As a blogger, have you asked yourself what motivates you to blog?
While there are many studies done on this, I’d like to ask this question in a simpler way: “Are you doing it more for yourself (internally motivated), or are you doing this so as to feel connected with the rest of the world (externally motivated)?”
I believe that a significant number of bloggers are externally motivated. While I’ve yet to get the numbers to prove this, my instinct is that blogs allow for social interaction, which is measured by the amount of connectedness one has with others. This is strongly corelated with self-identity. We constantly seek to increase our utility (usefulness) to the everyone else so as to feel significant. Bloggers like yourself can sense this via the number of comments you receive on your blog. When you get no comments, you’d probably feel depressed, similar to how we used to get no email on quiet days. Perhaps it’s then useful to know a few things about your blog which might help liven you up. Specifically, if you are interested in seeing more traffic to your blog, there are two popular ways to go about this:
1. Market your blog to get the word out
2. Improve the way you track visitors
There are tons of ways to market your blog, but to name a few, you could email your blog address to family and friends, advertise your blog on community sites (as Jun did on Friendster), and add your blog to popular blog directories (blogwise, blogorama, and many more here). My personal favorite method is to submit my prized blog articles on major community sites such as BoingBoing.net, SlashDot, and Digg where I’ve gotten 10,000+ unique blog visitor overnight. To a similar effect, Nelson published his Star Wars sketches on SketchPlanet and listed his blog there. Penny also recently added her Pizza recipe on VisualRecipes.com and placed a link back to her blog. By now you should get the drift…
Despite these recommendations, there’s an underutilized method to get traffic to your blog which most bloggers really need to know… commenting on each other’s blogs. Simply speaking, “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”. If you make the time and effort to put meaningful comments on your friend’s blog, it is naturally likely for your friend to visit yours and do likewise in kind. This reciprocal effect is effective because it is personal, with a pretty high return of investment (in terms of time/effort). I tried inculcating this by making an effort to comment on each of your blogs as much as possible. Metaphorically speaking, Penny and I called this method “planting our blog seeds”. Try it and let me know of your results.
Finally, for every blog comment received, there are many more invisible visitors who drop by and don’t leave a trace. A quick way to seek spiritual enlightenment as a blogger is to improve the way you track visitors to your blog. At first glance, I don’t sense my blog getting a lot of visitors since I don’t think I get a ton of comments (though the few comments I get are of excellent quality). However, free traffic monitoring services tell me otherwise. One of the more unique tracking services which gave me instant gratification upon using was ClustrMaps. As I mentioned before, ClustrMaps (free version) gives you a nice geographical view of visitors to your blog. Seeing all the red clusters of visitors around the world is guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. I’m prescribing this free service to the lonely bloggers out there. Other free and popular tracking services include Sitemeter and StatCounter. Between these tracking services, I know I get around 300 to 500 visitors a daily. Try to figure out what’s yours and let me know if you’ve found better services on the Internet.
Do share thoughts on your motivations as a blogger.
Update: After some thought, both external and internal motivations could be strongly tied together. In other words, they mean the same thing if a blogger seeks to have more social interaction, he/she is actually doing it for egotistical reasons. I wonder how I can more clearly define the two…