What makes you a “Happy Blogger”?

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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…

8 thoughts on “What makes you a “Happy Blogger”?

  1. I do find this article very useful! I only started my own blog earlier this month and found myself addicted to it!
    well…’if I scratch ur blog, u’ll scratch mine”

  2. It started out internally, then as more and more people came upon my blog, I had to be careful and start censoring, taking into consideration the readers who expect to find something that isn’t typical teenage teen angst which can be found anywhere. I had it in mind to NOT let my blog be for ranting since the beginning, but at the times when all I want to do is rant up a large ARGH and post it up, I can’t, because so many people will start asking what’s wrong with me, when I don’t want to explain. Sometimes taking into consideration the ‘external’ can be a real pain in the butt.

    I don’t blog everyday as I would like to, because most of those posts would be ‘non-quality’ — and I don’t need people reading my blog to pass over it just because I happen to be human too. Hope you get my drift, cos it’s confusing. @_@

    That’s why I have a private blog just for my ranting. ^^; Helps a bit somewhat, but doesn’t change the fact that the blogger’s ‘freedom’ is restricted.

  3. Fishee: I can’t seem to leave a comment on your blog… I tried twice Can’t scratch your back now… 😛

    Rubez: Hey, I think you’ve got it down to the T. When you think about it, you realize that blogs are very much like our real selves, where we have to live with our internal and external selves in parallel. Sometimes these selves can come into conflict… our internal selve performs intimate behaviors, while our external selve refrains us from doing so in public. Keeping up appearances is a natural thing. See the similarity?

    Likewise when you say you don’t want crappy posts (let’s call them intimate posts instead) on your main blog, and have them on your private blog, it’s very much still like how we behave in the privacy of our homes versus at work or college.

    In other words, the blogger’s freedom is restricted only in the same sense as how we’ve been living our real lives. The only difference is that blogs give us the illusion of privacy, when they are actually out there in the open.

  4. 🙁 i’m so sad… maybe something wrong with the source code. I’ll check on that.
    BTW, I subscribed to your blog, you update every day! really dilligent! I should learn from you, hoho.
    and i think the most important reason why I blog is…I want to live a different me on the internet, coz this blog is not open to any close friends nor colleagues(kept a secret to them), i feel like living a second life 🙂 but it feels great…up till now.

  5. fishee: Indeed, I have secret friends doing the same secret life thing as you too. Blogs work that way, but be careful… there are ways to trace back owners of blogs, especially since we have link tracking services such as technorati.

    Just remember not to link to people you don’t want knowing about your blog!

  6. I started blogging to learn for myself what it means to be a blogger, and what might motivate them — more of “understanding my potential user” rather than seek out to be a blogger per se. I was having lunch with a colleague and he said blogging was about “Media Literacy” (an extension of Information Literacy). So I think I blog to stay current professionally. Wonder how you’d classify that. Of course I don’t deny the internal and external motivation part (but which aspect of what we enjoy doesn’t involve that?)

  7. This post is very old, but it is still just as relevant in 2008 as it was back in 2005. I started my blog last month, purely as a marketing tool in reality. And yet, one month later I’m find that I do actually read and enjoy other people’s blogs now. And I am finding it extremely rewarding researching and posting on my own blog.

    Pauls last blog post..History of the Goodwin Sands

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