Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Touchy Subject: Guest Bloggers

This is a little touchy. Recently, in the same evening, in fact, I went to read Andrew Sullivan's blog wondering what he's been writing about and then happened to follow that up by reading Joi Ito's blog.

Both weblogs had other bloggers blogging on their sites. It was a little disappointing.

I had a real brand melt-down, not unlike picking up the Heinz Ketchup bottle in a diner and having something red and watery coming out that was definately NOT Heinz. I feel cheated.

It made me realize a few things ... blogs really have BRANDS. We've kicked the idea around a lot in conversations here on the Web, but I have to say, weblogs have hit a point of no return in terms of branding. You want to read the person who's name is on the blog.

I go to a blog to read that writer.

I was lucky enough to be asked to blog on Tom Peter's blog last year and when they made a decision to do much more Tom and lots less everyone else, this year, I understood it. I hated to say good-bye, but I understand the brand issue.

Also, if you are going to host guest bloggers, please don't just write one blog post introducing them and expect the rest of us to know who the heck the person is. Unless they are REALLY well known, please make their name a link EVERY TIME they post it, a link to some biographical info about them. If a blogger like Joi Ito or Andrew Sullivan has confidence and trust in a new writer, we want to know all about them. It's rather like they have knighted them, so give the new writer a bit of fanfare and give your readers a full introduction. And mention how long they will be blogging -- if they're filling in for you for a week while you're on vacation, it's one thing, far different from them becoming a full-fledged blogger on your blog from that day forward.

Will you read guest bloggers here at Halley's Comment? Wow ... again, a touchy subject ... I will say now that you will NOT, but reserve the right to contradict myself. I would rather not write if I'm busy, than have another person writing here.

I don't know about you, but the process of falling into a blog feels like this: you jump in, feeling happy to visit with a certain author you know and love, a bit like visiting someone's cozy house, (pretend it's me, Halley Single Mom from Boston) you're enjoying what you're reading and then the next thing you know the blogger writes something biographical like, "being a Jewish married lady from Wisconsin" and you get whiplash having assumed it was me and you are left saying, "Hey, wait a minute, that's not Halley!" and you have to fiddle around with the post, looking for attribution, to see another writer's name, to figure out what's going on. Is Halley sick? Is she hosting guest writers? Is she writing anymore? What's up? It's just annoying and discombobulating.

I understand how busy these writers are and they are forced to choose between getting truly burned out keeping up the blogging pace and therefore blog less and less frequently or, getting guest bloggers to help them and putting out lots more posts and hoping to satisfy readers who are disappointed when you don't write everyday. And believe me, we hear via email or other ways from our readers and they worry about you when you don't write for a few days.

There really is no easy solution, but I'd ask both Joi and Andrew, tell me LOTS more about your new guest bloggers and tell me how long they will be there -- just for Christmas vacation or ad infinitum?