I'm Not Going To Blogroll You

This is a form letter response on how to build blog traffic and influence.

Dear anonymous blogger,

Around 25-30 times a week, at least, I receive emails from bloggers such as you asking me to put them on the MyDD blogroll. Overall, in less than a year and a half of blogging, I have easily received more than 1,000 such requests. By now, if "blogroll" or "link" is in the title of an email sent to me from someone I don't know, I simply delete that email without even reading it.

I am not angry that people send me these emails. In fact, it has happened so often that by now even annoyance has worn away. There are many benefits of blogging "fame," and they have dramatically changed my life for the better. I simply accept requests to be blogrolled as a fact of life now, and I don't imagine that this letter will cause them to stop (much as I didn't imagine that my Diary Purge post would cause inappropriate diaries to cease).

I can imagine that many "smaller" bloggers have a significant amount of justifiable frustration toward the "mid-major" and "A-list" blogs. After all, such blogs do engage in a number of annoying activities, such as:

  • 1-1. "A-list" bloggers seem to link to each other a lot more often than they link to smaller blogs.

  • 1-2. When they do link to smaller blogs, many "A-list" bloggers will reprint a significant amount of the post they are linking, thus giving readers little reason to visit the website in question.

  • 1-3. Even when "A-list" bloggers don't quote much of the post they are linking to, they have far more commenters at their site, thus often times making the "A-list" blog that links the post, rather than the small blog that wrote the post, the better place to go for a conversation about the post.

  • 1-4. Often times, "A-list" bloggers seem to do little more than quote whatever just came off the news wire, add a sentence or two of banal commentary, and that's their post. I mean, that gets you tens of thousands of readers a day? You have got to be kidding me.
There are defenses for some of these activities, and for others there are none. On the first point, there are literally tens of thousands of progressive political blogs in America, and how many can someone really read in a day? I myself read about ten or fifteen a day. On some days, I'll read up to twenty-five. That is a lot of reading, and it still only covers a miniscule fraction of what is on offer out there. Do you really expect all A-list bloggers to read several hundred blogs every day and report back with the best of what they saw?

The second point is not defensible, and it is a practice that should be avoided at all costs. Don't rip off smaller bloggers, A-listers. Make people go to their websites to read what they wrote.

The third point simply cannot be avoided. There is nothing that can be done about that. It is no one's fault.

The fourth point is also something that, at least in my opinion, is a pretty lame habit that has set in on a lot of blogs. Even leaving aside the copyright issues that may arise from it, I don't go to blogs to hear two sentences of commentary on an article in the New York Times. That just isn't interesting, and it isn't why blogging took off. Give me something I can't get anywhere else. That is why I started reading Dailykos and MyDD--because they gave me information about the 2002 midterms I couldn't get anywhere else.

However, even with these issues aside, as a serious student of blog traffic, I'm hear to tell bloggers of all shapes and sizes that linking, especially blogrolling, is neither the main engine for building website traffic nor is it the main way for validating that what a website is doing is productive. First, here are some points about the impact of blogrolls on blog traffic:

  • 2-1. Blogroll links do jack squat for traffic. With few exceptions, traffic from blogrolls accounts for less than 2% of all blog traffic. With one exception that I will explain below, this is even the case at MyDD, even though we are linked by several hundred blogs, including every "A-list" progressive political blog there is.

  • 2-1A. The exceptions to the above rules are very rare. The most obvious exception is the blogroll link to MyDD on Dailykos, which accounts for around 5-10% of all traffic to MyDD. The extreme case of this particular blogroll cannot be emphasized enough, since MyDD is allotted a special, premiere "blogfather" blogroll link on what is easily the largest political blog in the world. Even then, it still only brings in 1,000-2,000 daily readers (not that I'm complaining, and thank you very much kos). That should give you an idea how much other blogroll links are worth in terms of traffic.

  • 2-1B. The only other exceptions I can think of to this rule have to do with specialized blogrolls and webrings. For example, MyDD receives a disproportionate amount of its incoming blogroll traffic from blogrolls that only list Philadelphia progressive political blogs. If a blogroll tells you what you are going to get when you click through the link, someone is more likely to click through that link. This is because when someone looks at a Philly blogroll, they are probably looking for Philadelphia bloggers. I am sure the same works for any area or topic.

  • 2-2. The larger the blogroll, the less it does for traffic. Some blogrolls have several hundred links. These also tend to be the blogrolls with the highest number of "small" blogs linked. However, does anyone seriously think that anyone who reads a blog is going to sift through all 400 blogs to which it links? That would take several days of only doing that. There is a law of diminishing returns, where the larger the blogroll, the less traffic it generates to all blogs on the blogroll. And this is a law of diminishing returns on a tool that doesn't generate much to begin with.
Simply put, there is no number of blogs that could blogroll you, no matter how large they are, that will ever propel your blog even into "mid-major" status. Blogrolling isn't going to get you anywhere in terms of traffic. It has almost nothing to do with what separates the "A-list" blogs from the smaller blogs.

Here are some more traffic tips:

  • 3-1. Over 80% of the daily traffic to almost every blog is generated by people going directly to the main URL of a blog without any prompting from a link, blogroll or web search. If you want to build an audience for your blog, you are going to have to get them to come in through the front door on a regular basis. More on how to do this later on.

  • 3-2. The secondary traffic generator to blogs is web searches. It is entirely possible, though still difficult, to build up blog traffic through this means. Drudge Retort and Swing State Project are perhaps the best examples of this. I wrote for Swing State Project through 2004, and after the site had been around for long enough, eventually it came to dominate Google searches for a number of variations on "Swing State," which obviously was a common search in the 2004 election. Building your blog so that it comes up high on a number of common web searches is an effective means of building up traffic.

  • 3-3. Traffic generated via links from larger blogs almost always doesn't last. After two days, your traffic spike will die down and, in all likelihood, every single new person who came to visit your blog will not return unless prompted with another link from a front-page blog. MyDD has been linked on the front page of either Atrios or Dailykos on at least one hundred occasions. If even 1% of the people who came through those links had become regular readers, our traffic would now be close to Eschaton's. It isn't. People come for the one post, but they don't stay. Like I said before, you need to get people to come in through the front door.

  • 3-3A. The only exception I can think of to the previous rule is when you get several links from several big bloggers on several consecutive days. This can cause a blog to permanently change its traffic levels in a short period of time. I saw this happen to Captain's Quarter's and MyDD last year, and I saw it happen to Americablog this year. What happens in this circumstance is that so many people are being directed to your blog on such a regular basis, that before long they just start coming in through the front door on their own in order to save time. This however, is a very, very, rare occurrence, and can only happen when your blog is at the absolute center of a major online event. So, if you can consistently prove to be the absolute best source of information for something like, say, Gannon or polling information before an important election, then you might be good to go. More on this later as well.

  • 3-4. Another means of improving traffic to your blog is to become a commenter and poster on the big blogs that cover the topics most similar to the topics you cover on your blog. This is a useful means of building up a reputation as a person to turn to on that subject(s). In fact, on some major blogs, even a comment can briefly generate decent traffic to your blog (as long as you post a link to your blog and you are trusted on that blog). Dailykos is the best example of this, as it has spawned a large number of "A-list" and mid-major blogs written by members of the Dailykos community.
Before I move onto a summary of what works and what doesn't, I'd like to cover the two points where I said "more on this later" in greater detail. How do you get more people to come in through your front door, and how do you become the center of a major event?
  • 4-1. The answers to both questions are the same: don't write about everything. The primary "catch all" blogs have been firmly entrenched for some time. You will never be another Dailykos, another Atrios or another TPM. Those roles are covered. These three blogs have been at the very top of liberal blog traffic for nearly all of the past two and a half years, and unless one shuts down, that isn't going to change. BooMan Tribune has succeeded in becoming a pretty large blog even though it is new and writes about pretty much everything, but that was achieved primarily by drawing from several authors who had a lot of respect on Dailykos.

  • 4-2. Find a niche (aka, brand yourself). Find a small number of topics you are comfortable writing about, and focus extensively on those. Find even one such topic. Write about the state, city, or neighborhood in which you live. Find a reporter you want to hassle. Find a single campaign you want to write about, like Bolton, and write about it over and over and over again. Do not, under any circumstances, delude yourself into believing that providing short commentary on several large quotes from news sources that address a wide variety of topics will ever generate more traffic to your site. This is especially the case if you already don't have much traffic. However, if you carve yourself a niche, people interested in that niche will start to turn to you on a regular basis. Best of all, large numbers of people will turn to you when that niche becomes important to a large number of people. This will also do a lot more to guarantee that what you are doing is useful, and properly targeted to the audience you want to reach. Progressive blogging has a difficult time targeting specific issues, so targeting yourself will instantly make you useful. Just look at Crooks and Liars (video blogging) or Juan Cole (Middle East policy) if you need any examples.

  • 4-3. Take that niche and build yourself into a like-minded community. Comment on those blogs that focus on your niche. Stay in email contact with those bloggers who also focus on your niche. If there is no such community, or if the community you find is disorganized, the best thing to do is to build up a community around you. For example, if you live in the Phoenix area, and no one has started a progressive Phoenix blog ring, find other Phoenix bloggers and build one. Have regular get togethers, like Drinking Liberally and local DFA. Build an email listserv for yourselves, and create a graphic that advertises the webring. Exchange phone numbers. Almost instantly you will become a local authority that people interested in your target area will turn to--including local politicos. Not only that, when something big happens in your area, you will be authority that all of the big bloggers turn to. You can do this with single-issue based blog rings as well (as long as they don't spiral out of control in terms of size).
That is how you become a well-read and influential blogger. General blogrolling and front-page linking doesn't help. That is like when congressional campaigns post diaries on Dailykos--they might get a quick surge of visits to their website, but they won't get many people, if any, coming back to walk through their front doors on a regular basis.

So, to summarize, when looking to become better read and more productive / influential, here is what does not work:

  • Generalized blogrolling. Doesn't work no matter how many people blogroll you, and no matter how big those people are.

  • Writing about everything. The roles for "A-list" blogs that write about everything are already taken. You may not like that, but that won't change anything.

  • Being sporadically linked by "A-list" bloggers. Even if Atrios links you five times in a month, one month later your traffic will be right back where it started.

  • Standing alone. If you don't join other communities and / or build one around yourself, no one will notice you.

  • Being ripped off. People need to raise a lot more hell when bloggers quote too much from a post to which they are linking.
On the positive side, here is what does work:
  • Structure the URL's within, and the links to, your blog in a way that will allow them to turn up near the top of common web searches. You can do this entirely by yourself.

  • Focus your writing to become an expert on a small number of issues. MyDD doesn't write about everything--that isn't how we became big. People turn to us for election, activism, and strategy information.

  • Take part in blogs that have a focus similar to that of your blog. This is a good way of building up trust as an authority on your issues without anyone ever visiting your blog.

  • Build a like-minded community. Stay in touch with, and try to organize, bloggers who focus on the same subjects as you. This will do even more to build up authority and awareness of the subjects on which you focus.

  • Targeted blogrolling. Once you are a member of a community, develop a specialized blogroll that directs people around that community.

  • Becoming the center of a blogswarm. This doesn't happen very often, but if you are an established authority on a subject, it has a much better chance of happening to you.

  • Write every day. People won't keep coming through your front door if you are regularly closed. Personally, I have taken around twenty days off since I started blogging seventeen months ago, and that includes weekends. That may sound insane (because it is insane) but hey, if you don't have the stomach for it, reconsider your goals when it comes to blogging.

  • Write original material. If people just wanted to see a short comment on the news they can find at established outlets, they would hang out at bus stops all day and look at the expressions on the faces of people who are reading the newspaper. Blogging offers people ideas, viewpoints, and research they can't find elsewhere. Provide it to them, or they won't come back.
So yeah, I'm not going to blogroll you, but that wouldn't really help you anyway. It is easy to look at things on the surface and think that blogrolls are an important factor in building up a blog. However, if you spend a year and a half studying blog traffic like I have, and helping build two blogs up from nearly scratch to major status, the real causes for blog success become a lot clearer to you. Take the hard steps that actually work.

And if you ask me to blogroll you, from now on I'm just going to send you this post as an attachment.

All my best,
Chris Bowers
ww.mydd.com
September 22, 2005

Tags: Blogosphere (all tags)

Comments

33 Comments

Excellent post.
As an aside: On my site I placed e-mail links at the bottom of the blogroll and the other "links" list, reading "tell us about your site!" The address was one created especially for the purpose, routing these requests somewhere where they wouldn't be spamming other entries and I could peruse (or delete) them at leisure.

Of course, my site's not a very high-traffic one, so I don't deal with the volume that some places do. But the technique might help others who have this problem. Just a thought.

by catastrophile 2005-09-22 12:58PM | 0 recs
As another aside:
A national radio program apparently mentioned my site in July -- on my birthday, no less. I saw a huge traffic spike that day, about 1/5 the traffic the next day, and within 5 days was back to normal levels. So I can back Bowers up on his statement that the boost created by attention from a major outlet is extremely temporary.
by catastrophile 2005-09-22 01:02PM | 0 recs
Niche Blogging
I can testify firsthand on what you are saying. I've been preaching that people need to adopt a congressman for almost a year now. Instead of trying to compete with 800 gorillas own a local space and work in tandem. The dynamic can be very powerful, but it only works understand your strengths. In the case of the Ohio 2nd it was a total success. (I got real lucky that Hackett decided to run.)

The day of the special election when I posted on Rush swiftboating Paul Hackett I had to beg Atrios to not link to the blog because the traffic was killing my server.

Too bad I was so stupid as to not put up any ads. Lesson learned.

One perk that the national bloggers don't get to have is the fun of walking into a room full of local politicians and their staffers. Their reactions are priceless. Better to be king on my stupid little workpress blog than prince on your a-list scoop portal.

by ignatzmouse 2005-09-22 01:02PM | 0 recs
Swing State Project SEO
At Swing State Project, we've actually scrapped our blogroll. Instead of diluting our search engine influence, we wanted to make it so that the links we have in our posts have as much authority as possible. Thus, instead of linking on every page to a blog, we are hoping we can provide more power to that blog when we link to a specific entry -- often times significantly increasing the position of that entry for searches on the subject material. Likewise, when new candidates announce their campaign websites, this allows us to catapult their listing.

One other thing, if you want to be at the center of things, go there. I can't wait to read what Maryscott O'Connor has to say from DC tomorrow. Since Tagaris and I were on the ground in Ohio, we had more readers on election night than SSP had on election day last year. The website we set up for our Katrina trip quite literally had it's server fried.

Finally, write about local politics. It won't be huge for traffic, but it will be important in terms of who is reading. Also, this is a great way to be picked up by the national blogs (ask the OH-02 blog which was picked up everywhere). And this is all the better when you are writing about local Republican corruption.

Thanks to everyone who is blogging!

by blogswarm 2005-09-22 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Swing State Project SEO
yeah, you rock Bob.

I can attest to what Chris and Bob say too.

Our blog isnt looking for high traffic to be honest. What we look for is local traffic because we really want activists to go and do stuff locally.

So we tend to mix in the national stuff, that might be a little obscure to interest our regulars, with state and local stuff to engage them in activism.

We get about a 1,000 hits week and i am quite happy with that. I dont trawl around dkos linking our blog that much - because it isnt what we are trying to do.

what the blogosphere REALLY needs is a scoop blog for each state ! - starting with Ohio of course. But of course we got one now at growhio.org. although having a pol behind that effort makes me a little more reluctant to open both barrels.

by Pounder 2005-09-22 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Swing State Project SEO
Yeah, local is better.  I just don't get the reason why people think 1) they can be Daily Kos or MyDD, and 2) why they even want to try.  There are only so many national issue blogs that we need, and have time to read.  What good in the big picture does it do, even if you were somehow successful, to take over what Atrios is doing, when he already does a very good job.

Focus locally with your own blog, and be a regular old reader/commenter on the big ones.  Local politicians will read it, and may, as in our case, actually start writing on it.  

by DanielUA 2005-09-22 02:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Swing State Project SEO
The dynamic between Swing State and Ohio 2nd was great. The sum of our actions was much greater than the individual parts. All this without any coordination.

One thing that I will note. I intentionally keep myself from being as partisan as sites like Swing State. But I didn't need to be. The contrasting tones only seemed to add to the power of the messages.

by ignatzmouse 2005-09-22 02:31PM | 0 recs
The Value of Blogrolls
The value of a blogroll for smaller blogs is that people find you and if they like what they see they come back.  I don't see a lot of traffic from blogrolls, but when I do I hope that that person will come back.  Never again will my logs show that person coming through a blogroll, but that's how I got them.

However, it is content that keeps them.

by nathan 2005-09-22 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Value of Blogrolls
Youa are, also, well trageted. I have a feeling it will happen for you.
by Chris Bowers 2005-09-22 01:58PM | 0 recs
Re: The Value of Blogrolls
Amazingly, for a blog geared towards a single Congressional District we are doing amazingly well.  I've passed 600 unique visitors this week and well over 1000 page views, and the race is a year away.

It's the building phase right now, but I expect as people start to get excited about '06 and taking back the Congress we'll do much better.

As long as MyDD takes care of us!  :-)

by nathan 2005-09-23 03:32AM | 0 recs
Interesting Topic
One that's been brought up before. I've posted about it a few times myself.

And I quote


Clearly, blogging is a world with a handful of haves, and a nearly uncountable number of have‐nots. There are likely a few hundred thousand blogs in this country that talk about politics, but less than one‐tenth of one percent of them account for more than 99% of all political blogging traffic.

And there doesn't seem to be any way of changing that, really. After two years of blogging and doing almost everything suggested above, I don't find it any easier to "break through" as the field becomes more crowded. I don't suppose I can complain, since I've at least gotten further than a lot of other bloggers have. Right now I'd say I'm somewhere near the base of the long tail.

At this point, I'm not sure what else it takes. At ts point, I've just taken to commenting and crossposting on popular blogs that have diaries like this one does, in hopes of drawing a bit more traffic. Recently, I got a comment one of my diaries saying "I'm sorry your diaries don't get more play. I've noticed that they're always astute and well-written."

Nice comment, but I don't know either.

by TerranceDC 2005-09-22 01:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting Topic
Meant to add that I finally got tired of the politics around linking, and particulalry how link ranking keeps the rarified levels of the blogosphere pretty static.

So, after some consideration, I removed most of the "A-listers" from my blogroll, except for the ones that happened to have me on theirs. I'll link to them if I happen to be posting about something they've written, but that's it.

Now I keep a blogroll of blogs that link to mine, and another of blogs I just happen to like. I figuer the folks who have thousands of links aren't going to miss getting one from me.

When it comes to link ranking, I highly recommend the above practice. It's pretty liberating.

by TerranceDC 2005-09-22 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting Topic
A sig file on your comments that links to your website would help a great deal, for one. Not just hyperlinks, but the name of the site itself. Brand it in as many places as you can.

And yeah, sites like Daily Kos don't need more blogroll links. Save that space for smaller blogs in your own niche. Help each other grow. I stumble over surprisingly large subcommunities all the time (e.g. Catholic bloggers), all of them helping each other grow.

by kos 2005-09-22 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting Topic
This post might be a good thing for you to email people when they ask you to add them to your blogroll.
by blogswarm 2005-09-22 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting Topic
we're growing quite a little community in Ohio too. Exciting times. Lots of candidates reaching out which is fun.

our blog roll is pretty much all ohio - save for those 2 tiny blogs dailykos and my-something-or-other who we are just trying to help out with a little traffic ! heh.

That blogpac ring and leftylogs aggregator was awesome for helping link folks together btw.

by Pounder 2005-09-22 02:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting Topic
Done.
by TerranceDC 2005-09-22 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting Topic
You are, actually, pretty solid mid-major blog. You are clearly a success story.
by Chris Bowers 2005-09-22 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting Topic
Then maybe it's a matter of perspective, and I'm not seeing the forest for my particular tree.
by TerranceDC 2005-09-22 02:53PM | 0 recs
thanks!
excellent post all around.. very helpful.  some day i think we lefties need to get serious about helping new bloggers "break through"; we need to work on localized blogsprawl, and "how-to" or "dummies" guides like this post will go a long way in achieving that goal.

and by the way, will you add me to your blogroll?

by myddaholic 2005-09-22 02:31PM | 0 recs
Experience of a non-blogger
My web site is mostly photographs and advice to photographers. I get the bulk of my traffic from search engines, not other links. This works well for photographs of places or things, but poorly for those of a more abstract nature. I've written about the failure of search engines for this type of material in several of my essays.

A small area is devoted to public policy essays. It takes me days, or weeks, to think about an issue long enough to have a clear idea of what I want to say. So daily blogging is not my thing. I do comment on popular blogs, (like this one), however, when I think I have something to contribute of a factual or historical nature.

So, advice about blogging daily is not applicable to me. I also haven't found many places that combine the interactivity of a blog (or forum) with an interest in discussing long-range issues. I don't know if people are just not interested in the same issues as I am, or if the web demands more currency.

I've also added an RSS feed to my site, for those who might like to be advised when I finally do post something new on my site. This may also be of use to bloggers aren't too prolific.

It's not clear to me whether people post because they have a need to write as do traditional diarists, or they have something so important to say that they hope it will resonate with a large audience.

 

by rdf 2005-09-22 02:32PM | 0 recs
The Kentucky link...
Change it to Bluegrass Report.  It's updated daily and is the source for EF scandal news and other stuff.

BlueGrass Roots, the current link, is rarely updated these days.

by kydem 2005-09-22 02:55PM | 0 recs
I never asked!
Dear Chris,

I've never requested to be blogrolled, but I'll take your comments into consideration if the thought occurs to me. Thanks for writing.

Warmest personal regards,

Anonymous Blogger
anonymousblogger.blogspot.com
September 22, 2005

;)

by Anonymous Blogger 2005-09-22 04:13PM | 0 recs
Two that worked for me a bit
  1. Write every day. My traffic increases consistently when I do that. Unfortunately, I can't always write everyday, so my blog is destined to not make the big times. And that's ok with me.

  2. Find a niche. My mail list is mostly made up of people who are local and don't read more than a blog a day at best. They are busy people who are not political junkies but want to know what's going on. I write for them as a bridge between mainstream media and blog junkies like us.

I like writing about local candidates too, but after I write constantly about Cegelis, I fear I lose credibility as it becomes quite obvious that I'm supporting her. Blogging is definately a form of media with a bias, but I don't want to lose perspective either.

I wish I had the time/means/mortgage to allow me to blog full time. But I don't. That's why I'm thankful that people like Chris and Jermome and Kos and Duncan do. We are only seeing the start of the Blogosphere now. I look forward to the future and am glad I was here early on.

Great post Chris.

by michael in chicago 2005-09-22 04:29PM | 0 recs
Right on, Chris (and a suggestion)
When GannonGate blew, AmericaBlog was all over it. My role in that was very, very, small -- I made an MP3 of Fox News Watch where they discussed Gannon and I forked it over to Aravosis. He and everybody else had a field day with it and I did it for the community, blog traffic be damned. That thing was just one massive onion and I took one brief peel at it. No more or less.

As for blogswarming, it's excellent for generating some traffic when it's just starting off but when it snowballs with tons of other blogs, it creates a glut. I joined Majikthise's "Schaivo" blogswarm and I don't recall getting any traffic from it, probably because I hopped on late in the game. Besides, I tend to think that blogswarming's ultimate priority is to broaden the community than it is to shill for traffic.

I also agree with the blogroll. My blogroll is what I call 'The Truth Commission' and it's only 26 links long with mostly A-listers. My policy on that is no more than 30 links. To be totally honest, my blogroll is mainly for me. I'm dead serious. Without it, the bookmarks in my browser would look like two chapters of "War & Peace" instead of just 1 1/2 chapters. Much easier for me to just click the bookmark to my own blog then bust thru the ol' front door here using my blogroll.

And, of course, be original. In the wake of Katrina, I discovered that my blog was nothing more than a "me too" blog since about May or June and there's too many of them allready. How I came to that conclusion is I spent a moment looking at my site before I jumped to blog format and noticed that I connected with what I wrote then as opposed to the last few months on my blog. In fact, my conclusion was 95% of the material on my blog was nothing more than my analysis of another blogger's analysis, leaving only 5% to originality. I also noticed that I tended to censor myself more than I used to. Not a good thing, in my book. I believe bloggers should say the first thing that comes to mind and if the audience doesn't like it, they can either agree to disagree or click "Back" on their browser.

Now for my suggestion, Chris -- one thing you didn't touch is advertising. When should a budding blog agree to host ads? Should they do it right away before they get an identity and an audience or should they hold off waiting for blogosphere stardom to bite them in the posterior? Just seems there's a kinda Catch-22 there, especially with Blogads since it requires sponsorship from an established blog.

Again, excellent post here.

by Sizemore 2005-09-22 04:59PM | 0 recs
Couple thoughts from a newb
#1:  In my experience, most every blogger I've met face to face has been an intelligent human being...a peer.  Some have big blogs, some don't. Some write a great deal, some don't.   So be it...we're equals in my book, and we...uh...prove that with astounding regularity.  

#2:  I find your advice to be sound, though I'm a newb, what do I know?.  In fact, it was informative of you to part the curtain for folks on how traffic works...and how certain 'realities' of the day affect traffic ie. how there's a kind of "locked down" superstructure to liberal blogs.  (Imo....A-list is a term kind of like...serious voice....the liberal blogosphere...that needs a bit of rethinking.)

#3:  However, this well thought-out and presented advice also read like James Atlas telling someone to eat oatmeal and do sit ups every morning to attain better health. (local focus, local focus, specialize, don't blog roll, don't swipe, I'll never be Josh, I'll never be Josh.  I'll never get blogrolled by Chris.)

#4:  Blogging should be fun, and, imo, everyone who wants one, should have a blog.  And all of us bloggers should, in that context, find innovative ways for likeminded blogs to find each other without hype or BS like demanding a link.  That goes not just for "little blogs" but "big blogs" too.   As a newb, I learn something new on this subject all the time...

#5:  Imo, blogs should link to worthy material as a matter of course.  Linking and linkism are a core part of blogging...whether in a blog roll, or in posts, or in a changing side bar like referer.org.  We bloggers make/provide links as a service to our readers.  Not because it will generate traffic or fame...but because it keeps things fresh and interesting...and puts the "roll" in blogrolling.

For myself, I update my "current clicks" to keep a fresh tour of what's relevant and spicy in front of my readers.  I could care less if the sites I link to have a blog roll, or even have a site meter.  (I know some don't.)  If it's "the good stuff" I want my readers to be able to get to it...and I want to be able to get there myself as well.  

#6:  Ultimately, Chris, I think you should have second thoughts about telling the world that there's "no way" you're going to link or blogroll them.  First, because the only way we break the "clubbishness" that you see on so many blog rolls, and blog mind sets I might add, is by at least being open to new things and, god forbid, innovations that might shake things up.  Second, because that trend means that so many new blogs aren't even blogrolling at all which is a shame.

And, finally because, as I've found in two months in the blog wilderness, there's so much goodness out there....and friends to be made,  and that it's always a shame to close the door.  

Open arms is the way to go.  

Now we just have to innovate that.

by kid oakland 2005-09-22 06:13PM | 0 recs
local, local, local
I know my place on the big board of the blog world, it's towards the bottom.  But I know that within Philadelphia, I'm much higher up.  Local interaction is the way to go.  Developing a strong local community is the most important thing we can do on the Progressive side of things, Chris has said this so many times.

Here in Philly, we came together behind Seth Williams, candidate for District Attorney.  He was going up against a 14 year incumbent with some serious national name recognition.  If I remember correctly, he lost by single digits while being outspent 27 to 1.  Williams came out and engaged us and we supported him right back, it more than helped that we agreed with what he was about too.  We closed a pretty big gap in a short amount of time.  Williams will be back to run again, he's promised us that much.

Philadelphia will be a hotbed in the 2006 races as well with the task of ousting Santorum in what will most likely be the most high profile race in the nation.  Me, I'm going for Chuck Pennacchio, he stands for everything I stand for.  The Philly blogs have already started to mobilize.  I'm going on board with the Pennacchio team to play a more active role in organizing the blogs.  Pittsburgh also has a a very important role as the other bastion of Democratic density in the state [but in a different way].  I'll surely get to know the Pittsburgh scene very well in the weeks and months to come.

But getting back to the issue of blogrolls...  Atrios has graced me with a link on his.  A link in the prominently featured "Philly Bloggers" group at that.  That link has provided my little ditty with a considerable amount of traffic.  Pretty sweet.  I think that's the exception.

But to recap, local, local, local.  Develop locally.  If notoriety is what you're after, develop your own pond before trying to jump into an ocean.

by Albert 2005-09-22 06:45PM | 0 recs
use other local media
i totally agree on niche and local. unless you just blog way too much, you can't really meaningfully blog on too many things anyway.

use the local media. include your URL in your letters to the editor re the topic you blog about (which we should be writing anyway).  a letter is like a mini blog post to reach a larger audience with your point, so you can give people a taste of your voice and tell them, as a source of more info, where to find you. call up talk radio and mention your URL at the end of comments. maybe this kind of stuff is "shameless self-promotion" but if you're really saying something useful on an issue, in your letter or comments, then i think there's nothing wrong with letting people know where they can find out more. i appreciate it when other people do it, and sometimes will check out their site, if they sound particularly interesting to me.

i also had a local progressive weekly rag do a small article about blogging using me as their main example, and a tech related radio show hosted by a fellow blogger do an interview with me.  i've had a number of people mention that they saw the article, and i don't know how many became regular readers, but you pick them up along the way i guess. in both cases, the story was about blogging itself, but that became an opportunity for me to communicate the message of my blog, and hopefully draw a few readers. even with all the oodles of blogs, blogging is still a relatively new thing for most people, and consistent and usefully focused blogs still rare enough that if you are one you can get exposure this way, especially i would think in relatively small communities, where you know the local scene.

there is also an issue of quality vs. quantity. more readers is always good, but i know that certain people in local media and politics read my blog, and a couple other small blogs that interlink with mine, and i know there's probably others that i'm not aware of. and i think that came from focusing on one main topic that i have a unique perspective on and something relatively useful to say about. if you never get widely known but can become known within certain influential circles as a source of good information or commentary, that is a good accomplishment for most blogs. that's all i really aspire to.

also, i agree on short, specialized blogrolls. the only links i have clicked on blogrolls are those about Hawaii, looking for new blogs about my area (topic and region), and there is a relatively small (but growing) set of bloggers whose links are repeated around in the political blogging community here. and i like the idea of providing some context or description of the link. i am thinking of breaking up my blogroll, which is already focused just on Hawaii, into subtopics that will help it be more useful as a resource for people looking for more info on certain aspects of the general discussion.

anyway, very interesting and helpful post, and there's my 2 cents.

by scottmaui 2005-09-23 03:46AM | 0 recs
searchs
Doesn't being on a blogroll increase the rating of your home page (and so the rest of your blog) in Google's algorithm? So, in spite of 2-1, it helps with 3-2.

ungoogled
---
by DavidP 2005-09-23 06:11AM | 0 recs
Re: searchs
It does help, but you can still do it on your own.
by Chris Bowers 2005-09-23 06:44AM | 0 recs
Re: searchs

you can do this on your own very well, but man, your main page is currently PageRank7, ive never gotten a page up above PR5.

pagerank isnt everything when it comes to links though, link anchor text weighs heavily as well.

i'd estimate every link in your blogroll is worth at least $200 a month.

-tpiddy
iwillsearchu.com - search blog

by tpiddy 2005-09-23 10:57AM | 0 recs
On Blogrolling
Isn't it true though, that link status counts on search engines?

Media In trouble

by media in trouble 2005-09-23 06:22AM | 0 recs
Re: On Blogrolling
that is true, but developing a targetting blogroll would also help.
by Chris Bowers 2005-09-23 06:45AM | 0 recs
comments
regarding #2, you can turn off comments on a per-post basis.  that'll make people go to the other blog to discuss.  some blogs do this, like blueoregon.com
by tunesmith 2005-09-23 10:34AM | 0 recs

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