And read Danny’s post over at his Firepole Marketing blog:
The whole debate that sparked the ‘Comment Love-Ins’ article was about Natural talent. And I wrote my take on natural talent last week – and implored people who disagreed to comment. And tell me why they disagreed.
Because contrary to the belief of my wife and kids (LOL!), I don’t love the sound of my own voice. I actually want to learn. I’m not a preacher, I’m a teacher. And the most effective way of keeping you’re ‘A’ Game sharp is to keep learning. To have your ideas challenged so that you can examine your ideas from someone else’s perspective.
This will lead to one of three conclusions:
- 1) Your conviction in your original idea will be strengthened
- 2) Your original idea will be modified (and improved) by examining it from a different angle
- 3) Your original idea will be replaced by a better idea.
All of those three outcomes are ‘win’ scenarios. And yet constructive debate is something that precious few blogs seem to do.
Feedback – Rocket Fuel For Rapid Development
One of the quickest (but paradoxically most difficult) ways of getting better at ANYTHING is to get constant feedback on what you are doing. And use that feedback to tweak your ideas and make improvements.
And the blog comment system is almost tailor made for this. And yet how many blogs actually stimulate open debate? Not many, that’s for sure. For most people that’s a hideously wasted opportunity.
I wrote in a comment on Danny’s post above that in most industries getting high quality, professional feedback often costs thousands of dollars in consulting fees. But bloggers have got the opportunity to get that kind of feedback for free. The only qualifications are that you don’t take feedback personally, that you encourage robust debate, that you’re courteous to your commenters when they disagree with you (and thank them!), and that you open yourself up to ideas that are different from yours.
However, there’s a problem with this approach. And that problem is that the default setting for most blog readers is to move onto another blog if they disagree with something.
That’s a mindset that needs to be challenged if we are all going to achieve our fullest potential and get the feedback we need. So here’s another way to invite people to leave comments that might disagree with you, and they won’t feel ‘awkward’ or ‘nervous’ about doing it – because another blogger has already done it!
And that’s by holding a ‘Blog Off.’
WTF Is A Blog-Off
A Blog-Off is where two bloggers have different viewpoints on a topic – and they both post their viewpoints.
This isn’t a new idea, or a radical idea. I’m sure it’s been done many times before – though I’ve only seen it twice. If you read Danny’s post that I linked above you’ll find one instance of it. And the second instance of it was at Corbett’s ThinkTraffic.net blog:
Now both methods work – in Danny’s Blog-Off it wasn’t something that was pre-planned. He wrote a post, informed someone he liked and respected about the post so she wouldn’t get mad, and that person posted her side of the story.
And doing it that way works just fine. If you’re holding a blog-off, you could formalize it and cross-link to the other person’s post and perhaps include a short summary.
But where that doesn’t work quite so well is for the readers – because they have to skip between blogs to read both the actual blog posts that are part of the blog-off AND the comment threads. (I’ve said it before – I’ll say it again – a good comment thread is a gold mine of ideas and information.)
I really, REALLY like the way that Corbett did it – he provided the ‘venue,’ invited two bloggers with diametrically opposing views to write on the subject, and then opened the floor for comments.
The logistical problem with this style of Blog-Off is that you need a blog or website to act as a host or venue for the Blog-Off.
Finding A Venue For Blog-Offs
I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days. And I’ve come up with three ways of finding a venue for a ‘Blog-Off.’
1) One Spoon At A Time
If you’ve been challenged to a blog-off by someone and need a venue, hit me up with an email. I’ll gladly host Blog-Offs. (Obviously that assumes the topic of your blog-off is related to content marketing, blogging, writing, online business, video and the kind of stuff I write about.)
2) Approach A Bigger Name About Hosting A Blog-Off
If you’ve been challenged to a blog-off, or are thinking of challenging someone (!), then you could approach a bigger name blog about hosting it. I’m guessing (and I could be wrong) that it would be potentially more attractive to the bigger name blog than a guest post because it’s guaranteed to be controversial, it’s also guaranteed to get some eyeballs to it (the bigger blog’s audience, plus the audience of the two bloggers involved), and it’s just about guaranteed to get comments. Hopefully a lot of them.
So if it someone had challenged me – and depending on the exact topic – the kind of people I’d be tempted to contact would include Marcus Sheridan, Tristan Higbee, Steve Scott, Brankica Underwood and Corbett Barr. And there are others who I know of, but haven’t yet got to know well enough to ask like Kristi Hines, Danny Brown, Gini Dietrich, Ingrid Abboud, Pat Flynn and a gazillion others.
If the subject of the blog-off was a controversial, writing-specific or blogging-specific topic, maybe I’d even approach Copyblogger or Problogger.
If you’re doing this with someone, and they’ve never heard of a blog-off, pitch it as a guest post with cast-iron balls.
3) Approach Dino
If you’ve not heard of Dino yet, my bet is you soon will. With his partner Dan Cristo, he’s the brain behind Triberr (a genius Twitter app), and he blogs at DIYBlogger.net. DIY Net is moving to a different publishing model – they’ve just taken on Stacey as their Managing Editor and they’re looking for more guest posts.
If the topic was even mildly controversial I’m willing to bet Dino and Stacey would bite your hand off if you offered them a blog-off to host.
(We’ll find out soon enough – the first thing I’m gonna do after hitting the publish button is Tweet Dino and see what he thinks!)
Before you go rushing off into the Blogosphere to send out some Blog-Off challenges, there’s one important set of principles you need to think about.
For blog-offs to work and not descend into a verbal slanging match that does nobody any favours here are some suggested Blog Off principles that you should agree to adhere to:
1) Go in with an open mind. Of course you’re convinced that you’re right. Not everyone in the world will agree with you – and you might find you’re in the minority. Remember that you’re doing this not to preach, but to learn. So examine your idea through other people’s perspectives…remember the three benefits from the intro to the article?
2) Be polite. If someone is wrong – and you’re 100% convinced they are wrong – then you can politely but firmly point it out. Don’t just say: You’re wrong. Back it up with evidence. Be specific with that evidence too – that way other people can go away and do their own research.
3) If someone thinks your idea is wrong it doesn’t mean they think less of YOU. They just don’t like your idea. Don’t take it personally. Tell your ego to sling its hook and let the logical and analytical hemisphere of your brain think about the criticism of the idea.
4) Remember – in the offline world getting this kind of feedback costs thousands of dollars. You’re getting it for free – and you’re strengthening and building relationships. And you’re learning in the process. That’s a Win on all counts. So again, don’t let your ego get in the way and screw it up.
5) Don’t start a Blog-Off just to prove someone wrong. Only start a Blog-Off because you have an idea, you know someone disagrees with you, and you want to examine that in more detail. It’s not about points scoring – it’s about education.
6) If you take the Blog-Off to a bigger blog to act as a venue, remember it’s THEIR house. Their house, their rules. Again, don’t let your ego screw it up because people disagree with you and it winds you up.
7) Did I warn you about your ego screwing it up yet? 😉
Remember, the ultimate goal isn’t to show everyone how clever you are. (Those kinds of bloggers wouldn’t enter into blog-offs in the first place, don’t allow dissenting comments of any sort on their blog, and are stagnating because they don’t allow any kind of feedback to penetrate their protective bubbles).
The ultimate goal is to learn. By learning, you’ll also be connecting with people. Learning in this manner is both fulfilling and humbling in equal measures.
So That’s The Blog Off – Any Questions?
Any thoughts or questions on blog-offs, you know what to do. This is an ‘Open Season’ post – which means if you totally disagree I don’t want you to jump to another blog that you agree with, I want you to write in the comments why I’m talking rubbish, and what is a better way of doing this.
Oh, and if anyone fancies a blog-off, hit me up with an email and we’ll see what we can sort out! Game on!