Today is Conversation Agent's fourth birthday. Happy birthday! They grow up so fast...
No need to send cake, but feel free to join me in posting a comment or sending Valeria an email letting her know you're out there.
See, every blog has true fans, active readers, and a large, silent majority. It's easy enough to know what the true fans and active readers think—but sometimes when you're busy publishing up a storm, you start to wonder what the silent majority thinks. This is true especially in the beginning, because you don't have a lot of true fans and active readers, and also because you're usually still finding your feet as a writer.
How can you get the silent majority to come out from under their shell? One theory says that you shouldn't—people read and respond the way they do for a good reason. Some people will happily read along for years without speaking up, and by not speaking up they're basically saying, “This is good; please keep doing it.”
Overall, I think you should give people what they want in the way they want it. That's why smart bloggers like Valeria offer RSS, an email subscription, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and so on. Choose your preferred dosage of Conversation Agent. (Other people will simply visit the home page of their favorite blog every day, something that initially struck me as odd, until I kept hearing about more and more people who do it.)
But I also think it's good to challenge your readers from time to time. Once in a while, it's OK to say, “Attention everyone! I do this for you, and I'd like to hear from you.” If you have a blog and have been struggling with feedback, try it sometime and see what happens. You just might get some people to crawl out of the shell, and you might learn something new.
But is there room for anyone else?
Over the past four years, Valeria has been one of the most prolific bloggers in the world, and probably the most prolific on the subject of conversation and community. Almost every day she has another thoughtful, comprehensive post—just look at some of these greatest hits. I read along with many of you and think, “How does she do it? Is there a twin sister behind the curtain who goes to the day job so Valeria can write this stuff every day?”
It's also easy to think... “Since established blogs like Conversation Agent have covered so much already, is there any space for me?” That's exactly what I thought as I surveyed the blogging world two-and-a-half years ago. I finally decided to go for it and start anyway. Surprise! People ended up caring.
But since I don't have all the answers either, other people look elsewhere, and other people will care about what you have to say. So I think Valeria would say, Yes! There is indeed space at the table. And in fact, encouraging conversation and new perspectives is one of the things that this blog does best.
What do you have to contribute?
And by the way, whether you're in the silent majority or not, stop by to say happy birthday to Conversation Agent. Four years of posts are also available for your consideration.
A true fan of the Conversation Agent, Chris Guillebeau travels the world and writes for a small army of remarkable people at chrisguillebeau.com.
[image of Fantastic Four picked by Conversation Agent: it takes a bit of each of them to get to four years of blogging]