Amy Gahran posted an interesting and well thought out response to my earlier post about the difficulty in growing a new blog. She sets forth her strategy for building a new blog and, in a comment to my post, asked if I have ever tried the things she suggests.
First, a little about her strategy for new blogs.
One of her core strategies is to find your focus and identify your target audience. That’s a very sound strategy. For example, if I really wanted to “own” an area, I’d find some narrow topic that I really understand and I’d write and write and write about it. Eventually, I might own the area, but it would be a small area tightly directed at one topic. We did that with ACCBoards.Com and it worked. My attempt at expansion into audio video message boards was a complete failure, to put it mildly. So I am a believer in keeping your focus.
The thing about blogs in general and my blog in particular, however, is that blogs are a reflection of their owners. If I want to own a space, whether for ego or monetary purposes, finding and directing my focus ought to be job one. On the other hand, if I simply want to write about and promote discussion about whatever interests me at the moment, focus becomes a little more challenging, since it will undoubtedly change as my interests change. I am interested in a lot of different stuff. Tech, gadgets, music, kids, and an ebb and flow of other stuff. And, as my wife will attest, whatever project intrigues me today may bore me to tears next month. Maybe an evolving focus works- a lot of the blogs I enjoy the most are sort of random like that, or maybe there is a built-in limitation inherent in my approach that will always send the rock rolling back down the hill.
On those days when I imagine Newsome.Org really taking off, it’s based on a three part process:
1) I actually do have a pretty unique combination of experiences, both tech related and non-tech related. And while I’m not going to paste my resume all over the place in some stomp my foot effort to convince people to listen to what I have to say, hopefully these experiences will allow me to write stuff that over time people find interesting and worthwhile. It’s more of a (hopefully) perspective advantage than a focus advantage. At least on my optimistic days.
2) If I keep writing consistently, at some point I will have been around a “long time” and more people will feel comfortable including me in the conversation by linking to me, and responding when I link to them. This sustained approach is exactly what Amy recommends in her comment to my post. My experience so far suggests that this approach will work to some extent. The big question is to what extent. While I get very discouraged when link post after link post (meaning a post that says “so and so has a post about xyz”) show up in the discussion links at Memeorandum, while my longer, more analytical posts get ignored (they used to show up regularly, but no more), I do have quite a few readers and my traffic has increased pretty consistently. But it’s hard. And it’s uphill. And sometimes I get tired.
3) I hope to find a group of other bloggers to engage in cross-blog conversations, like Amy talks about here. A virtual watercooler of cross-linking blogs can help build a critical mass. Richard Querin, Brad Kellet and I have started doing this a little. It really helps when you feel like you’re working with other people, as opposed to all by yourself in an isolated corner of cyberspace.
So, yes, I am at least trying to try the sustained effort. I can’t say for sure that it’s going to get me there, but I am making progress. What I don’t know is how long I can keep plugging away without some sort of psychological payoff- like a link here and there; getting on some blogrolls; that sort of thing. I guess as long as I’m having fun, I’ll keep doing it.
And now back upon my soapbox for another sermon on my favorite topic:
The fact remains that the people who believe they are somehow going to make a lot of money by doing a blog are guarding the door to the club too closely. I’m not trying to get rich by blogging, and, candidly, I think blogging to make money is sort of like playing hoops to get to the NBA- it takes the fun out of it and ultimately leads to disappointment. For me blogs are about conversations, hearing and being heard. An expanded, combined, evolved and more useful version of message boards and personal websites.
But there’s one thing I know: add the prospect of money to any equation and things get very complicated. Newsome’s Rule. Write it down.
Anyhow, Amy writes a great piece on blog building, and I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the discussion. Richard, Brad, anyone? What do you think?