Blogging Relationships - a Virtual Interview With Liz Strauss & Lorelle

Having chosen Blogging Relationships as the topic was there little doubt who I would have participate namely Lorelle VanVossen and Liz Strauss. I cannot imagine you not knowing them already, but here is nonetheless a short introduction to each of them: Lorelle has been blogging since before blogging was even conceptualized, covering travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development as well as blogging and WordPress as they saw the light of day. Her main blog is Lorelle on WordPress, but she also writes on more other blogs including The Blog Herald. Lorelle is furthermore author of the book: Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging. Liz Strauss has worked many years in print, software, and online publishing. Her expertise extends from product development and marketing into business-startups and strategic planning. Today, at Successful-Blog and The Blog Herald in particular, Liz is a writer, career coach, and strategic planner with a focus on corporate blogging and strategic marketing. Head and heart together is the approach she uses to show clients how to make room for a community that loves what they do.

Before we start there is a couple of points I need to make. A traditional interview is a conversation between two or more people where questions are asked by one of them to obtain information from the other(s). However, this is a virtual interview, which means that the participants are separated both in time and space and only connected through their writing. In this context is the deciding difference however that the interviewer has to do all the present work including picking the topic, choosing the participants, formulating the questions and finding the answers. You could thus also call a virtual interview a particular form of reorganizing someone’s written words. I already hear someone yelling out that this ignores one of the most important aspects of interviewing someone, as it totally ignores the conversational aspect. Of course I would have loved to have an actual conversation both within the post itself and in the subsequent comments, but I have my reasons as I explain in more detail in the conclusion. As the lack of actual conversation has no negative consequences on what you can learn from this do I suggest we get on with it, shall we?

Why Do You See Relationships As Perhaps the Most Important Aspect of Blogging?

“At first glance, it seems writing is a solitary thing. In many ways, it’s true the writer’s task is individual. No one can help me write. I am left alone to sort my thoughts, to find the words, to set them to text with structure and expression. It’s a private search to articulate meaning. In another glance, it’s easy to see writing is socially dynamic. We record our lives. We announce our plans. We write sadness and sympathy. We spell out love and loneliness. We describe our achievements and failures in detail and drama. Most of all we talk to each other. We talk around the world without a sound. The longer I am a blogger, the more I discover how much we’re connected to each other by relationships. All of the words I write link me closer to the readers who read them. As we discuss our responses to each other’s thoughts in the comment box, we get linked more closely.” Liz [Connectors and Mavens on the Tipping Point]

“Over the years, I’ve been honored to meet a car mechanic who loved knitting and decided to share his passion for knitting through an online journal, allowing his passion to overcome the naysayers, which became a blog, then became his life. I’ve met artists who felt isolated and alone with their art, disconnected from the world, find friends and compatriots through their blogs. Others felt isolated by geographical location, stuck in towns and villages where they felt different and alone, unable to connect with those around them. Through their blogs, they not only found friends, but they found their voice and the strength to keep going, turning their thoughts around to embrace their community rather than run from it. In online friendships, race, culture, color, religion - none of it mattered as they found new mentors and supportive networks to help them find a place in the world through virtual relationships.” Lorelle [Are You Blogging Your Passion or Blogging to Blog?]

“The living web is built on relationships that grow through conversation. A certain magic happens when blog comments turn into conversation. When a blogging conversation happens, ideas, thoughts, and information gets passed from person to person. In the process, we find a human connection. They say “no blog is an island.” But a blog can be one, and blogging is not the same in isolation. The ideas, thoughts, and information that we share in blogging conversation make us stronger and expand us, as people, not just as bloggers.” Liz [The 4 Keys to Reader Comments and Conversation]

“When we blog, we are giving part of ourselves to others. We are sharing our thoughts, insights, concerns, issues, feelings, and our stories with others. For some, blogging means sharing ourselves with the hope of making the world a better place. For others, blogging means sharing their interests in the hope of attracting other like-minded folks. Blogging is a two-way street of communication. You share your insights, and your readers respond. Over time, you understand that their comments are as much part of the content of your blog as your contributions. Your readers give you insights into what you say, nudge and push you along with your thinking, they encourage you, motivate you, and inspire you to blog better and more. In time, you learn that what they have to say is just as important as what you say. In giving of yourself, you get so much back in return.” Lorelle [Building Blog Relationships: Reaching Out]

Can Links Be As Important when Facilitating Relationships As Content and Comments?

“A link in a blog post with a recommendation to visit will give your blog more credit than a link sitting in a blogroll doing nothing for you. Want a real relationship with another blogger? Write about them and link to their best work. Want another bloggers attention? Write about them and their good work and see what happens to your new relationship. It’s amazing what linking relationships will build. A trackback takes the relationship even farther. A trackback is a link from one post to another, alerting them that there’s a discussion going on about this blog post elsewhere. Trackbacks are the real letters of recommendation on the web. It’s a magical method of establishing relationships from one blog to another blog and another.” Lorelle [Linking Relationships]

“What is a link? Is a link clicks and traffic and Google rankings? Or does a link represent that I know you, that I’ve read your content, that you’re relevant and of value to me? Is a comment conversation or something I can buy or rent? We’re living in two Internets. It looks much like the companies we find in the world of brick and mortar. One is about places, information, and data. It’s the buildings in which people work. The other is about people, relationships, and conversation. It’s the people who work in those buildings. One is a structure. The other is social.” Liz [The Two Webs: Information or Relationships?]

“Link love is not dead, yet. As the Relationship 2.0 movement builds momentum link love will be redefined from just being a search engine optimization strategy to a relationship network of communication, collaboration, and confidence via relationships - which is the first step toward trust, the ‘real’ currency of doing business online. In the beginning the web was dominated by IT geeks. Increasingly, relationship geeks are blogging. This trend is simply reflecting real life. As more relationship geeks begin to leverage blogging technology the relationships they build online will create new momentum. The new metric will be the number of friends in your network not the number of incoming, one-way links.” Lorelle [Relationship Geeks Building a Relationship 2.0 Network]

What Role Does Relationships Play when All You Want to Do Is Doing Business?

“It’s not about how many ads you can litter your blog with. It’s not about how much money you can make with those ads. It’s not about how much traffic you can get, especially from one shot digg’s or Slashdots. Honestly, it’s about the relationships you build between you and your audience. Your ability to interact and knock down walls between you and your readers. It’s about the information you share with others, helping them learn more about their life and what they do with it, and finding the answers to their questions, or challenging them to give you the answers to your questions. It’s about communication.” Lorelle [Web Zero: Building Relationships With Your Blog]

“Bloggers are just beginning to figure out the depth and breadth of the medium in which we are playing and working. The brilliant idea of Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers so well defined and described by Seth Godin underscores the exact importance of relationships in every business and every life. When Seth talks about marketing, he often uses a metaphor of dating – also known as having a relationship. All business is relationships. Everything people [do] is relationships.” Liz [Connectors and Mavens on the Tipping Point]

“For those who want their blogs to be a vital part of their business, be it the business of blogging or using their blogs for reputation building, advertising, and corporate good will, it’s the relationships the blog forms that changes the dynamics, and can increase your profits. The “old thinking” of advertising was push and pull. Pushing advertising at the customer and pulling them in with “must buy” pressure. The new thinking of advertising goes back even further, to a time when the only reason you shopped at a particular grocery store or banked at the bank on the corner is because they knew your name, and the names of your children. You shopped for friendship, you shopped for loyalty, and you returned because of the trust. They knew who you were. In a world stuffed with nameless instant gratification, sometimes people want to know who they are buying from. They want a personal face on an impersonal world.” Lorelle [Building Blog Relationships: Reaching Out]

How Would You Suggest New Bloggers Get Started Building Relationships?

“In order to begin a relationship with a reader, you need to get them to your blog. One of the most powerful methods of attracting new readers is by publishing a popular post. A popular post is one that attracts attention and gets people talking about it because it: 1. Is well written and easy to read. 2. Incites thought. 3. Incites a response. 4. Has the information people are searching for at the moment. 5. Serves the needs of the many, not the few. A popular post is one that attracts a lot or consistent level of traffic which draws in new readers.” Lorelle [Building Relationships With Your Most Popular Posts]

“What new friends have you met lately? How have you made getting to know your blog easy for them? Here are three things you might do to get the ball rolling. 1. Find a new blog in your niche to follow. New blogs are new people with new points of view. Join their discussion by leaving meaningful comments and trackbacks. Every discussion offers an opportunity to learn something new from. 2. Check your sidebar. Make sure your sidebar is friendly to new arrivals who want to take a tour. Showing your readers where to find things is advertising. 3. Organize your archives as your readers would want them, and make a Popular Posts page. Ask your readers how they use your archives. Try to use them yourself to see how they actually work. Take the time to put your most popular articles in one place where new readers can find them as soon as they arrive at your blog. New friends who feel at home usually come back to visit again.” Liz [What New Friends Have You Met and How Have You Made Life Easy for Them?]

“The best lures are timeless articles which continue to fascinate and inform. They are well written and stand the test of time by fulfilling needs today, tomorrow, and a year from now. They answer the questions everyone wants to know. By providing these foundation needs consistently on your blog, you will build a loyal fan base of readers who keep coming back for more, and are eager to tell their friends about you. Provide content that matches the rest of your blog’s content and readers will stay. Attracting and maintaining readers is critical to your blog’s overall success. The relationship between your readers and your content is critical to building an audience. If you aren’t keeping them happy and not holding their attention, they will go elsewhere. In time, without the relationship formed with web traffic levels and comment interaction and feedback, your enthusiasm decreases. If this continues, your blog will slowly die because the relationships are dying.” Lorelle [Blog Relationships: Fishing With Lures and Bait]

“I’d like to offer some great ways to connect with other bloggers, ways that will get you positive attention and start relationships of mutual respect… Look before you speak. … Listen also. … Know you’re a visitor. … Don’t leave links without knowing or asking. … Come with the mind of a learner and you’ll be well rewarded. … Know that being clever or teasing folks in print is a talent, be sure to use a emoticon if you’re doing it. … If you leave a comment that argues a point or asks a question, do come back.” Liz [7 Great Ways to Connect with Other Bloggers While You’re Out Reading Blogs]

Thank you Lorelle and Liz for your great insights, your passion and compassion and not least for sharing. I have certainly learned a lot from both of you and continue to learn something every time we communicate. I am sure everyone else do too. Perhaps we can do this again some time. Meanwhile do I encourage everyone reading this to check out the links above to learn even more and not least to reach out in whatever way you can to build more blogging relationships.

As regular readers have already noticed do I like playing with both content and form. The same is true here. I could just have made another link post, but wanted to combine that concept with an idea I have about interviews and what you can do with them. There are thus three main reasons why this ended up being what I refer to as a virtual interview. Time and space are perhaps the most important constraints when interviewing someone. Even if you can bridge space using the Internet will it never be the same as actual presence. However, is time perhaps the greatest obstacle. Not only do you have to be present, at least approximately, at the same time. Everyone also have to find the time to do it. The third reason is that the concept as I thought more about it appealed to me. Although it surely cannot take the place of real interviews and never can be as precise, current or vivid does it also have its advantages. The obvious one is that you can make it regardless of said constraints, but you also have more to work with and greater influence on what the result looks like. This greater freedom comes at the price of far bigger responsibility for doing everyone justice, but if your intentions are honorable and you do everything with care the result can be just as good as if you actually had conducted a proper interview, only different.

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7 Responses to “Blogging Relationships - a Virtual Interview With Liz Strauss & Lorelle”

  1. Lorelle on July 19th, 2007 12:47 am

    Wow! I know Liz said all those things (er- wrote) but me? You pulled things out to make me sound brilliant - Or someone who sounds like me. :D

    That’s poetry. Very well done, Jan. And brilliant. Thank you. What an amazing read. I’m stunned.

  2. Blogging in a Foreign Language? - Liz Strauss at Successful Blog - Thinking, writing, business ideas . . . You’re only a stranger once. on July 19th, 2007 11:50 pm

    […] I’m pleased to say that as I put jan’s post up now while he’s running a virtual interview with Lorelle and me on his is […]

  3. SOB Business Cafe 07-20-07 - Liz Strauss at Successful Blog - Thinking, writing, business ideas . . . You’re only a stranger once. on July 20th, 2007 7:37 pm

    […] Blogging Relationships - a Virtual Interview With Liz Strauss & Lorelle […]

  4. Why Writing a Link Post Should Be Like Planning a Party « Lorelle on WordPress on August 17th, 2007 12:02 am

    […] is by Jan of Circular Communication, author of the first “virtual interview” featuring Lorelle VanFossen and Liz Strauss. This entry was written by Jan and posted on August 16, 2007 at 3:00 pm and filed under Blogging […]

  5. How to Best Pitch Bloggers - a Virtual Group Interview : Circular Communication on August 22nd, 2007 11:53 pm

    […] Being part of the reason why this challenge was born I felt obligated to answer it. Unfortunately have I not yet been able to write thematic link posts where the content flows naturally from one link to another and perhaps I never will. Not being spontaneously able to do one thing can however also be an inspiration to do something entirely different. Hence I decided that instead of taking the regular route, which would teach me nothing, or risk breaking the neck attempting to learn what others already do so well, would I try combining my way of writing link posts with how I write quotation posts and do it in the form of a virtual interview. […]

  6. Why Writing a Link Post May Be Less Like Partying and More Like Work « Lorelle on WordPress on August 23rd, 2007 11:23 pm

    […] is by Jan of Circular Communication, author of the first “virtual interview” featuring Lorelle VanFossen and Liz Strauss. This entry was written by Jan and posted on August 23, 2007 at 2:15 pm and filed under Blogging […]

  7. A Virtual Interview With Lorelle About Guest Blogging « Lorelle on WordPress on August 31st, 2007 12:02 am

    […] is by Jan of Circular Communication, author of the first “virtual interview” featuring Lorelle VanFossen and Liz Strauss. This entry was written by Jan and posted on August 30, 2007 at 3:00 pm and filed under Blogging […]

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