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Monday, August 28, 2006

Voice-In: Give a girl 5 minutes and 2 cents?

Voicein_1For an upcoming piece, I'm polling the marketing community (that's you, dear reader). It won't take but 5 minutes. Then again, you may need to ruminate on it for a day and then give me your $.02. It's only 1 question. A big one. I really appreciate your time and thought on the following:

What is the single greatest point of value you receive from blogging? New business? New friends? Newfound smarts? Fortune, fame or creative freedom? I'm sure you've found many points of value, but what I seek is the single, the uber, the most rewarding, robust and important point of value you've gained from embracing these tools and investing your time. Just one. And a few words explaining why. (Hint: every answer is right.)

Once I compile the piece everyone involved gets credited and I'll share the results, of course. To start the thread, I've included my two cents in the comments. Should you rather e-mail me your comments, that's great, too. Thanks so much.

**Update (11.08.06): What I did with all your comments is right here.

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Connection: to fellow marketers and my markets. Being able to access, listen and interact with smart, thoughtful marketers and customers offering honest feedback and creative solutions (why didn't I think of that?)is very advancing professionally. Personally, too.

Yep, "connection" is #1 with me.

Knowledge. I get to interact and learn from marketers that are smarter than I am, and
get to test out/learn about viral marketing and community-oriented promotions firsthand.

An Excuse: To look at the world with a critical eye. Outside academia it's hard to justify constantly being critical of everything you read/think about. Having an outlet gives me that excuse.

The POV. With so many weighing in opinions, and then others disagreeing and discussing, blogging allows me to see solutions I may never have come to. It's seeing each problem through a thousand different lenses. Quite a beautiful thing.

Great question, by the way.

I'm a newcomer to the blogosphere, but I'm finding that I get an interesting variety of viewpoints on a given topic, including some views or points I may not have thought of. I can see it being a helpful networking tool as well.

Fame. Wait, you already said how that shouldn't be the goal of blogging. Let me pick something else. How about infamy? Hmm... too sinister.

I'll go with "Conversations" - the blog being a way to start and continue (but never end) conversations with other writers, thinkers, professionals, dreamers, and others out there, be they personal contacts, role models, or complete strangers.

For me it is all about the contact and communications, which result in new friends, many of whom I may never meet face-to-face but with whom conversation is both frequent and stimulating.

COMMUNITY. Blogging creates robust, multi-way communication networks among bloggers and respondents, that have benefited both myself and my clients.

I do it for the kids.

No wait—I do it for the conversations.
Wait, wait,—I do it for the community.

:)

Here is my real, honest, transparent, 2.0 answer.

Self improvement.

Blogging makes you better at what you do. Want to be a better writer? Blog. Be more creative? Blog. Blogging opens the door to knowledge through connectivity—and you get to meet wonderful people along the way. And as the saying goes, it's about the journey more than the destination. And the journey never ends.

I've seen my analytical, writing, networking, online research, and debating skills skyrocket since I started my own blog in May of 2004.

What I call the "blog residue", i.e., the personal transformation that occurs within you as a result of the discipline of blogging, is the most vital aspect of anyone's blogging.

I feel more confident, friendly, and, when necessary, more confrontational, both online and offline, as a result of my blogging activity.

What you carry away with you when you turn off the computer is what counts the most, I feel.

I'm selfishly motivated to blog. I do it because I enjoy the mental exercise--having to think through a post + the catharsis of articulating it and seeing the idea in writing. Blogging helps me sort out my own thoughts, and it's a bonus when others enjoy it as well.

It's the chance to touch someone with an observation or insight I might have that otherwise would vanish. We all have moments in our day when we see something interesting, have a novel thought or learn something new. We want to share but there's often no one to share with. Now we can share with lots of people, maybe millions if the thought is interesting enough. What an incredible new power that its!

I'm in it for the money.

Nah. Just kidding. I mean, all that dough sure is nice (lol!) but I think the SINGLE real reason I blog is a cocktail of community and conversations: the Connection Cocktail, I guess.

It's about connecting with other writers, connecting your thoughts with theirs, understanding issues from many points of view.... and all of that connection encouraging growth as a writer, as a person, as a thinker, as a professional.

Writing for me has always been a vehicle to explore my own thoughts and unearth how I feel about issues. Blogging allows for that same process, but with the added bonus of having others chime in and connect your thoughts to theirs, and to grow collectively.

"What is the single greatest point of value you receive from blogging?"

It's a really good question, and a difficult one. I'm going to focus on the word "value" because there are lots of things I enjoy and love about blogging but if I focus on value I think it's easier to answer.

I think it has to be the collection of intelectual capital that I have accumulated over time and it almost happened without me noticing. This includes the posts, the incoming links, the comments, the ideas, and the evolution of my thinking. Everything else comes from that.

Cheers,

Karl

Learning - I love the chance to learn by doing that blogging represents.

My mantra love, live, learn, lead...help each other to succeed. Corny but easy to remember :)

Thanks for asking the question CK.
Bob

The creative outlet. Writing online (and, y'know, I just *hate* the term "blogging." It sounds like a type of accidental instestinal malfunction) gives me the opportunity to get stuff off my chest that would otherwise sit around in my head. And yes, I'm egotistical enough to think other people would be interested in what's in my head. Same as everyone else who's ever left a comment on a site, gone to a BBS or newsgroup, or started their own blog. The web gives everyone an opportunity to speak out, and that rocks.

There are numerous reasons, but the number one is expression. Expression is a fundamential human need, and I'm human. The great thing about expressing through a blog is that a permanent, digital trail is left behind. That trail serves as a mirror unto yourself, which can be insightful, exciting, shocking and cleansing -- all at the same time.

Its for the ideas ... you get to work through your ideas as and when they come. Sometimes you get feedback, sometimes you get into arguments and sometimes you get nothing. But if you continue, then you ALWAYS get smarter.

This might not make sense: (it's early right now)

I like the satisfaction of knowing that it's all worth it. My readership continues to climb, and I learn just as much as I educate.

For me (like you, I believe CK) there is no greater satisfaction than finding out that my efforts have inspired others to take to blogging, and it feels even better when they thank me because they love it.

Hi CK,

Thanks for asking. It was fascinating to read some of the responses above.

To answer your question, there are many answers but if I were to pick one single greatest point-of-value, it'd be the marketing community.

Marketers like yourself add so much value that can then be shared with the rest of the community.

Kinda like what Mack said.

-Mario

It makes me smarter. This was an unexpected blogging bonus that for me has turned out to be incredibly personally rewarding.

I feel a responsibility to make sure I'm putting forth reliable information and an informed opinion, so I take the time to research things to death. In the process, I become more of an expert on the topic of my posts, and I learn an immeasurable amount from those who comment on my blog and from those in my blogging community. So, I echo the sentiments of some of the others here - knowledge is THE thing.

Fantastic question!!
-Tricia

I get a lot out of blogging, even if I tend to be one of the most erratic posters out there. The biggest thing for me is that it gives me a whiteboard to organize my thoughts. I find that I rarely have time to think in a day, and by committing what's in my head to a post, I get past the cobwebs and into the deeper parts of my brain, where it turns out I'm more organized than I thought.

Also, it gives me a mild thrill when someone cites my writing as expert opinion.

Scale.

If I were publishing a newspaper, a high-level Goss Colorliner press would cost me about $30 million, not including delivery and installation, to reach the 12,000 subscribers to our blog. Instead, I send $14.95 each month to Typepad.

Letters to the editor are a time-consuming part of every newspaper's editorial department. They must be read, often retyped into a computer system then edited for length and clarity. An editorial assistant has the somewhat unfortunate task of manually verifying every letter writer's identity with a phone call. Typepad, of course, handles all reader comments on my behalf. Except the phone call. But anonymous comments are OK.

A newspaper publisher with 12,000 subscribers must pay circulation people and customer service representatives (often the same people at a small newspaper) to work 50 weeks per year managing the line-level minutiae of delivery and billing. Instead, Feedburner handles blog subscriptions on my behalf for free.

Blogging affords me the economic capability to be a writer, press foreman, and publisher -- all roles conducted via my laptop or cellphone. Combined, the affordability of scale has made all of the difference.

Feedback.

Our blog has allowed us to get instantaneous feedback on our work. As writers, it's great to post ideas and see if they resonate with readers or not. Many of the ideas that got lots of comments or spread in the blogosphere made it into our new book. We even found volunteers to help give feedback about early versions of the book from the blog.

And last year when I needed a new laptop, I posted to the blog asking for feedback on which brand to get. Based on the comments, I got a Mac for the first time in my life. I've become a Mac evangelist, thanks to the feedback from our blog readers : )

The exchange of ideas.

Of course, I blog because I have a healthy respect for my own ideas and want to share them with others, but I get at least as much out of the feedback readers leave after reading my posts and the new ideas, opinions and points-of-view I learn about every day on the dozens of other blogs I follow. It is exciting to be part of a vibrant community that shares so much intellectual capital so freely.

I'm a late comer to this little slice of heaven in this post, but I have really enjoyed reading the responses...

Ok, CK said ONE thing and ONE thing only. After spending a few hours with the idea and getting a pretty massive headache, I realized that I couldn't come up with anything new and especially stimulating. I wanted something creative, new, powerful... and yet I came up with...

Community; the Community of Bloggers, the Community of Marketers, the Community of fellow bike nerds who read my blog, the Community of blogs I read all the time, the greater Community of the blogosphere. The validation of ideas that comes from the Community of peers, friends and even competitors.

Stealing from Mack here, but it's the Community that has been so good to me. I love the Commnuity for it all because I'd be less without it.

CK,

You sure know how to ask a lot in a simple little question. I love your collage...and the answers that my fellow bloggers gave you.

Why do I blog? What's in it for me?

Intimacy.

I love the conversations and how bits and pieces of people's personalities and beliefs slip into even the most focused marketing conversations. I love sharing a little bit about me and being grateful when that favor is returned. The blog conversations akin to some close friends sitting in a cozy bar, sipping a drink, and examining life.

Sure, we all want lots of readers. But just like good marketing...it all boils down to a conversation between two people. That -- I love!

Thanks for asking,

Drew

Timelessness.

I missed this post in August (it's impossible to miss now:-)). I was the one lost. The conversation is always here for the finding. As it continues to live, it will continue to welcome others.

Thanks CK, for igniting the conversation. Thanks to those who take part for doing so. Thanks to the conversation -- for your patience.

Service.

Connecting ideas and people is who I am and what I do. My love for learning, passion for the process of creation, and energy around the art and science of human relationships are fully engaged through this medium. Talk can change our lives.

Thank you for continuing the conversation.

Blogging helps position our profession as an honorable one while at the same time keeping ourselves up-to-date on marketing topics that might be outside our usual "spheres". What better way to critically review and stay on top of current marketing practices than routinely writing and reporting on them?

crossculture. i do it to get benchmark of my ideas and knowledge with other cultures. i do it to understand others. i do it to cross borders mentally (at least).

For me, blogging has given me a way to improve how I communicate with people, articulate my thoughts more clearly, and just think better . I have grown in confidence because of the response from people who read my blog, send a comment or an email. I'd rather have a conversation face-to-face over coffee with someone, though I wouldn't trade the interaction that I have had with people from across the globe for anything.

Relationships

I love watching communities grow. It's all about communication for me.

Where's my manners? Thanks for asking. Great project. Love what you did with it.
Sandy

Assembly
My blog is the one place where I don't care if my thoughts and ideas are personal or professional. Hence also the one place where they come together. Looking back, the two spheres have influenced each other immencely, and I don't seem to get the connections between them until I've blogged them.

ck: I saw your call for more input on this for your update, so here's what a moment of reflection provides:

Blogging crystalizes my thinking.

The reason I started blogging was to get my "note to CMO" off my chest -- I needed to send a message out to the marketing community as well as provide anyone else with a similar desire a forum to straighten things out.

Marketers are smart people, though, and you have to have your story straight. Insights may be fragmented thoughts that come and go, may evolve into other things, or may perpetually remain half-baked. But when you write it for someone else to read -- not just random notes to yourself -- you've ground off the edges and inconsistencies. And you end up with something worth sharing with other interested people.

(I like the sense of community and dialog but my five loyal readers are often very shy and don't leave their thoughts behind -- perhaps I need to start asking more questions to get more "inbound leads"...)

So there you have it. You wanted a word and I gave you an essay. You expected something else at this point?

Talk to you Monday --

Blogging is a creative outlet for me. It helps me solve my own problems and find better ways to deal with difficult situations. When I write something is let out that I didn't even always know was in there. I also like communicating with people with so many different backgrounds. It is a larger community than I come in contact with in daily life. A friend suggested I start a blog and it has helped me to find better focus in life. I imagine he realized that would happen when he suggested it.
Linda

I love the mental engagement of blogging -- it gets my neurons firing and my creative juices flowing. It gives me an opportunity to look at every day things and look for non-obvious angles to them. Sometimes nothing happens, and sometimes I get a five-sentence "take" on them. All in all, it's lots o' fun!

Also, I'm really enjoying having "beginner's mind." There's lots of stuff I don't know, but it's a trip trying to figure it out as I go along. I'm also heartened by the fact that there are many "right ways" to engage and participate -- and so I've got a lot of options!

Mindgame. I've been thinking about your question for a while and I think this is the best way for me to describe it. It tickles your brain, it makes you think. You read about other people's knowledge, thoughts, experiences, ... and they connect with ideas you already had yourself and you learn a lot this way. You're also forced to think it through a bit more when you want to write these down which is a good thing.

The unexpected bonus? You create a good archive of your thoughts and I notice I frequently think about a post I've written when in a conversation.

Exposure. Exposure to potential clients, exposure to potential candidates, and exposure to search engines. Our blog is a way to add a dynamic and interactive face to the static corporate website that is the face of our recruiting firm. With our blog, we can turn on a dime, be current, tell stories, give tips, be seen and heard. It is the way we expose the personality of our company.

You know children often ask their aged parents to write a book before they die. Hey! I don't need to because my blog is there. So they can see what I've been doing and even exactly what I think and how my mind operates.

Writing: After working as a copywriter for years at agencies big and small, the one thing I did the least was write. While the conceptual work and thinking could be highly stimulating, as my career moved along, I found I believed less and less in the solutions I was being paid to provide. When I went out on my own, I started blogging. Now, after writing top-down corporate-style junk for years, I’m not only writing often – but I believe in what I’m writing now too. Doing so allows me to clarify the necessity of it all to my clients.

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