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August 17, 2006

Don’t Be Famous; Be Useful

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It’s a slow news day out there in the blogosphere so I’m venturing off a bit. Nick Wilson says for every four core topic posts I get one “off topic” post. Well, this is that post.

Let’s talk, okay?

I’m a little dismayed at the blog snobbery going on lately. A few of my favorite blogs seemed to have succumbed to it and I don’t like it. Too much talk of making it to the “A list”, too much calling other people boring, too much namedropping and not enough linking and the other good stuff that got them where they are in the first place.

If you’ve reached pinnacle “A list” status, congratulations. It’s a definite accomplishment and you should enjoy it. You worked your butt of getting there. But do me a favor; don’t stop blogging about the stuff that matters. Keep giving your readers the high quality material that made them subscribe to your feed in the first place. If you don’t, you’re letting them down.

For a relative newbie like myself, it’s kind of disheartening to watch your favorite blogs take a left turn toward celebrity. You find bloggers that you trust and respect, and then suddenly they’re pandering links from other top bloggers just because they can. Their blog goes from being an authority to one big inside joke you don’t understand. You’re left feeling cheated.

What would happen if Danny Sullivan started baiting Matt Cutts to link to him? If that’s what he did everyday instead of giving us the important search headlines like he does so well? What would happen to the quality of Search Engine Watch? Who would sign up to attend Search Engine Strategies? How would his new visitors judge the site?

In order: We’d grow tired of reading it. It would go down. No one. They’d leave.

Seth Godin wrote the difference between blogs and other forms of exposition is that with the other forms you’re pretty sure the audience will see it from the beginning to the end. Blogs don’t have that luxury. Some of your readers are the loyal been-with-you-for-years kind and others are just starting to hop on your bandwagon. Abandoning what made you a top blogger in the first place is something of a injustice to them. All they hear about is who you rubbed elbows with last week and your personal shout-out to Billy Gates and trouble twins, Sergey and Larr-Larr. They have no idea how you got there.

Seth’s right; you shouldn’t continually introduce yourself to your audience. It’s up to them to familiarize themselves with your blog, but in order for them to do that, you have to keep being you.

You started blogging for a reason. You thought you could change the way people viewed your company, you had insight you thought was worth sharing, you wanted to help people market their sites – there was something that made you decide to blog. Don’t lose sight of that. That reason is important. It’s what makes your blog important.

If you’ve made your way into my blogroll it’s because I value what you have to say; I found your voice to be different from the rest of the echochamber. You gave me a fresh outlook, helped me put the other things I was reading into context, pointed me to other relevant content and respected the rules of ‘sphere. It’s for those reasons that now watching you turn your back on that as you convert your blog into a gossip rag infuriates me. Stop it.

I don’t want to read anymore top ten lists just for the sake of link bait. I don’t want to hear how you’re too good to link. I don’t want to hear about your invite-only dinners or who you saw while you were there (but if you learned something interesting, share that!) I want you to go back to your blogging roots. To write like you did before the fame kicked in and you were on Technorati’s top ten. I want you to go back to what made your blog important.

To all the A listers out there, enjoy your success but don’t quit writing about your day job. Help me to keep trusting you, and to keep valuing what you have to say. It’s important. Your readers rely on you. The bloggers just starting out rely on you. You don’t want me to grow up to be all jaded and wrinkly, do you?

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One response to “Don’t Be Famous; Be Useful”

  1. Macalua.com writes:

    On Tributes and Adulations

    Focus. Put the commercial tributes and self-adulations on draft mode, and focus on why you wanted to be heard in the first place:
    You started blogging for a reason. You thought you could change the way people viewed your company, you had insight you t…



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