An interesting discussion regarding blogging, compensation, and success is roiling around the blogosphere, or at least those portions of this vast, virtual landscape where strivers and scriveners contemplate the metagame. Call it introspection, solipsism, or simple curiosity, but blogging always has and always will be one of the most blogged-about topics, at least in the mainstream.
This, by which I mean this site, this niche, this boundless branch of the blogging tree, is NOT the mainstream. We’re writing about birds out here. We’re talking about nature and science, not technology or politics. More often than not, we don’t even talk about blogging.
But we should, shouldn’t we?
After all, this unique medium has brought us all together, innumerable writers and readers connected in a continuum of content creation where you can move from lurker to subscriber to commenter to author in the blink of an eye. Nature bloggers are bloggers nonetheless, which means that the tools matter. The tech matters. Even the culture matters for folks that want to explore the potential of the medium more fully.
A blogger by the name of Jason Kaneshiro posted some rather interesting tips for anybody looking to move forward in the blogosphere on his site, Webomatica:
- Blog often.
- Figure out a niche and stick to it.
- Learn the technical stuff.
- Read other people’s blogs regularly.
- Comment on other blogs.
- Read up on how to write.
- Write posts that you want to read.
- Figure out why you’re blogging.
- Set some goals for yourself.
Jason’s full explanation of these items, Class Warfare And The Blogging A List (link now dead), even provides a bit of background on the current dust-up. What struck me about these common sense tips was not just how fundamentally sound they are, but how few people who are truly looking to move forward in the blogosphere might ever be exposed to them. Nature bloggers are as susceptible to stat envy or blog-based narcissism as the next micropublisher, but far less likely than most to actually achieve satisfaction from those sources. The niche simply lacks the audience to vault one of us to the Technorati Top 100. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try, if that’s your interest.
I exhort each and every blogger out there to think about your endgame. What do you want out of your blog? Is it a platform to greater goals or a destination in itself? Also (as if I didn’t know the answer to this one) do you want anyone to read your blog? Content, as it’s been said so many times before, is king. But great content, though necessary, is hardly sufficient in itself to get you noticed. Don’t ignore the medium for the message. Bloggers looking to expand their audiences must be willing to get under the hood of this machine and mess around with the inner mechanisms. Even bird bloggers!
Jason’s goals are all laudable. Having an “audience” (or at least a circle) has changed the way I write my blog. As a teacher, I get a kick out of sharing information in a new way. As a writer, I find that blogging helps me to firm up my own viewpoints and ideas while sharing that information with others. I’ve given more thought to goals and objectives for my birding life because I’ve been blogging about it. So, no arguments here. However, I think the unwritten law is that you should still be birding and writing about it in a way that pleases you and not just because your audience would like it better. For most of us, this is a hobby not a career and we should do it and write about it from a place of joy not duty or obligation.
Great article. It hits the nail on the head and something I’ve been pondering on for a while now. Being ‘new’ to the world of bird blogs (but not to blogging), trying to find the holy grail amongst the endless “how tos” is an endless task, even for the most web savvy gurus out there. That said, all bloggers/bird bloggers must sooner or later address their particular ‘endgame’ or focus.
Aside from content, It is clearly the underlying structure of a blog that’s of the greatest importance – accessibility, ease-of-use are key words here. Along with blog metrics: how long people browse a site when they visit, is another factor worth consideration.
How very true – blogs about blogging/tech are perhaps some of the most popular out there. Why? Presently, most social bookmarking services seem to prioritise ‘tech’ over anything else. Indeed, a ‘Birdnorati’ of the future would seem more suited towards our purposes. Lets hope the focus on the whole instead of one or two stars is addressed in future ‘semantic web’ design.
Intriguing. As much as I obsess about stats, and like to see them climb and more readers visit, I think at the core of the exercise (for me) I don’t really care about vaulting into the Technorati Top 100, or even there Top 10, 000 for that matter. I think that my original goals, to write down some of my life in the arctic, to write, and to keep family and friends informed and maybe entertained, remain. I am, of course, quite happy that this community of strangers finds me entertaining enough to return.
In short I guess that the “end game” for me is to be a part of the community, not the 600 pound gorilla of the community.
Blogging to me is meant for birders. It is our way to talk about our own local birding turfs and read about others. It quickly connects birders all over the nation (and even the world – anyone read any nature blogs from Singapore lately?)
Birding is dynamic just like blogs. It changes from day to day as the winds bring in new birds and new ideas. We may never make it into top lists but that is fine with me. I don’t want to read 300 comments about a post about a local bird sighting (unless it’s an Ivorybill!)
But birding blogs fill a much needed void – so many birding websites are stagnant and boring, usually with outdated materials. Blogs are up-to-date. Our local birding club now has a blog (thanks to me) and several members are already posted away on it. It is doubtful Technorati cares, but the birders in our area certainly do.
This was a very much needed post and we all can learn from these wonderful tips! I am always trying to learn new ways of posting information and my blog’s goals isn’t being the top 100 in Technorati. My goals are to create fun post for people to learn from! Although, blogging is starting to become more of a job than posting some info for fun!
Hi thanks for the link! I’m glad you and your readers found it worthwhile. It seems to me that every blogger has different goals – from making money, to sharing with family and friends, or being the expert in aluminum siding. I’m treating blogging like a fun hobby and while I do watch all my stats, it’s the linking and discovering new blogs that I’m finding more compelling.
I never had a reason to visit a bird watching blog before!
Thanks to all for some excellent discussion.
Jason, you’re quite welcome for the link. Sage advice like that needs to spread beyond the realm of the metablogs. There are hundreds, if not thousands of nature bloggers with the same concerns as writers in other niches.
I hope now that you’ve visited a bird watching blog you’ll find reason to come back (and check out some others!)
Excellent advice. In the ever-expanding realm of blogs, maintaining a particular focus and yet staying interesting seems to be something a lot of bloggers have trouble achieving (myself included). I now have some great things to keep in mind as I type!
Thanks a lot!
I wrote my own response here.
Thank you for this information I am new to the blogging world and still figuring it out this has gone a long way to help with that. I will say that it nice to connect with people that enjoy the outdoors in whatever form that is. Bird watching in the simple form is a great way to get rid of some stress and get lost in nature even for a moment.