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Culture

The blogger's giving tree

Blogging and online media thrive by driving traffic to others. There's a lesson in this....

A colleague has started a blog and was asking me if I had any tips to share. I don't consider myself an "expert blogger" (I'm not even sure what that means), but my answer was easy:

The more you give, the more you get.

For me, that's the first rule of blogging. Come to think of it, it describes the best way to build a business on the web or through open source.

The blogger's meat is page views. Oddly enough, the best way to get page views is by giving others page views. When I link to a great post that Pamela at Groklaw has written, for example, she may notice the incoming traffic and take a look at what is driving it. If she likes what I've written, she may link back to it and then keep my blog in mind for future links.

In fact, if there's one thing that frustrates me most with this blog it's that there isn't much solid open-source business commentary on the web. It means I link to my past posts much more often than I'd like. You might think that this would be a winning strategy; that linking to myself would be a great way to boost page views.

It's not. The best source of new traffic is from other blogs or online media sources. Those who are on my blog already know about me and what I write. Page views grow only when incoming traffic grows. Incoming traffic grows in tandem with outbound linking.

Funny how that works.

You can't horde page views. It just doesn't work that way.

Which is why I scan Digg, Ars Technica, Linux Today, and a wide range of other sources off-and-on throughout each day. I'm looking for sites to which I can drive traffic. It's why I welcome emails from people pitching (business) stories. It's why I spend a significant portion of each week talking with people not directly related to my work with Alfresco or with this blog - I'm happy to help others in their businesses or careers to the extent my time allows because a) I find it interesting and b) often it translates into a help to my business at some point in the future, even if not now.

Is it all just self-interest? Maybe in a way. But it's Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand"-type self-interest. The kind that makes one richer by enriching others first.