Clive Thompson’s article Blogs to Riches over at the hot new New York Magazine website has got to be the must-read article of the year so far. The premise of the article is that the rich keep getting richer, and in the blog world this translates to blogs with the highest traffic keep gaining more traffic, separating themselves from the B- & C-list blogs who fight tooth and nail to move out of the 4-digit daily pageview count and into the 5- and 6-digit realm of the real money-makers. I do believe there’s a divide in the new media world of weblogs, however just like with any other “rule”, there are exceptions.
How To Fake Like You Are Big And Popular
The title of this section is a play on the famous Frank TJ Mackey monologue from the movie Magnolia, and I think it’s oddly appropriate somehow. Here’s the deal with blog traffic: if you have been doing it for awhile (years, not months) and have tons of inbound links, then you are one of the “rich” and will continue to get more money for ads and traffic providing that your content quality does not diminish. If you are new or relatively new to blogging, and you think that your traffic will skyrocket and stay there overnight (not the Digg effect) then you will probably find out the hard way that building your weblog’s traffic up from nothing is a very difficult task — the power-law distribution applies to weblogs too.
So if you don’t run an already-popular blog, and are trying to make it big-time, what can you do? Well here’s where the rule-breaking list comes in. For every rule there’s an exception, and if you’re starting your blog and possess some of these qualities, then you’re already ahead of the curve:
- If you’ve worked in some capacity in the mainstream media, or in the niche you plan to write about, then you’re already ahead of the game. Michael Arrington only started the hugely successful TechCrunch this past summer, however before starting that he was a venture capitalist and a corporate attorney working in the technology sector so he already knew various people within his topic area.
- You’re an amazing writer with a passion for the medium, with tons of drive and moxie. You work late at night and early in the morning, you scour the web for the latest information, you break news rather than link to it, you’re an innovator and not just a reblogger.
- One of the oldest “tricks” in the book is to break some cool news and then persuade an A-list blog to link to you, instantly inundating you with traffic. Paul’s Damn I’m Cute celebrity blog routinely gets linked by the larger gossip blogs like Gawker and A Socialite’s Life, and because of that he’s probably going to crack 65k pageviews per day soon and force me to pay out on a bet we made a few months back. Nothing brings traffic like funny pics of celebrities.
- Get your networking on, and I’m not talking about the virtual kind. If your new blog talks about “web 2.0” and/or venture-backed startups, then get yourself over to the Bay Area so you can start attending geek dinners amongst your fellow tech brethren. We east coast people tend to frown upon the “bring your laptop to the bar and geek-out at 2am” type of thing, but celebrities and gossip are prime New York City topics. The music scene in Austin, politics in D.C., and other area-specific topics are good stomping grounds as well.
- Be Media 1.0 and have a gala launch event — it will get you press, but you might lose the respect of the independent blog world afterwards. Open Source Media (now Pajamas Media) booked the Rainbow Room for their launch, hired a top-tier speaker, and invited the press to their invite-only launch party. It gained them lots of facetime with the mainstream media, however the blogosphere reacted with some disdain. If you’re in the market for big traffic with no real scruples, gala launch events will get you what you crave.
- Join 9rules, the largest weblog network dedicated to independent blogs already written by passionate writers. Some of our most popular members started out with only a few dozen pageviews per day, and now have hundreds of feed subscribers and steady traffic that is growing daily. We only pick less than 10% of the weblogs who apply, but if you make it in then you’re in some great company.
So does the power-law distribution hold true for the blog world, yes it does, but these are some ways you can boost yourself ahead of the pack. Just like there are exceptions to every rule, there are ways to start a phenomenally popular weblog without being rich and famous beforehand.