I don’t know about you, but I make a point to only read blogs that strike a chord with me.
I don’t comment on posts merely for the sake of it.
I don’t follow everyone back on Twitter.
I curate discerningly. If we interact online, you can be assured that it’s genuine and for a reason.
I (pretty selflessly) share link love every week and share posts from around the web that I think kick ass, and there are several blogs I read and comment on that don’t reciprocate. And that’s fine. That’s not what the end game is about for me.
These are blogs I enjoy on their own merit, and it doesn’t need to be two-way for me to continue to show my appreciation (though I tend not to comment on a few of the really huge blogs, because I just don’t know if the 100th or 200th comment actually ever gets read). Likewise, I try to always visit the blogs of new commenters – but if they’re not up my alley, I simply won’t subscribe.
I’m not saying that I never participate in marketing of any form. Commenting on other blogs and interacting with you guys on social networks is part of that – but it is NOT the primary reason I do it. As I said just the other week, I blog for love (and narcissism). I was a blog reader before I was a blogger, and participating is something I genuinely enjoy; when it starts to feel too much like a chore, I lay off for a bit.
I didn’t know the first thing about blogging four years ago, and I simply did what felt natural. Turns out it also brought readers, and behold, some of y’all are downright regulars here now. A happy, accidental surprise.
Work is where I worry about traffic, referrals, comments and time spent on site. This is for self expression.
I originally joined 20SB and Yakezie and got into blog carnivals without really knowing what it was all about, because all the cool kids seemed to be doing it. I do participate in carnivals semi-regularly, and when approached to host one for the first time, took up the offer. I see them as a way to discover new blogs I might like to read, and to hopefully spotlight some of my better posts (ones I think are deserving of being shared, rather than whoring posts out blindly). This is deliberate and selective on my part. It’d be an understatement to say I’ve been sporadic about participation over the past couple years, though I’ve been more active of late. Suffice to say it’s not something that is hugely important to me; I don’t do it every week, and I definitely do not sit down to write posts with the mindset of creating something to submit to a carnival.
The blogs I love most, though? Generally, I don’t find them through networks like that. I discover them serendipitously and fall in love with them on my own. I’ve found bloggers gravitate toward networks when they’re chasing growth and monetisation rather than personal, heartfelt writing.
Getting to the point…
Even if you consider your blog a business … even if you started blogging with the sole intention of growing traffic and making money … you can still be real about it.
The best blogs rock because they have a voice. Nicole Is Better, Budgets Are Sexy, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Seth Godin, Dooce, Redhead Writing, Yes and Yes, Healthy Tipping Point, Susannah Breslin, Penelope Trunk? They all have personality, and they got big by being themselves, being honest, being authentic. Not through lame link exchanges, pleading, or threats. When I see people resorting to these tactics, I’m embarrassed for them. Business on the social web is not like business 1.0. It’s about personality, engagement and transparency – without forcing mutual backscratching.
It’s about (corniness alert) heart. It’s about being unselfish; giving before taking; being genuine in all your interactions with others. If you’re not, people will see right through you.
Worry about doing good work. Create awesome content. As Matt from the Oatmeal says: Don’t ask for likes – make things that are likable. Make stuff worth sharing. For me, it’s not always the posts I spend the most time crafting that go off. In reality (corniness alert again!) it’s my straight-from-the-heart, honest, open posts that get the most shares and most responses. For you, maybe it means writing insanely helpful tutorials or insanely funny listicles. Whatever.
I am a writer. Not a salesperson. I know I can blog organically, authentically and with integrity, attracting likeminded readers who appreciate who I am as a person and all the different interests I have. Some have stuck with me as my writing changes; some haven’t. It’s all part of the journey.
My blog continues to evolve, and I don’t know where it will end up. But however long you stay for the ride, your company is welcomed and appreciated.