I’ve been enjoying Blogging Idol immensely this year, and its only about half over so lots of interesting things to come, I’m sure. It has been an uphill battle for me – I have to defend my title from 2008, after all – but it has been quite informative, from all the posts, from the organizers and also from the other contestants.
Here’s a couple of things I’ve learned so far – I’m sure there will be more as the weeks roll by.
It occurred to me that Blogging Idol (and blogging in general) would be a much richer personal experience if it led me to some conclusions – about the value of blogging, and about my future as a blogger in particular. Here’s two thoughts – (1) how do blogs fit into the bigger world of communications? and (2) what does it take to be good at blogging?
A couple of years ago I barely knew what a blog was and why they existed – much like some posts have been saying about Twitter – and certainly I never thought “blog” would become a new word in the English language. Wikipedia has a long article on the definition of a Blog (short for weblog), the history and related items. And there sure is a lot of blog-related software these days!
Makes you almost think that Blogs have become an industry, or perhaps a market segment. Sounds a lot like what we thought the World Wide Web was a decade or so ago. If it’s a market segment, is it subject to the chasm phenomenon, as described in Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore? Perhaps software plays by somewhat different rules than hardware, but the idea of a chasm is food for thought. Crossing the Chasm has a lot to do with technology adoption curves – check it out!
Perhaps the traditional Web, Blogs, Twitter and all the others are just steps in evolutionary path towards electronic interpersonal (and inter-system) communications? What if Blogs become a way for computers to share information with each other – that may happen someday soon. And what if you could order a pizza using a “private tweet” that can only be followed by your favourite pizza store? I’ve mentioned in previous posts the idea of a “communicators desktop” that allows all of these services to be integrated, readily accessible and easily used (hopefully with single sign on capabilities!).
I think that there are many ways to communicate – social groups being one of them, newspapers being another, TV and radio being yet others – and all of these are converging so that each of us can choose the method that best suits the situation – private vs. public, one-way vs. two-way, short vs. long messages, realtime vs. store and forward, etc.
That leads me back to my second topic – what it takes to be good at blogging. For this I take note of a few thoughts that Pedro shared with me a few nights ago (summarized and probably misinterpreted):
- content needs to be good or even very good
- style of writing needs to project a “confidence” and “trusted partner” persona
- perception is reality
- some “eye candy” is needed to draw the reader in
- a theme should be developed over time that the reader (subconsciously) starts relating to (or sees as familiar)
- pick a position and engage the reader to agree (or not) – don’t just ask questions
- link to other resources – blog readers are information hungry, and Google pays more attention
But then, perhaps there is no one blogging style that fits all. It depends on what you are trying to accomplish – number of viewers, number of comments, publicity, journalism, selling, collaboration, testing of ideas, etc.
But, back to the Blogging Idol contest – if I count correctly, we’re in week 4 of 6 and a few people are prolific, a few are hanging in there, and quite a few haven’t even tested the waters. Perhaps now it the time for the lurkers to jump in and experience the thrill of the contest. And perhaps to win!