advertising on blogs, while 57% would be interested in advertising through RSS. Both these figures represent more interest than advertising on mobile devices – this just shows which way the industry is set to grow.

Forrester estimates that total online advertising and marketing dollars will reach $14.7 billion for the 2005 year – that’s 23% more than in 2004. Banners/sponsorships will grow 11% per year to $8 billion by 2010. We’ll also see a large increase in spending for search engine marketing over the next few years, up to $11.6 billion by 2010. Online marketing spending is the only area of growth in advertising spending as a whole – so interest is definitely present.
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Canadian Professional Blogging Podcast: No. 1 On becoming a professional blogger

podcastWelcome to the first Canadian Professional Blogging Podcast with me, Tris Hussey, and Arieanna Foley. This is the recording I mentioned on Friday. The delay was worth the wait because we got permission to use some music from The Kitchen for the intro and outro music for the podcast. We’re using “Flow” which is available for download on the website.
The topic for our discussion is how Arieanna and I became professional bloggers and a little about professional blogging itself. Imagine us sitting across a kitchen table sipping coffee or bourbon (Arieanna) or Scotch (me) chatting. In reality we’re over 50 miles apart, separated by the Straight of Georgia. Look for more of these really soon. Arieanna’s been bitten by the podcasting bug now too.
The Show: Podcast linkcpbp_no1_going_pro.mp3 –3.73 megs 16 mins, 18 seconds
Show notes:
Intro and outro music – Josh Hundert and The Kitchen
The show was recorded via Skype and HotRecorder with post-production with Audacity and Winamp .
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Improve your typing skills

Being a professional blogger means in most of the cases: publish content, targeted at your audience, structured, and well written.

But the other part is: It has to be typed. And the more you want to publish, the more you have to type, and edit, and retype … If you where writing a book, you could give your handwritten manuscript to somebody else, but as a blogger, you are on your own.

If you don’t have good typing skills, blogging will be much more of an effort for you – and then you publish less. But other than being a good writer is at least part talent, being a speedy typer is purely training.

So let’s take a quick look at your typing skills: [Read more…]

Blogging Data We Can All Learn From

The BlogKits 2005 Blogging & Advertising Survey is about to close up. Here’s the best part. I’m going to release the raw data from this study on next week for anyone to download and analyze as they see fit. So if you haven’t taken the short survey yet, please do, it will benefit us all in the end. There’s some amazing data in there.

Here’s a sneak peek. 80% of bloggers agree that advertisements are ok on their own blogs. 16% of those who answered were neutral on the statement, with a measly 4% or less saying they don’t think ads should be on their blog. I know for a fact that number was probably less than 30% just two years ago.

On the same note, 76% of bloggers feel that their readers are also ok with ads on blogs. While 15% stayed neutral, only 9% or thought different. Who reads blogs? Well, a lot of bloggers read other blogs. So it’s safe to assume that bloggers are also blog readers.

Finally, one of my most favorite questions. “I am more likely to click on an ad in a blog that I enjoy reading?” 84% of the respondents agreed to this question, while 10% stayed neutral and less than 6% disagreed. Seems like common sense right? The data would concur with that statement.