Posts Tagged ‘Popular blogs’

So many people around are advertising ways to make a fast buck out of blogging. Get-rich-quick plans are abounding left and right with marketers and evangelists trying to get you to pay to become rich (thus they become rich)…sounds like some strange sort of pyramid scheme now doesn’t it? The funny thing is that they may just be right, not in the way they’re prescribing, but nonetheless, blogging is becoming one of the newest ways to make a living. After reading an article in the recent Nov. 16, 2006 Economist magazine entitled, ‘Going Pro: More people are quitting their day jobs to blog for a living’ one can’t help but realise that the way we make a living in modern society is changing into something our ancestors would have deemed ludicrous. I mean, making money by telling people intimate details about our lives? Yeah, right. My Grandfather worked for the same company for 44 years. I’m sure if the old guy were still around (To me, he was a legend) he’d say, ‘How does writing about yourself help anyone else?’ You’d be surprised Grandpa. You’d be surprised.

There’s something about hearing a person tell tales of their life’s experiences, their joys and their woes. We can connect with it, we can empathise…It makes us realise that we’re not alone in our struggles, that we’re part of a bigger picture, that others are doing really weird stuff too. It’s a little different from sitting around the fire in the days of indigenous cultures (when they prospered) listening to wisdom hidden in the elders’ stories. Now, the wisdom is being shared by people of all ages. Who else better to empathise with as a teenager than another of your own?

The Economist article mentions a popular blog by a woman named Heather B. Armstrong, which has over 1 million visitors every month. After adding some paid advertising to her site, she and her husband are now ‘Stay at Home Mothers (SAHM) and Stay at Home Fathers (SAHF)’, or as she likes to call them, ‘Shit Ass Ho Motherfucker’ and ‘Shit Ass Ho Fuckingbadass’. Please excuse my language but I’m quoting here. This is her style, and a strong writing style it is. That’s why people like it. People love a powerful personality, a character that is well defined and knows exactly who they are. Her blog is called ‘Dooce’. ‘Dooced’ is a term (I think she created) for losing one’s job as a result of writing your weblog, which happened to her. If you want to hear the rest of her background story, take a quick look at Dooce’s very unorthodox but highly effective and wonderfully candid biographical page.

So you can make a living from blogging, but does that mean it’s easy to do? Coming from the horse’s mouth of MiContent, I can tell you that writing week in and week out is not a simple task. For those who are making a living from it, the economist article quotes these ‘champions’ as saying that it’s taken them a long time, and a formidable amount of hard work and effort. What worthwhile job doesn’t? Om Malik who quit his job at Business 2.0 Magazine to work on his blog ‘GigaOm’ which receives 50,000 visitors daily states that, ‘“It’s not easy.’ Building his audience has “taken me five years, and a lot of sleepless nights.” He now has two other writers and has revenues in the tens of thousands per month with the help of what he says is an ‘ecosystem of support’ from sales and marketing companies.

These days the most lucrative area in the field of blogging stems from what are actually online magazines. In the days of old, owners had to spend a lot of money on distribution, materials (printing the magazines), and shipping them. It was also expensive to buy your audience via advertising. Bloggers are getting their audiences for free (through interesting content), and the only real costs occur when they need more bandwidth and disk space to support their growing sites. This is where the advertising comes in.

The Economist mentions some of the most profitable blogging companies are those with a group or ‘stable’ of online magazines like Weblogs Inc. who run ‘Engadget’, one of the most popular blogs in the Blogosphere. It’s a site dedicated to new technological inventions, often relating to video gaming (nerds rule the world.) They make tens of millions of dollars a year and are in a different class from the ‘small business’ blogs like Armstrong’s. Another major blogging stable mentioned is ‘Gawker‘ who has 14 sites including ‘Gizmodo’ (another ultra-popular gadget site…these geeks sure produce wealth!).

If you are aware of the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) phenomenon (online role-playing games played between huge amounts of people all over the world, I am only aware they exist because I read an article…I’m a different kind of geek.) you will know that there are huge rooms full of university graduates in China playing video games for money. You don’t believe me? Some companies are comprised of 30 or more of these young people (who’ve had a hard time finding other work) sitting in rooms for 12 hours a day killing dragons, finding weapons, and drinking magical potions. The virtual gold coins and battle swords are sold for ‘real’ money to lazy/incompetent/busy Americans (and other wealthy nations who don’t need to scrounge for food) on Ebay and other means so that they can make it to the next level in their games. They make a pretty good living from it, better than the days of sewing shoes all day in a sweatshop. Now that’s a weird job! Next to that, blogging for a living seems relatively normal…

Jesse S. Somer is astounded at how powerful the medium of blogs has become. He believes it all has to do with our world and its people needing to feel more united with one another…a kind of revolutionary backlash created by a collective mental field that is tired of feeling fractured, lonely, and divided.

Copyright MiContent.com.au


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A while back I read an article at Nature.com called ‘Top Five Science Blogs’ about the five most popular science blogs on the Internet (Technorati rated them by counting their links to other sites). It had interviews with the blogs’ creators giving their opinions on why some of their sites are even more popular than some contemporary News sites. However, it seems that if you now go to the above link you have to pay money to read the story. Fortunately, I saved it for prosperity and will now share a few of the quotes that stuck out for me as being important for new bloggers.

‘Weblogs written by scientists are relatively rare, but some of them are proving popular. Out of 46.7 million blogs indexed by the Technorati blog search engine, five scientists’ sites make it into the top 3,500.’

1. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/ (Ranked 179): ‘. “Sometimes, I just summarise some basic concepts as I would in the classroom.” But you are certain to fail if you write as if for a peer-reviewed journal. “It doesn’t work on the web,” says Pete Myers. “A blog’s more like the conversation you’d have at the bar after a scientific meeting.”

I like the sound of that, ‘A blog is like a conversation.’ Rather than writing a book, a magazine article, or even a traditional journal or diary-style text, people are literally (no pun intended) having intelligent conversation via this new medium.

2. www.pandasthumb.org (Ranked 1,647): ‘Being a group blog is key’, says contributor Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science. ‘The nature of the topic helps too’, he adds. ‘There is an interest, a hunger even, for thoughtful analysis of the issues related to evolution and creationism.’

Having a group blog can be a great advantage because you can have multiple contributors who specialise in different areas. It should also be noted that if one person is busy or has momentary ‘writer’s block’, there are others there to keep things rolling along. Always having new and fresh content seems to be an imperative for getting readers to return on a regular basis. If your subject is contentious and regularly debated upon that’s all the better! Definitely put effort into honing in on a topic that grabs people’s interest in the public domain.

3. www.realclimate.org (Ranked 1,884): ‘Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist who blogs at RealClimate, puts its success down to the hot topic and expert contributors. It helps to have “a passion for explaining things as clearly as possible, and a hell of a lot of patience to deal with all those comments rolling in”.

There’s a lot to learn in just this small statement. If you do want to become a popular blogger hopefully it’s for altruistic reasons like making real relationships with others, as opposed to simply wanting to become powerful and famous. That raises the strange question: Are any bloggers actually powerful?

Having expert contributors may be a problem for some (How do you find them?), so the next best thing would be to try your best to become an expert yourself. Read, read, read, and find out as much as you can about your subject of choice. If you can then establish yourself, you may then be able to make some connections with others in your field (through comments, trackbacks etc.) who will add more knowledge as well as credibility to your site.

Passion for explaining things clearly is the key to good communication and transferral of ideas, while having the patience to reply to all of your comments will show your visitors that you see them as equals and are interested in interrelating, giving them the feeling that they aren’t just writing for nothing. On the contrary, as things develop further their commenting becomes an integral part of the group learning process.

‘Gavin Schmidt, at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, says the blog fills “a hunger for raw but accessible information” that goes deeper than newspaper articles, but is more easily understood than the scientific literature. “Magazines fill a void, but they can’t react or interact as effectively as blogs.”’

4. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/ (Ranked 2,174)

‘Frequent posting of original content is crucial to building an audience, says Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance, which is produced by five physicists. But taking “stances that are provocative and make people think” also helps. One needs to become the place to go for a subject, he says. Citing other blogs is a sure-fire way to get their notice and maybe a citation in return, he adds. But he cautions that citation counts and rankings can be a distraction. “It would be a shame if people worried about traffic and not about having a good blog.”’

5. www.scienceblogs.com/scientificactivist  (Ranked 3,429)

‘Nick Anthis, who only began blogging in January, knows the reason for his site’s swift rise to fame. During a political censorship row at NASA in February, Anthis was the first to reveal that a key official had lied about graduating from Texas A&M University. “Before I knew it, it had exploded into a major national News story and he resigned.” After an initial spike in traffic, many stayed on as regular readers.’

So, this last lesson is to try and be the first to find out about something that really gets people excited/interested, not the easiest task to undertake…unless you’re on the front lines. Are you a relative fountain of knowledge standing at the front of a battlefield of important knowledge and information? Get blogging!

Jesse S. Somer once had work experience in a Genetics department. Don’t ask him what the pigs know, there are some secrets that are best left unsaid.

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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There are over 50 million blogs in the world, and this is only the beginning of the ‘Communicative revolution’. I got thinking recently about Blogrolls (those lists of links to other people’s blogs often found in a side column next to people’s journals). I was thinking about how if you took a look at my Blogroll, you’d get a little snapshot at what kind of person I am, by seeing what topics and styles of blog writing that I like to read. I decided to do a little experiment.

I went to Technorati’s (those people who try to track all the blogs in the world-sounds like a challenge doesn’t it?) Popular blog section (‘Top 100 Blogs’)  and I thought I’d pick a few random blogs out to see what, if anything, I could discover about their creators. I don’t want to come across as a typical brown-nose who wants to be noticed by the so-called ‘a-listers’, therefore improving my global ranking (something I’ve read is quite common, but not necessarily altruistic in intention that people do to get noticed). Not many people know about me now, but I hope to connect with others through honest and focussed content that people can relate to.

So, I took it upon myself to have a look at a couple blogs further down the list, still popular, but not ‘Superbloggers’…There are two ways in which Technorati rank the popularity of blogs, one is by how many other blogs have linked to the blog in question, and the other is by how many others have named that blog in their ‘Favourites’ section.

First randomly chosen Human blog: Xia Xue, ranked 97 in the world (with 5,063 links from 3,437 blogs). Ok, not a good choice…How does some ex-magazine columnist girl from Singapore get over 10,000 visits a day when she just talks about herself and the fashion products she’s been paid to try? She’s either sexy and all the guys like her, or she’s got some genuine connection to many young women out there in the Blogosphere…You’ve got me!? Her Blogroll is quite short compared to many I’ve seen, and it looks to be mainly filled with links to her close friends.

Second randomly chosen Human blog: Buzz Machine, ranked 122 in the world (with 10,229 links from 3,059 blogs). This is a blog written by a Professor Jeff Jarvis who heads a graduate program in Interactive Journalism. Ok, if anyone knows about blogging it would be this guy. He’s got a very long list of archived posts on a wide range of subjects, mainly dealing with News and media. However, I could be wrong about this whole Blogroll thing, because he only has one link (I’ve seen other blogs with a hundred or more!) and it’s to his son’s blog at Wire Catcher. Is this strange, or a deliberate choice to prove something about his blog’s identity? His son has a longer Blogroll, generally linking to technological blogs (a very popular subject in the Blogosphere, could it be because computer geeks-I say this word in the nicest of ways-make up a huge majority of bloggers as they are already always sitting in front of their computers?)

The final randomly chosen blog was: Flagrant Disregard, ranked 120 on the planet with (6,287 links from 3,108 blogs). This is an interesting one. It’s a blog by a guy who mainly talks about and takes photos of his family. Why is it so popular? After reading a few posts I can see why. He’s an honest guy who’s talking about his life, and life is weird and fun if viewed from the right perspective. With the last few posts entitled, ‘The best deal in Lego’, ‘Does homework suck?’, and ‘Cell phones and customer service: it doesn’t have to be this difficult’, you can catch my drift about the general life topics that are attracting readers’ attention. Now, time to see his Blogroll. The only link list he has is called, ‘People who I actually know in Real Life actually weird enough to have blogs’, and it’s a short list.

Where does all this leave me? Are Blogrolls as important as I once believed? It seems that many popular bloggers don’t partake in this form of link exchange/favourites list. This experiment has somewhat dubiously shifted into why blogs are popular, without producing much of a Blogroll theory or hypothesis. Looking at this tiny subsection of popular bloggers, it’s not who you read that tells us who you are; it’s what you say…You are what you write! Right?!

Jesse S. Somer is a man with a new blog and a relatively short Blogroll. He’s hoping to read and write so that the words and links on the page represent him. Isn’t that the name of the game?

Copyright MiContent.com.au

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