Thursday, March 15, 2007

How You Can Repay Bloggers For Their Work

Brian Shannon, who offers excellent video-based technical analysis through his Alpha Trends blog, recently drew upon the negative comment of a reader to reflect upon what blogs are all about. Brian makes no bones about being a businessman, but he also observes that more goes into producing a blog than sheer business interest. These "warm and fuzzy reasons" for blogging include the opportunity to meet other, talented traders and the joys of being part of the learning process for up-and-coming market participants.

When you think about it, those warm and fuzzy reasons have to loom large as motivations for the best bloggers. Think about the time and effort it takes Brian to produce a video each day; the resources that go into the massive link collections of Charles Kirk or Barry Ritholtz; or the writing and research that are required to produce Mish's analytical posts. The links I carry daily on my Weblog are my attempt to recognize the worthy contributions of these and so many other dedicated bloggers. Taken together, the blogosphere truly has become an alternative media outlet, with content that just can't be found elsewhere.

One of the highest forms of praise I receive from readers is a simple acknowledgment of the value of my posts and a request: "Is there any way I can repay you for all you've given me?" That is warm and fuzzy to the Nth power.

In the past, I have declined repayment. I have never sought commercial or personal gain from blogging, other than some visibility for the books I've written and the work I perform with trading firms. But now I'll take up the question directly on behalf of bloggers generally and outline two specific ways grateful readers can repay excellent content.

1) Be An Active Participant - The best blogs are not mere assemblages of posts. Rather, they are conversations with readers. As a blogger myself, I gain greatly from feedback and the willingness of readers to share their ideas with me. Many times I'll engage in an email exchange with a reader about trading ideas that leaves both of us more informed. The comments sections of blogs are perfect places for such conversations. Very often, readers add perspectives to my posts that I hadn't thought of. When you actively and thoughtfully engage in a blog-based conversation, you elevate all participants: the blogger included.

2) Download the Alexa Toolbar and Let Your Visits Be Registered - I'm very aware of Alexa's limitations as a way of monitoring web traffic, just as Amazon's sales rankings have their shortcomings. No matter: Alexa, like Arbitron in radio and Nielsen in television broadcasting, has become a standard for measuring the popularity of websites. When you download the Alexa toolbar, your visits to blogs are registered and counted in the traffic data. I have the toolbar installed in my browser and have never encountered problems with it. But it does provide Bloggers with a measure of repayment. Some bloggers sell advertising on their sites. High traffic ratings help them attract ad dollars and support their work. Other bloggers are hoping to use their blogs to land book contracts, speaking engagements, or consultations. High ratings in Alexa help their marketability. Note that I'm not advocating stuffing the Alexa ballot box--American Idol style--to pad the votes for your favorites. I merely suggest that each blog visit is a vote, and that you let your votes be counted.

Most of my blogging friends, I suspect, are too modest to write a post about repayment. For them, as for me, warm and fuzzy reasons will always rank at the top of contributing to the education and empowerment of others. But good work deserves recognition. By actively participating in blogs and letting your visits register in the traffic data, you offer a measure of recognition--some warm fuzzies of your own--to those who contribute to your trading success.

Thanks for all your support--