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Whose Blogspace Is This, Anyways?
I'm trying to save all of my metablogging posts 'til Friday, since if I wrote about all the stuff related to blogging that I'm thinking about, I'd probably write as much about blogging as I do anything else. That said, we're off!
Michelle at Bloggrrl wrote today about something that has been on my mind more and more recently. Basically, it's about the use of our blogs and who should be the primary focus. It came full force Wednesday when I was replying to Nick's comment on "Is the Internet Killing Academia?." After I was done responding, I did a quick word check--I had written close to a thousand words back. I proceeded to reformat it as its own post, but then decided that it may not be the best thing to do. If readers were interested in that post, I thought, then they'd return, and I shouldn't double up on the same thread, even though I had a lot of different content in the reply.
What made it even worse is that by the time I had completed the comment, changed the formatting, worried about how to present it, and commented to his comment, I was done for the day. So, even though there's a post gap, I still did a good bit of writing that day.
Later that day, I was looking at how I was going to arrange ads and such on the blog. I found myself asking "what's going to be the best balance between placing ads where people can see them and getting them out of the way of the content?" I think I've come up with a way that meets that balance, but I've sacrificed my short-term earning potential for reader preferences. Or at least what I think my readers' preferences are.
Additionally, I do a bit of commenting on other people's blogs. I enjoy doing this, and I'll sometimes count what I've written and notice that I'm getting into the hundreds of words. On the one hand, I'm rather glad to carry on someone else's discussion, but on the other, if I'm adding meaningful content, shouldn't I use trackbacks and pull readers here? The reason I don't is because there would be probably two or three more additional posts today, and I don't want to deluge you all with that many additional posts.
I'm also worried about the integrity of this site in two different ways. The first way regards how tightly related a lot of my posts are. I worry that, though it's good for my readers that have been following, it may not be good for new readers, since they'll have to crawl through a lot of long posts to understand how the stuff is related. The tension here is between providing valuable, related information and providing easy entry points into the site.
(This might not be immediately obvious, but I did some post plotting and came up with 53 discrete posts that run together--yes, 53 posts. Most of them will be in the 750-1250 word range, too. A lot of them are woven together with the same threads.)
The second prong of the integrity of the site is that I don't want to do PayPerPost reviews because I feel it would pull away from my content. At the same time, as Michelle mentions, I'm turning down a good financial opportunity, and I'm far, far away from wealthy enough to dismiss her "hardly inspirational" $1000 per month. I also don't want to create another pure monetizing blog, because I like what I do here and I'd rather focus on it rather than split my already divided attention. She also has a leg up on me on this one, since her blog concept is directly related to making money online.
Hopefully, you see the trend: it boils down to whose space this blog is. Whereas I share her sentiment that it is my blog, I also want it to be a place where we can share ideas and so I want it to be as inviting as possible. So I try to approach the design and use of this blog in a Golden Rule fashion, meaning that I think about what I don't like about others' blogs and try not to do those things.
I come up with somewhat divergent results when I do this, though, and it's basically highlighting the general problem with the Golden Rule: our preferences are different, and I recognize that I have somewhat idiosyncratic tastes.
Take, for example, the integrity of the site on the first prong. I personally like going to sites where people have tightly related ideas that are glued together with coherence. I tire of easy, one shot posts, even though they may have valuable information. So, if I were using the Golden Rule, I shouldn't worry about that, right?
I do, however, get tired of blogs who produce a lot of short trackbacks just so they can bring traffic to their site, so I try to avoid doing that too often, or else you'd catch a lot of commentary about what Dustin Wax from Lifehack writes.
This tension is exacerbated even more by the fact that the gig I was going to have this summer fell through. While I wasn't looking forward to it, it did give me a way to make enough money that I wouldn't have to worry about money and could do what I want. I'll have a lot more time to write now, but I'll be broke as hell, so I'll be distracted by that and probably be less motivated to write since I'll have to worry about making money to put food on the table. Those PayPerPosts could really come in handy, and I'm with Michelle--I think I'd enjoy doing them. But I know you probably wouldn't enjoy me doing them.
So here's the open questions that I hope some of you take a second to answer:
At what point should internal blog replies become their own posts? Would this really irritate you all? My gut tells me that if I've written more than 300 words, that's its own post.
How do you feel about me bringing my comments on others' blogs back here via trackback? A good example of how this would probably look is in the Lifehack: Personal Productivity in the 21st Century mini-series.
How do you feel about how this blog is tied together? Do you think it's a good thing that it's revolving around a couple of different but related themes, or should I unpack it a little?
How do you feel about the ad arrangement on the blog? Keep in mind that this will be a compromise, as I don't see me making enough from donations to offset what I'm already not earning from the different monetization sources I have on this blog.
If I did a few PayPerPosts a week, would that completely turn you off, or could you kind of roll with me as I make some dough and ease my financial burdens?
Please think about some of these questions and respond so that I'll have your actual perspective rather than what I think you think. Writing in the dark is one thing, but trying to figure out what people like in the dark is another.
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