Feeding the beast

Remember Tamagotchi? The little keyfob-dwelling virtual pet that you had to feed and care for in order for it to ‘survive’?

Blogs are Tamagotchi. If you don’t feed them, they die. If you don’t clear up their crap – comment spam, for example – they die. They’re more fun when there are other bloggers to play with, just like the new IR connected Tamagotchi are allegedly more fun because your little virtual pet can now interact with other little virtual pets.

But, like Tamagotchi, if your blog pet dies, nothing really bad happens. There’s no body to dispose of, no crying children to whom you have to explain that little Ginger went away and isn’t coming back, no real repercussions at all. And, like Tamagotchi, even if your blog does starve to death, it’s easily enough resurrected.

Let’s face it, a business blog could die and it probably wouldn’t have a fatal impact on the business. It wouldn’t be good PR, but I doubt that you’d be there six months later explaining to the receivers how failing to post to your blog destroyed your customer base.

Like a Tamagotchi, keeping a blog healthy requires time and effort. The question is, how much?

One important aspect is how your business blog fits in with the rest of your work. If your blog is a priority, then that makes it easier to judge how much of your time should be spent working on it. If your is just tacked on to other responsibilities then you are forced to blog shorter posts because you simply don’t have time for anything else.

Another influence on time spent blogging is what sort of blog you are keeping, and what you are intending to achieve with it. A basic linklog takes a lot less time to maintain than a collection of informed posts, but in terms of communicating your key messages it’s not going to be as effective because all you are doing is pointing to other people’s work rather than explaining your own stance to your readers. Conversely, blog of long essay-like posts which explore wider themes and crystallise out original thoughts is bound to take more time than a linklog but will communicate something of your experience and opinions to your audience, thus telling them something valuable about you and your business.

Also to be considered are the simple mechanics of writing. It is easy to underestimate the amount of time that writing can take. The actual putting of fingertips to keyboard is just end of a process that can involve a lot of reading, research and thinking. That last step, the thinking, can be a particularly thorny when working in a world where ‘work’ is expected to be an externalised, visible process.

Often thinking requires quietude, physical exercise or doing some non-cerebral task. The shower, for example, is a great place for a good think, but opportunities to take a quick shower in the workplace are, well, limited. This is one of the problems that arises when the creative clashes with the corporate – the way that the creative mind functions is often at odds with the work ethic, not to mention environment, of many companies.

Then comes probably the most important factor – the personality of the blogger and their perception of their blog. Some people are naturally more verbose, but if they are seen as spending too much time on their blog, conflict will ensue. Equally, if the bloggers sees the blog as something that deserves their best work, that will also result in more time spent blogging. After all, who wants to put their worst work on display?

Tamagotchi die when neglected, but you can’t get away with just randomly feeding your virtual pet and hoping for the best. It takes care. You have to learn when your Tamagotchi needs food, when it needs to sleep, when it wakes up.

Blogs are the same, you have to figure out the boundaries of your comfort zone – how often to post, what to post, what style, how that fits in with your job and the rest of your life. Failing to find out where you’re comfortable will almost certainly result in a decreased desire to post, neglect of your blog and ultimately, its untimely death.

And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

3 thoughts on “Feeding the beast

  1. You’ve hit on some of the issues tha arise when a blog’s content is not properly planned or differentiated.

    I’ve spent a good deal of time identifying patterns in blogging behavior. There’s a summary here:

    http://socialtwister.com/archives/000136.html

  2. Well-put assessment of the essence of blog vitality.

    This is a subject that I touch upon from time to time. There seems to be no end to the potential for this citizen publishing activity we are creating.

    I found your site through a recent mention on a friend’s blog. Excellent writing. Interesting viewpoints. I have added you to my list of blogs that are required reading.

  3. Suw, the more I read you, the more firmly I believe you’re a genious. 🙂

    Apart from that, yes, I’m really interested in writing “underestimation” mistakes… that always happens to me… I guess it also’s got something to do with how you display your thoughts “internally”… I mean, if you’re used to think through simple, clean, chains of thoughts, writing will be faster… if you’re an hypertext thinker, as I am, putting things down on a sequential form is a pain…

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