Why did you begin blogging? I did for a number of reasons. Of course I love the internet and I really enjoy meeting new people. I was also intrigued by the possibilities of viral marketing. But the biggest reason I began blogging was to share what I know about growing a small, service-oriented businesses through the web.

What’s really impressed me about the blogosphere, though, is how openly and freely bloggers share what they know. For the most part, there seems to be no holding back – no protecting information. Which is amazing. Anything, and maybe everything, you would ever want to learn about blogging, business, branding, marketing, seo, etc is openly available on the blogosphere. And bloggers seem to love to share it.

But what about nonbloggers. How open are we to them? How easy do we make it for them to join ‘our world?’ Do we offer ample opportunity for nonbloggers or beginning bloggers to join in? Is the blogosphere just a huge clique?

That’s what Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home has been wondering. She’s been noticing how much of her traffic comes from bloggers while how little comes from nonbloggers. She began thinking that perhaps we bloggers aren’t making it easy for nonbloggers, and even new bloggers, to join the conversation.

Blogs are conversations, yes. But have you ever walked into the middle of a conversation at a party, with a bunch of people you hardly know? Specifically a group that already knows each other well?

We all know how hard it is to walk into the middle of a conversation. We awkwardly stand there, trying to figure out whats being talked about; listening intently for a chance to add in. Sometimes we get in. But more often then not, we’re ignored and even shunned. And we walk away thinking ‘they were a bit snobbish and cliquey.’

I love Darren Rowse’s site ProBlogger. Darren so freely shares what’s made him and others successful. And I get the sense he’s a pretty nice guy. But I’ve had experiences like this commenting on his blog. A few times I’ve posed questions or what I feel are valid ideas in the comments that just get ignored. I don’t necessarily fault Darren for this, but I do question why no commenters were willing to engage me. Maybe I’m just too new in the conversation. But the experience has made me stop commenting at ProBlogger.

So, as bloggers, do we have a responsibility to, as Wendy writes, “break out of the blogging clique?What can we do to be more open to newbies and nonbloggers? Please join in.

Here’s a few ideas from eMoms to get the conversation started:

Darren Rowse suggests “I think a mistake that some bloggers make is promoting themselves as a ‘blog' – in doing so they could be losing readers as some people will either be confused by the term and/or distracted by it.”

Aaron M Potts thinks that, “If bloggers are going to band together to inform the masses, putting together one united banner would seem the most effective way to spearhead the effort.”

Rory adds, “It could be that many non-bloggers are more familiar with the use of a forum. They might have questions, but they go to their favourite forum, and post a question there. When they happen upon a blog, they might just read the information without understanding that they can comment – perhaps not even wanting to. They might be more inclined to try sending an e-mail to the blog owner. …Commenting on a weblog might be considered to be too daunting.”

Ariane Benefit suggest, “Addressing newbies in any field will get you lots of readers! As will addressing any specific problem that people commonly have. One of my most popular posts ever is still “25 ways I save money” It gets tons of traffic and has lots of links to it from other sites.”

John Wesley, “…if you can break through the barrier and get non-blogging, non-internet savvy people to start participating, you have a huge opportunity for growth. I think this potential out weighs the short term benefits of writing for bloggers.”

Please, be sure to read and carry on the conversation at eMoms.

In a future post, I’ll write about our conversation and link back to your blogs. Thanks for join in.

Reader Interactions


  1. Wendy Piersall :: eMom says

    I agree that Darren was spot on in branding our sites as ‘blogs’ vs. ‘sites’. Other great ideas that came up in the comments are ways of putting out a virtual “welcome mat” as a way to help newbies understand the community and give them the background info needed so they can feel comfortable joining the conversation.

    Now to just carve out the time to do it all! 😉

  2. Mindfulness Maverick says

    But what else can we do?

    I think writing a post speaking directly to new readers and inviting them to play a game and make a post.

    1. Simplify the post
    2. Speak to them directly
    3. Walk them through it
    4. Remind them why their voice matters
    5. Invite them to play

  3. Mona says

    Steve Pavlina (http://www.stevepavlina.com) has his entire first page of the blog as an introduction/welcome type of post.

    Within the introduction/welcome page he gives links to follow to the popular stuff and where to get started – and then also has the sidebar links.

    I don’t know that it would work for all blogs, but for his content and purposes I really dig it.

  4. Wendy Piersall :: eMom says

    I blogged a little more on this topic today – should have linked to this post. In fact, I’m going to edit it right now and do just that. 🙂

  5. John Wesley says

    I agree with what you said about the ProBlogger comments. I rarely comment there anymore either. It seems like getting big sometimes ruin the discussions on a site. People all want to comment on a popular site for traffic reasons, leading to many lame, useless comments.

    You did a good job framing the discussion. After Darren’s comment, I’m thinking maybe I should stop using the word blog. I think it’s synonymous to BS for many people.

  6. Dawud Miracle says


    Please don’t get me wrong – I really like Darren’s site and he seems like a good guy. I just didn’t have a good experience with much of the community that comments on his site. But nothing again him or his blogs.

    I, too, have been re-thinking the idea of using the word ‘blog.’ I think it gets in the way of more people embracing social media as a whole – and that’s the real shame.

  7. Dawud Miracle says


    Yeah, I’m with you on creating a “welcome mat.” But how? How do we effectively open our arms to newbies? Pages/Posts on our blogs that speak directly to newbies is good. But what else can we do?

  8. Wendy Piersall :: eMom says

    Darren – there’s really no way to stay on top of the comment streams *you* have going on.

    I think you had a great idea today to enlist the help of your most loyal readers. Perhaps you can email them personally and ask them to chip in on the comments section, and invite them to address reader questions themselves. Some incentive could be occasional links back to top comment contributors.

    This would be an especially good time to test this out, since you’ll be in the states soon, with even less time to respond to comments. 😉

  9. Razib Ahmed says

    I am against the idea of bringing all the blogs and bloggers under one umbrella in this kind of discussion. Blogosphere is a vast and diverse world. Many bloggers write for catching Google and getting more traffic and more money. Many of them do not bother much if they have good discussion in their blogs. On the other hand, we can find many bloggers who are not here for money and try to build a community. Some bloggers can actually mix these two things. Anyway, my point is that blogging is a diverse field and it is just evolving.

  10. Roberto Galoppini says

    Dawud, as a newbie I didn’t find so difficult to join the conversation, and I felt quiet welcome indeed.
    I spent some time reading blogs, trying to understand how the blog thing works.
    Then I started blogging talking about Commercial Open Source, a topic I’m deeply involved with from a long time now. Having my niche wasn’t that difficult to find topics to talk about, nor enter the conversation with blog-stars.
    Last but not least I got very good advices from Robin Good, and I suggest everyone to read his “Be your own boss”, a great piece!

  11. Dawud Miracle says


    I think writing a post is what Wendy was suggesting in creating a “welcome mat.” But that would need to be a ‘static’ page or a ‘sticky post’ wouldn’t it? We’d need to keep in the sidebar or near the top of the main page. Anyone have other thoughts of where/how to lay this out?

  12. Anonymous says

    Hi all

    Blog conversations where knowledge/experiences etc are shared I always compare with networking.

    And as for making non-bloggers (or not-yet-bloggers) welcome a welcome mat (typepad users can make a specific ‘type-list’ to keep it high on the page as a sticky) is a nice idea, but I’d like to ‘counter’ that we all were non-bloggers at one point. We ‘discoverd’ blogs while searching the internet or being made aware of it by friends perhaps. Most of us just ‘lurked’ around first, reading only the post. Later on we discovered the comments and slowly got ‘used’ to the blogging world. Perhaps we tried a comment ourselves and hoped it would be commented on also (that’s the best way to make newbies welcome and ‘familiar’).
    Perhaps later we created our own blog and spread the ‘fun’ and ‘play-area’.

    Everyone takes his/her own time to get ‘used’ to new things, blogs are still pretty new for most, giving a helping hand is good, but don’t feel we should ‘push’ everyone into blogging. Like with YouTube or MySpace (or second Life for that matter). I know of it, but it’s not for me, so I pass on that one.

    Have a good weekend all, time to close shop here.

  13. Dawud Miracle says


    I really glad to hear that you felt welcome. Do you have any tips for making other newbies feel more welcome?


    Thanks for the heads-up on Darren. He’s got a nice post, as usual.

  14. Dawud Miracle says

    Karin H.,

    It’s true that everyone takes their own time to get “used” to new things. I’m certainly not suggesting we “push” people.

    I’m curious about helping those who are new to blogging and feel either lost, intimidated or overwhelmed by the blogosphere – really by social media. I think there’s a lot of people who are not participating because they simply don’t know how and are hesitant to find out.

    The question is…how do we make it easier for people to engage in social media?


    Thanks for commenting. You’re right about Steve. But he’s a major A-List blogger with a huge following. Any thoughts about how you might integrate the needs of a business website with a blog and still have room to welcome the new folks?

    John, Wendy, Liz, anyone…any ideas?

  15. Roberto Galoppini says

    A newbie like me has just to keep in mind Hemingway:

    Before we take to sea we walk on land, before we create we must understand.

    A simple and effective hint: find buddies having a technorati rank close to yours, start a conversation with them, you will be growing together, and mates are likely to be a goal itself, not just a mean.

  16. Rory says

    When I first started blogging, it was not with the intention of “blogging to the choir.” I had an idea for a website, but I knew that I would be constantly adding content, so it would be more of a weblog than a static website. I preferred all my new content to be on the front page rather than have a welcome page – but I’m not sure how easy that is for new visitors who are not bloggers. Perhaps I need a static introduction before any new posts begin, to cater for both new visitors and my own blogging foible.

    Wendy at eMom has quite a deep introductory header and it works quite well. Perhaps that’s the way to go.

    Also, this discussion needs to be picked up by bloggers who are seeking a broader audience. When I write about parenting, I’m not doing it for the “parenting” niche. I want my site to be found by search engines so that any parent can come and read the content – but I know that they might be a little confused when they arrive. I may have to address that. Part of the reason we all comment and interact is to get our “brand name” out there, get noticed, get more incoming links and so rise up the search engine pages. That process gets drilled into us as bloggers.

    Then we find what great people there are in the “blogosphere” and we are happy to become part of that world.

    Bloggers are internet content creators. But a far higher percentage of people are internet users. They use it as a commodity, and that’s what it’s there for. They haven’t come to comment, just to read and glean information, and we are happy for them to do that.

    And now, this comment is so long and rambling I’ve forgotten what I set out to say.

    Oh, it might have been this – just as a tiny aside: “Newbie” seems to me to be a derogatory term. Personally, I hate it. We use it all over the blogging and tech world, and it is embarrassing and offputting. It certainly is not an inviting word. It is an unnecessary barrier for new visitors/bloggers to overcome. It could potentially make people feel self-conscious, and this is not what we want to do when we spread out a “welcome mat”.

  17. Darren says

    yes it gets hard to respond to every comment or keep comment threads on track when you get a lot of visitors and have a commenting culture on your blog.

    Not to make excuses (because I know my blog has much to improve upon) but with an average of 100 comments a day it is difficult to give each one a personal and constructive response. I worked out one day that over an 8 hour working day to respond to each comment I’d need to write a response every 5 minutes (and that’s just on ProBlogger and doesn’t include any of my other blogs) – what a day that’d be! 🙂

    It’s particularly difficult in an age where people see comments sections as just another way to promote their blog and leave comments that don’t really add anything to the conversation.

    Difficult to know how to fix it – but something I continue to work on where I can.

    Not wanting to make excuses – but hopefully shed a little more light on it 🙂

  18. Dawud Miracle says


    No worries at all, really. I was just a bit shocked because I had such a great experience in the ‘communities’ of other blogs when I first launched out. I think what shocked me more was how other commenters ignored me. But I guess, as you say, some people just want to promote their own blog.

    And I still read your feed everyday. So no worries. No need to explain. No hard feelings. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to talk some time.
    Just keep up the great work. And I will comment on your post today about The Balancing Act of Where to Pitch Your Content when I get a bit of time later this evening.

  19. Darren says

    It’s interesting – because when I do respond to comments I quite often find that no one comes back to read them.

    Perhaps I need to add the ‘subscribe to comments’ feature again (although with so many comments on posts some people hated it).

  20. Dawud Miracle says


    This sounds like a great idea. I wonder what Darren thinks about it?


    I haven’t yet looked at how many of my commenters use ‘subscribe to comments.’ Though my readership and commenters are nothing like what you face. What about a plugin that sends a comment digest once-per-day? I don’t know of one off hand, but I gotta think it’s possible.

    As for replying to comments…I’ve been surprised with this on lots of blogs. I purposefully use coComment because I want to engage in conversations on other blogs. Most of the time, though, comment replies seem to go one-and-done.

  21. Rory says

    Darn. Just about the moment I pressed “submit comment” I regretted not making it clear that I wasn’t talking about any references to “newbie” here, but just in general.

    Perhaps as the internet gets more popular, becomes a more mainstream medium of communication – it is obviously heading in that direction – visitors will become more familiar with the various styles of website they encounter.

    In the interim, how about this as a suggestion: Make the information in the sidebar more prominent. We use a larger font and highlight important aspects – pillar articles, clear and concise categories – the elements we want our visitors to see.

    It’s not easy to find examples of the kind of thing I mean, but try these for size: Pearsonified, and Deep Jive Interests

    At the moment most blog sites we see are “busy” with tiny text, which non-bloggers, new visitors might find overwhelming. We get rid of superfluous material, like archives and links we enjoy (have a separate page for these). Then, when visitors come, they might be in a position to more readily absorb what they are presented with.

    Hey, I might try implementing these suggestions on my own weblog website.

  22. Anonymous says

    Hi Rory

    As blogger and static website ‘owner’ I do think it’s always important to ‘engage’ with your visitors in any whihc way you can, be it larger font, be it ‘welcome mats’ be it any thing else that makes them feel ‘welcome’ and even might want to come back for more 😉

    (Found that the link in my prior post has lost one ” , so I try again:
    “He does have an interesting post this week on educating businesses on websites and webmarketing

    because it is a good post

  23. Dawud Miracle says


    Some great points. Thanks for joining the conversation. And don’t worry, I ramble from time to time myself.

    My goal isn’t to just blog about blogging either. My niche is solving web-based business problems for small business owners and professional service providers. That’s who I try to write for. To me, the blog is just another way for my target audience to reach their target audience – so I do write about blogging. And so far, most of the readers I have are either bloggers providing a service or those blogging about blogging. So I’m getting there, I feel.

    I recently watched a Bleeding Edge Video with Scoble, Pirillo, Broback and others. On the video, Steve Broback talks about having to overcome a blogging stigma with businesses. Basically what he’s had to do is make it clear to his clients that a blog is simply a website. It’s just a website where you can have more content control while being able to interact with your audience. He said that approach has really helped his clients open up to learning how blogs can help them.

    I would great to have conversations like this with nonbloggers. But how do we get them here to join in the conversation in the first place? The ‘welcome mat’ idea is great. And as a designer, it seems important to make sure that it’s easily found while not taking away from the overall purpose of the site/blog.

    As for the word ‘newbie,’ I actually agree but have chosen to use the word out of laziness and brevity. I’m not one looking to put people off – quite the contrary. Thanks for bringing it up.

    See, I told you I can ramble on…

  24. Anonymous says

    [quote comment=”1459″]

    My goal isn’t to just blog about blogging either. My niche is solving web-based business problems for small business owners and professional service providers. That’s who I try to write for. [/quote]

    Not only try, you succeed very well in it Dawud. (That’s why I keep coming back for more?)
    A website is more than just a ‘presence’ on the WWW nowadays and it’s becoming a huge ‘hay-stack’. As business owner (and webmarketing manager, wow that’s a new word) I have to ‘grab’ the importance of the WWW presence we have be it a ‘static’ website or a ‘interactive’ blog (and we have both). Having an ‘expert’ (sorry, will keep saying it though) around who ‘thinks-alike’ comes in very handy 😉

    Everbody is rambling now it seems 😉

    I had a great teacher on webmarketing, but he moved to South Africa recently – and is/was better at face-to-face sessions than ‘blog-sessions’.
    He does have an interesting post this week on educating businesses on websites and webmarketing

  25. Carol L. Skolnick says

    I began blogging as both a marketing tool and a way to archive articles I’d written for my newsletter, but it’s evolved into a conversation starter, a way to communicate what’s up with my life and work and to provoke discussion and interchange. What I love about my blog (as opposed to my website) is that my readers feel like my friends and I feel that I am speaking to them, not at them…and making new friends in the process.

    I appreciate blogs where I feel included, where I can contribute, where I can feel informed and inspired. Blogs that are purely promotional don’t do that for me; neither do stream-of-consciousness, online diaries. It’s great for bloggers to shake up the blog paradigms a bit. I love it when they do, and I love doing it.

    And…according to mybloglog.com (I highly recommend joining this amazing community-building website + tracking tool), the blog does drive readers to my website.

  26. Dawud Miracle says

    Karin H.,

    Thanks. And it’s fine if you want to give me titles and accolades – I’m not above accepting them. I just can’t justify giving titles to myself.

    Also, thanks for the second post to Rory and the link. I’ll definitely give it a read on Monday when I’m back to work.


    No worries on the newbie comment. I didn’t take anything personal.

    I actually agree with your about making sidebar info more prominent. I know I’ve tried to do that on my site. What I’ve done is just create two distinct sidebars – one that’s specifically about my blog. The other that is more about my overall website and business. I think I’ve been effective, and I’m open to feedback.

    Thanks for joining the conversation, by the way.


    Yes, exactly…conversation is what this is about. I’m having the same experience. Not only with potential clients, but with a great community of bloggers as well.

    I feel most small business owners should really learn how to use blogs to engage in conversations with their target market. Doing so changes everything.

  27. online bollywood movies says

    I would love to have conversations like this with nonbloggers. But how did we get here to participate in conversation, in the first place? The idea of "red carpet is great. And as a designer, I think it is important to make sure it is easy to find while not taking away from the overall objective of the website / blog.

  28. Edinburgh Choirs says

    I’m completely new to blogging and this has helped a good bit. But my question is, how do I know that there are people reading my blogs? I mean, there are billions of blogs out there… How do I pull in the readers?


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