Monday, 2 December 2013

On Blogging Vacuums and Chatting with Readers

Recently, I saw a question in the Google+ Bloggers Community that said "I am finding it hard to find things to blog about"

My response was "Blog about what you like." But now that I've been thinking it over, I should have added "And try to give people something unique. And talk with them too." (Fun Fact: Kotler defines marketing as 'the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit. Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires.' That means that every successful blogger is a successful marketer.)

So today, I want to reflect on blogging. In particular, blogging on something unique and getting comments from your readers. Because like +Nathan Weaver once re-shared, I think it's much better to have readers frequently emailing me and/or making comments than to have many followers but no comments.

Writing Something Unique
First off, I'd like you to take a look at this post:

Now, I didn't share this post to brag (honestly), but because it got to me realise something - the blogosphere really does abhor a vacuum.

Why would I say this?

Well, I have two blogs (three if you include this site), and while one of my blogs (the one on book blogging) was established much earlier, the other (the one on life in Japan), was started just before I left to study last year. Yet it gets much more page views and comments per post.

In fact, my first post is still getting comments and page views.

I've always wondered why this was the case, but then it hit me: the number of blogs about studying in Japan is very small, and blogs about my particular scholarship (the undergraduate) are even rarer.

Before I came to Japan, I too tried to search for information about my scholarship. But apart from one rather negative post, there wasn't much information. (Although now that I search, I actually see quite a few blogs - perhaps something was off with my Google search back then).

Well, there was quite some information about the graduate scholarship, but I'm doing undergraduate studies. There were also plenty of blogs about living in Japan, but not much about studying in Japan under that scholarship. So, while my primary reason was to use my blog as a way of updating my friends and family about what was going on in my life, the secondary reason for blogging was to provide information about the scholarship and life with the scholarship.

So while I've had to work hard at my book blog to differentiate myself (there are a lot of great book blogs out there!), I suppose the fact that there are less blogs like mine out there made it easier to me to be found. And I'm not sure if the Google+ integration helped, but I'm now the number one search result if you search for "monukagakusho scholarship blog".

Increasing Engagement

I suppose having unique why I frequently get emails from readers asking for help or just sharing their experience. In fact, I got an email today from a reader informing that he got the 2014 MEXT scholarship - this is the kind of stuff that makes my day.

But apart from that, I also make it a point to respond to questions within a day, if possible, and I installed an "email me" widget so that people could email me their questions - I've found out that some people don't feel comfortable posting their questions, but they won't hesitate to ask me in an email. Most of the time, I enjoy answering questions and hearing from my kouhai's how their applications are going, so reading and responding to comments was something that came naturally to With Love From Japan, Eustacia.

I suppose writing something unique and making it engaging is a obvious truth that most bloggers have realised already, but to me, it's something new. I realise that I love blogging, so the most natural thing is to continue doing my best with all my blogs. I'm still trying to figure out how to make my book blog more engaging, so if you have suggestions, do let me know!