turn your blog into a social object of desire




Many author blogs tend to be online personal journals. Writers will write about their life and give their opinions and share a bit about their novel-in-progress and maybe chart their daily wordcount. There’s nothing wrong with this – but if you’re not already successful offline, it can lack social gravitational pull.

It doesn’t give people who are not already interested in you a reason to gravitate to your blog. It doesn’t pull in strangers and convert them to readers and fans.

So what does?

Content that looks outward — to the world — and enables change to happen on an individual or social level.

Content that can function as a social object,with layers and edges and angles that allow for different but related conversations.

A social object is anything that inspires people to interact with other people. The object is the thing they have in common. It can be an event (a wedding) or an object (the new iPad).

It’s a shared experience through which people can connect with each other.

The interaction between like-minded individuals is the point. The object is the reason and the excuse. And since things change because of people interacting with other people, a powerful social object becomes a catalyst.

We use objects to express ourselves. The clothes we wear, the car we drive, the items we display on our desk, the framed prints we hang on our walls: the sum of these things becomes a statement of identity.

In social media, we express ourselves through the links and posts and images we create and curate and spread through our networks.

We are what we share.

We also seek out who we want to be, through the social objects that challenge, teach and inspire us.

Who do you need to find? What kind of signals do you need to send out in order to pull your right people to you? How will you keep them engaged? What can you give them? How can you empower them? What is the big meaning you can explore through your blog, the message at the center, that turns it into a genuine social object?

A novel requires you to journey inward. How can I serve the story?

A blog requires you to focus outward. How can I serve the reader?

A novel (or poem, or short story) is a world in and of itself.

A blog operates within a deep, rich context of other people — of reading, linking and sharing — in order to be successful. This is why old-school promotion and marketing doesn’t work on the web. If your message is, “Buy my book”, how is that going to resonate with people and vibrate out through their networks? What would make them want to share that, or talk about you or your work?

So maybe a brainshift is required. You market, now, through inspiration and thought leadership. If you give your blog a dharma — a reason for being that goes beyond self-promotion — you give it Big Meaning, and create a rich social object that people can help you explore.

You market, now, through creating your own little movement. Your own personal revolution.

There’s that famous saying by Gandhi that everyone on Twitter seems to quote at one time or another, and I’m going to quote now. It might be something to think about when you’re thinking on what you want to blog about. When you’re searching for the dharma for your blog, your platform, your writing, and maybe yourself.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Who – and what – do you want to be?

Apr 13, 2011

12 comments · Add Yours

Thank you for these thoughts. As a new writer and blogger, I am just trying to establish my blogging focus and niche and posts like this help me clarify what I hope from blogging.


Great article. When I first started my blog is was quite journal-like and unfocused. I only recently started thinking about what I could offer to the reader and it’s working out much better. I’ve gone from no traffic to some traffic. It still isn’t great but it’s getting there slowly but surely.


So true. Your writing is amazing :)


I’m a novelist, with a book soon to be published, so I’ve started my first blog to try to connect with readers ahead of publication. But I have no illusions that anyone will be particularly interested in me or my daily routine, so my aim was to write about the setting of the novel – but in an all-encompassing way to appeal to people interested in the area (the south of France in this instance) – the whole lifestyle there, and my own interest in art. So I blog about artists – always giving their links – and other writers’ books, and occasionally give writing tips. I’m sure that broadening the appeal has to be the way forward, and I’ve already made some lovely contacts I wouldn’t have had a way to reach otherwise.


I truly think it must be fate that I found your blog. I have been truly inspired by your posts, especially concerning writer’s block. I am just overcoming a 2 year affliction of writer’s block and need an extra push, which your blog has provided. Thanks!


You never fail to inspire me. Thank you.


So true! Writers are all told these that they MUST start a blog. So now the blogosphere is crowded with these writer’s blogs focused on promotion and selling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But, if it were that easy, everyone would have a bestseller. I agree that blogs should focus on what the reader wants. And with blog stats and comments, a blogger knows which topics hit the reader’s hot button. I love your analogy here about a rich social object. Isn’t that what we all want with our writing–a way to connect with and engage our readers?


How wonderfully stated!




You’ve captured this idea brilliantly. I’ve always wanted people to receive something from reading my blog, to walk away changed and transformed in some way. A brilliant biz teacher, Mark Silver, speaks of this, that all marketing should give something to the person on the other end of it. I love the term “rich social object”. I hope to offer that to my readers.

Beautiful, wise post.

With gratitude,



thanks for the wise words.

The only thing I’m trying to sellis insurance offline to support myself, but facing a major surgery, I am so profoundly aware that writing is at the heart of my life. My heart has always been on my sleeve in reality and served as the image for starting my blog three years ago. I am clear I would be the only reader if I stayed writing simply about my heart. Writing about all the objects, issues and people that touch my heart has brought me readers, sustained the energy and keeps me writing and–more importantly–living today.


Thank YOU Justine for helping our blog find its dharma!


I’m going to enjoy reading more. I found you via Gaping Void . I’m not a writer but rather an artist who has had to learn how to blog. The fine art market is an unregulated market with no one route to getting noticed. I have found that my blog has helped me to get past a few ‘gatekeepers’. So I just need to keep doing it. And of course making the work. Getting the balance is probably the hardest part.



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