Content Is King, Comments Are Queens In The Blogosphere

One of the really nice things about being an eclectic personal blogger is that with no real restrictions on what you can write about,  you have the ability to extend conversations with your readers across blogs and across posts.    The title of this post, for instance,  is taken from a discussion I had somewhere  (I’ve spent hours going through conversations on different posts without coming across it).   Some friend remarked  “Content is king,  comments are queen.”   And successful bloggers do know that having a conversation with their readers can be a huge part of blogging success.   (Although as with everything else,  it all depends upon your goals;  sometimes it seems to me that I make this disclaimer in every post.   Yet without it,  few statements about blogging or social media would ever be accurate.)

The funny thing is,  Mr. Everything might almost agree with this statement,  if you changed it to “content is king, comments are queen in social media”.    Mr. E loves to post in Facebook threads and definitely has some real skill at getting conversations going.    Were he a bit more experienced,  or had he done better research he surely would see that it is actually better to attract the long conversations to your own blog.   (He did hear the bit about the reasons it is better to be on self-hosted WordPress– though he fails to appreciate the benefits that derive from the WP.com community.   He is troubled,  I suspect,  by that fact that WP.com  enables even those who can afford to pay no hosting fees at all–  let alone the $125/year  premium plans that I sell,  can create and maintain a successful blog without spending a penny on it.)   And it really is true that  (again with the ‘depending on your goals’ caveat) some of the most successful blogs,  including some published by huge media companies choose to go with WP.com for its community advantages,  despite the restrictions you have to operate under.

Experienced bloggers know that content is king and comments are queen.   Successful entrepreneurs know that choosing right tool  is critical to the success of any project.   And savvy authors and entrepreneurs are never quick to dismiss a free tool when it actually works as well or better for their particular purposes.   I’m not doing this blog on WP.com because I don’t understand the many real benefits of self-hosting.    I’m doing this particular blog on WP.com  because it is the best platform for my particular purposes at this time.     My #blogging advice today is to invest plenty of time in to thinking very carefully about what you want to accomplish before you create your blog.

1) Don’t make projections of big advertising revenue until you have a thorough understanding of your niche, keywords and SEO basics for your keywords.

2) Don’t mis-apply general advice that isn’t applicable to your particular goals and needs.

3) Do consider consulting with someone experienced whom you have come to trust.    If I had been able to consult with the professional I am now for an hour before I started my first blog,  it could have saved me years of mis-steps and flattened a huge learning curve.

Alan Jobe is the author of Walking Down The Avenue.   He consults with #indie authors and entrepreneurs about social networking and self-publishing.

The Bet Mr. Everything Didn’t Take

It is said that those who do not study and learn from history are inevitably doomed to repeat it.    While Mr. Everything is a very intelligent (and certainly a very cunning) man,  he is very clearly new to the online world,  at least in relative terms as reckoned by someone who has been online for more than twenty years now.   I tried to teach Mr. E a bit of online history and share with him a few of the lessons I’ve learned over all these years.

I challenged Mr. E to a bet.    Would he try out every social network I could dig up?    His eyes lit up and he said sure!   I could see the wheels turning behind his eyes,  an aura of excitement passing over the man as he imagined discovering and conquering hot new sites before any of his friends heard about them.    That wasn’t quite what I had in mind.   I sent him this list of sites to join in what was to have been the first week of our little bet:

Blogcatalog.com
(http://blogcatalog.com/)

FriedEggs.com
(http://friedeggs.com/)

The CompuServe Forums

(http://webcenters.netscape.compuserve.com/forum_center/)

Vimeo
(http://vimeo.com/)

BrooWaha.com
(http://www.broowaha.com/)

Entrecard.com
(http://entrecard.com/)

I myself have accounts on some of these and have had accounts on others. I do not however actively participate on any of thse sites at this time. And there’s actually a good reason for that. By and large, having tried and tested these sites I either found no use for them, or after using them for a time found that between the changes I had grown through and the changes the sites had grown through, they no longer served by needs. Back in the late 80’s or early 90’s Compu$erve was the only game in town if you had a computer and wanted to “go online” and did not want to mess with finding a local bulletin board service that was a free call from your home telephone.

The fact that today the “CompuServe Forums” are actually a pretty lonely and poorly traveled corner of the Internet does not diminish what a huge game changing big deal they were in their hayday. And I am hardly going out on a limb to predict that some day, sites like Twitter and Facebook that really are essential for social networking to so many people today will too come to be passe, a shadow of their former selves or even taken offline entirely. An Internet community on a web site is actually a very fragile thing. You will see them start up at times or stumble upon them into their evolution. You will participate and help them grow at times. And at times, you will see them die. Sometimes death is gradual, as more and more users simply gravitate away to other diversions. Other times death follows a damaging flame war or series of flame wars that literally burn all of the life out of the group.

In my considered opinion it takes a great deal of time, energy and talent to create and maintain a good online group, which in some ways is really only as good as whomever chooses to continue participating there Today. I think you need to be selective about where and how you spend your time. I do think it is important to continually try new things and look for better ways. But I’m also dead set against trying to participate “Everywhere” and think that being able to find and examine available resources and figure out which ones to use and how best to use them, is pretty much a core competency of #socialnetworking or just about anything else you might try do for a living these days.

Next Week:  Mr. E’s reaction to my e-mail

Picture Policy

Today I am thinking that I have really gotten way too good at blogging.    Since I’ve been blogging every day in 2012,  I’ve gotten it down pretty much to a formula.    I think up a clever title.   Do an image search for the title.   Pick an image from the first page or two of the results.   Download it,  upload it, and link it to where it came from.  (And yes I know that is not exactly kosher,  but I try to choose pics that are from other blogs and count on the fact that most of them will probably be pleased to get the back link.  Heck I suspect those who check to see who linked to them may well read the post.  They could even become fans.)  Then I crank out three paragraphs,  300–500 words.   Easy, peasy.    But getting into a rut of constantly cranking out blog posts,  I am finding,  can make it really hard to write anything else.

After an amazing conversation with the very smart and very kind Gaye Crispin,  I am working on a new fiction project.   Fiction has honestly never been my forte.   While I am masterful at cranking out description and exposition,  I most always really struggle to put words in my characters mouths that sound like them,  rather than sounding like me.    While I can crank out a perfectly good blog post in less than an hour,  when it comes to fiction I write very slowly.    I don’t know how many words I’m up to but I suspect it is far less than the 300 I consider to be a minimum for a blog post.   I worry that I will work for weeks before getting to the 600 words that I usually look at as the upper limit for a blog post.  (Don’t write long blog posts.   You will get far more readers if they can get through your article in just a few minutes.)

PS–I don’t know anything at all about the company whose QR code is shown above.   But I’m positive they won’t be annoyed with me for posting it here   Scan the QR code.  The company’s name is the post title  🙂

PPS–This is my 200th post on this blog.   And whoever comments first will be my 800th comment.

Mr. Everything

A foil.    That,  I realized is what I needed.    It is all well and good to have a friendly argument with someone.    And I have to confess, that sometimes I enjoy argument.   I am my father’s son.    I am told that my father would sometimes spend the first half of a party or gathering arguing one side or another of some contentious dispute,  then switch half way through to arguing exactly the opposite.

While it is good to air genuine disagreements where they exist,  it is not a good idea to pick on any one person.   Especially not if you  genuinely like and respect the foils you’d be most inclined to pick.   And want very much to stay on good terms with them.     So I said to msyelf:  “Wait a minute here, buddy.   You’re a WRITER.   Create a character.    Breathe life into him.   Make your readers BELIEVE in him!”   And of course it IS a good idea.    And this blog  has in fact been classified as a Personal Journal,  above and beyond all of the Topics I sometimes talk about.     What could be more fitting for a personal journal than an imaginary friend.

Mr. Everything is a fairly new social media manager.    He comes from an educated and professional class,  and while he is very smart he is a bit newer to building online communities than some others and doesn’t always know as much as he thinks he does.    If you told Mr. E  that you’ve been a social media manager for 20 years,  it’s 50/50 whether he realizes you are talking through your hat vs worrying that you have so much more experience than he does.   Mr. E  LOVES the game playing aspects of Empire Avenue and frequently brags about his score,   except when he is in a Kumbayah sort of mood and insists that he is all about helping others.

Please remember again that Mr.  E  exists ONLY in my imagination and is NOT a reference to any of my Facebook friends.   And the picture is obviously not of the fictive Mr. Everything,  but rather of his breakfast.   And it is linked to the MySpace page of someone whom I don’t know and have never met.   Who used This picture and the words Mr. Everything  in some way that the big G  liked.