Since i started blogging a few months ago, i have been following a variety of blogs in an attempt to learn what makes a good blog, what hurdles a new blogger faces, and what common factors are there in blogs that aren't as 'successful' as the blogger might want. To see some of the blogs have inspired me, see the bottom of this post.
There are some blogs that have taught me what to do, and some that have taught me what not to do. Today i came across a blog, that shall remain nameless of course, that has given me fuel for my next 3 hurdles.
To give a bit of background to this blog; It was a very active, very popular and very successful blog for at least 5 or 6 years when the blogger decided to stop blogging original content and used it to advertise another venture of his. Today the blogger has announced a re-launch; He is proposing to put together a team of 30 bloggers, blogging on politics and "...book and film reviews, a little bit of sport, and there are several contributors from the world of radio and TV".
I'm not convinced that it will work, and it gives me inspiration for my next 3 'Hurdles' on running a successful blog.
Hurdle 4 - The Blogosphere is Fickle
The blog in question used to be a very active and successful blog, but the author is making the error of thinking he can pick up from where he left off. The blogosphere is a fickle one, and readers have a short attention span. Once you stop posting original and interesting content, readers will stop reading. To get those readers back, you have to put the effort into quality posts, and expect the blog's success to take almost as long as it did before you stopped posting.
Hurdle 5 - Keep focused
In terms of content, this blogger is trying to have his cake and eat it. One characteristic of a successful blog is one that has a focus, a clearly defined topic or goal. Trying to have a blog that covers many topics is difficult for a few reasons. Firstly, and ironically, it narrows your readership, rather than expands it. For someone to regularly visit such a blog they are going to have to have an interest in all the topics you are posting about. A blog reader is fairly intolerant, and where a blog doesn't reflect their interests they just wont read it, even if one area of the blog does.
For such a blog to succeed it needs to have a central aim, subject or theme. That aim, subject or theme needs to be established with regular, interesting and engaging original content. Once you have established this, you can start to gently expand into other topics, but it is essential that the core topic is maintained, otherwise you will lose the core readership. Alternatively, choose a topic that is wide by definition, such as Justice. When i started this blog it was just a way of me having a creative output, and after a while i decided i wanted to settle on the topic of the blog. Rather than picking a topic, and writing about it, i looked at what i had already posted and chose a topic that closely reflected that. This means i am still posting about what i am most comfortable with, but i have a defined direction to aim in.
Hurdle 6 - Sub-blogging doesn't work
Our blogger is trying to disguise 'lazy blogging' by gathering together a team of sub-bloggers. Sub-blogging rarely works. You, as a blog owner, will see a sub-blogger as someone who has made a commitment to you and your blog. Whereas the sub-blogger will see himself as as volunteer, helping out with an occasional post when it suits him. By having so many sub-bloggers, you are putting your sub-bloggers at risk of "bystander effect", meaning the more people present, the less likely they are to act.
Can sub-blogging ever work? Yes, but not from a cold start.
You can't expect people to make a commitment to you and your blog if you are making no commitment to it, and them, yourself. So for a blog to be attractive to sub-bloggers, it has to be well established, current and have a regular core following.
Trying to take on 30 sub-bloggers is a recipe for disaster, its way to much a burden on your leadership and people management skills...time wasted that should be better used writing your own original content. So if you want to use sub-bloggers you need to start off by finding one sub-blogger who will make a commitment to you and your blog. You need to offer this person something they couldn't get from starting their own blog, and the easiest thing to offer is an established audience.
The blog owner needs to continue to post his original content at the same pace, while the sub-blogger will merely boost the content. As each sub-blogger becomes established, and 'part of the furniture' you can look for your second sub blogger. There will come a time that you can hand your blog over to a team of sub-bloggers, but a lot of hard work, over a number of years, will need to be done before that's going to be achieved.
I am, however, prepared to be proven wrong by this blogger :)
Blogs that have inspired me