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Has Blogging Lost Its Relational Focus?

Today I want to talk a little about bloggers working together – to talk about the importance of it and to reflect upon whether the blogosphere has become a less relational place.

“After years of being in an offline business I’ve recently decided to start an online business that will include a blog. However as I research the topic I notice something about bloggers and how they relate to one another that confuses me a little – they link to their ‘competitors’. I’ve always kept an eye on my competitors in the past so that I could gain an advantage over them but bloggers seem to be doing something that is counter-intuitive to me yet it seems to benefit them at the same time. I wonder if you could write something on this topic?” – question submitted by Gerald.

Thanks for the question Gerald – you’ve picked up on something about blogging that is actually very important and something that I’ve always enjoyed about the medium.

Rather that write a full post on the how and why of working with other bloggers today I’d like to simply point you to a series of posts that I wrote on the topic back in 2005. It all started with a post called – ‘Blogging in Formation – Lessons from a Goose‘. In it I share why Geese fly further in formation and how as bloggers we can achieve more with a similar approach. I then followed it up with a number of other posts on building blogging relationships.

I do think that being relational as a blogger is an important aspect of blogging successfully.

Have Things Changed? Are Bloggers Becoming More Selfish?

This is a question I’ve been asked a few times lately and one that I’ve been pondering quite a bit.

You see when I first started blogging (it’ll be six years ago later in the year) there was a real community spirit among bloggers and the idea of bloggers helping bloggers was something most people seemed to embrace.

The blogosphere is a different place now in many ways. For starters there are a lot more blogs. There is almost a bigger focus upon blogging as a business tool and the idea of making money online in general.

As a result I do think there’s probably been a shift (a smallish one) to some degree in the ways that bloggers look at and treat one another. For example I hear people talking about their ‘competition’ a lot more and see some bloggers link out to other blogs in their niches less. I also see bloggers developing relationships more out of strategy rather than just because they want to connect.

However if you scratch under the surface you do find many bloggers working together in mutually beneficial ways. Behind most successful blogs you find a network of relationships and stories of blogs getting their breaks out of such relationships.

I don’t think that relational blogging is dead at all, but perhaps it’s just a little harder to find? I suspect this is more the case in some niches than others as I do see some fantastic communities of bloggers in around some topics.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on this

Is connecting with other bloggers important to you? Do you think blogging has become more or less relational?

UpdateI’ve updated this post here.

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. Moise levi says:

    I actually like to link to new blogs.
    Established ones do not even answer you …..
    New bloggers tend to be hungry for success ……..
    They motivate me, I motivate them …….
    They bring me infos and tips of various subjects (and in many languages)

  2. Moise levi says:

    PS ; thanks to this post, I was able to find great blogs to add on my blogroll

    Thanks to the comments :)

  3. rjleaman says:

    Since blogging is about human relationships, it seems to me that success in blogging is analogous to what makes us “successful” socially, offline, too…

    It is simple.
    There are 2 kinds of people: those who come into a room saying, “Here I am” – and those who come in saying, “There you are!” –
    Which would you like to spend time with?

  4. juliemarg says:

    Rebecca – what I nice comment. I just stumbled your non-profit site since it seems more people should get to know yhou.

  5. juliemarg says:

    and I should know better… don’t click before you correct your spelling and grammar errors. I wanted my comment to follow so that it made sense, instead I diluted my good intent with carelessness.

  6. Robyn says:

    I find that relating to other blogs gives me the chance to expand a topic; explore a slightly different path and opens up the conversation. Someone’s post may make me think of something related, which can spark comments and other links that enlarge the information we can take in and build on it exponentially. I don’t think you can run out of different ways to either take in or look at an idea, so why not share? Maybe the difference with some blogs is that they are, as Edward Lomax said, more of a sermon than a conversation.

    BTW – I just came back from BlogHer 08 in SF: I doubt you could find 1,000 more relational bloggers in one place.

  7. Wayne Tully says:

    I think that connecting with other bloggers is really important, because they will know that the information that they are providing is going to influence their lives and blogging and there is lots to learn from many different people of all backgrounds, everyone has their own unique insight that really adds something to other bloggers.

    I think that relational blogging is split between those that want to build networks with other bloggers and those who are selfishly opposed to it, the ideas behind blogging for profit get in the way most times and finding the need to stand out and dominate becomes the obsessive for most.

    I tend to look for small and big players that will compliment my blog and their blogs, it all comes down to a lot of reading and deciding and commenting to find them, but they are there….somewhere!!

  8. rjleaman says:

    @ juliemarg, that’s so kind of you to say – clearly, you’re one of the “There you are!” kind of bloggers. :) No way it can ever be other than positive, when we acknowledge an unknown fellow blogger who somehow strikes a chord with us, yes?

    @ Wayne Tully, when you say that “everyone has their own unique insight that really adds something to other bloggers” – I think you’ve put your finger on one of the things that keeps a lot of bloggers going when those inevitable ‘down times’ come around, and that’s the sense of community spirit that Darren alludes to in this post.

    Sure, the blogosphere is a bigger place now, and perceived competition (and information overload?) can cut back on the ‘connecting’ that used to take place when there were fewer blogs and we were all just hanging out there on the fringes of ‘citizen journalism’, making it up as we went along. Pioneers of the wild west… But there’s still lots of evidence, even in the fast-paced Big City Blogosphere, don’t you think, of neighbourhoods and allegiances of common interest?

  9. Reginald says:

    Broken down in the simplest of terms, what are the direct benefits of linking to a competitor?

  10. Chip says:

    Do you mind if I ask what was your previous offline business? Just out of curiosity.

  11. Great comments all – thank so much for the rich conversation.

    our site :http://www.allystone.net

  12. I find myself in that netherworld Yin and Yang of blogging to say something versus blogging to promote myself. My old world marketing self wants to be heard for the sake of his ego. My blogging-conscious self wants to be part of the global conversation. How do we speak in this realm and satisfy both? How do we stay real without running our own PR campaign?

  13. Ari Herzog says:

    There are approximately 60 comments above mine and nearly all of them begin with the pronoun, “I.”

    Moreover, nearly every comment is in direct response to Darren because he asked everyone a question. But Rebecca Leaman went a step farther by not just posing a question but responding to others who responded to her. THAT is the essence of relations and THAT is what commenting on blogs should be about.

    If people can pose questions back and forth, even without using a question mark, and other people can be engaged by a comment regardless of everything else on the page, then, no, Darren and everyone else, blogging has not lost its relational focus.

  14. Paul Chaney says:

    One of the reasons I became entranced by this medium five years ago was the relationships it helped to foster, relationships that I maintain to this day.

    While blogging has become good for a lot of things so far as marketing is concerned – SEO for example – it’s my hope relationships remain at the core.

    That’s one reason I accepted the offer to become president of the International Blogging and New Media Association (IBNMA). Relationships matter. They always have and I hope they always will!

  15. Reginald says:

    Ari Herzog,

    Ironically, this post almost started with the word ‘I’. However, I caught myself in time.

    I enjoyed the unique angle of your post.

    I consider your sentiment sound.

  16. rjleaman says:

    Reginald, in your previous comment, you posed a tough question:

    “Broken down in the simplest of terms, what are the direct benefits of linking to a competitor?”

    Most of the previous commenters, taken together, make a strong argument for a bit of “self-serving altruism” in blogging… but to break it down to the “simplest of terms” – and especially if those simple terms include the acronym ROI – well, that’s a challenge to articulate!

    Let’s hope some other bloggers are brave enough to wade in here and give the 1-sentence “elevator pitch” for out-linking with a free hand. I’m still thinking about it… ;)

  17. Dejon H. says:

    Great subject! I run a blog based around the philosophy of “Relational Systems.” A philosophy that pays mind to relationships between objects and relationships between relationships… something lost in the Aristotelian’ way of looking at the world. All though it can be subverted, blogging is such a natural extension of this way of thinking – fostering a free exchange of ideas and building strength from looking at patterns. Thank you for the dialogue,

  18. swar says:

    the comments are very interesting to read about than this post !!!

  19. Joshua Chen says:

    I really see it almost impossible to get a successful blog going with out developing some blog relationships. If you are unwilling to build relationships with the blog, how can you expect readers to want to build a relationship with you?

    I think it may have a lot to do with the amount of blogs out there, and it might be that the mass amounts of blogs are mildly successful and they can get to that point with out relationships.

    The blogs that are really making progress and gains are the ones who have found out that relationships are the way to get there.