DISCLAIMER: I'm no expert or anything, but like most politicians I enjoy pretending I'm one. No, if you want blog expertise, go check out blogs with follower numbers in the Ks. In all seriousness, this is more about creating a dialogue between bloggers. So don't just sit there, tell us what you think!
Today's installment of Blog Science is going to examine the lucky few. The cream. The elite. No, I'm not talking about the the 1%, I'm talking about the blogs you actually read. I suspect I'm not alone when it comes to my blog diet: I've got many on my plate, but actually get around to eating only a few. My eyes are much larger than my stomach, as it were.
Now before you get all 'hate crazy' on me, understand it isn't because of some kind of weird follower Internet ponzi scheme. I didn't just follow a bunch of blogs, hoping they'd follow back, and then completely ignore them. This blog thang doesn't go down like Twitter, after all.
(thanks be to God--mazel tov! mazel tov! Sorry, we caught Fiddler at the local theater a couple of weeks ago and it's been in my head ever since...)
I can honestly say I've read at least a portion of every blog I follow and followed them because I truly enjoyed what I was reading. It is also a way I've thrown my support behind the friendly faces I've met around the WWWebs. Unfortunately, as I've said before, there are far more awesome blogs out there than there are minutes in the day.
Chances are, if you've been blogging for a year or more, you've run into a similar predicament. This post isn't about solving that problem. There are far more organized folks out there who can tell you how to sort out and prioritize your Google Reader list. There are also far more ruthless folks out there who can tell you when/how to cut people off your blog lists to keep it paired down to only the essentials.
What we are going to do is try to understand why we read who we read. Essentially, who makes the cut and why? In order of importance, here we go:
Loyal Customers Get Dibs -
Okay, this one isn't rocket science. The blogs I most frequent, especially to the extent of leaving comments, are the blogs of people who visit my blog and leave comments. Call it reciprocity, brown nosing or whatever. The fact of the matter is that I favor people who acknowledge my existence. I think most bloggers do this, but if I only have time to read AND comment on a couple of blogs during the day, I usually track down the people who frequently visit my blog.
This doesn't mean they are the only blogs I read. It just means they are the blogs I go out of my way to read, if that makes sense.
The GOOGLE Made Me Do It -
So I have the cute little iGoogle homepage thing going on. If you aren't familiar with it, you can basically create a custom Internet page with all of your favorite Web content on it. Why? Because it's awesome to be able to see your new e-mail messages, top stories on CNN, Twitter feed, Facebook updates, weather, etc., that's why. It's my homepage, so it's the first thing I see when I jump Online. You can learn about and get it HERE.
As part of my iGoogle page (at the very top, no less) I've got my Google Reader feed. It updates real time, so when someone posts a new blog update it pops up. It has become my blog lifeline. I know there are more efficient reader managers out there, but this one is the most convenient for me because I see it 10-15 times a day.
The downside? I tend to only see the blogs that have been updated recently. So if you posted in the AM and I get on in the afternoon, your post is waaaayyyy down the feed. Unless I'm dedicatedly searching through the list (which I do from time-to-time) I probably won't see it.
What I try to do is pick out a blog or two each time I'm on the homepage, that way I get a sort of eclectic mashup of reads from my blog list. Unfortunately, that means I don't consistently get to the same blogs.
Assuming again that I'm not the only person to use iGoogle feed lists (or something similar), here are some ways I choose which blogs to read:
Title of the Post: In my list I see the title of the post and the name of the blog. That's it. If I want more detail I have click the title (it then opens up in-page to reveal the entire blog post). Thus, one way to make sure I read is have an awesome title to your blog post. Something to get me to CLICK. Granted, this will vary from the interests of the reader. Some people scour for ePublishing content, others for craft tips. So try to cast a wide net with most of your post titles. Enough detail to tell what the point is, but broad enough to appeal to many.
Opening Paragraph: I can usually tell from the opening paragraph of a post if it is going to be about what I was expecting from the title. Consequently, I read that first line or two or three to scrutinize the relevance of the post (or how the message will be presented). Sometimes it catches me with humor, other times with information. Either way, make your openings good and I'll read all of it. If I read all of it I'll probably jump to your blog and say so. I might even take it to the Twitters.
The Early, Middle & Late Bird Gets the Reader: Knowing that some people only see the most recently updated blogs, and that some people only look in the mornings, at lunch or in the evenings I guess it makes sense to stagger when our posts go live. This is something I haven't tried, but based upon my own habits I think it merits some investigation. I know it works for Twitter. (FYI don't Tweet at the same time every day, or only a portion of your followers are probably going to see it. Not everyone stays connected all of the time. Tweeps are creatures of habit, too.)
Frequency: Another easy one. The more you post, the more likely people are going to find you. The more people find you, the more likely you are to create...
Hate this word? I kind of do, but it's probably relevant to this conversation. If I'm on the Twitter, or other blogs, I pay close attention to what my Web Friends are saying. If a trusted blogger or Tweep says, "CHECK OUT THIS BLOG! IT CHANGED MY FLIPPIN' LIFE!" I'm going to check out the blog.
How do you get "BUZZ"? As best I can tell, two factors contribute greatly: 1) Write something worth reading. The good stuff has a way of getting out there. Study how to phrase your Tweets and blog titles. Learn how to share them effectively (What we're doing right here!) and fire with both barrels. 2) Do unto others. Help other bloggers get the word out. If you read something you love, share it on Facebook, Twitter, etc. They will typically treat you the same. If they don't, don't sweat it. Karma is as Karma does, momma always said.