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Relational Blogging

Today I spent a little more time reading Darby Checkett’s ‘Leverage‘ (aff) and was drawn to a chapter titled ‘The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make’.

Darby’s book is about how to achieve ‘tipping points’ through different leverages and this chapter focusses upon Relationships as one of those leverages.

Early in this chapter he refers to all the other leverages that he’s talked about as being ‘personal power factors’ and goes on to identify relationships as having ‘the multiplier effect’ (sounds like something out of a bad Si-Fi movie or something). Let me hand over to Darby for a quote (from page 97):

‘The minute you involve others in your vision, the minute your desire impact others, all your personal power factors will benefit from the multiplier effect. This is real leverage. it is obvious that, when you alone hold a visioin, you speak with one small voice. When you recruit others to the cause, you speak with a high fidelity, mega-watt sound system.’

Ultimately Darby isn’t saying anything new in this quote (or chapter) but he does put his finger on an incredibly powerful factor that I think most successful bloggers have stumbled upon (sometimes intentionally and something by accident).

Relational Blogging

One of the reasons for the viral like growth of the whole blogosphere is that it’s relational in its very nature (having comments, interlinking, conversational style) – but if you look at many individual successful blogs you’ll find that they often take this relational focus to the next level with significant impact (the more voices spreading the ‘message’ the further it will go).

They do this through many techniques including:

  • Adding Authors – quite a few of the bigger emerging blogs going around at the moment have been adding new bloggers and moving to a group blog approach.
  • Networks/Rings/Cooperatives – there are many examples of bloggers drawing together different types of networks of blogs.
  • Memes – involving other bloggers in projects and memes builds the interaction and relationships between both the blogger and their readers – but also between readers (creating some level of community – or perceived community)
  • Comments – some bloggers seem to use comments (and other tools like chat, forums, polls etc) especially effectively and draw readers into a very active interaction with their blogs

A Word of Warning

There is a flip side to relationships that should also be considered.

While being in relationship with lots of people and drawing them into your blog can help to multiply the messages you wish to spread, this is only a good thing if you’re able to maintain the relationships. If you’re not able to maintain them you actually run the risk of the same network of relationships working against you.

Relationship Principles

There are many books written solely upon how to build relationships but Darby’s 4 suggestions are a nice starting point and I think apply quite well to relational blogging:

1. Give it Time – relationships of all types take time to grow and don’t just happen. I find this applies on two levels – firstly the longevity of relationships can impact their depth but secondly the amount of time you regularly put into building relationships has a massive impact upon them.

This is a massive challenge for many of us who are busy people. If there was one thing I wish I had more time to do it would be for building relationships with bloggers. I find that the longer I blog and the bigger readerships that my blogs have the harder this is.

2. Show Flexibility – in this Darby talks about ‘reserving judgement’ and getting past the first impressions that others give you (because they can be very inaccurate). This is very true and I can think of numerous instances when my first impression of another blogger was not good but where I found through persisting with them that they were actually wonderful people.

Once again – this is a challenge, especially in a medium like blogging where it is very easy to make a snap judgement on another person based upon a single idea that they have without looking deeper into who they are and what they stand for. I get frustrated when others do this to me but know it’s something I’m guilty of also.

3. Gain Knowledge – this extends the ‘show flexibility’ principle really and encourages us to look deeper into who the other person is and where they are coming from.

‘Walk a mile in their shoes…’

I’m very challenged by this not only in blogging but in life in general at the moment. People deserve respect. They are more than their latest post. People change and should be allowed to do so. People are more than just a name on a screen somewhere.

4. Communicate – I doubt there is a book written on relationships that doesn’t talk about communication skills. I know when I do pre-marriage counseling with couples that the two main things we tend to focus upon are communication skills and conflict resolution skills – if you’ve got those in place you can get through most things.

Ironically, I think this is something we as bloggers could learn a thing or two about. I say it’s ironic because blogging is all about communication. The problem is that despite us spending so much time into thinking about how we communicate via our blog posts that so many of us are really bad at communicating with each other one on one, especially when we disagree (just check the latest flaming comment thread that you saw for proof of this).

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. Adding on to your relational blogging techniques, I have just started to participate in a couple of blog carnivals. With a new site, I have found it to be a good way to kind of introduce myself and my blog to a wider group of people.

    As a result, I have met a couple of people with similar blogs and have had one request come in to exchange links. It does seem like a lot of success can be found by building relationships with other bloggers, particularly those in a related niche.

  2. Jon says:

    Last summer when I was guest blogging on your Personal Finance blog it was my first taste of group blogging. I really enjoyed posting responses to the other bloggers’ posts and having them respond to my posts. It brought an energy that was very creative.
    Many times since then I have thought of inviting other bloggers to join me, but I’ve gotten caught on the fears based on your “word of warning” section.

  3. The multiplier effect (fancy term, that) is quite real and it’s one of the big reason why chronic “networkers” with fat rolodexes always get ahead. Having said that, you have be really careful who you choose to go in with: it’s a long-term relationship. You should have some idea of how the other people deal with problems before you get involved with them.

    Also, there’s a big difference between joining another’s efforts and inviting others to join you. If you do the latter, think long and hard about it because it will be extremely difficult to salvage the endeavor if it doesn’t work out. I invited others to join me on an old blog and wasn’t thrilled with the results, but going back to a solo effort was the beginning of the end of that blog. So, be careful.

  4. Kimber says:

    Big corporations have known this for decades.
    The more people participating in a market,
    the more vibrant the market.
    For example:
    When Tropicana advertises orange juice,
    all orange juice sales,
    even those of the competition,
    go up.
    A strong competitor is an asset, rather than a liability.

  5. Angel M. says:

    Darren,

    thank you very much for your impressions on “leverage”. I liked specially the part about building relationships, something that usually people don’t pay much atention for. For the enlgish-challenged, I’ve made an aproximated spanish translation at My blog.

    Again, thank you and keep the good blogging going on ;-)

    Regards from Spain!

  6. Mark says:

    Good stuff, Darren. And very timely for us having just relaunched as a network of sorts on August 21st.

    For us, it made sense. We had grown a community of running blogs for the past couple of years and it only made sense to grab of bunch of those people and try to create something special in our niche.

    I’ll bookmark this post and come back to it often. Thanks!