Catherine Novak over at WordSpring wrote a great post Tuesday on the merits of content versus conversation. As the word count on the comment I began to leave for her continued to grow, I realized I just might have a blog post of my own on my hands.

In her post, Catherine quotes Cory Doctorow (via Clay Shirky): “Conversation is King, content is just something to talk about.”

When I blog, my primary goal is to strike a conversation. Some people write for catharsis. Some to preach. Some to sell. I write for conversation.

“But this very post is published on a business blog,” you might be thinking. “Isn’t the point of a business blog to sell?”

And it would be difficult to argue with you – or with Joe Pulizzi, who wrote a solid post of his own on Tuesday entitled “Sales Is the Reason Your Content Exists.” But, wait, hear me out.

Yes, I’m writing for a business blog. And, yes, we would very much like to sell our services.

BUT… you don’t sell services through a blog post. You sell services through a conversation. And you sell them if you excel at creating content as conversation on your business blog.

If I write one really good blog post, no one’s going to say, “Quick, let’s hire that guy.” (If anyone has had that experience, I’d really like to hear about it.)

Business blogging is not about the hard sell. And it’s not about preaching from a soapbox, because even if you have all the knowledge in the world, people aren’t interested in taking orders from the people they hire.

Business blogging is about fostering a relationship with your readers over time. It’s about creating a space where readers look forward to spending time, where they can congregate with other readers and feel comfortable sharing their views.

That’s not content. It’s conversation. It’s community.

And if someone feels comfortable conversing with you over an extended period of time, if they feel a part of your community, well, when the time comes that they have a need for services you offer, they don’t need to think very long about who to turn to.

So, ok, you got me. Business blogging really is about selling after all. But the best way I know how to sell is to engage a potential client in conversation. There should be a give and take, a meeting of minds.

That’s why when I set out to write a blog post, it’s not selling that I have on my mind; it’s conversation.

My hope is that this post will strike up a pretty nice one. So, let me know what you think. Are you thinking about conversation when you blog? Are you thinking about selling? What works for you?