Remember, Blogging Is A People Business

People make things too complicated.

I see it all the time in the world of blogging. A lot of bloggers out there trying to build up traffic, get recognition and make some money. They read blogs about blogging, which are (hopefully) written by people who have actually done that. Too often, however, I find that they get mired down in minutia.

Perhaps you know the type of minutia I’m referring to. Stuff like:

  • “I’m going to keep tinkering with this theme until it is just right.”
  • “I’ll launch my blog in 3 months, when I’ve got everything perfect.”
  • “What little tid-bits of secret tactics are those successful bloggers doing that I’m not?”
  • “I wonder if I have my meta tags right.”

The list goes on.

If one looks at blogging like that, it seems really complicated. It seems impossible to get off the ground.

I’m a big fan of simplicity. It isn’t that I can’t deal with complexity, but it is that I believe that complexity often means we failed somewhere along the line. When things seem really complicated, it means that too many arbitrary things have come onto the scene, which only invites more of it. Pretty soon you have wheel spinning, but little to no results. I think blogging sees this sometimes. There are a bunch of people out there teaching others how to blog. We’re under the gun to keep publishing things, so we find new, creative ways to essentially say the same things. Underlying all of that is actually a simplicity.

A Simplicity

people_on_map.jpg

So, let’s iron this down to basics. And that simplicity, I believe, comes in two related facts:

  1. Blogging is a form of communication between real people.
  2. Those are real, living, breathing, thinking people. They’re out there interacting. They have needs and wants. Your job is to interact back and serve those needs and wants.

If you’re not comfortable dealing with people, you’re going to have a harder time blogging at any higher level than a personal hobby blog. This is a people business.

At this point, you might be thinking, “OK, Dave, seems right, but how the hell can I use this information?” I’m glad you asked. :)

Applying That Simplicity

Instead of looking at this blogging thing as a bunch of comments, trackbacks, meta tags and themes, let’s just look at the people. You want to form a solid line of communication with readers. You want them to have a certain mindset when they look at your stuff. So, the purpose of all that you do should be to form that line.

Does screwing with your meta tags help you communicate with people? Likely not at all. It can have a minute effect on your search ranking, but you’ll get more bang for your time by just authoring a guest post and submitting it to another blog. Those are PEOPLE reading that blog. And you can TALK to them. So much more effective than “talking” with Google’s spider.

If we look at the topic of traffic generation, it simplifies if we look at it as people. There are people out there and you want them to check out your blog. So, what would you do in real life? Well, if you walked into a party and didn’t want to stand there and look awkward by yourself, you’d need to go where the existing conversations are and get in on it. That’s what we do at parties and it just makes sense. If you don’t, then you just have no friends – that’s all.

In the world of blogging, this would translate into guest posting (tapping into the existing conversations) and a lot of networking with other people, including other players in your niche. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, just do it. Twitter, Facebook, instant messenger, comments, forums – hell, use snail mail if you want. But, connecting with ACTUAL PEOPLE is your ticket to getting a blog going.

I mean, look at what most new bloggers do and you’ll see why it doesn’t work. They launch the blog and start posting. Then they post again. And again. And again. Check Analytics and see essentially no traffic. So, you keep posting. What?!?! You’re just talking to yourself! You’re the awkward little person in the corner at the party. You’re not connecting with people. You’re just talking in a loop to yourself and hoping people come by. Well, that’s a recipe for failure. You’re not thinking about people.

How I’ve Done It

When I launched this blog, I went into it with authority. I came out swinging with good content and I held nothing back. But, if I had stopped there, it wouldn’t have turned into anything. So, I started connecting with people. I would get into Twitter conversations with others in the blogging niche. I took those conversations into private and offline settings. I did guest posting on blogs like ProBlogger, John Chow and many others. I went to BlogWorld and met a bunch of these guys in person. I quickly went into product creation mode, created Blog Masters Club which then gave me potential fuel for JV relationships with these others bloggers. So, now many of these other bloggers have made a bunch of money off me. And I’ve promoted THEIR stuff.

It all happened because I didn’t just sit here on my WordPress admin panel and talk to myself. I reached out. I hopped on planes to go meet people.

I connected, then I served. With my audience, I serve. I write stuff all the time and just give it away. And when people buy things from me, they get served even more. And on the JV level, I connected with others in my niche. I promoted their stuff. I interacted. And, as I said, many have made money off me, too. And they like that. :)

I’ve talked about this kind of thing before, and here is some further reading for you to check out:

So, take a moment and ask. Are you spending more time messing with the minutia rather than connecting with actual people?

Keep your eye on the bigger game.

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Got a Question or Comment?

  1. Kristoffer Sandven says:

    I definitely agree, David!

    I had a huge increase in traffic and involvement after going from anonymous blogging to showing my name and picture on the blog. What I did was connect with people and see them as individuals, not as numbers in the statistics.

    Writing as if you're writing to one person is also a technique I use for this purpose, and I think it's worked quite well.

    Also, I'm a big fan of the “just do it” mentality. You can aways change things later, polish that logo or adjust that sidebar. I've done hundreds of adjustments since launching, including changing the complete layout.

    Just get out there and create content that people love. Write as you would to your best friend. Give something of yourself in the process and you will make a lot of new friends and readers :)

  2. Great advice. The only other part is to connect with people off-blog in other mediums, because it all comes back full circle.

    Awesome.

  3. Kristoffer Sandven says:

    I know – that's really powerful. I went to the first international Joomla conference in Germany in June, and my connections became so much stronger after that. Meeting people in person creates a lot stronger bond than through the blog. However, I've come to be part of several private Skype chat groups. They are an incredibly powerful way of connecting with people and sharing ideas.

  4. remarkablogger says:

    Thanks for this reminder of something that's so simple and basic, we often overlook it. I know I've been guilty of this.

  5. that's a necessary reminder – because I do a lot of the other stuff. The horizon is full of endless options, and I sometimes deviate from the core. I luv that.

  6. Tweaking your blog endlessly before you launch is amazingly common it seems. It's a terrible thing to do because 1) it delays the true work of relationship building and 2) how are you going to make it perfect with nobody but yourself to give you feedback?

    I'm a big fan of bootstrapping. It's better to start on the important things right away and get the little things into place as you go. I think your post covered what the important thing in blogging is pretty well!

  7. I definitely agree that blogging involves communicating with people

  8. Yes, strongly agree on this. This has been a great challenge for me too. Making blog content that talks to people needs practice. Now I am coping up with this.

  9. JillianMcCoy says:

    You're absolutely right. It's REALLY easy to get bogged down with all the numbers and statistics and strategies of building a successful blog – whether you want to make money with it or not. I'm still quite new (and therefore not having to manage HALF the stuff of the “big guys” like yourself), and can't believe how much minutia there is.

    At the core of it though, social media, blogging, whatever you do – it's all there to let you have conversations with people. So you kinda have to be someone they want to have a conversation with. Be nice, make them think, teach them something, be interesting. It all works the same as in person, just through a different medium.

    I am totally guilty of letting the little stuff distract me (I don't think I even HAVE meta tags), but luckily that hasn't stopped me from meeting awesome people. Thankfully they seem to like me even though my blog is pig ugly.

  10. Hey David
    No doubt this applies to everything in life right. Relationships and reciprocity. You get what you give. I have tried in my brief voyage into blogging, to share and to learn while sharing.

    I think a lot of people (like me) are reticent to share too much at the beginning for fear of being judged, but you just have to do it and let the feedback fly. The more you practice all this stuff the easier it becomes and the technical details can be overwhelming, but if you keep at it every day, the hard stuff gets easier.

    You do have to learn the details, just not at the expense of actually reaching out to people.
    Cheers
    Mark

  11. joshuanoerr says:

    Luckily David, I suck at the minutea. Design is not my strong point, so I have the luxury of focusing on content and my readers. Good stuff once again my friend.

  12. Johnny Laird says:

    Great piece, David….and a timely reminder that it's about people. That's the thing that drew me in the first place.

    I think another thing we forget is it's also about the WRITING – over and above the SEO, widgets and all the whistles & bells.

    J

  13. Nigel Chua says:

    Like this post. Straight forward, and to the point. Think people when they start blogs they start it for the wrong reasons – to make money as the key point when it should and will be a by-product of creating value, service for another first.

  14. Yes,you’re right,you have to provide them useful information and interactive with them

  15. Well played, Dave. Definitely I would most agree that many people stress themselves out just over the simple things such as setting up a theme or coding or rss feeds and they spend hours upon hours on it til they completely lose track and not even realize it. Being simple is yes I agree the best way to go

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