There are four types of articles that I especially enjoy reading on blogs:

  1. Educating
    The articles that I can learn from on anything from blogging to freelancing, from design to programming, from life to death.
  2. Questioning
    Nothing stimulates my brain better than questions posed by other bloggers that make me think before commenting on their blog posts, prompt me to look at things from a deeper perspective, challenge my views and beliefs.
  3. Entertaining
    We can’t always be pensive and discuss only serious subject matters. If we want to live longer we should inject some humour to our lives, relax a bit and be entertained.
  4. Inspiring
    It is encouraging to know that we are not the only ones who struggle with certain things or feel uninspired and frustrated, it makes us realize that it’s a natural, but most importantly, a temporary state of mind. We all need an occasional emotional and spiritual boost to help us with work, life and daily tasks.

In this article I want to share with you 8 amazing blog posts with some thought-provoking, brain-stimulating questions from audacious bloggers. I’ll answer their questions here and would love to hear your opinion on the following issues:

  1. Do you blog to impress others?
    I’m sure all bloggers are guilty of that, although I don’t consider that it’s a sin to impress others. I think that it drives us to excel, motivates to do our best. It’s like dating – we’re all trying to impress the person we date, but once we achieve the closeness (or get married) we’re not compelled anymore to keep impressing the other person with the same force we used to before. Which is sad, in my opinion. We start taking each other for granted.

    So as bloggers, we shouldn’t start taking our readers for granted after managing to impress them with our writing once or twice, but keep impressing them as often as we can. Sometimes we blog to impress ourselves and if it works for others than our self-confidence gets an extra shot of espresso.

    However, the limits should be set – nobody appreciates people who brag and show off too much. Impress readers with your knowledge, with your sense of humour, be frank and open-minded in everything you write.

  2. Do you worship the evil?
    The obvious answer should be NO, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case in the blogiverse. It blows my mind how 5090 people are still subscribed to Especially after his latest announcement on charging his readers $10 to remove “no-follow” links from their comments.

    I personally unsubscribed from his blog a month ago, after finding myself not reading John’s posts anymore, not finding anything useful and interesting like he used to have last year when I was devoutly reading his blog. Afterall, how many ReviewMe posts can one post on his blog without infuriating his readers? How many different ads can pester a blog without causing dizziness? How many readers review Batches can one handle? How much bragging can one take?

    I have to give kudos to John though. How did he manage to get such a fanatic following on his blog? There are many things that can be learned from the Evil blogger on how to increase your blog’s loyal readership. On the other hand do I really want to have readers who blindly worship my every post and shower me with such a zealot attention?

    Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about it, since I have nothing common with either John Chow or his female version – Paris Hilton. She too doesn’t give a hoot what others think about her, but people still can’t get enough of her, while she’s making money by doing absolutely nothing.

  3. Are you pretending or being yourself?
    I could continue talking about John here – is he a Pretender or the Evil indeed – but I won’t. I rather talk about you and me. Do you pretend to be nice with your comments on prominent blogs? Are you being yourself when writing for your blog? Do you want readers to see the real you or a made-up version of a person behind the blog?

    I must confess that in the early days of blogging I didn’t quite know how to behave myself. I was confused by all those help-with-blogging articles that I was reading daily: comment on as many blogs as often as you can, paraphrase someone’s else article in your own words, give it a spin and voilà – you have an article ready to be published on your blog.

    Fortunately, it’s changing slowly but surely: I don’t comment on other blogs unless I have something to say about the post, unless I want to, and I comment only on blogs that I personally find interesting, resourceful, sincere and original. Even though I don’t have time to regularly go through my RSS reader, I always visit a handful of blogs directly every day and enjoy what I read. I try writing more original posts and less heard-it-through-the-grapevine ones.

  4. How do you brand yourself in comments?
    Now, this is a good question to debate on. Many blogs display readers avatars/gravatars in the comment section of their blogs. Do you use the same logo/photo in your avatar for different social networking sites? What do you display in your avatar: your photo, a logo, someone’s else photo, or an illustration? How do you sign the Name section of the comment – with your First name only, or First and Last name, or with a nickname, or with your blog’s/website’s name?

    Personally, I use an actual photo of me for the avatar, and sign my comments as “inspirationbit”, thus promoting my blog’s branding. Why don’t I display my blog’s logo in the avatar? Because the logo might change, the person behind InspirationBit will always be me, and I want people to associate this blog with a person, not a robot nor a digital signature.

  5. Is ignorance really bliss?
    Do we want to know about a deceiving politician, a cheating spouse, a lying friend, or that we might have only a few more months to live? Do we rather not know anything about the suffering of millions of people who are less fortunate than we are, living in a non-human conditions? Is there a time that being ignorant on a certain subject is bliss?

    I think on some rare occasions it’s better to be ignorant about a person’s private life, or the food we eat, the air we breath. Although I rather be informed as much as possible than ignorant, even though sometimes life doesn’t look so complicated when you are in a bliss.

  6. Are friendship and love unconditional?
    I think there’s always some kind of a condition exists in any relationship. One of the life lessons that I keep learning and stumbling upon is that “never say never”. I may feel now that my friendship is unconditional and that I will do anything for this friend. But what if I get unfairly stabbed by a certain behaviour of this friend, would I simply swallow the bitter pill or burn those friendly ties?

    As for love, it can start being unconditional but it cannot last that way forever, at some point at least one condition comes to play – love has to be mutual. What are you thoughts about unconditional friendship and love?

  7. How do you Put a Price on Creativity?
    You can’t. Creativity is a very relative substance. As a designer it is up to you to present yourself as a credible professional whose creativity is a very precious commodity. As a client it is up to you to decide whether or not that designer’s creativity works for your project, fits your expectations – that’s where the designer’s portfolio comes handy.

    Very often, creativity is measured by hours of work spent on coming up with the design or concept. Then it’s just a matter of doing the right calculation that will work well for both sides.

  8. Is it OK to Write for Digg?
    There are so many posts written on the topic of Digg – how to write for Digg, how to ensure that your article lands on Digg’s front page, what type of headlines work and look better on Digg. Sure you can write for Digg if that’s what you want. Just make sure that you’ve researched and studied Digg’s profile very well – does the majority of Digg users fit your target audience description, if yes, then go for it. But keep in mind that even though Digg users are very picky, they might not consider some of your best written posts worthy of their attention, and vice versa.

    It can definitely be addictive to target your articles for Digg especially after getting a taste of the huge digg traffic to your blog, but it is better to stick to your loyal readers and continue writing for them, and learning along the way how to format your post in a way that digg users find digestive.

This is my response to Shankar’s tagging on sharing my favourite but not so popular posts. Please, consider yourself tagged and share your favourite posts with us.

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19 Insightful Bits in response to “8 Thought-Provoking Questions From Blogiverse”

  1. another fabulous post, vivien! how do you do that, day after day? you’re fast becoming one of my internet heroes …

    branding … for all of us who are on the internet at least partially for business/professional purposes, i think this is an important question. i almost always use the same image (e.g. my avatar in MyBlogLog looks the same as on my blog, which is the same on StumbleUpon, etc.) .

    however, i think branding goes beyond physical image. branding has also something to do with content. when i make a comment, there is always this little voice that asks me – is this consistent with who you are? is this consistent with your values?

    so for me, comment-branding ties in completely with question 3 – are you being or pretending who you are? well, even if i wanted to pretend, seeing how all over the place i am on the internet, i wouldn’t be able to keep track of all my pretensions, so being who i am is so much easier – and it helps my branding.

    branding, in the end, is nothing but reputation.

  2. Vivien

    Thank you, Isabella. I don’t know how I do it – I just keep going and going like a little energizer-bunny :-)

    As usual, you said things that made me look at branding from a different angle, and I agree with your observations that “branding goes beyond physical image”, and the content is a big part of it. You definitely managed to create a unique branding for yourself, with what you say, how you say it and how you present your thoughts – all in lowercase letters, with no caps, meaning that every word you say is as important as another, every sentence carries the conversation to another, so nothing should stick out in the text. And it’s actually faster to type that way, no interruptions for capitalizing certain words :-)

    I wouldn’t say that branding is “nothing but reputation”, because sometimes I like someone’s branding very much but their reputation sucks.

  3. Thanks for the link love.

    I ended up writing this post about comment branding after many bloggers had contacted me saying they were wondering who I am. They saw me publishing comments everywhere and had to know more about me. I wouldn’t have been as obvious if I didn’t ‘brand’ my comment signature.

  4. Great points and posts to ponder.

    I have a digg user account but I don’t really participate much in the site. However, I did follow the Group Project’s Digg journey and I got the reason why I haven’t been a big fan of Digg. Its not because you can manipulate your way to the top or I can’t find what I am looking for. Its why do I want a post of mine associated with some of the comments you end up getting on digg? Many of the comments for the group project article were absurd and not related to the post.

    John Chow, where is he going? And how long before he looks behind him and asks where did everybody go?

  5. Vivien, I really enjoyed reading this! I liked your list of four types of articles at the beginning. I like reading those kinds, too. What you said about the Inspiring posts rings so true for me! It is comforting to know that I’m not alone in a certain feeling or thought and it’s true, most of the time it’s just temporary.

    As for branding, I think you know. I’m using the same photo from my About page on my portfolio and I always go by LaurenMarie. In real life, people just call me Lauren. I chose to go by LaurenMarie for blogging because I think it is unique and memorable. I chose because I knew I wanted to get married some day (obviously I was single at the time) and I didn’t want my website to be tied to my last name. Guys are lucky in this way!

    In my comments I do put my best foot forward, but I think it is still the real me–maybe with a little more tact, though! In real life, I am infamous for my love of pure truth and neglect of tact :( But I’m working on it! I think we all have different parts of us that come out as needed in different situations, but all these parts are still us. You probably act a little differently towards clients than you do, say, your husband or best friend. It’s still you, though.

  6. I agree with Joey. Not too fond of the Digg crowd. I’m really starting to like the Stumble crowd though.

    I like your comparison of John Chow to Paris Hilton, although I’d much rather look at Paris any day.

  7. Vivien, thank you very much for the mention.

    Thinking of branding, I believe it is very important. Here it is very easy to go wrong. Take my case: when I subscribed to social networking sites, I had no idea that people really interact there, and you can build yourself a brand, so I just used whatever came first to my mind as username. Luckily, I don’t like to keep my mind busy, so I used the same username all over. For some communities it’s not too late to make a change, but for those where I befriended lots of people, I would stick to it, because I invested too much time and energy to build that.

    Yes, I partially agree with Joey. Nevertheless, if you put aside those comments, there are also normal people who read digg. Getting to the front page helps you make your work known to them. The comments will have been forgotten by tomorrow, but the loyal readers you have the chance to get are for a long time. Look no further than John Chow (he must be bitting his tongue a lot these days): how long would it take until he loses his loyal readers? Too long, I suppose. They are like hypnotized.

  8. Vivien

    Dawud, I’m sure the insightful comments that you’re leaving on all those blogs helped a lot to your “branding” strategies. Do you think that if you were only leaving comments like “nice post, thanks” other people would’ve noticed you as well?

    Joey, I was also appalled by some of those really weird, out of place comments on Digg for this project. I simply ignored them, but it would’ve been much more beneficial to receive some actual feedback from Digg users.

    Lauren, thank you so much for your feedback. I’m glad that my article preferences have resonated with you. I agree with you that our behaviour might change under various circumstances, and it’s very natural. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re pretending to be someone we’re not, but rather showing more our best side for the given case and hiding the not so good one :-)

  9. Vivien

    Ronald, you broke my heart – what do you find in this Paris? :-)

    Simonne, luckily you have an unusual beautiful name, so your comments won’t go unnoticed. You’re right about the chance of getting more exposure once your blog was on Digg’s front page. I’m curious to see how many of the new RSS subscribers would stay and become this blog’s loyal readers.

    Only time will tell… both with the RSS and JohnChow

  10. Hi Vivien

    Thanks for the mention. I can’t believe the post about John Chow, unbelieveable, everyone should unsubscribe, although I guess he’s getting what he wants with everyone talking about him again :(

  11. Thank you, Vivien. Actually, I’m using this name none of my friends knows (and I translated it a little bit to give it a more international sound). My offline name is Violeta. However, I could not use it, because all my lovely friends wanted to help me make money by clicking on my ads! It was clear for me that they must never discover what my blogs are.

  12. Vivien

    Haha, that’s definitely a good way to hide from your friends – by changing the name online. Violeta would’ve been a very unique name in the comments as well. So does it mean that your friends still don’t know your blogs? :-)

  13. Nice roundup of questions Vivien. :) Thank you for considering my post to be thought-provoking; I am honored.

    1 : This is an important question, as it allows us to realize why we blog. Do we blog because we want to convey some message, or do we blog because we want to impress someone? Sometimes people blog not to impress anyone but to convey a message, though they do present their blog and content in a manner which impresses readers.

    At this moment, however, I am noticing that many prominent bloggers are bragging and showing off a lot, and more and more people are appreciating them because those bloggers make money along the way. Also, the perception of bragging can be relative. One may not be bragging and talking about useful things, but people who have never realized such things or do not want to may feel that someone is bragging and showing off through their blog.

    2 : It is probably the idea of money or some reward that is making many people become loyal followers. People do not notice that something big is happening, even if a blogger claims that he or she is “evil.” People simply follow because that word, evil, sounds so cool, even if one isn’t evil at all but a good sales person.

    Like Paris Hilton, it is the “famous” status that is making many people focus on the person instead of what the person does, and consider his or her every action as being something intelligent or unique. Like Ronald said, the current mentality by John Chow is that readers or people are not important, and money is. Sure, money is important, but allowing only the privileged to prosper because of putting the money factor in everything is not something evil; it is simply being a sales person in every way possible without thinking of the quality of the product one is selling, or even the existence of any product.

    3 : I have been myself all this time, showing different tunes and different perspectives along the way. I am nice on my blog because I think I am nice outside my blog. I want the readers to see a version of me that I want them to see, and that version is indeed part of the real me. I am just presenting the things I want, while keeping away the things I think are not necessary and just for me or not for the blog. Pretending is almost out of the question for me, even in extremely formal question.

    I usually think of paraphrasing my own long comments on other blogs and posting the revised versions as articles on my own blog. Sometimes, people use the excuse of “I do not know what to say” or “I do not have anything useful to say” as a way to not comment on blogs because of various other reasons: wanting the other blogger to comment first, focusing on more prominent blogs to gain more traffic, etc.

    4 : Good question. I think I will post something about this soon. ;) I try to use the same avatar, since many blogs usually display my Gravatar profile. As for the name, it has changed a few times from nicknames to the site name to my name, though currently I have a hybrid of my name and a nickname, and it is starting to be a brand in itself (or I think it is, :p ). Sometimes, people pretend to be something they are not by showcasing one fake character, and they show that fake character everywhere. For example, one can pretend to be a person who cares about readers, and that someone can showcase that fake character everywhere online in order to build a brand name. You can notice that on many prominent blogs.

    Many bloggers do not care about branding, though as more and more blogs start focusing on making money, people are slowly finding out that branding results in more money and thus people are focusing on branding now. The funny thing is that many bloggers have been branding their identity for years, even if they blog for personal reasons and do not want to make money. Branding, among many other things, in its simplest form is being able to recognize products or services by a certain identity, allowing people to quickly associate a purchase or a sale with that identity. I wonder how different bloggers think of integrating that idea into their blogs.

    5 : I personally try to be informed of a lot of things. It is just my character of trying to find out reasons for different things, even if those reasons lie in the unrelated realm of things, when compared to the relevant perspective in question.

    6 : In my view, expecting something in love should be mutual, yes, and love itself does not need to be mutual. I can love someone and that someone doesn’t need to love me back. Just because that other someone doesn’t love me does not mean I have to start hating them. I am guessing many people feel they love someone without actually loving someone and they expect the other person to love them back.

    7 : I am guessing in today’s world creativity can become a skill, and one can market and sell that skill. The price or the way pricing occurs, like the number of hours, can depend on the person in question. Number of hours, the type of output, the type of creativity, demand in the field, they can all come into play in pricing something that a buyer will in the end agree too.

    8 : This can probably be the same as writing for a search engine. The only difference is that the writer or the blogger is focusing on Digg instead of Google, Yahoo or other search engines. I think it boils down to what each blogger things; do they think writing for a search engine or a source of traffic is ok, or do they think writing in order to express something is more important? If one thinks writing for Google is all right, which is what many bloggers do in order to come up with a blog that ranks high on search engines, I think that person can also think that writing for Digg or something similar like Magnolia can be ok too.

    Again, nice roundup. :)

  14. Vivien

    Bes, thank you very much for taking time and answering each of the questions in this post. How do you like the change in roles: usually you ask readers questions on your blog, and now you yourself was answering questions from other bloggers.
    I wonder what do you prefer better – asking or answering questions? :-)

  15. Good answers, Bes.

    No, Vivien, my friends still don’t know my blog. They keep on asking me from time to time if I am really sure I don’t want their help. Even last week, when I answered one of them that he could help by writing an article for me, he said “No, I just wanted to click on your Google stuff”.

  16. I agree with you, Vivien. If I was just leaving token comments for link backs, then there’d be little reason for people to visit my site from the comments I leave.

    But as you can see, I don’t do that. Instead, I engage in the conversation – just like I do through my blog. Truthfully, other than link backs on lists, I don’t ever leave a ‘nice post’ comment. I never think about it. Why would I waste my time?

  17. I only recently discovered John Chow’s blog and yes, it’s completely useless. Maybe his earlier posts were good, but that is surely not the case anymore. Will his blog continue to survive? Perhaps if he starts putting up some good stuff or if, as I fear, his legions of readers are actually robots who will read whatever crap he posts.

    I certainly won’t be checking to see whether he becomes useful (again)…

  18. Vivien

    Ditto, Peter
    I think that as long as John is surrounded by a controversy, he’ll always be on in a spotlight. And as long as he’s making money with his blog, he personally doesn’t care what me or you think about him, because there will always be some journalists profiling him in business magazines/blogs/radio/tv/interviews, advertising how people can become rich with blogging.

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on