Is blogging a conversation?

All right so I'm feeling a little meta here, blogging about blogging. But I've come across the same discussion in the past few weeks, and it's gotten me thinking about blogging.

What I've found is people debating an idea with very strong opinions on either side. In fact, you might be surprised on which side of the argument I find myself.

Here's the topic: Is blogging a conversation?

[Think about your own position on this before we continue...]

Ok, now here's my position: Absolutely not.

Ok, really, my position is: Absolutely not, until you make it one.

A blog is a conversation platform: it allows for conversation, but conversation does not automatically happen as a result of blogging alone.

Blogging in my opinion is a publishing platform. A cheap, sole-sourced, self-managed, instantaneous publishing method.

You write, you post, it's up.

No conversation yet.

You can put content out there and there's a distinct possibility that no one will find it. If nothing links to you, if you never tell people it's there... you won't be having conversations.

What makes the conversation?

Unless you already have a following, there is very little chance people will find you randomly. If you want readers, here's the secret:

Tell people you are there.

Here are some ideas:
  • Promote of your blog - with everyone you think might be interested
  • Network - go to tweetups, meetups with local bloggers
  • Comment on other blogs - but say something meaningful, don't just comment so you can link back to your own site
  • Chat on Twitter - learn which hashtags people are using to discuss topics you blog about. Then use those hashtags (when appropriate)
  • Join blog lists (esp. local ones or on the same topic)
  • Syndicate your content using topic-based sites (e.g. Networked Blogs, Technorati, BlogHer)
  • Comment back when people comment on your blog - keep the conversation going!
  • DON'T LINKBAIT. If you don't know what it is, Google it. Then DON'T DO IT.
This week's #blogchat asked: should you write for your audience or for yourself? You can't force the conversation by writing what you think people want to hear. (Ok, you can if you want to, but it's risky.) Authenticity comes from writing what you know in your own voice. Be authentic. Build trust. Connect. Especially: don't be shy about your blog: if you want people to read it, you need to let them know it's there. And then the conversation will begin.

But remember: The act of blogging is done in isolation, away from the reader.

Until you reach out to other people in some way, your blog may live in limbo. A lonely little journal of your innermost thoughts that no one knows exists.

Blogging is not a conversation. You need to initiate or participate in conversation and make your blog part of that conversation.

[A note: Even if people don't comment, they may be very much engaged with your site. For more on this topic see: Is you blog worth it? Watch This.]

(Special shout-out to Jaffe & Joel who also helped to inspire this post)

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