In part 1 of this post, I had talked about how I came into blogging, combined with my various coding ventures. This part, however, unlike other ‘part 2s,’ will not be a continuation of that, but rather on a linked, yet slightly tangential, topic, focusing on what I have learned from other bloggers, both near and far.
By ‘near and far,’ I mean bloggers I personally know and interesting bloggers I follow, but do not personally know, respectively.
For the non-(aspiring-)blogger/writer/author, this post might be slightly tedious for you to read, although I am not quite sure where this discussion will lead me, so I would recommend you stick around a while longer!
This post was inspired by the recent astonishing success, of DireThoughts, by Henry dyer, and TheAftermatter, by Ned Summers and Theo Caplan, all of which are good friends of mine. If you do not follow these guys on Facebook or Twitter (or have had your head firmly stuck in the ground for the past month and a bit), you will have missed the big commotion going on.
Let’s start with Direthoughts. Henry’s blog had been on a steadily growing trajectory* with a few thousand monthly views, much like TheCompBlog now (although I am in the early stages of this trajectory). Then, one day, he had a moment of inspiration at the Westfields Apple Store and exploited an information display iPad through a physical hack, and managed to stream a slightly inappropriate video onto a store Apple TV over the secured Wi-Fi network. This story made it onto a German site, a Portuguese site and many English-based ones to, even including CultOfMac! Hits to that one post exploded within a few hours and he was extremely happy (with being me slightly jealous…but still happy).
Let’s move on to TheAftermatter, a physics and math-based blog. These guys are complete geniuses, as will become apparent if you read their posts, including explaining the physics behind music and the thought experiment of all people in China jumping at once. To add to that, both are very talented musicians, with one playing guitar in a band, to which I (believe) am the tech/PR/blogger for, even though I have not done much lately for them unfortunately. They are like the next prof. Brian Cox! Anyway, one of their posts got retweeted by Stephen Fry to 3.7 million followers, and on that day, a few months after they started the blog, they got 30,000 page views! That’s a big jump from only a few hundred!
Following this, they managed to get a 5/10 minute interview on the BBC radio 6 morning show. For a blog that is relatively new, that is amazing!
And then there are the rest, with MG Siegler and Mike Arrington and the whole motley crew moaning and ranting and bitch-fighting and on occasion, making some good points. It makes for an interesting and highly amusing read, especially if you read them on their personal blogs, outside their standard ‘professional’ realm.
From this I have deduced (3 if you are being pedantic about it) types of becoming big on the blogosphere. The first type has been adopted by me and Direthoughts (yes, that is the grammatically correct!) Our blogs are very similar (although mine is based on tech while his is based on…cats?): we post about stuff that interests us and interject a few silly comments here and there. The problem with that method is that there are hundreds of blogs doing the same thing, granted, run by less intelligent teenagers [joke intended there]! This makes our mindful voices lost it a sea of unintelligent shouts [another joke intended]. It’s only when one has a new and interesting story that one makes it big. The problem is that following the initial excitement, it will die down again, and more quickly than one might expect. With our style of blogging, one has to constantly find new stories. The alternate method is to slowly gain a loyal readership, which will read your drivel no matter how irrelevant it might be. This takes a very long time, but in my opinion, it pays off in the end; just look at MG Siegler.
TheAftermatter, however, took a different route. They decided to keep their posts fairly professional and consistent with their theme. This, I have observed, attracts a loyal readership faster, as they know precisely what to expect from them. It’s the stable and trustworthy approach, with limited room for controversy! They were also aided by the fact that they had actually inadvertently stumbled upon a weak spot in the blogosphere, namely, the lack of simple-to-understand physics and math blogs! This slightly advantageous position gave them a boost in page view numbers. Also, they were extremely persistent: they actually emailed Stephan Fry asking him to retweet their blog. Do you think slightly more stubborn tech pundits would retweet my blog? I highly doubt it, especially when they all hate email communication!
So, two bloggers have had their big break. Where does this leave me then? After pondering over this for a while, I came to the conclusion that my actions were not doing me favours. I was focusing on the actual design of the blog, possibly putting less effort than I should have into my writing, TheAftermatter does not, admittedly, have the most modern looking blog. Same with Direthoughts, but they had great content. Granted, for the time I have spent on design, this blog should look much better, but to be honest, I just like the design aspect! It’s fun to mess around with the HTML and see what happens. Unfortunately, as a consequence, this has caused some related problems on the blog…
Anyway, this is the reason why I stated that I was going to be focusing my blog slightly more, while still retaining the same authenticity that many have grown to like! In more general terms, I am taking the approach of building a readership: slow, tedious, yet worth it, but it does not really matter what route one decides to take, (if you decide to even take one) it’s content that matters, and if you have good content, you are almost guaranteed success, whether it be big or small scale. For me, success is not measured on a page view counter, but rather the amount of people actually take into account what I rant on about and comment or contact me for further discussion. In this way, I see the true reach of my drivel!
*these and other page view numbers are based on suspicion, common sense and top, top secret insider info…