Community

Many have called the blogging racket an echo chamber, wherein one popular writer says something mildly interesting and everyone else immediately links to that article with trite, nuanced comments tacked on after a paragraph or two taken in excerpt. Anyone following Joshua Ginter and I over the last few days would have seen us epitomize the circular nature of that stereotype in our recent exchanges, albeit sans popularity: first, I wrote Doing Monetization Well, and Josh replied with a thoughtful piece titled Cashing In A Blog. Continuing the cycle, I then published Tangible Goals, to which Josh wrote in response with Zac Szewczyk’s Tangible Goals. However, we did much more than frivolously compliment each other.

Over the course of these four articles, I outlined my ambitions for this site and further substantiated them when Josh made the well-founded — certainly nothing to feel ashamed of — criticism that I had set my readership goals far too low. Ostensibly, the course of events proceeded thusly. On a deeper level though, Josh and I had expanded our worlds ever so slightly to include the other, his thoughts, and his writing. We each went from following n writers to n+1, a decision made through a significant semi-conscious vetting process we both conducted independently of one another over the last week. We had “networked” in the truest sense of the word.

Fortunately for me, I have discovered a number of other writers as well.

Like Josh, I also just recently happened across @typistX. We got in touch after I posted Doing Monetization Well, which he found thanks to Jim Dalrymple’s link. Since then he has surprised me on multiple occasions with generous offerings of time and attention I had previously only seen hugely popular writers elicit of their readers. It amazed me, for instance, that he not only offered a great deal of feedback regarding this site’s latest design as I muddled my way through the process, but that he also served as the single driving force behind making this site cross-browser compatible. Without his input and willingness to seek out dated Windows machines throughout the testing process, Firefox users would still not have a styled page. I owe Shibel a huge debt of gratitude, to put it lightly. On top of that he also writes about technology — right up my alley — and, more importantly, does so extremely well. We, too, had “networked”, in the most base sense of the term.

Before starting this site, I spent a lot of time interacting with individuals within my small niche. And it paid: I had a fantastic time working on those sites, and they attracted the largest audiences I have ever laid claim to. One of them, despite its abandonment more than two years ago, almost managed to stay on track with this website’s readership where I post new content every single day. Those figures blew me away when I dusted them off. I had done everything “right” since then, after all: I posted regularly, submitted every article to Hacker News, and pleaded with popular bloggers to just take a look at this new post of mine. But I left out one thing, perhaps the most important thing; the key to not just statistical success, but real, tangible success as well: the humanity of it all. I had so sanitized this experience that I took out the best part. Namely, everyone else. This was my greatest mistake in conducting myself after starting this website, and one that thankfully only took me a year to remedy. I would have labored away alone and in a dark room for God only knows how much longer, scrounging at the bottom of the proverbial barrel for something; anything. But now I have companions to toil alongside me, individuals going through the same struggles I face to which I can look for guidance and camaraderie. I know that if I reach out to one of them, they will respond; that if I write a great article, they will see it. If I ever publish something wildly off base, my newfound compatriots will tell me. Most importantly though, this is a two-way street: I see their work, and nothing makes me happier than providing valued feedback.

In the end, I did not need to break in to the existing Apple tech blogger community and usurp a John Gruber, a Shawn Blanc, or a Federico Viticci. Ultimately, I found my niche and created my own community around it. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.