By Tom Collins
I've used Edie Jarolim's blog as an example before, because she writes great stuff! This post is a blend of blogging lessons from Edie's post critiquing BlogPaws 2010 West and my observations on those lessons. So don't blame Edie; please sort the good stuff into her column and anything you disagree with into mine.
Lesson 1: The most valuable stuff that happens FROM your blogging
doesn't happen ON your blog.
I tell bloggers all the time, the most valuable stuff for you happens on other people's blogs. But how will you know, if you're not out there reading them?
Edie titled her post "Putting the Blog Back in BlogPaws," so the first time I read it I knew I was going to find some criticism. But I also have gotten to know Edie a little bit, both from her blog and meeting her at the BlogPaws conferences. So I knew the criticism would be of the highest form and of great value. And I hoped it would draw some comments from others, who would add valuable feedback, too. (Edie, that's why I didn't engage at first, NOT out of any disapproval! Everyone else, you'll have to go read through the comment stream to understand.)
Okay, there are several lessons packed into that one. Can you find them all?
Lesson 2: Value your lurkers.
I use myself only because I'm the only "lurker" I'm aware of in this example. To point out just one kind of benefit you may eventually get from your lurkers: 3+ months after writing her post, can you count how many inbound links Edie has gained from this particular lurker?
My "aha moment" on lurkers was several years ago, when I was still writing in my original blog on knowledge management and information design for lawyers (Edie, will my entire audience now hate me?). Yvonne got to know a woman in her Women in Communication chapter and we sat with her and her husband (both lawyers) at an event. During the conversation, my blogging was mentioned and Greg said something like, "Oh, you write that blog? I read it all the time!"
Now, we lived in the same city. And he found value in my blog (or claims he did). But for a couple of years, he just … lurked.
Since then, we've become great friends and worked on a variety of book and blog publishing projects. It took years of blogging and not even knowing he was out there. But man, what a payoff when we finally met!
Lesson 3: Value respectful disagreement.
Take note of Edie's reply in the comment stream where she wrote, "you articulated something that didn’t really gel in my head except as a vague notion …"
Your readers can and should become some of your best sounding boards, mentors, and reality-checkers.
Lesson 4: Join in the discussion.
Hard to improve on just reading the entire comment stream on Edie's post. Then spend some time thinking about whether it would be as useful without Edie's replies? To Edie? To her readers?
How does the interaction affect the likelihood of these folks returning for more?
Lesson 5: Have the GUTS!
Edie wrote about having the guts to express her true feelings and ideas. Again, just reading Edie's post and the comments is the best lesson the value of doing so.
She even listed having the guts to publish the post as one of the things she got out of BlogPaws. I think you already had the guts to express yourself, Edie. Remember, I've been lurking!
But to whatever extent BlogPaws has contributed to that by gathering a diverse, but safe and welcoming, community of pet lovers, it makes us very proud. It should make everyone who has attended a BlogPaws conference, interacted online, or even lurked, very proud, too!