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And all because…..

01/12/2011

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I reckon I probably spend too much time blogging (hold the jokes until later) given that I don’t do this for money.  Some people play golf, some people knit and some people dress up as babies. Me? I blog.  But why? That was the question that I was asked this week.  I should emphasise at this point that it wasn’t in a desperate and pleading way, “oh why, oh why, oh why do you blog????” but a genuine question.

Why do I blog?

There are a number of reasons, but mainly because I like to write.  The creative endeavour. I realise there are people out there who write for a living and who, if they read this, would want to punch me until I resembled damp quinoa. But that is the difference isn’t it? This is a hobby. In the same way the amateur golfer will never make the Ryder Cup squad.

Then there is the fact that I like to be read. Yup, I said it.  I could give you some malarkey about doing it for myself and not caring whether I had one or one thousand views a day. But that would be crap.  What do I do when I log on to the internet? a) check the comments b) check the visits. Because that is the affirmation that I sometimes need.

If that makes me weak or pathetic, then I’ll take that and wear it with a smile.

But that is just me and I’m interested in two things here. From the bloggers, I’d like to know why you blog, why you started and what is important to you? And from the readers who may also be bloggers, why do you read blogs, what do you look for in a blog and what makes you convert a visit to a comment?

If you were going to give one piece of advice to a would be blogger what would it be?

PS. I know that makes three, I call it HR math…..

31 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/12/2011 09:23

    HR math – I’ve experienced that one a few times before, especially when working out bonus payments 😉

    Why do I blog? I enjoy writing; I learn from both the research I do for a post and the feedback I get; I enjoy sparking a good debate now and again; it’s good for me professionally (but I try not to treat it as a professional exercise – that would take the fun out!). I want to contribute; occasionally, I want a platform for a good rant. That’ll do for now – though there’s probably more.

    What do I read? Rough order of priority – anything from people I respect; things of direct professional relevance; things from people I like; things of indirect professional relevance; things that generate an emotional reaction. Key point: I read people I respect before people I like. That’s a critical (and in my view justifiable) distinction. Not everyone fits in both categories.

    Advice? Only right about stuff you care about. Anything else just sounds corporate and if I want that, I’ll get the brochure or pick up a paper. I want to see a piece of you in your writing.

    • 01/12/2011 09:25

      Dammit. Just noticed right vs write in the last para. Someone send out for some decent coffee please.

  2. 01/12/2011 09:25

    I blog because it is the only way I have of being creative, I love writing, I love the English language – but I will never be a professional (obviously I dream the editor of the New York Times will randomly come across my blog and offer me a weekly column or a book deal).

    I started because I felt I had something to say that others might find reassuring/interesting, I feel now that perhaps I didn’t have as much to say as I thought but I will carry on because its quite a relaxing thing to do.

    The advice I would give to a new blogger is, don’t sign up to Google Analytics- Bounce Rates are depressing, and just get stuck in and go for it.

    I read other blogs for inspiration and to learn.

    • 01/12/2011 13:54

      Love the advice on analytics. Never heard someone say that before, but you’re bang on the money.

      • 01/12/2011 16:08

        Don’t get me wrong I like GA but I think my blogging experience was better before I knew 4 people in Norway had read my blog and that the average page view per site visit was 1.54 or something.

        Plus being a non-digital person, I don’t really understand it. I like numbers and graphs and information but I’m not sure I want to know it all. I was happier with the clearly made up stats from posterus 🙂

  3. 01/12/2011 09:26

    I started blogging just last September because I’d just received my redundancy notice and felt so angry and helpless that I wanted to record that dying days of the public sector as we knew it. It’s also been my therapy. When I’m upset or angry or have something to say I blog and people even read it sometimes! My sisters in law are ardent bloggers and gave some tips about starting. I’ve met some brilliant people in the blogosphere and feel a lot more supported knowing that there are others in similar positions. I also like to write and blogging on a regular basis is good practice. Oh and The Guardian has mentioned my blog a few times and asked me to be a redundancy expert in a live Q&A they ran. Very, very exciting.

    • 01/12/2011 10:17

      Because I like sharing what’s going on in my head into neat little words, sentences, punctuation marks, and paragraphs. And having that read by a bunch of different people in a scale that have not been reachable ever in the history of humans is awesome. I can connect with people because of ecards one day, and because of human resources the next. It’s good to know that they’re not all numbers and demographics and trends — that they’re of flesh and blood who would actually read and comment, and react. Each of us are still individuals.
      Being a “blogger” was a natural progression from getting As in writing assignments in high school, to writing kickass cover letters, to getting into college early, getting job offers without looking for them and bosses recommend and promote me. It starts from writing well, and writing with skill. If a person has good writing skills, half the work is done — the idea of “you” is sold. Then you’ll have to sustain that awesome impression with your personality and how you follow up etc. That’s it. When I started, no one knew what ‘blogs’ were, it was just a hobby. Later, it naturally invaded my professional life, now, I can do it as part of my job. There’s nothing more rewarding than really loving what you do, and things you can achieve with the skills and talent you’ve learned over a period of time. (note to self, must quote this.)
      I read blogs because they come at the speed of thought. It’s like we’re in this bubble and we’re sharing our collective consciousness (Yes, I live on my Blackberry, then on Google Analytics, then on Google Reader, then on Twitter. Then on blogs such as this one if I have the means and time to comment.)
      I blame Michael Carty for distracting me from work and making me comment. I get converted by influencers and thought leaders like Michael, who are always pushing the envelop to force people to really engage and interact. But his job was done when he recommend the link — he sparked the interest/curiosity factor. The act of being engaged, or the ‘pull’ is done by the content of the blog. Having been a regular reader, now for a couple of days, this blog has a tone, style, and content that is most appealing to my sense of humor and over active, multi-tasking brain. We have a similar sense of humor, I get what you’re trying to say, and I feel like you’re one of the cool kids (doesn’t matter who’s really cool, it just matters that all the kids in that crowd feel that they ARE the cool kids) and that’s why birds of the same blog feather tend to stick together.
      Hope that helps! Keep on posting.

  4. 01/12/2011 09:53

    I started blogging to help me think out loud. What I received was the incredible realisation that thoughtful people were making the effort to read my scribblings and commenting. That wasn’t a buzz; it was gob smacking.

    The book is finished and I eventually got my story straight, with grateful help from comments.

    The blog needs a new direction now, and I am still working that one out.

  5. 01/12/2011 12:06

    Why I blog: I love writing – wouldn’t blog otherwise; it’s a mindful passtime; helps me appreciate what I know and care about; gives potential clients a better sense of me in deciding on working together; and yes, I love to be read too – I want to make someone think, or smile, and hopefully both.

    Why I read blogs: I love reading and learning. I like posts that are genuine, personal and short-ish. I’ll leave a comment to show my appreciation and sometimes support. I’ve left a comment on this one because you’ve made me think and smile – a good combination! I also read to get a better sense of who’s writing – I have a genuine curiosity about what makes us tick, our similarities and our differences. It helps keep me open-minded.

    Advice: Don’t try to force a blog! Instead of striving, just write what naturally comes up for you that day or that hour, and write from the heart. Other ideas you have can wait until the right moment.

  6. 01/12/2011 13:13

    I never thought that I would blog, but I do and I love it. For me, the reasons are
    – like so many others, I like writing and enjoy being creative
    – it has helped me to ‘find my voice’ on things that are important to me and has given me a huge boost of confidence when I needed it professionally
    – every so often a post that you write inspires real debate and the responses are better and more informative than original article. It may not happen often but it is a fantastic feeling!
    – through writing and sharing a blog, you build a community which engages with you and who support you
    – it is a great way widening your professional network
    – Its hard to articulate why but I have also found it a great source of personal development; a way of figuring out a way to share knowledge, understanding my own priorities and values and embedding learning and plans for action. Its also really cathartic and when have things have gone haywire, its a great way to take stock and regroup.

    In terms of advice to new bloggers I would say a couple of things. Firstly, try it! The support you get will be amazing and overwhelming and yes, there will be plenty of people out there who are interested in what you have to say. Secondly, don’t overthink it. Write something down, don’t take ages painstakingly correcting it and analysing it. Just jot it down, share it and see what happens. Personally I found the experience of writing a blog terrifying in the early days (not so much the first post, but the subsequent ones!) and felt a pressure of knowing what to write next. Just stick with it, this soon fades and chances are something will naturally occur to you that you want to write about.

    I read blogs because I like bite-sized chunks of information and thought/opinion pieces. I comment when I feel I have something useful to contribute 🙂 or have had had direct experience of the subject matter.

    Great post!

  7. 01/12/2011 13:43

    I tend only to blog when I feel passionately about something. I can’t make myself write a blog for the sheer hell of it, maybe because I write for a living, i don’t know. I just don’t have the inclination unless I am fired up about a subject. I also like to provoke response rather than just inform (a bit like TheHRD perhaps). As for reading other blogs, if the headline appeals i will give it a whirl, but it needs to grab me early doors or I’m off. There is just too much information out there to take in. I admire those that blog professionally in a way, but in another way I wonder how anyone has always got so much to say. Personally, I would struggle.

  8. 01/12/2011 13:51

    I see there are no short answers from the bloggers here. We do like to go on, don’t we? (myself included)

    I’d admit to blogging with a hint of vanity, arrogance, showing off, and a soupçon of humility. I do like to write what I’m thinking, and hope that when I explain myself fully, I sound less bullish, obnoxious and contrary. I don’t always succeed.

    My blog is a random mix of smash and trash. Professional considered articles about recruitment, on which I think I know what I’m talking about, and my personal views on subjects which vex and perplex me.

    I do like the affirmation of comments and retweets, and being quoted, but I don’t really get that many. On that count I’m quite jealous of The HRD.

    Lastly, I really the feeling when I impress myself with a nice turn of phrase, or (in my opinion) a well reasoned argument.

  9. 01/12/2011 14:13

    Why blog? Like Theo and the rest of you here, I enjoy writing; like Anne-Marie and Alison, sometimes I only know what I think when I see it written down.

    What’s important? Being read and responded to is good. Looking at it a week later and liking what I did is really, really good.

    Why do I read blogs? Good ideas and good writing.

    Advice to bloggers? Do it. Do it often. Be happy to learn as you go. Remember that nothing you can do is wrong.

    On HR maths, I reckon there are seven questions but, hey, what do I know?

  10. 01/12/2011 16:23

    Are you weak and / or pathetic? No. The great Eric Blair, a.k.a. Mr George Orwell sums it up better than I ever could in his essay ‘Why I Write’:

    1. Sheer egoism.

    Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money .

    2. Aesthetic enthusiasm.

    Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.

    I rest my case.

  11. 01/12/2011 16:25

    First started blogging to encourage others to do likewise and to communicate more (it was initially a work experiment). More and more nowadays I do it to try and grow the market through linking with other bloggers.

    I read blogs to learn and be entertained.

    Advice – In this field (some might say in any field!) I’m not qualified to give any.

    Toodle pip.

  12. 01/12/2011 16:26

    Theo,
    I’m going to be honest, and we have discussed this in the past. My blog is the center of my business. I’m surprised no one else has mentioned this. I promote #trulondon and other events through my blog. It is the only place I sell tickets. Don’t advertise or market in other ways, and my social media activity often points to my blog.
    I showcase some of what I know and think through my blog and this has won me consultancy and training work. By sharing my thoughts and views I’ve also picked up speaking engagements in the UK and increasingly in the US. (7 for 2011.) It’s not just my blog, it is also what I do in social-media, but it is a big part of how people get to know who and what I am.
    I share all the other good stuff. I love writing and having an uncensored voice. I’m flattered that an increasing number of people read and subscribe to what I write. I guest blog on about 5 – 10 other blogs each week and have another blog “social job search” that exists just to help job seekers. Nothing charitable, I just like helping where I can.
    My advice to other bloggers: Don’t try to get it 100%, you never get there. Have a reason for writing. This helps you keep it up once you get over the honeymoon period. Think of your target audience and write for them every time. Catch the #Blogchat transcript each Monday morning. (Lots of good tips there on all areas of blogging.) Have an easy sign up, archive and make it very easy to navigate around your site. Play around with themes till you are happy. Don’t expect any comments, it avoids disappointment. Rejoice and respond when you get them.Write about others often. people seem to like rhat Don’t copy the HRD. Only so many people can be charming in their swearing. (or anyone else for that matter!) Your readers will like your style. Be true to that!
    That’s me done, thanks Theo,
    Bill

  13. Rick permalink
    01/12/2011 17:15

    Why do I blog? I just really enjoy writing – I walk around writing stuff in my head and just have to get it down somewhere.

    I like the argument and mental discpline too. There is nothing like writing an article for exposing how little you know about something. I often start off thinking I know about something then, as I start to write, I realise that I need to go and do a whole lot more research before I sound off. I have, therefore, learnt a hall of a lot through blogging.

    I also, as Theo says, like to be read. I like getting comments and links from other people. I’d sooner get a ‘this is a load of crap’ link or comment than none at all!

    What do I read? Anything that gives a perspective or insight I haven’t heard before. Anything that uses data, research or deep expertise to debunk widely held ‘truths’ or tabloid bullshit. Anything that happens to pique my interest on the day. Anything I find funny. Anything that makes me stop and think.

    I have no intention of looking at Google analytics. I don’t know how to use it and I have no intention of starting to do so.

    One of the great by-products of blogging is that I’ve met a whole load of new people. For example, but for blogging, I wouldn’t have been out on the piss with Mervyn Dinnen last week or be going to the HR Tweet-up at the end of this month.

    Oh and my wife reckons I don’t shout at the telly as much now that I can get it all out of my system on the blog!

  14. Lena permalink
    01/12/2011 17:50

    I started blogging to get my mind distracted from a war… Then I just stick to it…
    There have been times and circumstances that have made me want out of it, but I just survived my first two years… I will keep doing it until people tell me to please, please stop because I’m so bad at it!! 🙂

    The fun part about stats is you suddenly realise people from all over the world are reading your ramblings and you just think… “Oh my… How embarrassing!”

  15. Corporate Daycare permalink
    01/12/2011 17:59

    I blog because it’s how I work things out in my head. I tend to be a passive-aggressive person, so it’s my way of saying all those things that I would like to, but never actually do.

    And I’m right up there in liking comments – albeit they are infrequent. I used to take this as a sign of my blog being boring, but I know realize it’s people quietly listening to what I have to say.

    I’m grateful for this medium – it has brought me needed peace of mind and allowed me to contact with some great like-minded people doing the same.

  16. 01/12/2011 18:12

    I blog because I like to write and even more than that, I like to be read. I am your garden variety attention whore. I wouldn’t mind getting a book contract someday. I have already had one magazine article published because an editor read my blog and liked it.

    I read blogs that are well written and entertaining. I like this one because it is a funny, well written blog about work. Everyone (well, almost everyone) can relate to work stories and crazy bosses and weird co-workers.

    • Corporate Daycare permalink
      01/12/2011 21:38

      “garden variety attention whore” –

      I love this: honest, to the point, and sums up what many of said in a different way.

  17. 01/12/2011 20:27

    It’s lovely that so many people write just because they love to write. Who wants to read a load of blogs from people just selling stuff?!

    However, I feel bad to admit that I write, like Bill, for more commercial reasons. I know Bill and I aren’t alone in this though.

    I write to promote the things that we (UK Recruiter) do (networking events, psychometric testing, etc) and to drive traffic to other areas of our enterprise (newsletter, discussion forum, etc).

    However, on the more altruistic side I write blog posts that help to create awareness for suppliers in the recruitment industry. I write about products and services from people who I expect will never have the money to advertise with us, but who have an interesting story to tell.

    So I like to think I’m keeping the karmic balance!

  18. 01/12/2011 22:30

    Hi Theo, interesting post and good debate…I’m glad you wrote it.

    As you know, I have been trying to write some form of blog for a few years…think I’m a frustrated journalist or opinion writer! My reasons are that I like writing and I’ve got thoughts and opinions that I want to share. So far, so Orwell!

    When I started I was employed full time in a company and my thoughts were very much my own…happy to have them out there and visible to candidates and clients but not really in an attempt to attract them.

    There’s been a slight shift now as I’m blogging about my job hunt and experimenting with a different kind of site. Again, I don’t expect it to get me a job but gives the opportunity for potential employers to get a better feel for what I think and believe in, and how creative I can be.

    I’m not overly prolific, but have enjoyed seeing the reader numbers grow and really do feel chuffed when people say they enjoy it, or it makes them think (that Orwell ego reason again!)

    I’ve always seen it as on an online diary, a web log (from which the word comes) and enjoy reading ones that give me insight, make me see things differently and show me a different world. My two favourite blogs are by journalists…one a football writer who blogs about Arsenal and really gets me thinking about football differently, the other a music journalist who writes about new music, stuff I can’t read about anywhere else, and usually makes me want to track it down.

    And yours, of course!

  19. Natalia Alexandrou permalink
    01/14/2011 17:24

    I can’t really answer your question because i’ve never written a blog – well I actually wrote several blogs for my previous company, but not under my own name and not about anything that I was interested in.

    But I’ve been asked to write a couple of blogs for the CIPD website about social media stuff, but have been too scared so far (what if it’s not interesting, what if my grammar is appalling etc.)

    Reading all of these comments has made me think ‘maybe it’s not so bad’, so will give it a go soon!

    Ps. If anyone ever wants help with web analytics – just drop me a tweet @NAlexandrou

  20. 01/15/2011 08:31

    Sir

    Terrific post from you here, and great to see the range of comments it has engendered so far! Clearly, the why and the how of blogging is as diverse as the individuals that blog and the subjects about which they write.

    Blogging is part of my work on XpertHR, but it’s also something about which I’m passionate, and over time has become central to what I do (particularly if we factor in so-called “microblogging” via Twitter, etc).

    I completely agree with what Yu Yu says above about blogs coming “at the speed of thought.” I also really like Rick’s point that it’s a discipline. These are two very good concepts to bear in mind for new bloggers. Arguably the biggest challenge – once you’ve got your blog up and running and established its tone – is building momentum.

    Allowing your blog to be a space for your thoughts to take shape (whatever they may be), and applying a disciplined, committed approach to getting them down on “virtual paper” is the best way to build and sustain this momentum.

    For journalists/editors, I think the following quotation from Robert Peston’s “What future for media and journalism?” spells out why blogging and microblogging is so vital:

    “For me, the blog is at the core of everything I do, it is the bedrock of my output. The discipline of doing it shapes my thoughts. It disseminates to a wider world the stories and themes that I think matter.”

    Another incredible aspect of blogging is the ability to engage with your readers, and to do so immediately. Back in 2000, when I first started writing for a distinctly old skool, hard copy reward/HR journal from another publisher, I often felt a distinct sense of “writing into the void.” There was no feedback from readers, and consequently no engagement with the audience. A nagging sense of pointlessness was often close at hand.

    Cut to today, and blogging and microblogging enable you to tap into what Mervyn Dinnen so excellently termed “the conversation that never sleeps.” There is an intelligent, articulate and highly approachable audience out there. Discussions can spring up (or come back to life) anywhere and on any topic, and take the most unexpected and inspirational turns.

    Blogging and microblogging have transformed so much about journalism/editorial work, and very much for the better. I would never want to go back to that old feeling of “writing into the void.”

    Thanks so much for getting this discussion going, and giving me the chance to put into words something I’ve wanted to write about for ages.

    Kind regards

    Michael

  21. 01/18/2011 08:36

    All – Thanks for all the wonderful comments and advice. I really appreciate it and I hope that others do too.

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