Polishing social capital (and my blog)

I’ve been an avid blogger for the past five years, but it’s never been something I made money with directly. The blog was great to bring me into a larger community, help me get consulting gigs, and speak truth to power, in a small way, to my bosses at Yahoo!. But now that I am almost a year out in self-employment land, with one start-up sprint under my belt and a big push happening on the second incarnation, I’m well aware that I’ve got to think about what I do to cover my expenses starting in March (when a current project winds down).

That train of thought led to me wanting to understand whether my blog, which I’ve always written for fun, could actually make me any money. It also led me to think about how un-oriented toward increasing my traffic, growing followers or building a brand I’ve been in the past few years.  Sure, I’m out there,  but I don’t try to build traffic the way some folks do so well–and, on reflection, I felt that made me a little too, uh, old school?

So, what did I do?
A)    Reviewed colleagues in my niche: Went back over some newer bloggers I liked and reviewed how they positioned themselves: louis gray & corvida, in particular.

Also took a more critical look at techcrunch, readwriteweb, and gigaom. Informative, but didn’t see a lot I would change on my blog. Just motivated me to post more often.

B)    Revisited the twitterverse. I also took a long, hard look at how I used twitter–and how other people–with far larger followings–used it.

 Bingo! Light bulb went off in head!

After reviewing the twitter style of folks like chris brogan(21,000 + followers), Scott Beale (21,000 following) and Pistachio (11,000+), the realization suddenly hit–these folks are doing great micro-blogging, delivering ideas and links in their tweets (Uh, duh, what was it about twitter I was somehow missing?)

I then decided where to put my chips: twitter–and increased, more topical blogging.

So, first I started consciously shifting my twitter style and topics; as a long time blogger,I didn’t find that too difficult.
Then I started posting blog entries(once again), 3-4X a day.
I pushed myself to do that last post at night about something relevant, and to add my two cents if I had relevant thoughts or a back story.
In that spirit, I wrote a post that commented on the pending Yahoo layoffs; part of that post was then picked up as John Paczkowski’s Quote of the Day, which got my post out there.

At the same time, Fast Company put an article that quoted me as a Web 2.0 expert on their home page; I added my twitter links and a welcome to my site when that went live. And that put my blog out there, along with my lifestream feeds.

Results? On Nov 24, I had 949 twitter followers; today, Dec 8 , I have 1,025–the biggest jump in my history.
How does this fit with following social capital?

Creating information with value leads to people following you, and/or clicking on links, which in turn increases followers, unique visitors and page views. Which, for some people, leads to enough ad revenue to pay for a couple of lattes every week (right now, that would be me) and a sense that it is possible to learn something new, every day.

I am going to keep playing with making the blog and my twitter stream as useful as possible to people who read them, will continue sharing the backstory on these experiments as well.