Collective Blogging Wisdom from the Unsung Blogger Series

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday last week, I could not feature a new blogger this week. To make amends, I decided to summarize the ideas that have been accumulated so far on Blogging. If you
want to experiment with blogging or if you already maintain a blog, some of these ideas may help you. 1. First, its important to understand the 3 major types of Blogs – Cat Blogs, Boss Blogs and Viral Blogs. Saket has an excellent description  of it borrowing heavily from Seth Godin. In my view, the term CAT blogs is a bit derogatory because it seems to convey the impression that someone’s observations/incidents from their own lives are not interesting. A case in point is Sherry’s Blog – as she eloquently writes – a mosaic made from fragements of daily experience. A cat blog of this type can make for a genuinely interesting read. My recommendation would be to call these Journal Blogs which is more appropriate. Boss Blogs are a very
useful tool for communicating with a specific group – for example, see Kris Bordesssa and Ferrellweb. The third category – Viral Blogs also known as Topical Blogs – probably will account for the majority of the blogs out there. Maintaining a Journal Blog can be a bit difficult as it requires a certain amount of flair for writing. You may want to try this form, if you are used to maintaining a paper journal or have other experience with writing. If you want to experiment with Blogging – Viral Blogs may be the best bet. As you observe or read about things that interest you, you can write a few lines about that. Prevalent opinion (although I don’t completely agree with it) is to focus your blog on one key topic and keep blogging on that topic alone.
2. Why should you blog?
Terrance is right, every single blogger that you encounter would say that they blog because they get motivated by the comments they receive from readers. Citing personal experience, its important at least in the initial days to have a few readers who will read your posts and give you some encouragement. I have been blogging for over 1.5 years now and I will not have continued but for the initial encouragement I received from Wingees to whom this blog is dedicated. Borrowing from management theory – there are always extrinsic motivators and intrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivators in this case are reader’s comments, receiving links from other bloggers, becoming recognized as a A-list blogger etc. As Selva says, if you are looking for extrinsic motivators blogging may become a bumpy ride. Remember there are over 21 million blogs and no one may have the time to read your blog. If you really want to be a blogger, you may want to focus on intrinsic motivators. Some of them are – just the pure thrill of seeing your thoughts in a post as Saket puts it, or exercising your creative muscles like Dean. In my case, I see blogging as having some type of therapeutic value – in that I can just publish some of my ideas and get them out of my head. Aside from this, if you are a really good blogger, you will gain some visibility and may help you in my career. You will also observe that because the Mainstream Media (MSM) is editorially controlled, it takes time for some ideas to be covered by the MSM and usually the Blogosphere has covered something way ahead of the MSM. In my personal experience, I have learnt so much about technology, management, human behaviour, politics etc from the Blogosphere. I have even been able to apply some of the ideas in my line of work some of which will appear in the MSM probably a year or two later. This in my opinion is the biggest single benefit of being a blogger. Of course, you could receive some of these benefits if you just read blogs, but being a blogger makes you a better hunter of ideas as Dina explains. 3. What do you blog about?
At the core of it, the Blogosphere is one giant group discussion about the world. Like in any group discussion, the best discussions happen, when each participant is listening to the others, building upon each other’s ideas and moving the discussion forward. And for that to happen, you should have a perspective on what is being discussed. By that analogy, you should read other bloggers and just react to what they are saying and share your perspective on that subject. Don’t be afraid to share your honest opinion. Over a period of time, you will be able to start some threads that other bloggers react to. You must read a lot either online or offline – I am sure you read several books, movies, listen to music, travel to places, meet new people all the time. Each of those experiences can give you the seed from which a blog post can sprout. Or as Joe Kissell says, get a smart  spouse and brainstorm with him/her. This is a very effective technique – witness the number of posts on this blog I ascribe to my brilliant wife – Priya Raju. 4. How do you avoid the “Blogger’s Block”?
If you are talented like Sherry you may never suffer from it. But its typical for bloggers to experience a seeming inability to blog about anything for periods of time. If you do hit such a spot, don’t sweat it. Take a break, do something interesting and you will get your groove back. There is also a school of thought that encourages you to write what are known as “filler” posts. In my opinion, in the age of RSS that may not be necessary. If your readers are subscribing to your feeds, they will get a feed next time you write anyway. Its not like they are going to unsubscribe as soon as there is a short period of silence. If you are silent for extended periods of time, that may happen. By writing “filler” posts you are just filling up
valuable real estate in the Blogosphere, so it may be wise to not do it. Dean’s guerilla tactics may come in handy to overcome Blogger’s Block. 5. If you are like me, I have the exact opposite of “Blogger’s
Block” – the blogging equivalent of verbal diarrhoea. I have so many thoughts about so many different interesting posts that others have written, that I am perennially backlogged on what I
want to post about. One method I have started experimenting with recently is maintaining a Link Blog. I use Yahoo Web 2.0 and any time I see something interesting, which is quite a lot, I just bookmark it with public access and it appears in the Link Blog (small panel on the right hand frame of this blog). This has helped me a lot in keeping my backlog to the extremely interesting ones which I want to truly write a few lines about. Hope this is useful. I do intend to summarize the ideas we have seen on the blog marketing front after a few more runs of this series. References:
1. Tim Bray’s Top 10 reasons why blogging is good for your career. 2. Blogging is good for your brain by Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide (Via Jollyblogger).