Did you ever play that game when you were young: you can only choose one... you can't have both?
I have been thinking a lot lately about how the Blogosphere is going to evolve and grow. A lot this thought was stirred by the recent changes to Technorati and also my ranking fluctuations in the Advertising Age - Power 150 list of the top Advertising, Marketing and Communications Blogs in the world. While C.C. Chapman at Managing The Gray is Podcasting all about how he never looks at his stats (check out his episode entitled, Risk & Success), I find myself increasingly obsessed with my own. Not in a vanity sort of way (although, partially it's that), but because I have been Blogging for so long, that I do feel like how my content sits on the Web (in search, etc...) is a good personal indication to me of how things are flowing online.
As we all grapple with the same challenge of building readerships and our Subscriber base while continually adding value to the community of other Blogs, is it possible to choose one area to focus on? More subscribers or getting more links to your Blog? While I used to think that these were not mutually exclusive, it would seem like you can have a significant readership and still not be increasing on the inbound link side. Conversely, lots of inbound links but not a steady and growing subscriber base. Who would have thought?
I pumped this question out to my Twitter community earlier, and I was surprised to read a near-even split (yes, there were a handful who said "both"). That perplexed me even more. There was also some commentary that one should lead to another, or how links may be a "one night stand" versus the relationship model of a Subscriber.
A varying amount of opinions from people who I respect with no clear conclusions.
I think part of the answer might be that in order to build a decent list of Subscribers, you need to have a lot of nice link love to get some action going. Once you build your base, it's *probably* more effective to continue building your Subscriber base, and let the links flow in naturally. But it would be silly to diminish the value of some good quality links. When someone links to you, there is a potentially an all-new reader base you're being exposed to - it's up to your content to convert those links into Subscribers. This really makes me re-think how I look at Blog Marketing. If you take a strategy like this, and it forces your content to be swayed based on some kind of Marketing outcome, don't do it. Blog because you have something to add to the community - something tells me (even with the one hundred and ten million Blogs that Technorati is tracking) that you can still make your mark, find your voice and effectively build an audience.
I'm, still grappling with whether or not that can be done without being overly provocative or without initiating some kind of link-baiting post to kick it up a notch (I can't believe I just used an Emeril saying). Bottom line, I've seen what chasing links can do to a Blog (and a Blogger)...it ain' t pretty. If I had to choose just one, it would be Subscribers. It's a longer road... and not as easy (people are all hot about The Long Tail, I'm all hot about The Long Road - putting in the time to do it right).
I do write for me, but I publish it for you... and (to me) that's my *real* community.