Five Blogging Lessons from Edie

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By Tom Collins

EdieJarolim-BlogHeader-sized 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!

  • http://willmydoghateme.com Edie

    Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water… I was kind of relaxing in the feeling of, “Well, no one in charge of putting the conference together read my post, so I can maybe show my face at next year’s Blogpaws.”
    Wrong!
    Seriously, I appreciate your thoughtful analysis of my post on my blog and here and am blown away by the notion that you got so much out of the discussion. As the dog trainers say, you are reinforcing my behavior — in this case my inclination to speak my mind.
    Thanks for this. I often question the amount of time I spend blogging when my rewards are not financial — I’ll optimistically add “yet” — but knowing that I’m reaching people that I don’t even know I’m reaching reminds me that being listened to is worth an awful lot.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a5fabc4a970c twitter.com/Tom_Collins

    We sure hope you’ll continue showing your face – and speaking your mind – at BlogPaws!
    To your musings about financial rewards from your blog:
    1. You obviously recognize that the non-financial rewards may be the most valuable over the long haul.
    2. I suspect you’ve already received at least some “indirect” financial rewards from blogging (a book sale here or there? the editing assignment you mentioned in your post as flowing from attending the BlogPaws pet blogging conference?).
    As with my lurker-then-friend example, where business projects came years after the blog posting, the financial rewards from blogging often seem to come indirectly. But then it’s another form of networking, after all, like when my former partners joined the country-club. They generally didn’t get clients from playing golf, but from the relationships they formed and nurtured there.
    The blogging (like the golf) is the FUN we get to have while forming those business-generating relationships. Why is that the hard-nosed business folks seem to see that so clearly with golf, but not so much with blogging?
    Thanks, Edie, for NOT lurking in this case!

  • http://www.scratchingsandsniffings.com Yvonne DiVita

    Edie, I’ll echo Tom’s thoughts and add that I think you’re a great role model for all bloggers. I love your writing, I share it with people who don’t know you, and I feel that you’ve been (and will continue to be, I hope) a valued member of BlogPaws. Your blog brought us together, but it’s your knowledge, your personality, and your willingness to share insight the way you do, that makes you important not only to me, but to everyone who reads blogs.

  • http://willmydoghateme.com Edie

    You’re right, Tom, I tend to think of things linearly, but networking often takes a circuitous route. I mentioned Lisa Spector’s Through a Dog’s Ear in a blog post a while back. She noticed and bought my book, liked it, then suggested we share a room at the last BlogPaws. Friendship — and a mention on one of her Care2 blogposts — ensued, which sold more books than anything I ever did on my blog. So there you go! (Don’t you wish I had a diagram for this?)
    By the way, some of my best friends — including my actual best friend — are attorneys. So no hate coming from this quarter on that score.
    Yvonne, I can only say thank you for your very kind words. I’m humbled and will try to live up to them.

  • http://doreenisthewizardofwords.blogspot.com Doreen Pendgracs

    Great post, Tom. And congrats to Edie for being the example you’ve led us to. Way to go, Edie!
    I’m kind of in the same boat, with 2 blogs I spend time with/on, for the purpose of building my “author’s platform.” (I have another book in the works.) I think of blogging as an investment in my future, for as you both say, you never know when something good will come from something you’ve blogged about or some connection you’ve made on your blog (or the blog of someone you read.)
    I love blogging and really enjoy the conversation that ensues with readers after each post.
    Cheers, and Season’s Best,
    Doreen.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a5fabc4a970c twitter.com/Tom_Collins

    Hi Doreen,
    Thanks! Glad you found it useful.
    I jumped over to your Wizard of Words blog and had some fun reading your recent posts on Quality vs. Quantity (http://doreenisthewizardofwords.blogspot.com/2010/12/quality-vs-quantity-in-words-as-in-wine.html ) and Pet Peeves (no, she’s not mad at her pet!). Great comment streams on both!
    The Quality discussion reminded me of a post I’ve got rattling around in my head on the whole “quality counts” online issue, so stay tuned.
    Thanks for the fun and inspiration,
    Tom