Monday, September 6, 2010
Blog Boggled: Is Blogging Work?
Let's start with a definition of "work" as I am using in the context of this question. One definition put forth by the Oxford English Dictionary is "activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result". That is a pretty adequate description of work as it applies to blogging.
How much we enjoy what we are doing is not really a factor as to whether one would consider blogging to be work. Some people enjoy cooking, auto mechanics, or drawing as a hobby. The fact remains is that there is work involved in even hobbies. After all, no matter how much you are enjoying yourself, you may still be working in your garden, woodworking, or even doing housework. One person's drudgery may be another person's idea of a good time.
The bottom line is that no matter how you view it, an activity that we perform to accomplish an end or reach a goal involves an investment of time, thought, and energy--and that is work. Blogging certainly fits into this description. The following is a list of the duties entailed in creating and maintaining a successful blog:
1. Building and Maintenance--The first thing you do is to establish your blog site. This may be more work for some more technically challenged bloggers like me. Fortunately Blogger makes it pretty simple by providing templates, codes, etc. Some of you may have gotten designs from professionals or even designed your own site. It all requires learning, practice, and application. Then after a blog has been established there can be the ongoing work of tweaking your blog's appearance, adding new features, or even upgrading or redesigning the appearance. The work on a living, growing blog is ongoing. How much work do you put into the way your blog looks?
2. Purposeful Posting--Once you've got your blog page set up you need to keep some kind of updated content up there in order to make people want to keep returning to your site. Keeping the content interesting, cogent, and accurate requires some thought. The work of research may be necessary. If you have a writing blog, you should be taking time to proofread and edit your work. Each posting takes time to enter and refine before putting it out for the public. Do you do much research for your blog posts? How deliberate are you in producing a quality product?
3. Adding the fancy stuff--Thinking only of the posts themselves, to make your blog bits more interesting you may be adding pictures, links, and other add-ins. It takes some time to find these and some know how to add them to your page. When do you usually resort to these extras and do you have any tricks to make this easier?
4. Fishing for followers -- So now you have a blog page and you've added the interesting content. How are you going to find someone to read it? Here's where the real time consuming work begins in my opinion. You may have to resort to social networking tools (facebook, twitter, etc), which I rarely have done. There are also other devices and communities that I've heard of but have not really researched to understand them (StumbleUpon, Yahoo, Google placement, and so on and so on). These are probably very effective for those who have taken the time to learn how to use them. Then there is the one I resort to the most: going to comment on other blogs. This is how I and probably most of you got people to start coming to visit your blog. I 'll follow you if you follow me. The blog etiquette of reciprocity. How often do you go trolling for new bloggers that you think might be interested in you? How much effort do you go to in order to keep them as regular readers? Do you use any of the other methods for drawing readers to your blog?
5. Responding to comments--This one is pure etiquette in my book and in the interest of maintaining blog relationships. This one is directly related to how many readers you have commenting on your posts. We've been discussing this one in the past weeks, but in a nutshell the blogger's response is an acknowledgement that the visitor has been heard and it is a part of the blog conversation which usually ends at this point. Are responses to comments an important part of blog work to you? Do you work at creating any sort of relationships with those who visit your blog?
6. Visiting back--This is another aspect of blog etiquette. If a blogger took the time to visit your blog then it might be respectful to see what they are doing and acknowledge that you were there. If we look at the cyberworld of blogging as a neighborhood, it's as though today you brought me homemade soup and tomorrow I'll bring you fresh baked cookies. If a blogger visits you and leaves a comment, do you usually visit them and leave a comment on their blog post as well?
7. Finding more followers--Some bloggers just want as many followers as they can rack up. Others, like me and probably most of you who consider yourselves writers, want as many readers as you can find. It's a numbers game which equates to the more followers the greater the pool of potential readers. This is another activity that can become a lot of work. Blogfests, challenges, contests, and the like attract many who like you are looking for new bloggers to check them out. This can be a time of tremendous activity, i.e. work, as you read comments and leave your own calling card on the blogs of others. When I hosted the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge I added about 100 new followers, but for over a month I was also working about ten to sixteen hours a day blogging, which is really quite impractical. What kinds of blog events do you like participate in? Is it worth the work you put into these events?
8. Blog higher education--There is work in learning. I, and I would imagine most of you, could spend a great deal of time reading and researching how to become a better blogger. We can learn a great deal from other bloggers. There are several websites, publications, and books that offer information about improving blogging skills. There are seminars that we can attend. It can take a tremendous investment of time, energy, and finances to pursue this education. To what extent do you go to learn more about blogging? Have you attended any conferences, seminars, or classes? If so, were they helpful to you and were they worth the time and money you invested?
Blogging can be fun and it can be very interesting. But no matter how you look at it, blogging is also work. All bloggers do not put in the same amount of work. And not all bloggers are equally serious about their blogs. For some it may be something to play around with and show off something about themselves and their lives. Others may be using their blog to establish a platform for whatever else they are trying to achieve. The amount of work that is necessary to maintain a strong active blog depends a great deal on how important your blog is to you.
Hopefully you'll find some questions above to answer in the comment section. Perhaps you can think of some other information that might be helpful to the rest of us. What is your main reason for blogging? What are you doing to accomplish your goals? For you, is blogging hard work, a pleasant adjunct to your work or aspirations, or something that you just do and it's not particularly important to you?