What gets blogs noticed?
July 8, 2008 5:37 AM   Subscribe

What gets blogs noticed?

Well, this is a generic question, but one I couldn't find an answer to by searching previous questions, so I'm curious: Why do some blogs get attention when hundreds of thousands of others don't? Is it some ability of the author or just plain luck?
posted by LSK to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Content. Interesting content. Controversial content. Beautiful, intelligent, original content.
posted by netbros at 5:44 AM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Er... maybe this question from earlier last night may be of interest to you?

My answer from there applies here:

Original, compelling content which can't be found anywhere else and is valuable to a good-sized slice of the reading populace, or a rabid niche is IMHO the only "ethical" way to build readership.

Replace "ethical" with "getting noticed."
posted by wfrgms at 5:58 AM on July 8, 2008


Unless you're already famous (to one degree or another) your blog needs to have a focus. I can't think of anyone who just blogged about their life the way Rosie O'Donnell or Kevin Smith or Wil Wheaton does, and got any notoriety, unless they had a following to begin with who came to their blog. So you need a topic.

You need to cover this topic like a journalist would, providing regular "news" updates, as well as a healthy dose of commentary on the "news" you're providing. And it REALLY helps to ACTUALLY have NEWS, instead of just reporting and linking to news that other places had first. If you "break" a story then other news outlets will have to credit you for breaking the story, the way they credit TMZ.com or PerezHilton.com in their articles. That's why those blogs have huge followings, they are mentioned regularly on real news sites.

Next, once you've been going a while, you need to start bringing in luminaries in whatever field you're writing about, either as "guest bloggers" or interviews, etc. Then the followers of those people will come and check out your blog, and maybe decide they like it.

Now the alternative to news is humor. You can be like Fake Steve Jobs, but even that relies on being current in the news about your topic.

Next you need PUBLICITY. Get used to sending out press release after press release about your blog, advertising it to any outlet you can find (other blogs about a similar topic, web sites big and small, associated press). Google alone will not bring you readers.

Finally you need TALENT. Your writing must be concise, humorous, insightful, and informative. Everyone who can type is a blogger, but only the talented writers and people with real information get any true followings.

But the "I had Wheaties this morning. I'm tired of Wheaties" blogs will never be anything but.
posted by arniec at 6:03 AM on July 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Some people are better at noticing the partiality of their own individual judgements, and so take that into account how they present them in a public forum.

Or, simply put, some people are better writers than others.
posted by munchbunch at 6:12 AM on July 8, 2008


I missed out an "in" didn't I.

Oh, the shame, the irony and the shame.
posted by munchbunch at 6:17 AM on July 8, 2008


FYI: there are lots of people who just blogged about random shit and got noticed: kottke, dooce, etc. Your site needs to be interesting.
posted by chunking express at 6:22 AM on July 8, 2008


Unless you're already famous (to one degree or another) your blog needs to have a focus.

I dunno, I (and plenty of folks) read, for example, Lileks, and I don't think he's really famous, outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:24 AM on July 8, 2008


chunking express said: "FYI: there are lots of people who just blogged about random shit and got noticed: kottke, dooce, etc. Your site needs to be interesting."

Well, five or more years ago before every jerk on the block had a blog it was much, much easier to gain a following. And Dooce got a LOT of publicity for getting fired for her site.

Honestly I don't think there's any magic to it -- a lot of the biggest blogs out there are well-known IMO because the writers "know" each other and link to each other, and because they started when the signal to noise ratio was much more favourable.
posted by loiseau at 6:29 AM on July 8, 2008


Being good at what you do helps create that illusive, desired content. If you have a photo blog, you need to be a better than the average photographer to attract interest. If you have a technology blog, you should be well versed in at least one specific niche in the technology world. If you focus on creative writing, what makes you stand out from the crowd?

Before you begin, determine in your own mind what it is that you are good at. Evaluate whether that skill translates well to something many other people would have an interest in. Publish exciting, thorough, thoughtful updates frequently. Don't be frustrated at first, success doesn't happen overnight. Build your audience a person at a time, then a segment at a time.

Most of all, have fun. People will notice if you're just going through the motions. They will stay away in droves. If you are enjoying what you're doing, if it doesn't seem like work to you, then the results will show and the guests will start coming. Good luck to you.
posted by netbros at 6:30 AM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I raise my eyebrow at the idea that the most famous blogs have "beautiful, intelligent, original content." That's definitely not how I see 99% of blogs out there.
posted by loiseau at 6:31 AM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I raise my eyebrow at the idea that the most famous blogs have "beautiful, intelligent, original content." That's definitely not how I see 99% of blogs out there.

Seconded. That would be a better world, but the majority of blogs that seem busy are just people grinding out post after post after post, including the usual number of lolcats and requisite cross-links, and presumably pinging the crap out of them.

Sadly, I think "more content" is probably a bigger deal than "beautiful, intelligent, original."
posted by rokusan at 6:40 AM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read a lot of food/craft/project blogs, and for me it is good photography and stories about the process. I like those types of blogs because I learn something that I can apply to my own life rather than news or politics, which are interesting but not as interesting to me. Also, I like blogs that update less often (but still regularly) with longer/more involved content rather than blogs that update eleventy times a day.

I read most stuff through an RSS reader, so design is less of a factor, although I admire someone who has put a lot of effort into their layouts/commenting structure.
posted by sararah at 7:04 AM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


A bit of a clarification: I'm not asking how to get my blog noticed, because I gave up on that years ago. I'm curious why 1% of blogs recieve 99% of blog attention.
posted by LSK at 7:41 AM on July 8, 2008


Most people don't write concisely or link savvily.

Or write in short paragraphs.

Those who do so will put themselves above the rest.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:43 AM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


One thing no one's pointed out: having a consistent and reliable posting schedule drives return traffic which can steadily build into a large readership. Talent goes a long way, but so does simple hard work in keeping those posts coming.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:05 AM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I (and plenty of folks) read, for example, Lileks, and I don't think he's really famous, outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

You probably wouldn't know about Lileks if he didn't first become Internet-famous as a curator of awful cookbooks and print memorabilia, though.
posted by mendel at 8:07 AM on July 8, 2008


Power-law distribution.
posted by Shoggoth at 8:29 AM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm curious why 1% of blogs recieve 99% of blog attention.

I question the premise of this a bit but it's really only quibbling about the numbers. It ignores the whole long-tail effect that is very much at play in the world of blogging. There are thousands of blogs that are widely read and influential within their spheres and totally unknown outside of them.

Really, though, you could ask the exact same question and replace "blogs" with "books," "bands," "comedians," etc. The simple answer is there is a huge number of them and indvidual consumers have differing tastes and limited time and attention.

Attention is aggregational and has its own attractive power. Once someone links to your site who your don't know, it gets noticed by a wider potential audience. Once one of those noticers likes the site enough to link to it, then its gets linked even more widely. And so on.

Some blogs get that initial notice, others don't. Some get it but aren't consistent enough to keep the momentum going. Thousands of blogs get started and abandoned every week.

Sometimes the ones that get the eyeballs do so because they are very good at what they do, other times because they're alone in their niche, sometimes just because they were there first.

There are a variety of reasons why some of them break through to a wide audience and others don't. The shortest formula for success is: have talent, work very hard, be consistent, and be lucky.
posted by camcgee at 8:41 AM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's generally a combination of being good and being anointed by the Cool Kids. If you get an A-list blogger or site to link to you, you're going to get good traffic. Of course, that won't help if you either aren't any good or don't post regularly. But it's extremely difficult to build a high traffic blog without getting noticed by someone big.
posted by cnc at 12:46 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Link whoring seems to be a big thing. ALWAYS post a link to whoever you found the link from, because they will be a link whore and check to see who linked to them, then they'll link to you, etc.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:25 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


People study this sort of thing. Lada Adamic and Bernardo Huberman come to mind. Shoggoth already linked you to Shirky's piece, which is a good introduction to the power-law distribution and network topology; Yochai Benkler covers the topic in more detail here.

If you'd like some citations on the existence and effects of this in the political arena, send me a MeFi mail.
posted by PueExMachina at 2:10 AM on July 9, 2008


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