About a week ago I read a tweet someone posted stemming from a conversation with their boss. The topic under consideration was blogging. The boss asserted that they should be posting more frequently, even if they are short posts. Their own impression had been that quality trumps quantity and longer, well-considered posts take time.
The initial tweet was met with a range of replies, myself amongst them. I instinctively agreed with the stance that quality is an imperative. However, as is often the case, after mulling it over for a while I’m not sure the answer is so simple or obvious. To borrow from my roots a Western Canadian cultural-ism, the better answer could be “that depends.”
Just as there are a myriad number of blogs there are an equally diverse number of reasons to blog. That is, each us us approaches the matter with different goals. With this thought in mind it follows that the answer to reaching a balancing between quantity and quality will be different for each of us. My activities are driven by my innate curiosity in taking things apart and putting them back together again. Blogging allows me to share that experience with others, and then expand upon that experience by learning more from them.
I for one am not a professional blogger (At least not yet, but I am open to offers!). My blog rarely touches directly on the issues of my day job, which is in the broadcast television industry. My decision to blog about VoIP in a SOHO setting was driven by the desire to share my experience in that arena. It just so happens that my experience was built upon many years spent working from a home office, and more recently administering a nationwide implementation of a hosted IP-PBX for my employer.
I would expect that a professional blogger, that is someone being paid to blog, must operate on a somewhat different basis. But as I don’t know any professional bloggers I’m only guessing.
As I mentioned earlier, I like to undertake projects and then write about my experience implementing those systems. This started with my 2006 article for Tom’s Hardware (now Small Net Builder) describing building an embedded Asterisk server using Astlinux, but has continued in various directions. If you’re interested you can find a summary of these works around here somewhere.
Product reviews often require a lot of research and wind up being lengthy, so I can only do them periodically. In an attempt to fund my VoIP habit, I sometimes sell longer articles elsewhere, most frequently to Small Net Builder. (Hi, Tim!) When this happens I can’t post them to my blog until 6 months after their initial run. Even so, these are the posts that constantly draw traffic. I see this as a win-win since they get good long form content, and I don’t have to fund everything I’d like to do solely out of my own pocket.
Between such projects, like others in the blogosphere, I observe and occasionally comment on the current events in the VoIP/telecom/broadband/gadget/technology industry. I try to keep it from the perspective of a SOHO user.
Here are a few simple facts and principles underlying my approach to blogging:
I read a lot.
Other blogs, trades, forums…and I do mean A LOT. OK, maybe not as much as Scoble, but enough.
Do I post every day?
Not always, but I seem to average 4-5 posts a week.
Do I post immediately about relevant current events?
Sometimes, but not always. It depends if I have anything of value to add.
Do I deliberately not post about current events?
There are some things that I just don’t have any context for comment. Consider for example Nortel’s recent problems. I enjoy reading various TMC and No Jitter writers on this matter, but I have nothing to add except that it’s a pity to see a fine Canadian company struggling. When I lived in Canada Nortel was a component of my RRSP.
Occasionally there are things that I just don’t appreciate immediately, like Skype For Asterisk. It took me a while to get my head around the scope of it’s potential, and I’m not certain that I truly understand it yet. However, I have overcome a little initial ambivalence, with my wife’s help. (she made me say that)
Do I offer opinion?
Oh yeah! I was born in August so I’m a Leo. I know that I have a well-developed ego. I have no issues about offering opinion where warranted. I believe that if you’re going to offer opinion you need to explain its origins. And I’m not afraid to be lengthy in that explanation.
I also try to temper this with listening skills. So many readers have experience beyond my own, so I try to be open to the lessons they offer.
What’s the ideal length of a post?
As little as necessary to make the point/case. But I really don’t like writing very short posts. If a blog post is only a few lines then I think its only function is to act as a reference to some other site. That’s ok, very much like retweeting…but it’s usually not high value content.
Do manufacturers send me things to review?
Occasionally, but not very often. If I’m reviewing something then I try to make it clear how the device was acquired. Many of the things that I’ve reviewed I simply purchased myself, even if that means badgering a distributor to get access to something new. Regardless of how the review unit is acquired a manufacturer never gets to read a review prior to publication.
Do I have editorial help?
Occasionally. My wife was a TV director and producer for almost 20 years. When I first started blogging she edited a lot of what I was posting, especially longer pieces. Over time I’ve come to ask for her help less frequently. She usually helps me when I’m having difficulty putting my thoughts into a coherent form.
Do you accept advertising?
No, at least not yet. A few people have expressed interest in placing advertising here, and I may some day succumb, but not for now. My focus is on creating content and developing credibility.
Do I love this stuff?
Heck ya! A friend and former co-worker once told me that except for our passions most people are extremely boring. He was right, so I tend to only write about things that touch my personal passions. Hopefully such things are of interest to others as well.
At heart I’m technologist but as a practical matter I’m involved in marketing and promotions. Technology in the abstract is only interesting to other technologists. Marketing, promotions and social networking in the abstract is only interesting to other marcom people. To me it’s the convergence of these things that has value.