Wednesday, 10 December 2008

New Blog

Ingrid O'Sullivan has a new blog and is the first person to take me up on my post 100 Conversation Topics which asks people to start a conversation with me and get aggregated into 100 conversations. Good for you Ingrid!

Sidenote: I feel a little behind having just seen that the company that Ingrid works for Third Force actually acquired MindLeaders back in June 2007 and looks to be a fairly serious player. Normally, I'm pretty familiar with companies in the space, but I was not familiar with them. So, it was good for me to at least get them on my radar.

Ingrid's post tells a bit of a story that is likely familiar to other authors of a relatively new blog. Ingrid tells us that among her hardest challenges is deciding what to write in the blog ...
I’m pretty new to blogging [...] I really want this blog to grow, to be of interest to you our readers and provide relevant information to you. And boy is that hard… at least twice a week I am faced with the task of getting something ready to post. I question what I write - how personal should it be, if it’s too technical will it bore you, is it original and new, am I at all amusing or funny – this list goes on. And I think half the problem is because this is such a new blog, we are still discovering who you the readers are, and looking for feedback on what you want. I’m hoping as I gain more experience, have more “conversations” and learn from the likes of Tony, this will no longer be my hardest ongoing task - but for now dear readers please read with patience.
I think that it's likely the case with a new blog that you go from posting your first couple of posts that maybe come out quite easily to finding yourself wondering what to write about later. Likely there are some great posts out there that chronical the lifecycle of new blogs as they go through this early growing challenge. Take a look at what Janet Clarey had to say after her first 100 days - Debriefing myself…a noob’s experience after 100-ish days of blogging. I'm sure there are other good examples out there of this lifecycle - pointers?

Some quick thoughts as I read the post on her new blog ...
  1. You are right that trying to figure out the audience is helpful for any new blog. What kinds of questions do they have? Hopefully my list of topics helps. At least those are some of my questions and likely some questions that other people have as well.
  2. I think it's easier to write posts when you are writing almost as much for your own learning as you are for "the audience." I personally don't ever even think of "audience" or "readers" - many who I don't know. Instead, I think about people I do know who I know read this and somewhat have a conversation with them. But the bottom line, if you are interested in something, it will be interesting to the audience.
  3. Your past posts are definitely interesting. I personally would get more if you go a bit deeper on your topics. What are the challenges with being funny? personal? etc? What was a specific example of where you were challenged to find a topic? Is this something that you think other bloggers face (they do)? Point me to some examples of that? These would have been a bit more interesting conversation for me and likely other bloggers and likely your readers as well. A blog offers the opportunity to go deep and narrow. Oh, and, I will skip it (as will other readers) if it's not relevant. But I think the bigger risk is never going deep enough.
  4. Don't get too caught up in Measuring Blog Success. Your goal should be to have interesting conversations. Results will follow.
  5. Have you participated in a Learning Circuit's Big Question? This is a great way to get exposure to the blogging community and grow your audience.
  6. As you are writing a corporate blog, you have to walk a fine line. It's far more difficult than writing a personal blog outside the confines of a corporation. I would recommend staying away from promoting Third Force explicitly in your posts. You'll notice what I deleted above when I cut and paste. The extra stuff was not needed and a bit too promotional. You'll get the message across without that kind of stuff, but you will turn off some people with it. So, it's far safer to avoid it.
  7. Make sure you periodically engage other bloggers with them around their posts. Oh you just did. Well done. :)
  8. Take a look at Blog Discussion for some ideas on other ways to spark discussion.
As I wrote this, I realized that if we were at a cocktail party (a bit less public and with drinks) this probably would have come out much better. As it stands, it sounds far more critical than it should. I'm trying to be helpful and I actually think you are doing good stuff and it's a good idea for you (and your company) to have you blogging. So, I hope this is okay. Ingrid's not asking for a critique. She's just wanting to converse about it.

Ack, someone help me here. First, I Push People to Blog and then I critique them. That's not good. What should I have said to the writer of a new blog that would have been much more encouraging?

And anything else that would help Ingrid? I'm sure there are some other thoughts from other bloggers out there.

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