Does Twitter Distract From or Inspire Your Blogging?

Sarah from Blogversary emailed me earlier today with a question/observation about some people and their use of social messaging tools like Twitter and Plurk. Her email included:

Do think Twitter has had a negative impact on some folk’s blogs? As in, they are blogging less?

My initial reaction to her email was to think of a number of bloggers who’ve all but disappeared from their blogs since discovering Twitter. The ‘distraction’ element of Twitter has been profound for them.

But as I began to think about it I realized that there’s another group of social messenger users that have been energized in their blogging by Twitter and Plurk. I’d consider myself to be in this group.

I personally find that Twitter informs and inspires my blogging. The interactions that I have, the conversations that I see others having, the questions that I’m asked and the answers that other users of Twitter and Plurk give me are constantly feeding me with ideas to blog about.

So my question for those of you who are social messaging users is this:

Does social messaging distract or inspire your blogging?

If you’re one of those bloggers who is inspired by these mediums – I’d also love to hear your reflections on how you keep it from being a distraction and how you shape your use of the mediums to inform and inspire your blogging.

What are the Benefits of Adding Video to your Blog?

A number of weeks ago skinner (from Twitter) asked me:

what are the benefits of adding video to your blog?”

I thought it’d make an interesting reader question. How would you answer it?

Do you use video on your blog? Why (or why not)? What do you like and dislike about video on other people’s blogs?

What You Want to Learn about Blogging [POLL RESULTS]

Over the last few weeks I’ve run a poll here at ProBlogger asking readers what they want to learn most about blogging. I’ve run this to help me put together my editorial calendar over the coming months.

The results were fairly clear – just under a quarter of responses (1450 people voted) asked for more content on finding readers/subscribers (23%). Second was ‘growing advertising revenue’ (16%), third and forth (tied) were ‘writing content’ and ‘how to start a blog’.

The ‘finding readers’ has been the #1 response every time that I’ve run these types of polls.

Here’s how the graph looked.


I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off shortly (we’re awaiting the birth of our 2nd child – due date was last Friday) but once I’m back I’ll be developing a number of series of posts along these lines.

Thanks to everyone for responding to the poll – I appreciate you helping to shape this blog in this way. Don’t forget to vote in our current poll on post frequency.

How Many Posts Did You Publish On Your Main Blog in May? [POLL]

It’s time for another Reader Poll – this week I want to take a look at your posting frequency.

How Many Posts Did You Publish On Your Main Blog in May?

Pick your main blog and focus upon that. I responded for ProBlogger where I published 88 posts over May – 10 more than my three month average.

How Many Posts Did You Publish On Your Main Blog in May?
View Results

Feel free to tell us more in comments below. For example – was your May posting level higher or lower than normal?

Which Social Media Sites Would You Use if You Could Only use 3?

Here’s a question for the weekend that was submitted to me from Twitter friend philbaumann who asks:

if you were permitted only 3 social sites to work with, which ones would you pick?

So it’s over to you for your comments.

Which would you choose (be it social bookmarking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon or Reddit, or social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace or Social Messaging/Micro Blogging sites like Twitter or Plurk) – and WHY do you choose the ones you choose?

What Was Your Blog’s Tipping Point?

Over the last ten or so days I’ve been asking a series of successful bloggers what their ‘tipping point’ is. We’ve heard some great stories from a variety of bloggers including:

So there’s the responses of 10 bloggers (plenty to chew on) but I’m interested to hear what YOUR blog’s tipping point/s have been?

Some of you might be thinking that your blog hasn’t had one yet – but a tipping point need not just be those moments when you hit the BIG TIME. As a few of our respondents have said in this series – most blogs have a series of tipping points along the way.

What significant or defining moments have you had in your blogging so far?

Which Social Bookmarking Site Would You Prefer to Hit the Front Page Of?

Here’s a question that might provoke some interesting discussion over the weekend:

Which Social Bookmarking Site Would You Prefer to Hit the Front Page Of?

Would you prefer to hit the popular page on Digg, hit StumbleUpon’s buzz page, make it big on Delicious, Mixx or Reddit or is there some other social bookmarking page that you’d rather do well on?

Also – WHY did you choose the one you’ve chosen? Is it just about the raw numbers of readers, that it leads to secondary links, that it’s more focused and brings a higher quality of reader?

Now it’s over to you for your say….

How to Respond to Individual Requests for Help From Blog Readers

Today Lisa sent in this question which I thought might make an interesting post topic:

“I would love if you’d do a post on how you handle emails from people who ask for one on one help.

As my site and blog grows, I continue to get more and more emails for one on one assistance. I often feel guilty about saying “no” but I have to setup boundaries in order to remain sane.

Thanks for the question Lisa – it’s a good one and one that many bloggers grapple with as their blogs grow.

It is actually a good sign that people are approaching you for assistance in this way as it shows that people see you as an authority in your niche and someone that they want trust to help them apply the principles that you talk about on your blog. That is worth celebrating!

OK, so it’s a positive sign, but the problem still remains. How do you respond to these types of approaches? As I see it there are a number of responses – all of them are valid (although I’d avoid #2) and some will appeal to different people depending upon the life stage of their blog and time commitments.

Here’s a few options for you:

1. Respond to each request for help

At one end of the spectrum is the option of freely helping each person that asks for help. This one is doable for those with either a small blog with few requests or someone with a lot of time on their hands but isn’t really sustainable once those circumstances change – unless you’re willing to lose that sanity that you talk about in your question.

I should say before I give you any other options that this would be my personal preference in an ideal world – but like you say there’s a need to have boundaries.

2. Ignore all such requests for help

At the opposite end of the spectrum we have a fairly harsh approach – while this might help your workload it’s probably not going to help your reputation that much.

3. Work on Reader Expectations

One technique that has helped me a little is to add information to my contact form to help filter some of the approaches that I get. I include on that form that I read all emails but can’t respond to everyone. I also note on my contact form that I’m not available for consulting and link to my FAQ page.

All of this is to help readers to get their expectations aligned with what I can offer. People are still able to contact me but I don’t promise to respond with help for everyone. In having this information on my contact form I found the emails I get asking for help dropped.

4. Develop a Draft Response

Of course no matter what you say on your contact form I still get a lot of emails asking for help. This is something that I enjoy and while I can’t respond to everyone I’ve developed an email response to those asking for help that is an attempt at helping readers find the information that they need as well as decreasing my own workload.

The email is fairly simple and explains that I am not able to help everyone and that I’m not taking on new consulting work. It then goes on to suggest a number of strategies for readers to help themselves. It points readers to my Blogging for Beginners page, my book and some other key pages on my blog. It also says that while I don’t do consulting at the moment that I would be happy to recommend others that do so on a paid basis.

While I’d prefer to be able to help everyone that asks for assistance it’s just not possible and I find that this draft email response has helped a lot. For many readers I try to personalize it a little more. If they ask a question about something I’ve written about I often add a link to the email or make a very quick suggestions. The draft therefor acts as a head start to a response.

5. Public Answers

Another technique that I use is to reply to those asking the questions asking if they’d mind if I answer the question publicly as a post (either giving them credit for the question or not – some like anonymity). You’d be familiar with this technique Lisa as this is what I’m currently doing.

These types of responses kill a few birds with one stone. Firstly the reader gets an answer, secondly other readers who didn’t verbalize the question but have the need get the answer too and thirdly, you get a new post for your blog!

6. Community Discussion

Another tactic is to take the question asked and pose it to your wider readership for them to answer. ProBlogger readers will be familiar with this technique (I did it a few times over the weekend just gone by). The beauty of this approach is that your reader gets an answer (or many of them) and it generates good discussion for your blog. You do need to choose the right questions for this type of thing though.

7. Convert to Paid Consulting

Lastly, you could also respond to such requests with an email that attempts to convert the questioner into a paying client for some consulting work. This won’t work with every type of question – but if what the person is asking is for you to actually help them do something or work through an issue that you can’t do in a quick response it might be reasonable to offer your services in a paid capacity. This might be something you only do in the minority of circumstances but you’ll find that in some people will have a need that they are willing to pay for an answer in.

I’m interested to hear what techniques others use to help them deal with requests for help from readers – particularly when the requests begin to get more numerous than you can actually handle?

How do you Stay Motivated as a Blogger?

ProBlogger-Community-Discussion.jpgHere’s another question from webspear for some discussion:

How do you keep yourself motivated, when your blog is not attracting much traffic.”

Staying motivated is a massive issue for bloggers. Without it a blog really suffers.

How do you keep yourself motivated? Do you have systems or practices that help you? I hope this discussion will be helpful to us all as blogger apathy, burnout or bloggers block is something most of us go through at one time or another!