There’s more to the art of blogging than just the things that we see published on your blog. As many people assert, I believe blogging is at it’s heart a new type of conversation. The more people who are involved in the conversation, the greater the reach, the more diverse the group, the better the chance of something interesting coming of it. The first few months of blogging is always the most difficult because it largely feels like your talking to yourself. Every comment, note and email during that time is incredibly valuable and motivating. However, as time goes on, I haven’t found responses to lose any of their value. Several years later, I still get excited whenever I see a comment on my blog, or get a personal email from a reader who mentions that a post of mine made them think a bit.

SO, today’s challenge isn’t necessarily one that takes place publicly (although it could). There’s two directions you can take with this one. If your blog is well established already, find another blogger who has linked to you at some point and write them a brief thank you note. Let them know that you appreciate both their reading your blog, but also their linking back to you. Doing so exposes an entirely new set of readers to your own site, which really is quite a kindness. So let them know that you saw their response/comment/link, and that you appreciate their efforts.

If you are a relatively new blogger and don’t have any references to you just yet, then we’ll go in a different direction. You began blogging for a reason. More than likely, it wasn’t because you saw it mentioned on a Dateline special. Pick out a blogger who in some way influenced your decision to begin blogging and write them a thank you note. Trust me when I say, there is no greater compliment than to read an email from someone saying that you were an influence in their decision to begin blogging. So make sure that they know they were. They’ll appreciate it.

Whichever path you go down, be sure to include a link back to your blog so they know who you are. Often I know somebody’s blog rather well, but I forget the author’s name. This helps them make the connection between your note and your blog. It personalizes things. And, let’s be honest, I provides them with an incentive to follow the link back and visit your blog. I do have to admit, whenever someone sends me a personal note, I always follow back their link to see who they are and what they’re doing. Give them an opportunity to do the same.

If you’re going to write a person who has linked to you, Problogger has a few tips for finding who’s doing so:

  • Technorati – type your URL in and hit search and you’ll find any blogs linking to you
  • Google Blog Search – another good tool for real time link tracking
  • Your Blog’s Metrics – any worthwhile stats package will give you a ‘referrals’ stat that shows incoming links. I use Google Analytics but you could also use Sitemeter, Mint, AW Stats or one of many other metrics tools.
  • Search Engines – type in ‘link:’ at Yahoo or Google and you’ll find incoming links to your blog – note: this isn’t a quick or immediate method of finding recent links.

As I said at the beginning, you can choose to thank the person in the form of an email, a comment on their blog, or you can do so as a post on your own blog. However, if you do the latter, be sure to email them a personal note as well to ensure that they see the blog post. And of course, if you do create a post, leave a link to it here as well! That way other people can learn something from your own efforts.

I’ll update this post when I’ve decided who I’m going to send a thank you to!
UPDATE: Not gonna get all mushy and post the text of my thank you, but I thanked someone who had a profound influence on my early blogging, and continues to inspire me today… Alan Levine, CogDogBlog.