Experiment-Based Blogging

I’ve had a website for years. Most were for hobbies, others were to help me sell stuff. This one, Charlotte Web Development, is ostensibly for my website design company. It helps my business that I can show off some technical skill and business acumen by having a complex website up myself that generates sales. After all, why would you buy a website design from a guy with an awful website? That would be like getting an out of shape personal trainer. You want to know that they practice what they preach – and get great results from it!

Well, I’m making a big change in how I do this.

The Big Website Change

I’ve always maintained that you should add pages to your website in order to get more traffic. That works because as search engines learn about your site and index your content, each of those new pages end up in search results. If you’ve written 300 articles, all of a sudden you have 300 ways for people to enter your site, to learn more about you and what you do. 300 more home pages and significantly more chances to attract customers.

Well, I’m not changing that. I’ll still add as much content as I can, when I can.

How I Used to Write Articles (aka How I Used to Blog)

In the past I have written blog posts and articles on anything that came to mind. Occasionally I would try to take some emails that I wrote to prospects, clients, and friends on how to do something and post that. A few times I would write about something in the news or a local event. Most of the time I would do research on what people were searching for on the Internet, see if there were any articles like that out there (and ranking well) and then write an article to fill that need.

These strategies to write articles are all well and good. They generate traffic to my site. And occasionally I make a sale off of that traffic. The problem is that this isn’t ‘sticky’ traffic. People come to the website because they find me in Google, Bing, Yahoo or elsewhere when they are searching for a way to do something. They come, they see my post, sometimes they ask me questions. Most of the time they leave and I have no idea if they completed their task successfully.

This kind of result doesn’t help me – I don’t make any sales at all PLUS I don’t get that rewarding feeling that I’ve helped some one. All I know is that I have written an article that has become popular for some kind of search and that a lot of people come to my site to see that article.

How This Blog Will Change

These past few months I’ve analyzed what I like to read and what turns me into a loyal fan, and perhaps even a paying customer. It really boils down to the The Three C’s.

The Three C’s

Conversation

Sure, I’m writing to an audience to solve problems but it’s a one-way street. Unless you leave a comment or use the contact form, we’re not communicating. I’m talking AT YOU, not with you. And that’s no fun. Even a guy with an ego as large as mine can only talk to himself for so long. I am going to change my writing style so we can have a conversation.

Context

Looking at my website I had to ask myself ‘Why in the world would anyone ever come back anyway?’ After all, there are thousands of website designers. If they used Google to find an answer to a specific need (ex Google brought them to my website) why would they ever come back to my site? Google found the answer for them. Why wouldn’t they use Google to find the next answer? To their minds, if Google brings them to my site, fine. If not, just as good.

To solve this, I need to provide Context. Hey, you may have stumbled across this website by serendipity, happenstance, or whatever. But hey, here’s a whole bunch of things you are probably interested in, too, you just didn’t know that you were looking for those kind of things.

I can’t tell you how many times I landed on a website to find something but ended up really getting invested in what was going on there because of this other great material I came across while I was there. If I can provide my content in the context of ‘other really good stuff that you didn’t know you were looking for’ so much the better!

Community

It’s the interaction that creates a community. Sure, you can have a conversation with one person, but it’s when you can relate that one conversation in context to another group of people in a way they find helpful and interesting that you start to build a community.

Also, I find that communities are formed through shared experiences. Think about your college friends, or about your favorite team or athlete. Chances are that you feel that connection because of a series of shared experiences. Sure, I don’t play college football, but I am a die-hard member of the Virginia Tech Football team (Hokie’s) fan base. While I don’t participate in their games, I go see them, cheer at them, read about them on-line, in newspapers, and follow their achievements and disappointments as I can.

Introducing Experiment Based Blogging

While I wouldn’t expect anyone to follow this blog as much as you would a favorite football team, I think there is a lot of work that can be done to foster a community via conversation and context. The main way I plan on achieving this is via Experiment Base Blogging.

Here’s the idea. I’m going to choose an experiment, introduce it, and then blog all about it. I’ve already kind of started with my Random Content Experiment and my Logo / Header contest. Those sort of events seem to interest people and provide the results I’m looking for. People get interested in experiments and like to offer their opinions, ask questions and share them with their friends. Experiment results foster new learning, new teaching, and are really entertaining.

Well, that’s the thesis anyway. Let’s see how it plays out. Any website development experiments you’d like to see run? Have I built anything that you’d like to learn about? Let the world know below in the comments.

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