The Best Two Ways We Can Add Value As Bloggers This Year

If you’ve been blogging for a while, I believe it’s a good idea to periodically take a step back and look at why you’re doing it, and whether you enjoy it.

Having done this myself recently, I’ve been reminded that one of the core purposes of being a blogger is to give value to others.

Let’s clarify a couple of definitions here.

By being a blogger I mean writing and publishing my own blog, and reading and contributing to others in our connected community of blogs.

Now to “give value” is a phrase that is often thrown around vaguely without meaning much.

For me, on the simplest level, it’s just making someone’s life better, even in a tiny way, even for a few moments.

Somehow enriching their day, bringing a smile, or comfort, or enabling some learning or inspiration, that wasn’t there before.

It’s literally giving them something that they value, appreciate, and are pleased they came across.

I believe as bloggers we can bring this value in two ways.

First, we can write posts on our own blogs that are of value to others.

Broadly speaking there tend to be two kinds of blogs.

The first type are in the original spirit of the weblog, an online personal journal, that you may, or may not, want to share with others.

With these, adding value to others may not be your aim at all, and that’s fine.

But there are some very personal blogs that nonetheless give us value because they connect with us on some way, they touch us, we relate to the writing and the person behind it. We feel a camaraderie, and recognise a kindred spirit, even if they’re thousands of miles away and from a different timezone and a different culture.

With these more personal blogs, the way add value is by the author simply sharing, with openness and honesty, a part of their lives that others then relate to.

The second main type of blogs are those written to explain or teach to others, the “how to” blogs.

These can be very direct and technical, and cover sewing to software shortcuts, baking bread to bike repair, indeed anything where the reader wishes to learn how to do something specific.

Here, the best way to add value is to write about things you have learned how to do yourself, and want to share with other people, in a way that’s engaging and easy to follow.

To be honest, 35hunter is something of a hybrid of the two types we’ve just talked about.

The posts that have gained most views by far have been those that are “how to” guides to some aspect of photography, like shooting film without a light meter, or choosing an affordable compact 35mm film camera.

Or, even more simple, a review of a camera or lens, along with photographs, that helps to guide people to deciding whether it might be something they would enjoy using too.

The posts that have fewer views, but I personally enjoy writing more, are those where I share some personal experience and/or thoughts around an aspect of photography (or something loosely connected).

Put another way, I share my latest adventure in “finding beauty and balance, camera in hand”, the core focus of the blog in its (and my!) five year journey so far.

Again with these posts, I try to add value by making them interesting, thought provoking, and useful, rather than being just my own personal ranting and rambling, or claiming that I am an expert and you should listen to me.

So this is the first way of giving value as a blogger – with what you share on your own site.

Second, we can add value to other blogs we enjoy.

Simply reading someone else’s blog is the starting point, and when I say reading, I mean reading it.

This is one major reason I only follow perhaps 25 sites, most of them blogs, because I want to read the vast majority of their posts – and comment on a proportion (more on that shortly).

I’d rather give a significant amount of my attention and patronage to a few blogs, than follow hundreds and skim through most of them, barely giving them any time, just paying lip service.

In the same way I’d rather sit down with a slab of one of my favourite cakes and enjoy it to the full, instead of having a fleeting lick of a dozen different cakes, then feel dizzy, sick and unsatisfied.

This is also why I don’t do social media. It encourages that superficial skimming, without stopping to try to go deeper, to converse, to connect.

The next level of support and value you can give to another blogger is to leave a comment.

It needn’t be an effusive essay, longer than the original post itself.

Just saying “thanks for this, I really enjoyed it” can make someone’s day, especially if they don’t get many readers or comments.

Even better, be specific about what you most enjoyed about the post, maybe ask a further question about what they wrote and why they wrote it, and/or share some of your experiences around the same subject.

The third level is an extension of the public comment – sending a private message of some kind.

There are a few bloggers I email directly now and then, just because I want to talk more deeply about something, or share something I found that I thought they might enjoy, and so on.

So this is the second way we can add value as bloggers – by supporting and encouraging other bloggers and their work.

My aim after revisiting this thinking is to do more of both types myself.

In particular I think I need to shift the balance a little towards commenting more on other people’s blogs, rather than just prioritising my own.

This could mean less reading and following less blogs, but as I alluded to above, I’d rather give more to fewer than skim over many more.

How about you? How do you like to add value to the blogging communities you’re a part of?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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22 thoughts on “The Best Two Ways We Can Add Value As Bloggers This Year”

  1. My blog exists for me only. I’m not in the business of publishing for others. I have no responsibility to provide value to anyone. So I’ve never considered what people reading my blog any to read. To me that’s a trap no different than posting on Instagram for the likes.

    1. It depends whether you’re writing to try to please a certain audience, responding to what they react to best then trying to duplicate it, or just trying to make what you write useful and valuable in how it’s presented. In the former, your content is dictated by the audience (like you say, similar to just posting to Instagram for the likes), in the latter, you write about whatever you want, just you try to make it accessible, and interesting and useful for others too. There’s a big difference, for me.

      I don’t quite get why someone would have a blog that “exists for me only” but then publishes it online? Why is it public, why are comments enabled, why is it connected to social media, if you don’t want anyone but yourself to read it? Why not have it on a private, password protected URL that only you have access to, or just keep it in a different form, offline?

      1. Thanks Khurt, this is fascinating. I’ve done this myself with notebooks when reading/studying text books numerous times, like a kind of abbreviated highlights handbook plus notes of what I’ve learned from the book(s).

      1. Not really sure. Sometimes think to improving with my photography, other times to work towards being able to make an income from the photography and also just a space to talk about different subjects.

      2. Some blogs work well with a handful of different topics around the same person (Jim Grey’s Down The Road is a great example), others are far more specialised. I think we all need to find the balance that works best for us, and sometimes that might mean having more than one blog to keep each of them focused and on track.

  2. My blog has two types of content. The first type recounts my experiences, good and bad, learning photography and gardening. The second type offers advice/information that could help others. For example, I have created resource pages that offer links to repair shops, books, and reviews for Minolta manual and AF gear, as well as general photography and gardening information, and helpful/interesting blogs.

    1. I love this about the internet, how in the past there were very few “experts” we had access to, and then it was very rarely a two way interaction. Now we can all share our experiences and build up a collective knowledge and community around our shared interests.

  3. I’ve just started blogging. It will be mainly photography based, with a few personal posts thrown in for good measure. I don’t have a proper domain name for it – but I might just keep it that way. I have set up a short url – …. a bit rubbish I know but I’m a cheapskate.
    I love your blog here – I must comment more often 🙂

  4. Great post Dan. I treat my blog as a visual diary but also share some photography experience or approach that if one person finds it helpful, my job is done! I really like discovering and connecting with other creatives around the bloggersphere.

    1. As I said in another response, I love this collective community aspect of the internet, where we’re all sharing resources and experiences, rather than there being one acknowledged “expert” who claims to know everything. It’s far more democratic and community led.

  5. Some of my blogs have been for me but then have turned toward other people’s needs, and that’s a common thing that happens with personal blogs – not all, but many of them. My colouring blog was intended to be for other people and I think I succeeded in that. And yes, for me too, the pleasure was in the comments as much as doing the posts themselves. Really, a good comment – particularly when a short conversation then ensues – adds to the content of the post. For instance in the advice/tutorial type posts, someone who chips in with their own experience that the post’s author might not have thought about, really does add to it (providing of course that readers read the comments, too! A lot don’t bother.)

    For me, this is all going to be quickly in the past, though, as I’m closing my blog in a few days’ time. (17th Jan). I’ll still read your blog as I enjoy it but if I comment in the future it will have to be from offsite – and won’t be for about a month – as I’ll also be closing my account here. I’d be happy to be in touch with you by email if you’d like, but that’s up to you. Also, I’ve a pdf of some of my older and what would have been my newer posts, if you’d like a copy of it. Just let me know.

    I love your photo, by the way, with all the different patterns, and it puts me in mind of my late father-in-law who was colour-blind and relied on pattern to help him make sense of shapes in the colours he couldn’t see.

    All the best.

    1. Thanks for your comments V. I still don’t quite understand why people have blogs “just for them” but then they’re online, where anyone can see them. Why not keep such a project as a written journal or just documents in Word or something, or a private, password protected blog, if they’re for your eyes only? You don’t need to answer, I’m just kind of wondering out loud about something I don’t understand.

      What do you mean you’re “closing your blog”? Do you mean not posting anything new, or taking it offline completely? The latter would be a shame as I love the way blogs no longer active can still find new readers, who then stumble across rich archives. I’ve done this with a number of blogs!

  6. This year I’m really going to try and check in with friends and acquaintances on WordPress a lot more, even if I haven’t been journaling on a regular basis . I’m still almost daily reading essays or admiring pictures by friends, it’s part of my news of th4e day, to be honest! it’s just that I’ve never been a creature of social media so sometimes it’s very easy for me to fall out of the habit of checking in with everyone….. it’s something I really enjoy, besides. I should be better about leaving briefer notes of appreciation. Sometimes I definitely fall prey to the notion that if I don’t have something fairly insightful to say that it’s better to not say anything at all. It seems like everyone else always has something interesting or thought provoking to offer and anything I have to share seems like so much idle chatter. At any rate, thank goodness it’s Friday and hope this finds you well, Dan.

    1. I’d rather someone just commented with something simple like “thanks, I enjoyed this post” than not at all. IT doesn’t have to be something of searing wisdom. But I can’t imagine you ever saying that alone, you always have something more to offer.

  7. Dan
    For the avoidance of doubt…your blog is “the business” and HAS added a lot of value to my life on a number of levels i.e. instructional, peace-inducing, time-saving Re what’s what etc.
    Thank you

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