SETI. The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. In essence, a number of very large telescopes scan the skies looking for signs of aliens talking to each other (probably about what was on Holo-TV last night, or whether a Super-Mysterium Laser really will be big enough to blow up the human White House), while lots of computers analyse what they find. Looking. Why? Because looking for people talking to each other is easier and cheaper than trying to talk to people who may or may not exist. And besides. If we talked to them, they might find us :-).
But there's the problem. And the question. What if there are aliens out there, but everybody’s listening and nobody’s talking? SETI would find it hard to find anything, right?
Blogging is like that. In reverse. Because we're all talking, but we're really not sure anyone’s listening.
Remember 'Field of Dreams'? The tagline was 'if you build it, they will come'. And they did. But the tag line for Blogs might be ' if you build it, why in all the eight hells (nine if you count Aberystwyth :-P) should they come?'
The hard part about Blogs isn't having one. The hard part isn't even knowing what you want the Blog to achieve. The hard part is getting readers. And not just readers, but regular, faithful, core readers. And not just regular, faithful core readers, but regular, faithful core readers who have the ability to influence people and send them your way. Because a Blog that isn't read is a Blog that – well - isn't. A Blog that isn't read can't really achieve any purpose apart from giving the Blogger somewhere to talk to themselves that doesn't have people outside the washroom calling for the men in white coats.
The thing is, there are a lot of Blogs. So why do people go to one rather than the other? Go and keep going? Go, keep going and tell other people about in their own Blogs that (hopefully) lots of people read? Well, normally for one of a very few reasons:
1: You have something lots of people want.
A good ( or I think good) example of this is the Query Shark. The Shark is a nasty, evil, horrible woman who I love to bits. Why? Because she has street-cred (she's a real Agent) and she gives a service offering ( Query critique) lots of writers need. She takes their Queries and tears them to shreds, relishing every slash and bite of her teeth, while giving genuine and effective guidance on improvement. So every budding author who finds her tells every one of their friends about her.
2: You're first with the worst. Or best.
Sites that get a reputation for being the sites where the big news breaks first get a lot of traffic. But even those first have to get their reputation...
3: People like you.
OK. This sounds crass. But it's true. If people that people like like you, and give you public approval, you'll get traffic. Once. Because all the public approval in the world won't make people come twice if they don't find something they want when they get arrive.
So what do Bloggers need? We need good product for people to find when they find us, but we also need people to find us. Yes, we're right back where we started :-).
So where do we start? My poor and feeble advice? Pretty much like everybody else’s :-P. Start by getting known. Find some Blogs you know are popular, and start commenting. Comment in a positive, constructive and Sticky way that supports the Blog owner's goals. Get into conversations with them. Don't try for twenty sites, but try to get visible on about 5-10 sites with high traffic. Eventually you can link back to some of your own site posts that are supportive of something you've said.
Yes, there are ways to tag for search engines. Yes, there are even paid services that will 'publicise' your blog. They're like shotgun resume services. They just blast you everywhere, and the results can be less than inspiring. Because Blogging is personal. It’s not just about the words, the facts, the views, the opinions. It’s just as much about how those things are said. What, for a writer (and Bloggers are writers) is called Voice. People have to want to talk to you, to listen to you every day. You have to be different. Known. And have things to say they want to hear.
Here are some sites that might give food for thought. You might want to take a look. Would you go there? If you would, why? Can you think why other people would go there?
Oh. There's another thing about Blogs. And Blog entries. Generally, short is good. People don't tend to read long ones. This one? This one is too long. But then, nobody's reading it either. Or are they? :-).