This is a follow-up article to my original post, “What Motivated You To Start Blogging?”
During my seven months of blogging, I have constantly been in awe of the diversity of the blogosphere. With tens of millions of blogs now in existence, there are people from all walks of life using blogging as a means to share their experiences and network with like-minded individuals.
Two weeks ago, I posed the question, “What motivated you to start blogging? I also posed several additional questions in order to fully understand why people start blogging, such as:
- How did you first find out about blogging?
- What do you wish you had known then that you know now?
Understanding the Motivations of Bloggers
Bloggers start and stop their blogs for different reasons. I am on a mission to discover what motivates someone to start blogging and what information would have made their journey easier.
Like I said earlier, the diversity of the blogosphere is amazing – people all around the world are starting blogs each day. Frank summed this up pretty well by saying “The Internet is such a varied place that it could inspire someone to blog in an infinite number of ways.”
I have stated many times in the past that blogging has changed my life. My hope is that, through my blog, I can inspire other people to use blogging as a tool to improve their lives. Since my business partners and I are now developing a web application designed to help bloggers, we are seeking to better understand what makes bloggers tick.
The Public Conception of Blogging
Unfortunately, most people who are not familiar with blogging think it to be a fad, or something teenagers do on Myspace. Anyone reading this knows that can’t be further from the truth. When did you first realize blogging was more than a diary?
I knew about blogging a long while back, but thought of it as a bunch of people making personal diaries. However, last year I started noticing more and more links to blogs and to blog reactions when reading news sites. I started to realize it was a bit more than personal diaries. – Million Dollar Blog
My experience is similar to what most experienced bloggers have noticed and experienced. I find it interesting that for the majority of people, a blog is nothing more than diary for teenagers.
Blogging has evolved over time. It may have once been a medium to express personal thoughts, but now it is much more powerful. Ronald Camacho began blogging almost seven years ago – at a time when blogs were nothing more than teenage diaries. Ronald notes:
As people realized that they could use the publishing concept of daily entries to do more interesting things, blog users diversified: journalists, technology fans, music fans — blogs spawned in every subject. Still, there was this impression that it was a teenager thing.
The funny thing is that even before I began blogging last January, I thought the same thing – that blogs were nothing more than personal journals. It seems the general public is still clueless to the true powers and uses of blogging.
Moving Beyond Our Preconceived Notions
As new bloggers move past their initial conception of a blog, they may begin to see its complex nature and how it can improve their lives.
David Meerman Scott, author of one of my new favorite books, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” started his blog in 2004 because he wanted to reach a larger and more open audience than was possible through his email newsletter alone.
Three years later, my blog is my best marketing tool. It has allowed me to build a fun (and lucrative) platform and has delivered dozens of paid speaking gigs, dozens of opportunities to be quoted in the media and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
It is interesting that it took David several years to fully realize the benefits of blogging. Notice how David says that his blog is his “best marketing tool”? That is surely different than many of the preconceived notions about the purpose of a blog. Blogs are no longer just for Myspacers – huge corporations are hiring staffs of bloggers to effectively market their products and services.
The Motivation To Blog
As I stated mentioned, everyone is motivated to start blogging for different reasons. Some people, like Jon Host, simply enjoy writing leisurely. Jon says, “The blog lets me write and publish on my own terms, and still have a career and be a student.” Jon previously worked for a newspaper, so he understands the pressures of writing for public consumption.
Elizabeth Potts Weinstein started blogging in August of 2006. She was first motivated to blog as it would provide for a “cheap replacement for therapy,” which is something I can completely identify with. Putting thoughts into written word does allow one to better organize the many ideas and thoughts flowing around in our heads.
Part of the reason I started blogging was to attract new web design business and become more known in my industry. Jeri Dansky also started blogging for that same reason – to become more well-known and to expand her business. Jeri explains:
Who or what motivated me to start blogging? Two things: I wanted to get more well known in my field – I’m a professional organizer – and I wanted a place to easily share all the good information I came across all the time: organizing techniques, products, books, etc. I had a web site and an e-zine, and adding a blog seemed like the logical next step. What I never anticipated were the side benefits – the sense of community, the support and friendship.
Jeri brings up an interesting point – many of us do not anticipate the side-benefits that come from consistent blogging. I have met more interesting people online in the past six months than ever before. Steve Roesler also says that, ” I’m hooked as a result of the personal, professional, and client relationships that have resulted. Once the conversations started, my view of the medium and its possibilities really changed.”
Hmm…I am starting to see a pattern: Bloggers that stick it out seem to see tremendous benefits, such as new business, new relationships being formed, and the therapeutic benefits of organizing our thoughts in writing.
What We Wish We Knew Then
Anyone who has been blogging for a number of months agrees that there are always things we could have done differently for a better outcome. For example, many bloggers, such as Debo Hobo and Tech Bold wish they had started on WordPress as opposed to Blogger.
Many new bloggers also believe that if they simply start a blog, that there will be an instant reader base. The truth is that building a community and increasing readership takes a significant commitment of time and effort to successfully implement. Patrick Lee is one person who started his blog believing that a large readership would magically appear. According to Patrick:
Back when I started about two years ago, I wish I had known more about how to build a community around my blog. I just took the foolhardy “Field of Dreams” approach to blogging: “If you build it, they will come.” As many of you know, that’s a ridiculous assumption and hardly anyone visited my blog until I came up with a real strategy and took the time to execute it starting a few months ago.
Some other interesting quotes about what we wish we knew when we started:
Get a good layout as early as possible. I went through weeks of trial and error before I found something that was simple and clean. By that time, plenty of people visited and didn’t stay, meaning I missed out on retention through my own stupidity and impatience. – Pete Johnson
Pete is absolutely correct in assuming that a good blog design/layout can work wonders for the stickiness of your page. Most people’s online attention span is 5-10 seconds.
If someone visits your blog and the first thing they see is a theme they have already seen too many times previously, there is a good chance they will write you off as being just another cookie-cutter blog. While that may not necessarily be true for everyone, many people do unfortunately assume that if your blog design is not unique, than what you are writing about isn’t unique either. A unique blog design is an absolute necessity when trying to build a large and loyal readership.
Successful blogging is not just about being a good writer, it is also about networking and marketing. Dojo makes an interesting observation:
I wished I knew how to make better blog posts, how to promote better. Many things I still don’t know and in some time the list with “I wished I knew this” will grow. This is the beauty of anything .. you’re constantly learning, facing new limits, overcoming them and seeing new ones and so on. While you’re chasing one limit after the other you grow better and more knowledgeable. – Dojo
Also true is that we are constantly learning, facing new limits, and overcoming them. Blogging is not about the end goal, it is about the journey. I think that if most new bloggers understood that blogging may have no end-all purpose, they would be less concerned with how much money they can make from it. The real value (and money) from blogging comes indirectly – the relationships, the business connections, and the opportunity to learn from and teach other curious individuals from around the world.
First of all, I would like to say thank you to everyone who responded to my previous post. This exercise helped me better understand the diverse nature of the blogosphere and what motivates successful bloggers.
The plan is that my business partners, Matt, Josh, and I will use this information to better engineer our new web application so that it is truly helpful and in touch with both new and experienced bloggers.
I will be conducting more research on this topic in the coming weeks; however, once again, the flood of positive responses to this first inquiry has been amazing. Keep the great feedback coming! I look forward to future group discussions.
The post was sponsored by General Web Directory.