I have learned that, apparently, no matter what your blog may be worth, the cashiers at the casinos here don’t accept it in lieu of tender. Hmph.
I originally posted this on the BlogWorld Expo blog. And while that’s usually something I italicize at the top of the post, today – my first day back from holidays, hurrah! – I’m going to encourage you to give them a look-see.
Not only is it a great-looking conference (for which I am their official cartoon-blogger – and if I had a “.full-disclosure” CSS class, I’d be tagging that phrase), but the blog has some great advice on blogging including case studies, primers and discussions of the issues, challenges and rewards faced by bloggers.
Flaky wireless connections are a fact of life for bloggers on the move. If it isn’t tortoise-slow downloads, it’s a password that never seems to “take”. If it isn’t a connection that keeps dropping, it’s a router that refuses to give you an IP address.
Okay. So the connection’s too unreliable to let you post to your blog, and your mobile contract doesn’t include tethering. Don’t let that keep you from blogging. Here are five ways you can work on your blog, even when you aren’t connected to the hive mind:
- Outline your next blog post. Maybe you can’t do the research you want, find the URLs of the posts you’d like to link to, or hunt down the perfect Creative Commons image to illustrate your post. But you can sketch out the bare bones, and add the muscles, organs and stylish accessories once you’re back online.
- Clean up your hard drive. If you’re like me, you have little snippets of blog ideas and drafts all over the place. Bring them together in one folder, or one text file (your workflow will vary), and you’ll be miles ahead of the game next time you’re stumped for a post idea.
- Raid your subconscious. Break out the mind-mapping software, open up your Moleskine or just scribble on a napkin – but brainstorm ideas for your next five, ten or fifty posts. Don’t try to assess them at first; just get as many down as possible. Then, once the storm peters out, pick out the best and add them to your idea file.
- Make a to-do list. Chances are there are things you’ve been meaning to do for your blog: add a Delicious feed, check out an e-commerce plug-in, create a promo card to hand out at conferences. Set priorities according to the effort each task will require and the impact you expect each one to have, and you’ve just built yourself a development queue.
- Doodle. Draw something funny, or funny-ish. Then snap your doodle with your camera phone or digital camera. Once you’re online, upload it as a blog post. Hey – it works for me.
Hey, I get it. A lot of people would like to make money from blogging. I wouldn’t mind it, either. (Hence the Google ads on RobCottingham.ca, which so far have earned me a total of… um… excuse me, I have to go cry silently in a dark corner.)
But I’ve met enough people whose level of single-mindedness around monetizing their blogs worries me – for their sakes and their readers’. On the blogs I read and love – including the ones that make a lot of cash – what shines through is the writer’s passion for the subject matter, and for connecting with their audience.
Passion for making money? That’s a distant third at best. (Unless the blog itself is about making money and is still powerfully written and passionate, in which case you’re John Chow.) The blogs that are concerned first and foremost with driving eyeballs and flogging clickthroughs all seem to me to be dead, soulless places.
There’s joy to be had in this business, right alongside analytics and conversion rates. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know it’s my bottom line. And once we start commoditizing our relationships and conversations, we’ve given up something very precious.
Not that long ago, you’d write a blog post and a handful of people might comment on it. Some of those comments might be one-line approval or disagreement, but others would go some length to engage with what you’d said.
These days, though, I’m finding you’re more likely to get a retweet: “RT”, title of your blog post, and link.
Don’t get me wrong: I love seeing those. Love, love, love them. By all means, retweet away.
But what blog comments give you that retweets can’t (unless the retweeter opts out of Twitter’s retweeting feature to add a few words of their own) is conversation. I love to hear what people thought of what I said. I love for them to agree, disagree, point me to new ideas, or take an idea and run with it. And while we can do that to some degree on Twitter, the 140-character wall is pretty limiting.
I’ve been pretty lucky, actually; since I launched the cartoon, I’ve been attracting a small but growing number of deeply-appreciated comments. I have a few tools that let me import related tweets into the comment stream. And Twitter brings a lot of people here.
I’m hoping that continues… but I have a feeling that bloggers everywhere have to adjust to a world where Twitter means blog comments, and the rich conversation that can come with them, are the exception.
What do you think? Have you seen comments drop off on your blog? And if so, is Twitter the issue, or is something else at work? Comment below… or tweet me.
(P.S. – Was I clear enough about liking the retweets? No? I LIKE THE RETWEETS.)