- Referential – ‘uses the link (sometimes referred to as ‘link blogging’) as his fundamental unit of currency, building posts around ideas and experiences spawned elsewhere’
- Experiential – ‘inwardly directed, drawing entries from personal experience and opinion’
It’s a useful distinction to make – I’m sure there are other variations or ways of classifying bloggers but most blog posts fall into one of these two camps. I say ‘blog posts’ because in my experience many bloggers use a combination of these two techniques and I’d be a little hesitant to label these bloggers as one or the other.
My own blogging style covers the full spectrum.
Referential – I have some blogs which are almost completely referential, to the point that they are used by their readers as archives and hubs of information collected from around the web. These blogs are sometimes critiqued as bordering on spammish – it’s a criticism that I’ve listened to and grappled with but one that I’ve also balanced with comments from readers who say that those blogs are useful to them as they cut down the amount of time that they need to put into researching the topics.
Experiential – On the other hand I have blogs that are purely experiential. In fact I started one last week that is an experiment in how a blog will go with no referential posting at all. In fact I’ve taken it to an extreme and am breaking a lot of my own blogging rules (some would say it’s not even technically a blog because it doesn’t have comments and doesn’t have outbound links) to see what will happen. I’ll talk more about what I’m learning from it in a week or so.
Refperential (or should that be exferential) – The majority of the blogs that I run are some somewhere on the spectrum between purely referential and experiential blogs. ProBlogger is a prime example of this – my aim is to write something that is experiential every day (or every second day at the least) and at the same time I post ‘newsy’ type posts daily also which are largely referential. I’m sure that there are readers who would want more of one or the other but I find that the combination works.
Both styles of blogging have their own strengths and weaknesses. Referential blogging is a little less high maintenance (although if you don’t know where to find good stories it can be difficult) whereas in most cases Experiential blogging takes more time (unless you’re writing short original pieces). Experiential blogging can attract a lot of attention and incoming links (if done well) whereas unless you’re high on the food chain referential blogging doesn’t really bring in the links.
My advice to new bloggers trying to find their voice as a blogger is to consider a number of factors including:
• Personal Style – each of us have our own personalities and preferences when it comes to writing. While I would argue it’s important to stretch yourself from time to time it’s more important to find your style and work from that place. If you prefer one above the other then go with that predominantly.
• Topic – some topics lend themselves very well to referential blogging whilst others do not.
• Competition – take a look at what other blogs and websites in your niche are doing. If everyone is writing in a referential style there might be a gap there which you could attempt to fill.
• Audience – sometimes your blog’s audience will make it abundantly clear what type of posting they want. I have one blog where I constantly get requests for posts in the opposite style to what I write predominantly on that blog. As a result I’ve attempted to readdress the balance.
The key for bloggers is to experiment and find their own balance after considering these factors. Over time you might need to tweak your approach but as you find your own way you’ll then be able to develop a workflow and rhythm to suit it.
What style of blogging do you predominantly use?