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Blogging is a hobby by most definitions. That is, unless you are a problogger (a professional blogger who blogs for a living)

Today’s Lesson

The further you get into blogging, the more you learn about social networks and how, by joining, they can help promote your blog, i.e. gain exposure.

Join all social networking sites which others say are important (to be a part of), and you’ll soon be spending many hours Stumbling, Digging, Twittering, plus updating your profiles, pictures, podcasts, and/or videos on Facebook, MySpace, MyBlogLog, Flikr and YouTube. That’s on top of responding to numerous emails, and answering comments on your blog.

Add this to your already busy schedule of work, kids, friends, telephone calls, cell phone calls, texting, instant messaging, personal emails and life, and your head will be spinning.

But, if you read a little further, it’s also suggested, to form a large community in blogosphere, you should start following what your cyberspace friends and online mentors are Stumbling, Digging, and/or Twittering. Soon, social networking is eating into the rest of your life. Your personal life begins to deteriorate, as does your health.

When you think back to those first days of blogging, it was actually fun.

Now your love of writing has gone by the wayside.

You’ve sold your soul to social networks, and your passion is dead.

It’s time to ask yourself if you really care what a cyberspace friend or A-list blogger is doing in their free time. Do you really need to read every post they Stumble or Digg? Is it really necessary to follow them on Twitter? How can you possibly read every post they suggest, plus rate it and/or review it?

Forming communities with other bloggers and doing a small amount of socializing is good. But if your blog is targeted to “the masses”, your audience may not even know what social networks are (let alone how they work). You have to ask yourself, are you wasting too much of your precious time? Have you lost sight of your true audience?

Would your time be better spent writing good content? Learning more about the mechanics of your blogging platform? Or visiting the blogs of your loyal commenters and sharing in the small community that has formed?

Today’s Assignment

How much time do you spend on social networks?

Has social networking helped to gain exposure for your blog?

Are those that you follow, reciprocating and visiting and/or commenting on your blog?

Is it time to get back to that which you’re passionate about (writing)?

Photo Credit: ARTS’ photostream

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Look Who's Talking
  1. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    Again, you must be living somewhere in my brain. You scare me sometimes. I love to write and do my blog and I have found some blogs that I truly enjoy, but I have many more on my reader that I follow just because they comment on mine. If I try to comment on every post, I have no time for life. Blogging was supposed to give me a social outlet, which it has, but not take me away from my family. It was supposed to help get me out of my funk, which it has, but not cause a new one. At times blogging feels more like work. When I cut back on my commenting for a week I love it. I like having that extra time. I am not going to give up blogging. I truly do enjoy it and I’ve made some great friends, but I’ve resisted joining social networks. It seems that many of the more popular bloggers don’t reciprocate to me so I’ve started commenting less to them. Not that I’m mad, but I have to cut back somewhere. I may still read, but unless I really have something to say, I just lurk. I’ve joined CafeMom which is like Facebook, but I don’t give it a lot of my time. I’ve gotten to where I don’t feel that NEED to check my computer at the neglect of my family. It can wait and that is good. I always get really caught up in new things but eventually it calms down.

    But you, Barbara, are a must read. I always save your post until I can take the time to read it carefully. You always have so much to share and I learn so much from you. You are one of my mentors and I truly appreciate you and your blog. And, as you can see, I always have a comment to add. Have a great day. The sun is shining here, even if it is a little chilly out!

    Debbie Yost’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday – Uhm — Thanks?

  2. I have something to say about this, but I’ll be posting about it in 3 weeks so I’ll save it for later. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..PayPal Competitor Offers $25 Sign Up Bonus

  3. NezNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara and Debbie, you’re both reading MY mind.

    When I first started NezSez, I looked into the social networking “stuff”, subscribed to a ton of blogs, and tried commenting oh, everywhere.

    It was like wading against a the waters of a raging river, trying to be heard over the roar. Luckily, Barbara came by and plucked me out, introducing me to her corner of the blogosphere.

    I’ve since decided that having a smaller circle of cyberfriends is a good thing, and it’s within that circle where I mostly comment.

    And if new readers “stumble” by, all the better.

    Nez’s last blog post..The Lure of Ludlum

  4. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Debbie,

    Thank you so much for your kind words.

    With blogging considered a hobby (although some are looking to become more than “just a blogger”) it should be fun, does become an outlet, and is a great way to socialize in cyberspace. I don’t think blogging should ever be a replacement for living your life and enjoying the company of your loved ones.

    It sounds like you are finding that balance.

    Hi Hunter,

    Does your comment mean you are headed to Japan now? If so, enjoy your trip.

    I’m looking forward to your “response” .

    Hi Nez,

    You’ll always have a home here at BWAB. Plus, I follow all of the NBOTWs in my reader, so you can run, but you can’t hide. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think joining some (or all) of the social networks is pretty common for new bloggers as they want to be found, get read, and gain traffic, but then reality sets in and you realize you can’t do it all, plus write good content.

    Commenting on other blogs is a great way to get your name out there, and get some referral traffic, but there too, you walk a fine line, and must decide how much time you are willing to dedicate to it.

  5. JodithNo Gravatar says:

    I belong to a total sum of 2 things that I consider social networking. One is Stumble and one is Entrecard (which is kind of social networking, kind of advertising…it’s hard to describe, but I get a lot of traffic from it, some of it actually good traffic).

    I don’t get a huge amount of traffic from Stumble, but I get bit, maybe a few hits a day. I got a big spike on another blog I have the day after one of my pages got stumbled. I got 512 hits in one day from Stumble.

    I don’t put a huge amount of time into Stumble. I put a good bit into Entrecard as it’s a means of advertising my blogs. Mostly, though, my social networking is doing what I love, which is what I’m doing right now. Reading other blogs and commenting on them. I’d spend all day doing it if I didn’t have to work *laughs*.

    Jodith’s last blog post..Creating Recurring Tasks in Microsoft Outlook

  6. Ian DennyNo Gravatar says:

    I think you’re right – it can all go too far!

    I devote as much time to blogging as work demands allow. For the past couple of weeks, blogging, social bookmarking etc has taken a back seat.

    I have though managed to at least visit my favourite blogs – although not as much as I’d like to.

    I also have a feeling that as spring appears properly (we’re still waiting here in the UK!) even if I’m fairly quiet in work, I’ll be doing a bit more personally this year.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I find I go through spells of interest and commitment. I’ve never actually lost interest completely, but I’m afraid I’m not cut out for all the hard work and effort it takes to be a pro-blogger!

    I like variety too much. And while I find it difficult to focus solely on a blog, I must always prioritise the business side of things. While the blog and web-site is an important part of what we do, it is still only a business tool – and I think primarily for existing clients, but as time goes on a great medium to start conversations with potential clients without being salesy.

    I must admit thatmy suppliers don’t have blogs. If they did, I think I’d engage with them alot more.

    And while our clients don’t comment as much, the readership of the articles I publish is very high. And stimulates sales even though we don’t directly sell.

    Educating people in a plain English and non-technical way certainly builds trust. And because we don’t push, the clients buy rather than we directly sell.

    My take? Blogging is very capable of taking over your life if you are not careful. And I’ve had many periods of being hooked.

    There is definitely though a limit to how many relationships a single individual can maintain without losing meaning.

    A ProBlogger can certainly not have any meaningful dialogue with anything other than a smal fraction of their readership.

    My guess is that a lone blogger, dependent upon the income, will find it difficult to completely switch off and separate from their blog – even with guest bloggers etc – for any significant chunk of time.

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Why Don’t Businesses Sell To Me When I Ask Them To?

  7. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Jodith,

    I belong to StumbleUpon too, but have learned to put a time limit on it. I have read about Entrecard, have never tried it, but it sounds like it’s working great for you.

    Don’t you just hate that, when you have to do the work that pays the bills? ๐Ÿ™‚ Like you, there are many days I would rather be blogging

    Hi Ian,

    It can become addicting. And when that happens, the rest of what’s important in your life suffers. That’s when it’s time to step back and ask yourself, “what’s the worse that can happen if I drop out of blogosphere for awhile?”

    Problogging…now that’s a totally different ballgame. I can imagine their schedules are brutal.

  8. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I think there’s a lot said about probloggers and it’s easy to forget that there’s many bloggers out there who use blogs as a great way to promote their business, or products. For them, blogging is important, as is marketing their blog. It’s just like any business activity.

    I have plans for my blog in the future, but I believe in building an audience first, then finding out what they need. The trouble is, as you mentioned – it takes an awful lot of time to market your blog – especially via social networking. I use stumbleupon a little – especially if I’m researching something, but checking out everyone’s posts all the time is far too time consuming.

    To reach your target audience – I think you’ve got to go to where they are and as you said – that’s not always social networking sites.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..If You Want Glamour – Do Something Else

  9. Hi Barbara,

    Boy, you said it. There just aren’t enough hours in a day to twitter and facebook and stumble and on and on. It never ends!

    I’m shooting for writing good content, and advertising the blog slowly; baby steps. A couple of marketing efforts per day.

    I want blogging to be fun, not frantic.

    Mark – Creative Journey Cafe’s last blog post..10 Creative Late Bloomers

  10. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    I agree, social networks may work well to market a blog is that’s where the target audience is, however, if that’s not the case, there are many other off line organizations our there for blogs or businesses that are looking to promote their services.

    Hi Mark,

    It can be never ending, if you let it.

    You’ve got the right idea. Blog for fun, build slowly and enjoy the journey.

  11. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara – One method I’ve used to market my blog in the past is to contribute on forums where potential readers may hang out – eg. forums for various trades.

    Often these people are keen to discuss business and marketing and the forum owners usually allow you a signature. The trouble is – time spent on forums can also be time consuming.

    I’m definitely noticing that visitors I get from repeat visitors, SEO etc tend to hang round on my blog for longer than social networking visitors. I just wish I could gauge how many social networking visitors become repeat visitors.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..If You Want Glamour – Do Something Else

  12. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I like your focus on passion.

    I think the key to passion is a meaningful purpose.

    I blog to share lessons learned with my mentees and improve their effectiveness — a nugget at a time. When I get knocked off my horse, I remind myself of my purpose. It’s simple but meaningful.
    It’s the interaction behind the scenes with my mentees during my day job, that breathes life into my blogging.

    I also bring Kaizen to the game — and focus on little improvements and distinctions over time. For example:
    – Can I get in the zone — “one post at a time”? (similar to “one pitch at a time”)
    – How effectively can I take a complex point and make it simple?
    – Can my mentees absorb my posts?

    J.D. Meier’s last blog post..Precision Model for Avoiding Language Pitfalls

  13. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    JD,

    Welcome to the community of BWAB.

    I just left your blog and enjoyed your most recent post. It’s thought provoking and educational. When time permits, I’ll reread it as it holds tons of value and is something I can use in my writings.

    I love that you’re using your blog to teach. Can we ever know too much?

  14. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    I almost missed your second comment. It sure is good having you feeling better and commenting again. I’ve missed your input.

    That’s a good idea about participating in forums, but, like you say, that too is time consuming. However, you can easily target a specific market, so it might be better time spend. On social networks, it’s more hit and miss.

    I haven’t seen any analysis of what the conversion rate is for social network traffic, but from what I see in my stats, I would guess mine is low.

  15. Barbara, I’m not leaving for a few days, but I’m going to wait until I get back before I post it. And now that I think about it, I’m not sure if I’m going to do it, so maybe I’m just confusing people by talking about it!

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..Synchronicities: Just Coincidence, Or Signs From The Universe?

  16. Pat RNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara – your post comes at the perfect time and speaks to me. I’ve done the advertising and joined the affiliates, contributed to the social networks, mainly StumbleUpon, and read and commented on my favorite reads when I can. But I’m finding it can be a bit overwhelming and impossible to maintain especially now with working full time. I’ve wondered, “Man, what does it take to attract traffic?”

    In fact, last week my traffic hit an all-time low nearly as low as when I first started back in Nov ’07. I had even considered maybe it was time to hang it up but became inspired by writing a couple of posts.

    I realized then that if what I write can just give one person a lift for the day then it’s worth it – even if that one person is me. I’ve discovered my voice through writing the posts and it has purpose and meaning for me.

    I know there is a strategy in marketing our blogs and exposing it to more traffic and that will come if I’m patient. I’m just discovering this new found passion of writing and enjoying sharing it with the world…even if they don’t know it’s there yet.

    Thank you for such a timely post and for letting me vent and ramble.

    Pat R’s last blog post..Trees and Private Courage

  17. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Hunter,

    I guess it doesn’t matter if you post “it” or not as I always read you blog, so just keeping doing what you’re doing and sharing good content…and watch out for Ringo Starr ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Pat,

    What I found it takes to attract traffic, is time. Although you’ll have days (maybe weeks) of feeling you’re just talking to that black hole called cyberspace, and wonder if anyone is listening, just follow that writing passion of yours and continue on.

    You’re right, if you can help one person, you have made a difference.

    We never know where our writing passion will take us. Sit back at that kitchen table and enjoy the process. It’s a great journey to embark on. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Pat RNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks Barbara for your writing and pearls of wisdom. I’ll take your advice.

    Pat R’s last blog post..Trees and Private Courage

  19. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Pat,

    You’re welcome.

    Happy Blogging! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Hi Barbara,

    You are right about the time it would take to comment on every blog you read. When I first started blogging I tried that but didn’t like it very much.
    The last few months I’ve found an other method of attracting people to my blog.
    I just love to scout the web for beautiful and unusual art sites which I post on my twitter account ( http://twitter.com/HenkTerHeide ) and slowly but surely the number of people following me and my blog are increasing.

    Henk

    Henk ter Heide’s last blog post..Beautiful and unusual art sites found on 2008-04-11

  21. MonkMojoNo Gravatar says:

    Great post Barbara,

    My Assignment:

    โ€œHow much time do you spend on social networks?โ€

    1/3 to 1/2 of my blogging activities are related to social networking:
    I consider much of that time as โ€œresearchโ€ for my blog. I make webcomics based on other peoples’ posts. But I have found how easy it is to get distracted and waste time.

    โ€œHas social networking helped to gain exposure for your blog?โ€

    Yes, but not in the way I thought it would.

    Iโ€™m a Stumbler like you (weโ€™re friends) ๐Ÿ™‚ . Iโ€™ve discovered that a good Stumble friend is much more valuable than the random stumble traffic. For example; Iโ€™m here taking the time to post a comment on your blog because you are my stumble friend. You will likely visit my blog because of this. Your one visit will mean more to me than a 1000 random stumblers blowing by at the speed of light.

    โ€œAre those that you follow, reciprocating and visiting and/or commenting on your blog?โ€

    I believe folks that I follow are visiting, but my blog really doesnโ€™t lend itself to a lot of conversation, I make my comic point, and then send readers away to the article being highlighted. Down the road I may do more to elicit conversation.

    โ€œIs it time to get back to that which youโ€™re passionate about (writing)?โ€

    After reading your article, I will be more conscious about keeping my social networking productive.

    @-Cath Lawson โ€“ Thanks for Stumbling my last webcomic!

    MonkMojo’s last blog post..how i lost $10,762.51 blogging

  22. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Great to see you here again Henk,

    That’s a great idea to use your Twitter account. It also helps to build a community of like minded people.

  23. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Stumble friend, MonkMojo,

    Welcome to the BWAB community.

    Like Natural Woman (who does all of the assignments), you have just completed this one and aced it: ๐Ÿ™‚

    Social networking is extremely time consuming. I find when I go back to the basics and concentrate on writing, and reciprocating comments, my passion for blogging doesn’t become diluted.

    BTW: I like your current post of how you lost over $10,000.00 blogging. That is funny, and maybe not that far from the truth. ๐Ÿ™‚