Monday, June 4, 2012

Blogs and Blogging

I've been looking at social media again and my presence in that sphere of sites, trying to assess what changes I might make.  So far, I've been focused on blogs and blogging because I'm not sure I'm using it effectively or blogging correctly.

Supposedly there are no rules for blogging, but I don't think that's true.  You've got to have some to say and it has to be interesting and valuable to the reader.  After all, with a glut of content available why waste your time if the post says nothing.

As far as my blog goes, an analysis of which topics are popular shows that readers want posts on how to do things, and reviews on software and technology.  But that's not all I write about so respond to my posts is uneven at best.

I've also looked at the software I'm using: Blogger by Google.  I can't tell you exactly why I started using Blogger, except that it was free and I didn't do a very big search for free blogging sites.  Since that time, I've learned that WordPress appears to be more popular and perhaps more powerful.  I certainly see more support for WordPress at other sites like GoodReads and HootSuite.  Additionally, you can integrate WordPress into your web site so that it is seamless.  But WordPress also has bugs.  I've seen one that forced me to rollback to older versions of the application to get the desired plug-ins to work.  That's not good at all.

At the same time, Blogger has been overhauled recently by Google and provides some nice features.  I was able integrate the blog into my web site by tapping the blog's RSS feed and using a free RSS reader called Magpie to show that last five posts on the main page of the site.  I did this so that content of the home page was always changing without my doing extra work.

More recently, Blogger integrated usage stats into the data it provides me which I like and it now shows me the number of visits each post gets.  That's a really helpful to me so I can see which posts were popular and which ones weren't.

I also thought about moving my blog, but dismissed it because I don't need to take on that kind of work.  I've got over 200 posts now.  It would take a long time to move that I'm sure and I'd rather work on my novels.  Plus I'm not sure moving the blog is necessary.  Google seems to have decided to pay attention to Blogger so I'm hoping to see some cool new features in the future.  Additionally, Blogger is easily to use and for that reason better in my mind.  I don't worry about new software versions from WordPress or bugs in the code, or plug-ins that don't work.  I just show up and start typing each post as the mood hits.

But all that aside, does blogging work?  Is it necessary?  God knows, there are days I curse when I realize I need another blog post the next day.  And yet I continue to do it.  I ask myself why?

And I can't answer that question.  I have no idea if blogging is necessary for me.  Since I now push the posts out to Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and LinkedIn, more people are seeing that I have something to say.  In that sense it keeps my name on their radar, which I assume will help me when I announce my novel is in print from my publisher.

But am I saying anything important or meaningful?  That depends on who is reading the blog.  I don't expect to change the world by blogging.  But I can pass on a few things that I know to others and capture a part of myself for posterity.  I think that's important.

In similar fashion, I don't expect to influence or change person's opinions by blogging.  I can inform them a little but they will form opinions about Blogger and WordPress, for example, based on more than a few words from me.  I expect anyone interested in either program to try it out first and see what each has to offer before committing to one or the other.

But ultimately, I think blogging has disappointed me.  I expected to attract a larger audience with my blog and I've got less than 100 people directed subscribed to it.  If not for Twitter and the other social sites, I think my blog would be a failure.  But I've got nearly 150 Twitter followers and that's growing faster than I would have believed.

The moral:  Blogging + Twitter appears to be a huge win.  We'll see if it is possible to tap that potential audience when the time comes.

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