When I decided to update the blogroll yesterday, I was struck by how bare it seemed in comparison to the multitude of websites and feeds I read as sources for the Inari Media Twitter. There were less than twenty blogs and websites listed in its previous incarnation, while Google Reader tells me that I have 261 subscriptions. Not only that, but those listed on the blogroll were not what I would call my “go to” sources, the ones I tweet on most often.
Why was this? Examining the reasons for why I was limiting the blogroll in this way, it occurred to me that there was an element of selfishness involved. I didn’t want to share the best of what I read because it felt like letting readers of this blog in on a secret. It was almost as though if I told them where the best of the web was, they might click through to those websites and never come back.
The most superficial interrogation of this mindset shows it up to be a failure of logic and raises some uncomfortable questions about my ego. Not only are the websites I had kept off the blogroll bigger and better than anything this blog has produced so far, but their pagerank alone means that anyone searching for information would come across them first rather than ending up here. And considering that the internet is a fantastic tool for spreading knowledge, it makes no sense to try and hold back information.
At the back of my mind, another motive may have been a mild case of paranoia that if everyone reading this blog was reading the same blogs and websites as me, I would lose any competitive advantage I had over them. Again, this is a logic failure: this blog is non-commercial and isn’t selling anything, thus it is not really competing for anything. This is where ego comes in: the only way I can track how well this blog is doing is by how much traffic it gets, so giving people somewhere else to go almost feels self-defeating. Nevertheless, the feeling had been there, and it would have remained if I hadn’t read a post by Jeffrey Smith at SEO Design Solutions, questioning whether there is a magic formula for SEO. That provided the breakthrough I needed, as I realised that all the tips, advice and information I had been hoarding were already out there, and not mentioning them wouldn’t make them disappear.
I think the best approach is that of total openness. The best example of this is probably Darren Rowse of ProBlogger (now on the blogroll under Social Media). His website is huge, and he is constantly offering advice and giving pointers to his readers, precisely a reason why they keep reading in their droves. He is not weakened by giving information, rather he is strengthened, because visitors to ProBlogger will keep going back for more. The more generous he is, the greater the positive response. For a blog to succeed on any level, it needs to be useful to its readers, otherwise they have no reason to visit. By only offering select pieces of information, I may actually have been limiting myself, rather than gaining anything over whoever I imagined I was competing with.
Unless you have a truly original idea, anything you hope to impart or conceal is only a Google search away. This being the case, wouldn’t you rather that somebody heard it from you rather than elsewhere? You may not be the authoritative source, but you can be a very handy pointer to the right information. Ironically, this is what I do on Twitter, going through my RSS feeds and posting links to technology and business articles that I think people might find interesting or useful. Has it brought new readers to this blog? It’s difficult to say. But nobody would visit if they were not interested in anything posted here, just as I would have no Twitter followers if I decided to tweet nothing but spam. So greater openness is the way forward. The blogroll has been updated to give a truer picture of what I actually read. Click away, and I hope you find them useful.
[Image by BL1961]