Friday, July 21, 2006

If You Build It, They Will Come. Are You Sure About That?

Does that also mean if you blog it, they will come?

How do you know you have a successful blog?

When is a blog successful?

I’ve been thinking about those questions because I've been in the "blogosphere" for about two weeks. I’ve used the Internet for a lot longer, but this is the first time I've created content meant for others to read. I think it's a natural question when you call yourself writing for an audience. I wonder when or if my blog will ever be "successful". Of course, success is subjective on some levels and objective on others.

Subjective success could mean anything. For someone unfamiliar with the Internet, armed with their AOL CD that comes free with their new computer and gung-ho to learn about this not so new way of communicating, just figuring out what a weblog is might be success. For a young mother success might mean putting up a blog that her family and friends read so that everyone can keep in touch. For someone into a certain team or celebrity, establishing a fan blog where others who share the same love as you might mean success.

As I've been on the net for over a decade now with various ISPs and various handles, my idea of success is a blog where not only friends and family read and participate, but it's a place where I can interact with both old and new Internet friends.

Of course, I want people to read and like what I write. Now they might not agree with my point of view or perspective, but I hope that they'll conclude that my writing style is pretty good and appreciate that I can organize my thoughts and express them pretty well.

From my perspective, as my blog has been up for only a couple of weeks, I’m happy with it. I get a couple of comments on my more interesting posts, and my NeoCounter on the right tells me that folks from all over have popped by. Sometimes when I’m on I notice I have a repeat visitor from time to time.

So whoever you all are, thanks a bunch. BTW, leave a comment as I approve all of them and I’ve only 86ed one so far.

However, objective success is a totally different ballgame. I discovered this the first day I started working on my blog. I knew that just writing it, but not letting people know I had started blogging would mean that I’d pretty much be the only person reading it. I jumped right in and started looking at ways to virtually say “hey, I’m here” without being a pest. Of course, I selectively sent an email announcing my beloved blog to family, friends and acquaintances. However, most people I know could give two cents about diplomacy and most want me to leave Korea and come home, so that’s not much of an audience.

However, there are sites like Technorati, Blogpulse and Feedburner which perform a variety of services for bloggers. The one thing that they have in common is that they literally measure how your blog measures up to all the other ones. This seems to be done based on a couple of criteria: how much traffic you have on your blog and how many other sites link to your blog.

When you’re new to this, like I am, it can be a bit disconcerting to find out that because no one has linked to your blog that it is pretty much worthless. What’s even worse is when you go to some blogs that are linked to everyone, are highly ranked but they really suck. Some just leave me scratching my head as to how they have such notoriety. However, there are some popular ones that are really good. Also, there are many blogs I’ve discovered that don’t have a lot of traffic yet are really quite good.

These rankings or data analyzers can be particularly crushing when you're feeling quite proud of yourself for getting ideas, having enough inspiration and making the time to write, revise, edit and then publish them on your blog. Then you do the obligatory ping and go to Technorati to see if they’ve picked your new post up. Usually when I’m there I click around a bit.

The day that North Korea fired off all of those missiles I wrote something on it right away as I was up in the early morning hours watching the Germany vs. Italy World Cup match. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a blog post on had linked to what I wrote. What I realized then is because I’m in Seoul, most news stories break when I’m asleep. It seems that timing plays a very big role in whether certain blog sites will find what you write and then link to you. Considering the time difference, I'm usually a few hours behind. I haven’t been deemed worthy from since then. Beyond that, as I type this, the only links to my blog are me linking folks from my other tiny blogs to here. What's funny is, according to Technorati, my blog just isn't worth very much.

But the thing is that's really not all that important. This blog is a way in which I can opine, crack jokes, share music, gossip and do whatever else is special to me and, so far, I think it’s successful considering I really had not much of a clue what blogging was prior it this. The rankings let me know that the objective way of ranking, while valuable for commerce, doesn’t really measure success. They’re just measuring commercial appeal. That’s good if you’re a blogger in it to make money, to market a service or product or if you're in public relations, but that’s not why I'm here. I mean I won't deny that if my blog had the pull of Michelle Mankin's or Arianna Huffington's I wouldn't mind, but they had notoreity before they were bloggers and their blogs are also meant to promote their careers as public figures which means a lot of professionals working behind the scenes.

It’s just funny as I’m new to the blogging world, so I still have oodles to learn. I also know because I’m usually opining about international politics that I’m writing for a niche audience. They may or may not show up as time goes on.

I guess in a few months we’ll see if that quote from Field of Dreams is true.

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