The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 July 2006

Pour it on

How do you get your miserable Site Meter (or whatever) moving? Content, content, content, says James Joyner:

Unless you're doing Lileks- or Wretchard-length essays, it's almost impossible to get steady traffic without posting 40-50 items a week at minimum. There are just too many sites competing for eyeballs for large numbers of people to make your site a daily stop unless you're giving them something to read when they get there.

People who write quickly, prolifically, and about interesting things at least have a chance of breaking out of the pack. It's not coincidental that most of the top bloggers are college professors, journalists, or self-employed. Unless you have the ability to blog during the day (or the discipline to get up early [and] crank out several posts before going to work a la Ed Morrissey) you're at a distinct disadvantage.

I'm running close to 40 these days; I think it's fair to say that I write quickly and prolifically. ("Interesting," of course, is in the eye of the beholder.) It helps that I can keep two or three post ideas on the brain's back burner more or less indefinitely, and then pop one to the front when I figure out something to say about it, or there's something in the news which it might fit.

And I do often have new posts up before I go to work, but those are usually written the night before and then given a final once-over before publishing the next morning.

Posted at 10:24 AM to Blogorrhea


TrackBack: 4:46 PM, 23 July 2006
» My Blog is Bigger Than Your Blog from swirlspice
Chaz remarks and receives comments on how to get your blog traffic up and what makes a successful blog. To which I say... 1. Whatever happened to blogging for fun? 2. This whole "successful blog" stuff is definitely a guy......[read more]

While I agree that posting frequently is helpful for building traffic, I have my doubts that it's quite as key as James seems to believe. My view is that the key to having a successful blog has a number of factors (pretty much in this order):

1. Start in 2000. Or before.
2. Post frequently.
3. Belong to a tribe.
4. Luck.
5. Ability.

I started posting about two and a half years ago. I'm averaging something like 20-25 posts a week. A good percentage of my posts are lengthy analysis pieces. My post this morning, for example, ran about 2,000 words.

My traffic and "influence" have been stalled at roughly the same level for about a year (actually my traffic has been rising very slowly and my "influence" has been stalled).

I'm not complaining exactly—I'm doing what I want to do and I plan to keep on but a little more traffic certainly would be nice. ;-)

Posted by: Dave Schuler at 4:08 PM on 22 July 2006

It depends on your audience more than your prolixity, I think.

Seth Godin and others have tackled this theory of super-frequent short postings.

Some readers will be annoyed that, when they visit your blog, they have to play catch up on 35 posts from the past several days. Diarrhea of the mouth is a common complaint, too much gushing as a party guest is considered "cheeky" and in the blog, too much too fast can spell DOOM.

Posted by: Vaspers the Grate at 7:26 PM on 22 July 2006

My readership has hovered around 300 uniques per day for as long as I've been writing for the Web, which I began in 1997. My hypothesis, which I have no way to test conclusively, is that readership is determined by style, content, reliability of output, and volume of output in about equal measures:

1. Style is an elusive thing to quantify, but informally, I would say that a colloquial style would be more popular than a formal one, unless one is writing for lawyers, academics, or similarly afflicted persons.

2. Content that's too vulgar will turn readers off; content that's too high-flown will do the same. Content should also be determined to some degree by current events, but not slavishly so.

3. If a writer can be relied upon for regular postings, he has an advantage over an unreliable writer...but he who never falters can also be taken for granted.

4. A steady volume of prose each day, neither too little or too much, is right up there with reliability. There are exceptions, though. Steven Den Beste could get away with 5000 word essays every three or four days. InstaPundit showers us with a few brief comments and associated links, and we are made glad.

In summary: no one knows how the BLEEP! to maximize readership. Besides, isn't this supposed to be about letting off a bit of steam while having a bit of fun?

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 8:18 PM on 22 July 2006

I do not have any stats to prove it, but from observations it seems there is a downside to posting too often. If a post goes up too quickly over another one, the earlier one will receive a lower level of attention and comments than if allowed to mature in the sunlight for a few more hours or a full day.

Unless of course, you have a rep - like CGHill - that drags 'em in regardless. Dave Schuler's comment about starting in 2000 or before has a lot of validity. There is a clique, or perhaps it is a "tribe" (also Dave's word), of ye olde timers that is almost impossible to break into of be accepted by. Tolerated, yes, but always viewed as the new kid on the block and kept at arms length. Not all do this - but many do.

Posted by: Winston at 5:46 AM on 23 July 2006

Some of my stuff won't mature no matter how long you let it sit.

Posted by: CGHill at 3:48 PM on 23 July 2006

Hey everybody. What if today's rock stars had decided that the Beatles, Rolling Stones, U2, REM, etc. were dominating the music scene and it was pointless to try?

Get a grip. Do what you are passionate about, with talent and dedication. Forget all this whining about A Listers, snake heads, and long tails.

Posted by: vaspers the grate at 10:13 AM on 2 August 2006