Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Power Of Blogging

Monday night around 11:45ish I was sitting watching some TV, blogging, & chatting with friends when suddenly the whole house went black. I had no power. This lasted for about an hour and then everything returned to normal. I was using my laptop but I had my battery removed so when the power shut off so did the computer. I didn't feel like digging around in the office in the dark to find the battery. It could be so many places depending on the mood I was in when I removed it last. Anyway, this little scenario got me thinking about blogging without power.

I would define power as having control of, authority, or influence over others. How does one define the power of a blog? There are various rankings from Technorati, Alexa, Google, and others as well. What do they mean though? What do they represent and do they give a good indication of the power of a blog? Does a blog that had a PR6 in October last year that now has a PR4 have less power? What about if that same blog now has 1000 more RSS subscribers than it did in October? What if the blog's revenue has increase by 30% in the same span? Does the blog have more power due to the increases in subscriptions and revenue? Does it have less now that its PR is lower?

Lets look again at the definition I put forth for power, "having control of, authority, or influence over others." Would you say the Google PR drop or the increases would have a greater impact on power based on my basic definition? I think the answer to this question seems straight forward, but break down the definition into its parts and have a closer look.

Having control of - Does the blog have control of PR? How about subscriptions and revenue. Google holds the power when it comes to PR and how it wants to determine and award it. The blog holds the power when it comes to controlling content, most variables that drive subscriptions, as well as control over generating revenue. Now what if the blog lost a large portion of search traffic from Google because of the PR drop? This in turn reduces traffic, reducing RSS subscriptions, and reducing revenue. Now who holds the power? A blog owner has control over content, marketing, design, revenue generation and more. He or she holds the power for that blog. Google holds the power over PR and where a result ranks for searched keywords. The blogger then has control over how to position the blog so that it is the least dependent on Google or any other single traffic source as possible. In my opinion the blogger ultimately is the one having control of the blog, Google doesn't hold that much power yet...There is nothing wrong with writing for SEO, but remember who you are writing for. Write exclusively for ranking in Google, or any other search engine for that matter, and you give them the power. Write what you want and what people want to read. Write in your own style and with your own personality, and you hold the power over your blog.

Authority - What defines a blog's authority? It certainly isn't Technorati as it is too easily gamed. What makes a blog authoritative? There are many factors that go into authority. Age of the blog is one, quality of content is another, and of course you have traffic and subscription numbers thrown in as well. Another factor is the background of the author. A person who is already well know in certain circles has authority before even putting finger to key. Conversely a person not well known has a much more difficult time as the experience and network aren't already in place. Authority then really comes from a track record of success and actual life experience. For example, a friend of mine Lori of A Cowboy's Wife, wouldn't have much authority if she was single and living in LA or NY with nary a cowboy in sight. She has been successful because she has authority in the area in which her blog is focused.

Influence over others - This is tied closely with authority. The more authority you have or are perceived to have the more influence you will have over others. Influence is also determined by the style and quality of writing. Just as there are more dynamic and influential speakers, there are more dynamic and influential writers and bloggers. You can have authority on your topic yet not be the most influential. You can be influential without having as much authority as the next guy. Stephen Hawking is one of the most recognizable faces of science and physics specifically and in the eyes of many still today has a large amount of authority. Yet it can be argued that he has not had the greatest actual influence on the physics community over the last 35 years. His authority comes from his visibility and his influence is greater in the lay world than in the physics world. His books and speaking engagements and even to a point his struggle through his disability all contribute to his authority.

Bottom line is that an author holds the control over the content of the blog. The authority for the blog and author comes from a track record of success, actual life experience, and visibility. Influence really comes down to the perceptions people have. The better they perceive you the more weight they give to your opinions - authority - and the more they will allow those opinions to shape their own - influence.

How do you define the power of a blog? What do you think defines a blog's authority? How about influence? How closely do you think authority and influence are tied?

later all and have a profitable and productive blogging day

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