| Pssst! Want to have a more popular blog? Add 300 hits a day in just a few days or your money back? Without even mentioning sex?
There is no real secret to blog popularity. It requires a mix of focus, timing, good content and self-promotion. Like any product, your blog has to fill a void, a need, in the blogosphere. When a new topic of great interest arises, you need to be first, and to be seen to be first, to offer either excellent links to sites on that topic (if yours is a ‘linker’ blog), or original insight, research or analysis on that topic (if yours is a ‘thinker’ blog).
Two principles, which I’ve written about before, mitigate against ‘breakout’ blogs and must be overcome to break out. Shirky’s Power Law basically says that, once a community of blogs (or of anything else) has been established, it gets harder and harder for newcomers to “break in”. It’s like trying to start a new daily paper in a saturated market. And Gladwell’s Tipping Point says that, in order for your blog to be ‘contagious’, so that word of it spreads like wildfire or like a virus, you need to have three things going for you:
I recently did some research of my own, on seven ‘breakout’ blogs that suddenly soared in popularity, to see what their lessons were. Here are their stories:
The Agonist : Sean-Paul’s blog started last year with the purpose of discussing and analyzing political events. When the Iraq War started, however, he chose to become the first to aggregate and report the minutiae of the war: minute-by-minute details of troop movements and other events, with no waiting, no analysis, no repetition, something not even CNN was doing. This kind of one-stop-shopping detail is addictive to war fans, and Sean-Paul was quickly racking up two million hits per day, posting new details on average every ninety seconds. First, unique, and consistent (he was apologizing for taking bathroom breaks). He’s still incredibly prolific, posting dozens of times per day.
Marprelate Tracts : This Salon blog had started as an interesting but rarely-read political ‘linker’ blog.. But Martin Marprelate was one of the first to offer a substantial and well-researched, well-considered philosophical explanation of a hot topic — the Matrix Reloaded movie. Google did the rest, moving him from an average of 50-100 hits a day to over a thousand a day over the last two weeks, including dozens of daily visits from each of a small hard core of Matrix fanatics.
SARSWatch : Originally done for a lark by Tim Bishop as an adjunct to his political Geodog blog because no one else was writing about the disease, SARSWatch became so popular so fast that Tim gave up Geodog, trademarked the name SARSWatch, and devoted his full time and attention to aggregating news on SARS. Averaging over 6,000 hits per day, this site was the first to pull together in one place all of the news and data on SARS worldwide. Interestingly, he’s started recommending the Agonist’s SARS site as a backup so he can take a break from time to time.
The Gothamist : This is a group blog focused on first-hand reporting of New York City events. New York based A-list bloggers like kottke and anil dash merely mentioned the group’s unique and original photos of city celebs at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in their ‘remainder’ sidebars, and Gothamist jumped to the top of the Technorati Interesting Recent Blogs list.
J-Walk Blog : This quirky blog is by John Walkenbach, a guy who really digs into the Internet to find the weird and wonderful. He rarely reports news, favouring product websites with unusual offerings, and humorous writing. One of his original compositions, a clever spoof of the notorious Nigerian e-mail scam, caught the interest of A-lister slashdot and brought a 10-fold increase in daily hits and an amazing 35 new inbound bloglinks in one day for John’s site.
Whiskey Bar : Blogger and humour writer Billmon did some exhaustive research and came up with a series of chronologies of all the major quotes by the Bush administration on WMD and other lies about Iraq. The political A-listers like daily kos lapped it up, and Billmon’s incoming blogroll has ballooned to over 300 (putting him in the top 100 of all blogs in the world) as a result. Read the adoring comments appended to the chronology link above — this guy now has an audience for his plays, which is what his blog is really about.
If you want to study some more breakout blogs for more ideas, look at Technorati’s Interesting Recent Blogs list each morning (it changes every day). For each breakout blog listed, look at the five largest blogs that have recently linked to each (they’re listed directly underneath them) to see what has caught readers’ attention.
In summary, the top six techniques seem to be:
Not easy, and, like giving up your beloved poetry-writing to make a living writing a Celebrity Watch column, it may require you to compromise your writing principles somewhat. But if you have talent, patience, technique, timing and something unique and interesting to say, you too can have a breakout blog. Until then, don’t give up your day job. When it happens, you may have to give up your day job to keep up the good work. That’s my excuse for staying below breakout status, and I’m sticking with it.
Other Writers About CollapseAlbert Bates (US)
Andrew Nikiforuk (CA)
Carolyn Baker (US)*
Catherine Ingram (US)
Chris Hedges (US)
Dahr Jamail (US)
David Petraitis (US)
David Wallace-Wells (US)
Dean Spillane-Walker (US)*
Derrick Jensen (US)
Doing It Ourselves (AU)
Dougald & Paul (UK)*
Gail Tverberg (US)
Guy McPherson (US)
Jan Wyllie (UK)
Janaia & Robin (US)*
Jem Bendell (US)
Jonathan Franzen (US)
Kari McGregor (AU)
Keith Farnish (UK)
NTHE Love (UK)
Paul Chefurka (CA)
Paul Heft (US)*
Post Carbon Inst. (US)
Richard Heinberg (US)
Robert Jensen (US)
Roy Scranton (US)
Sam Mitchell (US)
Sam Rose (US)*
Tim Bennett (US)
Tim Garrett (US)
Umair Haque (US)
William Rees (CA)
Archive by Category
My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
Worse, Still (Poem)
A Conversation (Short Story)
Farewell to Albion (Poem)
My Other Sites
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.