Friday, August 15, 2008
2 Your Blogging Questions Answered: Why Do Feedburner Subscriber Counts Fluctuate So Much, Is It OK to Blog Off-Topic, & Other Burning Questions
I was tweeting with runner-blogger pals (& fellow techies) Tim & Steve the other day about various topics - Feedburner counts, writing off-topic, what makes people want to read blogs, etc. And I thought I'd share some of my insights about those topics here, in a more in-depth fashion (i.e., extending beyond 140 chars!).
So, let's address the first issue, Feedburner counts: If you've ever wondered why your Feedburner subscriber count fluctuates so much in a week, wonder no more. This article should answer all your questions.
Previous to reading the aforementioned article, I used to wonder, "Is there something I'm doing one way or the other that makes people want to subscribe or unsubscribe to my feed?" Of course, even after discovering more information about how feed data is collected & updated, I have no doubt in my mind that some of my more opinionated articles have probably pissed off more than a few people & caused them to go elsewhere, but some of those articles have also brought me a lot more readers as well. ;-)
If this is happening to you as well, my advice would be to not take it personally. Ultimately, your subscriber count shouldn't be the primary motivation for why you want to blog. Of course, it's great to have readers, & I do sincerely appreciate every single last one of them, but that's not what I'm getting at here. My point is to be yourself. The readers who truly "get you" & your philosophy/point of view will usually be your most loyal subscribers/readers/commenters. Also, my secondary piece of advice to try to adopt a neutral attitude towards your subscriber count; don't let changes in your subscriber count affect your mood, writing style or tone, choice of writing topics, or your attitude towards your existing readership & your relationship with them (i.e., they don't deserve the brunt of your mood swings! ;-) ) After all, if you feel that you get a great big "goosh" of love when the subscriber count goes up, then what does it do for your attitude & self-esteem if the reverse happens & the numbers should plummet? ;-)
I think that if you stay true yourself & your writing no matter what, people will be able to respect you for that, & of course you'll respect yourself more for it too. And ultimately, whether or not people agree with your point of view, those of us who are mature enough & secure enough in themselves will be OK with that. As adults, we need to be able to agree to disagree, but it doesn't have to wreck a friendship or a blogging relationship. ;-)
And as for what motivates me to read someone's blog: I know that, personally speaking, I'd much rather read a blog from a person who's not afraid to have an opinion, who's not trying to please everyone, but rather is writing from a place of integrity. They are intellectually robust, secure, mature people, buoyed by what they believe in, & not just swayed by the tide. And yet, they are not blinded by their own biases, & are still able to be open to new possibilities & learning new things.
I also appreciate honesty & humor in a blogger. These are the people who aren't afraid to look silly, make a mistake, admit they don't know something, or act like real human beings. Now these are the people I want to know more about, whose stories that I want to read. Not some perfect robot who never makes a misstep, & thus probably never learns anything either.
Sure, I might read a blog for information on a particular subject, say running for example ;-), but ultimately what keeps me coming back for more is the person who's writing the blog. I'm attracted to a blog, not just solely for informational content. If that was the case, I'd just go to websites like Yahoo! Answers, Wikipedia, About.com, Ask Jeeves, or the Encyclopaedia Britannica. ;-)
So Tim, to answer your question, I think it's OK to blog off-topic every once in a while, especially since I think you've got the right stuff to keep people coming back for more. ;-)