Art Blogging vs. Conversational Blogging


If you’re not tripping over an autograph line of rabid followers of your blog right now, I think I know the reason(s) why.  I know what you’re thinking, “sounds kind of uppity coming from someone with less than 200 followers”.  Don’t worry, I’ll get around to reading this myself too, eventually.

Despite being a relative newcomer to the whole scene, to my credit, I’m a fast learner and a close observer of people and their habits.  And hot chicks.  Throughout my travels, I’ve noticed a lot of stuff that us bloggers do which I believe is counterintuitive to acquiring and maintaining a fan base — providing that this happens to be one of your goals.  That is what you want, isn’t it?  The debate goes on…

Allow me to break down my Eureka moment for you.

Eureka!

The way I see it is that everything you’ll ever come across on a blogging site – regardless of what platform you use — falls somewhere along a continuum that is anchored by two different stylistic approaches.

At one end of the spectrum  is what I call the Art Blog, which is more or less an exhibit; and the second type is what I call a Conversational Blog, which is used for exactly that — starting conversations.  It’s difficult to distinguish the two from each other at first glance; however, a quick skim of any blog will reveal the author‘s motivation for creating his or her content.

Once you become familiar with this concept (that I invented just now), you’ll not only realize where your blog falls along the continuum, you’ll also understand what areas you may be lacking in.  Hopefully you’ll be able to increase your following by making the necessary adjustments.  Keep in mind that most blogs fall somewhere between these two styles.  Let’s delve deeper.

Dorothy, step forward into the world of Technicolor…

Wait a second, you mean to tell me the “T” in Monet is silent? Did this happen recently?
Source: Wikipedia

The Art Blog

The majority of posts found on an Art Blog are exactly that — works of Art.  Compositions are shared for the sole purpose of being observed and appreciated.  Art Blogs are the poets, stream of consciousness writers, story-tellers, comic-strip artists, etc.  Successful Art Blogs usually have a lot of likes, though they normally lack any significant interaction beyond that.  Sometimes, if it’s a particularly great piece, many will drop an appreciative comment, but the conversation abruptly tails off at “Great job!”  Really, what else can be said?  Again, whatever was posted was meant to be looked at, not hashed up and down.

Art Blogs are like museums.  When visiting one, the guest usually strolls about casually, looks around, stops, stares, maybe sits for a minute, contemplates, wanders off, and eventually leaves with a sense of appreciation for whatever was on display.  It’s rare to happen upon a conversation during a visit.  It’s not the type of setting that really promotes “mingling” with random strangers.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen.  Art lovers talk art, but the displays are usually designed to stir the emotions of the observer on a personal level.  Plus, most pieces are open for wide interpretation – like a mangled ball of steel, for instance.

Writers of Art Blogs are probably aware of what they are already.  They’ve constructed this type of setting for exactly the reasons listed.  Most authors are either content with creating pieces to be appreciated, or use their blog strictly as a medium for online-journaling.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Many will grow large followings based on their commitment to producing high-quality, artful content.

 The Conversational Blog

On the flip side is the Conversational Blog.  Content found on this type of page is constructed with the intention of promoting interaction with and among readers.  The author usually bases his or her posts on topics that are meant to be viewed by a larger audience by comparison.  Topics can often times be controversial in nature, and/or are emotionally-charged.   A crafty author of one always leaves the piece open-ended by the end.  If executed well, the article will continue to be expanded in the comment section by other readers – engaged readers.  Write that down.  I just wrote it down too.  Wait a second, this is confusing now…

Conversational Blogs also incorporate other bloggers into their posts and/or pages.  They’re not only excellent networkers, but also good cultivators of friendly “blog neighborhoods” (bloggerhoods?  Hmm, I like that…) within the bigger sphere. Inviting guest bloggers and contributors, dual-posting, and reblogging are all tools that they use to help solidify and grow their audiences.   By incorporating these tools and techniques into their pages, they’re not only promoting themselves, they’re also practicing good “PR” .  By doing so, they increase the likelihood of future interaction with their fan base.

This type of approach doesn’t require a particular format or genre.  Conversational blogs incorporate a wide variety of content.  News, politics, random humor, medicine – whatever — the possibilities are endless.  However, the goal is always the same — to pose or imply questions that elicit responses with the intention of opening a dialogue.

******

Speaking of great conversationalists…
Source:  wikia.com,                                           Characters:  Beavis and Butthead

Cultivating a Fan Base

This may come as a surprise to some, but there are a lot of folks out there that want to engage with you.  The challenge is to attract them and build a relationship from there.

When someone takes the time to read through one of your posts, don’t just thank them for the visit, seize the opportunity and speak.  There are some interesting characters out there (like me) that are frothing to spar, share a story, or provide a laugh.  Why pass on an opportunity that you’ve tried so hard to cultivate?  By going into social-phoebe mode, you’re only setting yourself back and creating more work.

A post a day is difficult to do – especially when nobody’s reading.

When you’re hopping around and looking for a conversation, you’ll find that some will oblige, and others will decline.  It’s worth a shot either way.  After all, growing a following is based not only on consistently producing interesting content, it’s also about being likable.   Charming is the word I prefer.

People are smart enough to pick up on sincerity, despite the fact that many operate through a persona.  They also know whether you appreciate them or not, and it’s up to you to convey that.

More Free Tips 

  • Shtick ‘em Up – Most bloggers have a shtick. If you’re one of them, ask yourself if it’s a concept that will limit your writing, long-term.  Personally, I consider this question daily.  I may be limiting myself in the long-run.  Don’t place limitations on your blog.  It’s hard enough as it is.  Variety is the spice of life, or something like that…
  • Good Writing vs. Good Blogging – Being an excellent writer is one thing.  Being an excellent blogger is something different all together.  Consider this article.  Where do you fall within the spectrum?  Have your efforts been fruitful?  Again, ask yourself if what you write about is something that an audience would want to engage in.
  • Brevity is Key – There’s nothing that deters me as a reader more than an extremely lengthy post.  I think I speak for most when I say this, but I don’t want to read a three thousand word submission.  Ever.  I hate books, and three thousand words is getting close to a book.   Succinct and effective is the key.  Get to the point, make it a good one.
  • Quality, Not Quantity – If you’re in a hurry to post something daily, you might want to consider not only how it affects the quality of your content, but also how your audience is reacting to the frequency of your posts.  With so many blogs out there, and with each of us following our fair share of them, it’s likely that most followers aren’t reading your stuff on a daily basis — unless it’s top-shelf, every day.  It takes a lot of time to be a “follower”.  Being mindful of that, it’s safe to assume that most people are selective about what they read.  Also remember, it takes time to produce something high-quality, even if it’s only a thousand words.  Be selective.  Otherwise, you might not only burn yourself out,  you’ll also burn your audience out too.

Hopefully you’ll  find this article useful.  If you’re like myself, you’re always looking for ways to improve your stuff.  Interacting with an audience can be just as fulfilling as the writing part.    So, considering all this begs the question:

Are you the Curator of an Art Blog or the Mediator of a Conversational Blog?

Let’s get this party started…

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644 comments

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  4. A Writer Inspired

    I love the point “brevity is key,” too many bloggers blogging about the same thing and taking all day! Get to the point already! Loved your coined phrases “Bloggerhood” and “social-phoebe” don’t be surprised if you see this linked and re-posted :-P

  5. 61chrissterry

    Thank you for your post which I found very thought provoking. I believe I am more to a conversational blogger. I some instances I purposely make comments about news media articles and in others purely on subjects that interest me. My comments may or may not be controversial, as that would be the opinion of others. For myself they are my thoughts and views which I wish to share with others.

  6. brian m smith

    Good job on this, Adam. You’re correct, it takes a lot to become a follower of a blog; yours for instance, is the first I have ever followed in my years of blogging. The pointers were well-taken as well. Isn’t it interesting that many bloggers (I group you into this bunch) create ‘works of words’ that are more riveting and down to Earth than the mainstream media?

    • Adam S

      Thanks!

      I feel privileged, but is that an honest remark? I’m the only blog that you follow?

      Also agree about mainstream media. Material is too watered-down by the time it hits the mainstream. Blogs are uncensored life accounts. The way it should be.

      • brian m smith

        Perhaps I’m full of myself, and proceed with the purpose of blogging in a different light. We’re not all here for the same purpose. Your blog just happened to pop up on the radar, and I found interest. May I sense a tad of insecurity of your own ability? Naw, I didn’t think so. Again yes, I don’t have a blog I follow aside from this one after 5 years. Amusing me is difficult. It may be that you had a good blog entry that raised positive flags.

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  11. Noel Williams www.prhayz.com

    You suck! Just kidding my friend. I am not a writer. However, I try to write a Christian blog, and every now and then I produce a good post, but that is my opinion. My stats suggest otherwise. Anyway, I agree with everything in your post. I wish I was as good a writer like you. One of the things that annoys me about is the frequency with which some bloggers post. Some I follow post in excess of ten posts per day. It is very hard to keep up.
    Thanks so much for sharing. Looking forward to reading more of your work. God blesses.

    • Adam S

      Thanks for all the props! You might want to say a few extra Hail Mary’s though after you’re done reading the rest of it! This is one of my ballads.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to read. I’m glad you found it useful. If you ever have a question and need an opinion, feel free to ask. I mean that.

    • Herman of bibledifferences.net

      Adam, I love the distinction you make. Yet I have a blog concentrating on factual stuff; the causes for the differences between the older versions of the Bible like the KJV and modern versions like the NIV. My question is how do you evoke conversation when you are posting facts? I love the idea of an open ended conversation and will endeavor to do something in that direction. I visited Noel’s blog, and is encouraged by the many followers he has on a pure Christian blog with serious stuff!
      Once again,thanks for your thoughts shared.
      God bless,
      Herman of bibledifferences.net

      • Adam S

        Thanks Herman, I appreciate you reading!

        I think you kind of answered your own question. *Differences* might also mean *open for interpretation*, right?

        In my very humble opinion, I look at the Bible as something that is open for interpretation — regardless of the version. Ask people for their input in that way.

        When you give someone a podium to speak on, they’ll gladly speak. People want to talk. Let them. Don’t judge, even if it conflicts with your beliefs or interpretations. Open your mind to others.

        Hope this helps. Feel free to ask for an opinion whenever you want one. I’m full ‘em!

  12. dramaqueen1913

    I hate you.

    I hate that you’re a relatively new blogger like myself and have not only managed to get Freshly Pressed but to get headlined as a must-read.

    I hate that you’ve exposed all of these pitfalls bloggers fall into—and hate you more because you’re right.

    I hate that you as a new blogger have uncovered all of this wisdom at such a young age (at least in blogging years)….which has thusly led to your being Freshly Pressed.

    And most of all, I hate that you are the same brand of snarky smartass that I am.

    So obviously there is only remedy—my impending stalking. Um, following. I said following the first time, right?

    Snarkily yours,
    The White Trash Princess

    • Adam S

      Wow, how’s that for polarity…Two minutes ago I responded to a Christian Blogger, and here I am being confronted by the Antichrist herself. I love it.

      Thanks for all the props, I appreciate it greatly! Stalk away. I think you’ll fit in perfectly around here.

      • dramaqueen1913

        Antichrist?!? To quote my nephew, “You have hurt my feelings and wounded me deeply.” ;-)

        Besides, I hear there’s such a thing as “Good Christian Bitches”…..

      • Adam S

        I felt bad about the *post script*. You don’t know me yet, otherwise you might have found that funny.

        I smacked myself on your behalf!

      • dramaqueen1913

        Oh I chuckled. Your ears would have been blistered had I truly been offended. I am a sensitive soul, but it takes a lot to piss me off to the point of using up the last fuck I have to give.

        But hey, if you’re into the smacking yourself thing, who am I to stop you? I am still mightily amused by the Amy Farah Fowler/Sheldon Cooper S&M display this past week…… ;-)

  13. amonikabyanyuvva

    Moi? http://amonikabyanyuvva.wordpress.com/ You did ask!! I see myself as a fusion of the two, (sorry!) I am writing in my turret to simultaneously keep the world at bay and invite it in for a cup of tea and slice of cake. I write about subjects that interest me, but I want to engage you. I am a dodo animal, a push me, pull you, but don’t worry I seldom bite. I like a laugh but have no humour gene so a well written ,punchy blog tickles me. What interests me is how few fellow Brits seem to want to share their lives with little ol’ me. Strange but true.

  14. missnikkisays

    I’m sure sifting through almost 600 comments isn’t easy and you probably won’t see this; however, I love your blog and this post was great! I am definitely a conversational blogger. :-)

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  16. endofthecomfortzone

    As a brand new entrant to the blogging community (were going on 10 hours here!), I found this a thought provoking piece on the direction that I’d like my blog to go. Thanks for the food for thought!

  17. L.A.P

    Interesting… Good article indeed. I’m trying to make a fusion of both… would say a conversational art blog :)
    I don’t think they are opposed , I would even say they are complementary. The point of blogs IS conversation. Not being museums.
    When I post my artwork, I’m excepting comments, critics, advises, I don’t expect my readers/followers to be passive. Maybe mine looks like a museum, I don’t hope so :) http://librescritiques.wordpress.com/
    One other thing is that “art blogs” are open to any comments from any languages. For instance, mine is in french, but as Art is an universal language, anyone can reply and gives his comments. Don’t you think so ?

    • Adam S

      Mine’s the same thing. I write because I like to write, but it usually seems to turn into a good conversation.

      I agree that Art is a universal language, but I don’t speak a lick of French other that “oui”. So, I probably won’t understand any of it besides the pictures. My comment to you will look something like this: “Oui!” or this: “Oui?” or this: “Oui…”

  18. eof737

    Adam, Adam, you nailed it! I laughed all the way through your post and then stopped to say wait, he could be bitching about me too… Whatever! You lucky son of a ….. You broke it down my man, but I have to say that there are a few categories you missed; like the blog linking blogs, and the follow follow blogs, and the do me I do you blogs, and the … oh wait, this is for mass consumption. Scratch that! :lol: (Now my friends say I should write my blog in this style to showcase my humor… I don’t for reasons only Mother Mary knows) Bravo Bro! ;-)
    Eliz

    • Adam S

      Hey thanks for the awesome feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I encourage you to do humor — it’s fun!

      I would put all of those into the conversational blog category by the way. Maybe I’m off?

  19. strawberryquicksand

    You hate books!!!????!!!!! Spin-out! I just made a discovery – a love of writing does not necessarily transfer into a love of reading. You are an excellent writer and I would have assumed you would love to read, also. Do you enjoy reading other things? Other blogs, perhaps? Magazines and newspapers? I love reading anything. Less so than when I was a kid (hell, I”d even read the back of the cereal box if I had nothing better to read. I’ve also been known to read the dictionary up to a certain point until something better came along.. which wasn’t long. The dictionary is quite dull, really). I even tried to read the bible once. God only knows what a bible was doing in our household, but I attempted it. Drove me bonkers, really, because not only does God start with a capital letter, but so does anything pertaining to Him. See what I mean? Capital H on Him, or He….I found myself stressing those words in my head. I think I got half way through Genisis and called it a day.

    Thank you for your blogging tips. I love comments and likes, but tend to get very little. I am also confused as to how many followers I have. It’s somewhere between fifty and two hundred at this stage, so I can’t expect too much. I am definitely a conversational blogger. I love to chat and chit and chat some more. I tell it how it is and have very little time for the pretentiousness that is art. While I like the photograph blogs (generally quite easily recognizable by the fact that the blogger has a photo of a CAMERA as their main photo), I tend to get frustrated that there is generally little or no blurb to back them up or to involve the reader with a description of the photographed scene/person/item.

    You raised a number of salient points – one of which it is hard work being a follower!!! I follow quite the number of blogs, some cooking ones, some humourous, a few travel, but I certainly have ones that I look a lot more forward to receiving update notifications than I do others. I try to read them all ,but sometimes I do get a little busy. I always make sure I “like” them if I like them. Yours is awesome and I shall endeavour to feature it in my next blogroll as I don’t want to deprive my 50-200 odd followers of your humour and wit.

    A couple of ways I have discovered to increase my “fan base” (I wonder – does anyone, asides from my dear mother, ever open their email and say “Yippee! Another blog post from Strawberryquicksand! I wonder what adventures she is up to today?”) is to read, like and comment on other people’s blogs. That is a surefire cracker way of getting a few extra fans. Another way is to make sure you stumble, facebook, tweet, blah, blah, blah. Whenever I create a new blog entry, it gets sent out to (the annoyance of? I hope not!) all my Facebook friends, tweeted to my five or six twitter followers (I’ve been using twitter for three years now and still have fuck-all idea of how it works) and, of course, emailed to my 50-200 followers. Then I ensure that I share it with stumble, and sometimes pin it on my pinterest wall if I have a nice photo that will attract attention. I’m sure all these measures must be getting me somewhere!

    Anyhoo, I’m glad to be part of your bloggerhood, so welcome, neighbour! :)

    • Adam S

      Thank you for all the compliments — very much obliged. And thank you for the upcoming blogroll mention!

      Well, your first point is a good one. Reading is kind of boring to me in a book format. I don’t hate reading books, I just don’t do a whole lot of it. But I love writing. I don’t get it either. I will say though, that I read a lot of blogs…and the back of cereal boxes too. Funny that you should mention that.

      I guess when you boil it all down, if you want to be a writer and want your work recognized, you have to put yourself out there. You have to be visible. You could be Mark Twain and have zero people that know about you. It takes quite a bit of networking to get to any point of recognition. We’re all small timers at the moment. Thousands or tens of thousands of daily interactions would be big-league, in my mind.

      It does help your cause by being visible on other peoples blogs, too. But, I enjoy reading what quality writers are putting out there. It inspires me as well. I’m a big fan of anything indie, and I don’t just do it for [fill in the blank]. At this stage, all of it is untainted by money, fame, etc. It’s just pure entertainment straight from the source. Anything positive that comes out of reading other people I consider a kickback. It’s a bonus. I guess if you love what you do, it shows. People will follow and continue reading.

      We all have plenty of time to start *sucking*, but that’s what makes it challenging and fun — continuing to find interesting things to talk about, and presenting them in a way that makes you a desirable read is most of the battle.

      I’m sure over the next couple of months we’ll get to know each other real well. Good luck, and I’ll be talking to you soon! Thanks for the awesome feedback.

      • strawberryquicksand

        I don’t know that I even want to be a writer. I started writing a novel (an easy-reading, chick-lit, girly book) and got up to about page 55 and figured that I had confused myself so much by that stage that I didn’t really feel capable of continuing with it. I’d love to write a real book, and even more, get it pubished, but to do that I would have to learn a hell of a lot more about writing! So I don’t want to be a writer at this stage. I write my blog for me, and get my kicks out of seeing how many other people read it and enjoy it. I watched a film called Julie and Julia, about a woman called Julie who loved Julia Childs, and decided to cook one meal a day from her cookbook (Julia’s, that is) and blog about it. I loved that idea so thought I’d just make a blog (without having that sort of challenge) just for fun. I laughted at your “plenty of time to start sucking” comment – I don’t think of it as sucking. I prefer to think of it as “sharing the love” or “making sure people dont miss out on my awesome wit and musings”. :)

        Well, i’ts 9.30am on New Years Day and I can’t even say I’m knackered as I went to bed at about 10pm last night…. yep, getting old, I know. Actually, on that topic, I had a real moment last night. I watched Marley and Me, a film about a rather annoying couple who didn’t train their dog. Ever. It got sad at the end when the dog died, but hey, if you do a film about a lifespan of a person or animal, they will die at the end of it! Anyway, back on track – the wife held a surprise 40th birthday party for the husband. I thought to myself that when my hubby turns 40 I should hold a surprise party for him. My next ponderance was about how old I would be when he turns 40. (he is five years my junior). Then about an hour later, I realised that I will be FORTY THIS YEAR!!!! (well, yesterday it was NEXT YEAR!!!, but today it is THIS YEAR!!!) and had a mini melt down. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling and get back on track. Yep, your blog rocks, I want more genuine followers. I think that is the key word – genuine. :) Happy new year to you, neighbour! xo

      • Adam S

        Writing a book scares the fuck out of me. I really want to do it, myself, but I can definitely relate to what you’re talking about. I have some stuff in the works at the moment, but man, if you don’t stay immersed in it, you’re likely to drop the ball. It’s a massive undertaking. Starting small — short stories, blogging — I think helps train your brain. We’ll see where it goes!

        I’m all about sharing the love. Thanks, and I’ll catch up with you soon!

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  21. crookedangel1980

    Hmmmm. Your post really, actually, genuinely makes sense! I started out thinking, ‘oh, I’m definitely a conversational blogger’ then, as I continued to read, I realised that’s bollocks. A conversational blogger is what I want to become, and, whilst I get a few comments on my blog, they’re from faaaaaaaammmillllyyyy. Or spammers. The bastards. Make me all excited when I get a comment. Tsk. Anyhow, you’ve given me some direction for a newbie blogger. I still have no idea what ‘tools’ are (unless we’re talking about what we need to put up shelves, or pictures, or make a dining table…) or, a word I saw you using quite often…eerrrrrrr…props! What are they? *sigh* I have such a lot to learn!

    However, something your article (do we call it that? I’ve been calling them posts) really highlighted to me was that it is a conscious decision to either like a blog or follow it. In order to do either of those things, a decision needs to be made, then the action takes place. If someone likes you enough to follow you, you’ve achieved something bloody exceptional! You’ve infiltrated their mind, pressed the ‘yup, you know you wanna!’ button, and bingo…new follower/liker. I like pressing people’s buttons, be them in the mind or on their blog and me, well, I just pressed yours. Thanks for a good…article?

    • Adam S

      Article/Post same difference!

      I’m really glad that you liked it. And thanks for the thoughtful response. You might be a Newbie, as you call yourself, but you’re well on your way. I like the way you write. It draws people in — myself included.

      A lot of this stuff takes some playing around with. It’s experimental. WordPress has a lot of tools that you can build your site with. Go to Dashboard>Appearance>Widgets. Play around with the Widgets. Some of the Page Skins are pretty cool too.

      Bottom line is that I think you’ll be just fine. Keep writing attractive pieces that are focused on broad issues, and you’ll have yourself a fucking hell of a conversation start to unfold in front of you. I like talking to people, and I like when they talk back. That helps too. You seem to be a talker. Thumbs up!

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  23. Rose F

    You see, if my brain would only grasp this concept of “brevity is key”, things would be fantastic. I need to stop poking around your blog and go to sleep now. Thanks!

  24. adamlearmonth

    Sorry I’m late to the party – just catching up on Freshly Pressed emails I’ve neglected to read over the year.

    I have a blog of my own here; sadly derelict at present, but I intend to resolve that in future. I’m glad you’ve posed that question to us bloggers. It focuses attention not only on the material we’re writing, but how we want it to be received/reciprocated, which is something I’d never previously considered.

    Anyway, since brevity is key – enjoyed it, made me think, thanks for sharing.

    Sincerely,
    another Adam

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  26. Sean Smithson

    Holy shit. Am I the first person to comment on this post in ’14? I think I already know where I lie but it’s always good to reassess things I guess. A great post man.

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