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Guest Thinkers

Dear Jon letter (a.k.a. The world doesn’t care about you)

Some words of advice for new education bloggers.

Dear Jon (and all you other new bloggers),

Following the time-honored tradition of Dear John letters everywhere, I write this because I care about you. I hope that we can still be friends when all is said and done. But it’s time that you faced a few brutal facts.

Fact 1. The world doesn’t care about you

Like the real world, other than your family and friends like me, the blogosphere doesn’t care about you. In the words of Seth Godin,

[They] don’t care about you. Not really. [They] care about [themselves]. If your message has something to do with [their lives], then perhaps [they’ll] notice, but in general, don’t expect much.

They don’t care that you want to be loved. They don’t care that you want more comments or that you want to be in on the conversation. It’s not about you. It’s about them (us) and whether, in an attention economy, you have anything worth paying attention to.

Fact 2. If you build it, they won’t come

Not at first, not for a long time, and maybe not ever. But eventually a few might swing by. For a few seconds. Maybe. And, if you’re adding value, they might stick around. Maybe. Or they might not. If you’re really lucky, they might tell a few friends about you. And some of those people might actually stop by and/or stay. But they probably won’t. They’ll probably go back to watching YouTube videos or reading I Can Has Cheezburger? (Lol).

Fact 3. There are things that you can do to increase your blog traffic

  1. Blog about stuff that your audience wants to read
  2. Help them find you
  3. That’s it. Okay, that’s not completely it, but that’s 99% of it. Give me a ring if you want some tips about the other 1%.

    Fact 4. If you’re nice, some folks might actually help you

    Amazingly, many of those cocktail party elitists, despite being busy with their closed conversations, somehow found time to step outside of the inner circle and deign to offer you their thoughts. Vicki wrote you a very nice note. So did Darren. Lots of other folks left you comments and Stephen sent people your way. And of course there’s this tough love missive from me, your buddy who’s been down this path and is willing to share a few unsolicited thoughts that might be useful to you.

    As my mother always used to say, don’t forget to write them a thank you note. The path to heaven is paved with graciousness.

    Fact 5. You need to be patient

    You’ve been blogging for how long? And your audience is how big? Congratulations! You shouldn’t be whining, you should be celebrating! Most newbie bloggers who are trying to grow their traffic would kill to be in your shoes.

    I get that you want the buzz, the conversation, the mojo. You’ve tasted the juice and you want more. But it doesn’t work that way. Because it’s not about you.

    If you follow the steps in #3 above, your audience will grow. You’ll get a few comments now and then (only a few, now, don’t be greedy). You’ll get a little link love. A few friends – some of whom you’ve never met – will help you. Twelve to eighteen months from now, if you’re still blogging and adding value to others, let’s see how you feel about things, okay?

    Until then, keep doing what you’re doing. Blog great stuff. Link to others. Comment on others. Rinse and repeat. Oh, and be grateful that you have a voice and the tools to express it. We love in wonderful and interesting times.

    Go in peace, my friend.

    P.S. Your belief that the blogosphere may be saturated? Call me when every one of the 4+ million U.S. educators each has a RSS aggregator overflowing with feeds and no time to read them all. Then we can talk.


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