As many or as much?
by Jon Swanson
I’ve been blogging for a couple years. I read the wonderful writings of Liz and Chris Brogan and Darren Rowse who all talk specifically about blogging, about success in community. I have considered how to build my reach, how to monetize, how to do all of those things that make a blog successful.
And then I am forced to think deeply about this: as many … or as much?
In my life I often wrestle with whether to help as many people as possible or to help people as much as possible. I understand that there is a falseness in this forced choice, but humor me briefly.
I see needs. It’s one of the things that is part of who I am. I can hear hurt. I can see chaos. I can feel anxiety. And I like to help. Sometimes, I like to help as many people as possible, to spread information or money or ideas widely. But even as I am talking with or working with a large group, I see that one person at the edge of the group, the one being ignored by everyone. And I want to go to that person, to talk with them, to listen.
And now do you see the dilemma? In a fixed amount of time you can talk with a large group or you can listen to an individual, but you cannot do both.
I love cross-links as much as the next person. I love reach. But when I hear pain in someone’s ‘voice’, I have this desire to send them an email or a text or a DM. And that takes heart cycles that then can’t be spent elsewhere.
I know that it is possible to have different levels of relationship with different people. I know that many people are very caring. But I know that in order for me to be most effective as a person who blogs as part of my involvement in lives, I have to put more of my life into ‘as much’ than I do into ‘as many’.
As a result, I feel a deep connection with a fairly small group of people online. Other people read my posts and comment occasionally, but my desire is to make sure that I am adding as much value as I possibly can to that group of people.
As we wrestle with our blogging, trying to figure out our purpose, our unique voice, our distinctive value to the people of the blogosphere, some of us will be very effective with ‘as many’. It is important to get the information that you have, the perspectives that you shape and share, to as many people as possible.
At the same time there are others of us who will be working on the ‘as much’.
It is possible to be very successful in both of these worlds. However, at some point feel the freedom from being measured by the expectations of the world that isn’t yours.
–Jon Swanson, You can find Jon at the Levite Chronicles
Is the world of “many” or the world of “much” where your blog makes the most difference?
Work with Liz!!
Change the World: Shaping the World in Little Ways, a guest post by Jon Swanson
Mother Earth says
what a lovely pondering.
as a new blogger I have only begun to build my circle of influence, people like liz and a select of others speak to me and show me example that I had no idea was possible on the internet. My blogging started out as one idea and has just become much more
2008 has me wondering how to, why to, where to take it to the next level – yet I am not even sure what that looks like.
I like most what you say about simply wanting to help – that’s me too.
Nice to meet you
Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan
Hi, karen, nice to meet you as well. Grew up in the western suburbs (Wheaton)
Other people’s capabilities to plan and vision notwithstanding, I’m not sure how to identify that next blogging level. I think that it’s probably about identifying the next level of relating, and the blog trails along.
J. Erik Potter says
The very fact that you helped is enough for me. People will remember you for how you made them feel more than what you said.
Help where you can and when its asked of you. Sometimes that will be a group, sometimes that will be one person.
They’re all equally important in my eye.
Mother Earth says
i have always had this dream of being famous -but not where it’s about me but where it’s about touching many people’s lives merely by being sharing, years ago I was at a workshop and spoke the same dream and a young woman I had never met knew of me from my writing – she said your THE Karen Hanrahan of “product of the week”
Thus shot my theory of striving for fame – I was already famous ( giggle )
I grew up in Elk Grove,Wheaton is an area I don’t know very well – I actually thought it might be cool to unite local bloggers and see if we could support each other…one idea of reach
yeah I really don’t know about what is next …making money at it might work !!
Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan
oh yes, erik. “…more than what you said.” As a recovering speech teacher, i am intrigued byt the fact that very seldom does anyone ever mention anything I ever taught…in class. But the conversations? that part they remember, that someone talked with them.
We just gotta talk WITH people. Like this.
Connie Reece says
As always, Jon, you’ve given me something to think about today. And it’s suddenly not as important to me that I have blogged only a handful of times in the past month. I was busy on the “as much” part of life for a while.
What an interesting — and helful — formulation this is! So often the blogging world is focussed on ‘moreness’: more hits! more subscribers! more money!
I think it may be time for me to accept that I am a ‘muchness’ person; what I do means much, to few.
And so be it.
Jon — thank you. I’ve struggled with this as I deal with the business of publishing. I guess I must want to be in the “more” group at some level, yet I seem to live for the small, intense, meaningful connections. This is a good way of getting to know myself better. 🙂
Connie, you are looking at the broader conversation anyway. A blog is part of that, but so are your tweets and your audio contributions and your SL and your, well, your you.
there is, in poetry, a sense of muchness anyway, an abandonment of saying things shallow and wide and opting for deep and reflective and, well, much. Those who choose that way have alreay chosen a narrow way, but one with an incredible view of moon and sunset and the mirror.
Lisa Merritt says
Thanks Jon! I feel like I’m getting hit over the head today. I got Yaro Starak’s free sample, about being more thoughtful and indepth with fewer comments, and now your wonderful post.
As a mom, I’m always looking for that balance where more meets enough and good meets great. Now that I’m getting older, I’ve seen my circle (and my Christmas Card list!) pare down to the people who are really important in my life, who get much more than the many acquaintances who used to populate my time.
I read a book once, I think it was Seat of the Soul by Zukav, where it was postulated that each person is born to affect a certain circle of influence, and maybe one will affect a neighborhood while another will affect the entire planet. It is up to each of us to decide where our limit is.
Yes, you are putting some of your ideas into more kinds of media (book, seminar), but the approach you are taking is very much a much approach. After all, personal coaching takes time and attention.
Do you find that you are saying, “for those who want my ideas, here, read this; for those who want me, let’s talk more about that”?
Your time with your uncle and then your time talking about that time shows a gift to invest in muchness.
My dad has often given me the same advice – move to your level of greatest influence. I’m still sorting that out, but have erred in both directions and am learning, as you, to focus.
Joanna Young says
Hello again Jon.
I feel like this is another part of this rich conversation we are sharing.
And it was so good to see these reflections, and the sharing of thoughts, feelings and ideas that you have prompted here.
You do have a turn of phrase that gets right to the heart of things don’t you? I just loved this sentence, thank you (and for the reminder)
“And that takes heart cycles that then canâ€™t be spent elsewhere.”
PS And yes your investment does add value, always.
Lisa Merritt says
Thanks for visiting my blog Jon, and I appreciate your comments.
Maybe our greatest sphere of influence is changeable depending on our life circumstances?
your comments about phrase turning are high praise, indeed. You live the connection of words and lives.
Erica Ross-Krieger says
Remembering a Lao Tsu snippet from Tao Te Ching:
“…few realize how much how little will do…”
I’ve been living with the Do Less attitude intensely the last few days, deciding where to pare back, what is important, how to do much rather than more and just what it is I want from the blogging world that I jumped into 3 months ago. Jon, I haven’t met you here before but your words today are a breath of fresh air.
You did much for me today.
ME Liz Strauss says
You do much for many more than you might suspect. The rest of us know.
🙂 🙂 🙂
With all love,
Jon – yes, you nailed it. That’s exactly what I do. And I appreciate you wording it so nicely.
I like how you are taking the much and more all the way to life. Do we want to live for more or for much?
I have to think on this more, this expansion/extension.
thanks for helping me think, too.
When the house is decorated so well, when the sofa isn’t covered with plastic, but with an invitation to relax, when the refrigerator is stocked with everything wonderful, then spending the night in the guest room is, well, a delight.
But the house is always as friendly as it is because of the heart of the owner.
We’ll be glad to have you back. Safely.
yes, I think our spheres do change as the people around us change and as we move and are moved.
Karen Putz says
What an interesting discussion here. This has me pondering about my blog and the direction I want to take it in. What I love most is the connections I’ve made as a result of blogging– the friendships that have sprung up– to me, that is the “much” and the “more” all in one. 🙂
Karen, you are right about the both/and. That’s been my experience as well.
What you are doing, writing as you do,sharign your life, your friend’s lives, hard choice about schools, celebrations of lives gone, is writing with an honesty that is about much. As a result, people are showing up. Because deep often spreads wide.
People used to blog for content and just to speak to the world, more and more people are now blogging just to make a buck!
Boy have things changed so much!
Or we are trying to make a buck, which I have thought about at times. But for me, I don’t have the patience for that kind of planning and work. So I’m staying with influence.
Albert | UrbanMonk.Net says
Great stuff – I’m finding this problem as well. Do I focus on the people who email me or try to reach the many? It was easy at the start, when I wasn’t getting as many emails but now it’s really hard to make the choice.
Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.
Or do you turn the emails into new posts? If they share the same questions,if answering the specific questions actually end up as writing similar posts over and over, then it’s possible to take the much to many.
When I find I’m having the same conversation over and over with different people, I realized that it’s time to teach it in a larger venue.
Albert | UrbanMonk.Net says
Good stuff jon, yes sometimes the conversations give me value as well because it is feedback on the material I have already written, or it’s just further questions.
I think that that often “as much” or “as many” is blurred in blogging terms. If one person needs something then there are bound to be many others needing the same thing. Listening to individuals helps us learn how we need to talk to the whole group.