Thoughts on Building a Blog Audience
After I wrote a post wondering out loud who was in my audience of blog readers, I was delighted that I heard from many of you….and some of you who read this blog came as a bit of a surprise.
I have a lot of hard core, alpha male geeks who are interested in my posts on Web 2.0, design and usability. Next is a fairly large base of readers who are comprised of educators (K-12 and higher ed) as well as non-profit and association leadership. I must admit the latter came as a bit of a surprise, but several of you told me that it was because “...you have a knack for distilling abstract technical concepts down so we can understand them, and are great at telling us why they’re cool and useful.” That was flattering and helped me understand why people read.
Lastly there’s sort of a mix of folks that range from small-to-midsize-to-enterprise I.T. and business people as well as about 200 or so who wander by daily after hitting upon a post via Google. I can tell from the referral logs how someone gets to one of my pages and I can follow a breadcrumb trail as they wander through my archives, click on my About page, and read a bunch of stuff. Last week someone came in from Google and read nearly every one of my posts since December 2004! God how I’d love to talk to that person to see what they thought.
A few times I’ve been “Dugg” at Digg.com which resulted in multiple thousands of unique visits — usually because of some provocative post title I’ve used. Someone also inserted one of my posts in StumbleUpon and that drives dozens of pageviews per day frequently. On occasion I’ve had any of my Apple-centric posts GO WILD and get huge numbers.
If all I cared about was my audience numbers, I’d write about one topic. If it were Apple, I could easily leverage my history with the company (was in Hawaii when Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh to the company in November of 1983, worked there again after Jobs came back to Apple in the late 90’s), my contacts at Apple and in the reseller community, and my knowledge of the platform to be just another Apple fanboy. I could easily tweak people and whore myself out to simply build audience numbers. But that’s NOT why I blog.
As I read other A-list bloggers that have hundreds of thousands of pageviews per day, I wonder what I’m NOT doing that would build a readership of that size. After several conversations about this with readers, friends, and others, it’s become crystal clear that my interests are simply too broad. With so much content out there, people want to be able to say, “Oh yeah…that Connecting the Dots blogs writes about “X” so you should go there.” This has begun to happen anyway with my focus on innovation, Web 2.0 and Internet-centricity posts, but there’s enough other stuff tossed in that my blog has been called “eclectic.”
Four of my favorite blogs are Mashable, TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb and ProgrammableWeb. Comparing those four with mine, you’ll see from this graph that you’d need the Hubble Telescope to see where my audience numbers register. Each of them, however, focus on the tech behind Web 2.0 and Internet-as-a-platform and are must-reads for anyone interested in the next generation Web — and aren’t a fair comparison to my less technoweenie blog. So focus is one secret to building an audience; another is being in what’s hot; a third might be geography (though Richard MacManus at RWWeb is in New Zealand!); and a fourth is certainly delivering high value.
So why do I blog? Besides what’s written on my About page, I blog because it helps ME connect the dots. It’s also a phenomenal way to be in-the-conversation and put forth things I believe are of intrinsic value to the world. If you like it and it adds something to your life or thoughts, you’ll read it…and nearly 1,000 people do daily. For now….it’s enough and I’m really enjoying it.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.