Investors Are Sponges, Give Them Some Water
This blog is friendly advice for CAPS bloggers, particularly newcomers that feel overwhelmed by the amount of blogs written and the quality of competing blogs. I present this to anyone interested in blogging here. No matter your beliefs, I welcome you and offer to help.
Bloggers compete for people's time. To be a quality blogger, you have to understand that time is the resource investors are exchanging with you for your information. You are not paid in money here, and probably never will be, so put that out of your head. But if what you want is to communicate your ideas to this community, and to do so effectively, you will be re-paid in other valuable ways.
Investors are like sponges, they want to absorb as much information as they can. They wring out what they don't like. Give them something to absorb.
Know Your Genius
"I'm no genius, but I'm smart in spots and I stay in those spots." - Thomas Watson Sr., founder of IBM
You probably have thoughts on a wide range of topics, but that doesn't mean you should blog about anything you want. There is an economic concept called the Law of Comparative Advantage. It's probably the least understood economic idea. In the simplest terms: even if you do something better than every competitor, you gain by letting them do it while you focus on something where you have an even bigger advantage. This remains so, even if you are Superman.
The best bloggers on CAPS maximize their competitive edge by focusing on topics where they excel, leaving topics where they are merely very good to other bloggers. Furthermore, they rarely venture into unchartered territory, e.g. "spots where they aren't smart" as Watson might say.
Don't Put The Horse Before The Cart
Don't chase rec's, use them. Rec's are a feedback tool, not a scorecard. If you spend all your time worrying about the number of rec's you are receiving, the quality of your blogs will decline. You end up pumping out blog after blog of decreasingly useful information. You water yourself down.
Two things concerning rec's are important. First (or is it Firstly?), you should be interested in the rec's you receive per post relative to similar bloggers. My competition for rec's is not my ideological opponents. My competition is bloggers with similar views. Unless the number of people interested in our economic and philosophical viewpoint increases, we are all competing for the limited number of time available to a finite number of people. If another free market blogger enters the scene, that's less readers for me. Get it? That takes me back to point #1. I better have a comparative advantage that keeps the sponges asking for water.
Second, take note of the rec's you receive relative to what you normally receive. If you normally receive 8 rec's/post but get only 2 on your last blog, try to figure out why. Did you do a poor job of communicating your idea? Was it a case of bad timing? Was it information that is dispensed by other bloggers more familiar than you? The same concept can be applied if you suddenly get 22 rec's instead of 8. What did you do right? Etc.
All That Being Said, Blog For Yourself
Use rec's (and constructive comments as well), but don't be a slave to them. My motto is "I don't blog for you." My motto is not "I don't care about you." If your heart isn't in it, you are wasting your own time. Blog for yourself because you have things you want to say, things you want to share. Care about others by using feedback to improve the way you say those things. But don't change who you are. You are unique and that can be an unbeatable house advantage if you learn to harness it.
Odds and Ends
Don't stress over grammar and spelling, but don't ignore it either. You don't need stylistic beauty and perfect punctuation to be a popular blogger on CAPS. Trouble starts when your mistakes make the message unclear. Improper punctuation and spelling becomes a killer when it passes the threshold from "that's a mistake" to "what the eff is this person talking about?"
Picking a blog title is more important to newcomers. CAPS readers see a blog by UltraLong and they read it. The title is almost completely irrelevant. Newcomers don't have that luxury. Keep your title straightforward. Brevity and explanatory power trump cheekiness and teasers. Fancy titles have their place, but they don't do a whole lot for newcomers.
CAPS readers hate, hate, hate long paragraphs. 4-8 lines, bloggers, that's what you want. Hit enter. Remember, readers are trading time, and long paragraphs mean lots of time. Many readers want to skim your blogs. Welcome that. If it's well-written, they'll get it even from just skimming it. Short paragraphs give them the power to decide if they should take a closer look.
Like the Waterboy, You Can Do It
I know it's tough getting started here. You spend all day thinking about what to say, then you finally type it, proofread it (perhaps), and submit it only to watch it get moved off the front page in 40 minutes with 3 lousy rec's. CAPS is a high traffic site. Lots of bloggers. Lots of discussion. Don't give up.
If you have any questions or desire more advice, say so in the comment section.
David in Qatar