After reading my post, How Do You Build Blog Traffic?," publicist Don Lafferty wrote:
Good stuff, Angela.
For someone with no blogging experience, the dynamics of the
practice can be difficult to grasp, especially when trying to explain
the psyche of the average blogger and blog reader.
Gaining an understanding of how and why blogs are read is an
important first step in getting a wannabe blogger to that "eureka"
Once the new blogger gets this, your advice regarding easy
linking/sharing tools, regular posting of quality content and lots of
promotion all make a lot more sense.
Don makes a good point. Why do I blog? What blogs do I read and why? What keeps me coming back for more?
This isn't easy to explain, so I will just share with you how I got started and my blogging habits.
A few years ago, I started a Blogger account after a friend urged me to start blogging. Knowing that I am a writer and former journalist with an opinion on just about everything, he thought it would be the perfect fit.
At the time, Blogger was a pretty basic service – but it was free. I started a personal account and started writing. I considered my blog my personal online journal, something I could share with friends and family, and that could be found by others within the Blogger director or search engines. I wasn't worried about SEO or building an audience. I just wanted to write.
The former reporter in me really loved the fact that I could give an opinion without going through some convoluted editorial process that would ultimately change the meaning of my words. I was sick of the editorial filter and its biased urges to find bleeding headlines to win contests and sell papers, rather than telling the real news out there.
The more I blogged, the more potential I could see in it. Friends everywhere would check it out, or subscribe to my RSS feed if they knew what that was. (Sadly, many of my friends don't. I need to get a bottle of wine, some snacks and teach them.)
When it really hit me was with my first comment – from someone I did not even know. I received several more after I blogged about a church I used to attend that was in flux.
I realized I had a voice. I wasn't anonymous anymore. These people, who didn't even know me, had found my blog, found something interesting on it and actually commented about it.
For me, this was my Ah hah! moment. I started researching social media in earnest. I tried to get those in the nonprofit I worked for at the time involved, but it was the Internet – which to them was akin to the Devil's Horns of television (rabbit ears for those too young to remember that phrase).
I moved on to a new job that wanted social media interaction – until they realized they were too old fashioned to be in cyberspace. It was a bad job move and before I knew it, I was out in the cold in a bad market.
Six months of unemployment nearly drove me insane. But my blog was there, and I talked very openly about my life, what I was feeling, how down I was… I bared my soul to perfect strangers because I knew that somehow, somewhere, someone else was feeling the same way – or they had at some point in their lives.
My posts reached some people who truly needed it. They didn't feel so alone. Once again, perfect strangers were touched by my words. It was amazing and humbling. I realized the true potential and power of my voice online – even if it was just to a small audience.
Six months, two crappy jobs later, I got a cake gig at a nationwide company with a social media division. There, I wrote news updates, then started taking on clients for social media projects, like blogging, social networking and podcasting.
I was in heaven. This job combined my love for the net, my journalism and writing skills and my hunger for more information on just about anything. It also allowed me to share my knowledge with others – something I truly love to do. I wouldn't have started Market My Novel otherwise.
This is why I blog.
When I search for new blogs, I look for anything on social media – obviously – but I also look for blogs with interesting factoids about films, TV, books, reviews, animals, writing prompts and more. If a blog hasn't been updated in a month, I don't go back to it. (This does not apply to personal blogs, only those with a professional message. Personal blogs aren't updated as much – and don't have to be unless they are your one blogging stop.)
Recently, I found a fabulous blog post at a Texas attorney blog that I wanted to use. I would have – until I realized he had not updated for six months. I did not bother. I did not want to send viewers of our blog to one that failed to update in a reasonable fashion.
I find fabulous blogs through StumbleUpon. If you don't have an account, or the StumbleUpon toolbar, get it. Read my post with Stumble expert Caroline Middlebrook for more details. Stumbling helps easy my brain and gives me a mental health break in the middle of my online workdays. I always find something for writing, or for client blogs.
For those of you who don't "get" blogging, I hope something in my journey will spark a fire in you to begin your own path down the blogosphere.
You can view my personal blog at http://www.angelawilson.blogspot.com, but be warned: I share everything in here about my life, my political views religion and more. If you want my professional blog, stay here. I don't blog there nearly as much, thanks to a Twitter addiction, this blog and client blogs.0