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Getting Your Blog Noticed

Jimmie at The Sundries Shack laments the vagaries of the blogosphere:

I occasionally wonder why it is that after more than two years I’m still bumbling along with a hundred or so hits a day when plenty of other folks get a gajillion hits a day despite having the writing and intellectual chops of a concussed, mitten-wearing gorilla.

There’s no doubt a lot of luck involved in getting noticed and good writing isn’t necessarily a guarantee of success any more than bad writing a guarantee of failure. Still, the key is content, content, content. 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 crank out several posts before going to work a la Ed Morrissey) you’re at a distinct disadvantage.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Dazd says:

    Thank you! A very nice gathering of useful information.

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  2. dustbury.com says:

    Pour it on…

    How do you get your miserable Site Meter (or whatever) moving? Content, content, content, says James Joyner: Unless youÂ’re doing Lileks- or Wretchard-length essays, itÂ’s almost impossible to get steady……

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  3. Bithead says:

    You’re not kidding, talking about luck being a major factor.

    But, time is a factor that must be considered as well. As time goes on, and your site gets more thoroughly catalog inside the search engines, you will find your hit rate going up rather substantially. So it is been with BitsBlog.

    And of course, there are ways to manipulate that to some degree; I have developed the habit of looking at the hot topics of the day, and choosing one that I actually care about, and writing to it. Now that my site is fairly well can log on the search engines I find that my recent posts, particularly if they are on hot topics of the day, will show up in the search engine very quickly indeed, thereby raising my daily hitrate. But don’t fall into the trap of writing about a subject simply because it happens to be a popular topic at the moment. Both factors have to be in play ; reader interest, and your interest. If both are not there , don’t bother.

    I have found that Sam Clemens and vice as regards writing something that you actually care about, makes a world of difference. People who write about what they care about bringing, as a matter of course, passion to their writing. This vastly improves the readability and the believability of the content. And this is true regardless of whatever writing and or typing flaws there may be in it.

    The other factor that I’ve noticed over the past couple of years is that frequency of posting during the day tends to help some as well. That’s never really been a problem for me, given that in just a day, a month over three years, I’ve posted some 6000 articles. Most of that.. about two and a half years worth… by myself. More recently, I have taken on a couple of writing partners who have been aiding me in keeping the volume up.

    I have found, that there is much utility in finding a couple or three people who think very much like yourself to write about topics that they see fit to write about. Not only is there a site consistency, but it tends to eliminate some of the cat fights I’ve seen develop on other sites recently.

    We post frequently throughout the day, with an eye toward keeping ourselves on the “recently updated” list of the Blogrolls we’re on. the number of people looking for fresh material should not be underestimated.

    Finally, I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine, htta I’m willing to bet James won’t be shocked by… One of the ways that I’ve managed to increase traffic and my own site is by becoming active in the comments sections on other blocks that I like.

    Certainly, getting the links out there to your own blood is worthwhile . But I have found that writing with that same passion about things you care about in other people’s comments sections is one of the best promotional tools available for your own site. And, it tends to keep your writing skills sharp as well.

    I have found that most site managers will allow this effort providing that you are adding worthwhile content to their site. After all, it improves their readership numbers too. Under those conditions, most bloggers will be proud to have you aboard. This is a key factor and should not be underestimated.

    BitsBlog pulls, on an average day, about 300hpd. BitsBlog usually rides somewhere around the rank of #500 or so in TTLB… while not Netgod level, it’s certainly respectable. So, I have no real complaints.

    While I don’t deny that I’d like to see that figure, some, I really don’t worry much about it anymore. I have found that I am more satisfied by writing about what I care about and saying what I think without reservation. In the end, your regular readers are what’s going to make your blogging experience worthwhile. Your regular readers are there specifically because you’re writing about what you care about and saying what you think without reservation. They are your bread and butter. The occasional instalanche, the location all link from one of the big boys, and the occasional blog storm will certainly booster numbers, at least in the short term. But don’t fall into the trap of writing specifically to collect these. Stick to your strengths, and your interests.

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  4. Hints for Those Who Blog…

    Outside the Beltway’s James Joyner discusses the differences between the blogs with many daily hits and those that…

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  5. James Joyner says:

    Bithead:

    The commenting thing is certainly helpful. It was definitely a big factor in my getting noticed very early on by the likes of Scott Ott (ScrappleFace) and Stephen Green (VodkaPundit).

    And I agree on the co-authors, obviously. While I don’t agree with everything my co-authors write, they’re all at least within the same broad intellectual/ideological framework and I find that it meshes well. Even if they only add 10-15% of the total number of posts, that’s more for the reader to enjoy.

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  6. Kent G. Budge says:

    I think you’re right about the time factor. I though my writing was pretty good much of the time, but it’s time-consuming to write well, and I have to hold down a day job, plus raise young children. And a couple of years at fifty hits a day finally got to be too unrewarding.

    So now I just snark at established bloggers. 😉

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  7. Bithead says:

    The commenting thing is certainly helpful. It was definitely a big factor in my getting noticed very early on by the likes of Scott Ott (ScrappleFace) and Stephen Green (VodkaPundit).

    True.
    I should hasten to add, James, that the good will of other bloggers, helps, as well.

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  8. Jay Tea says:

    One way of getting the content up is to be a part of a group blog. I have a self-imposed quota of 3 pieces a day, and I loathe tossing off brief little one-liners, but I also have four colleagues who also write for Wizbang. With five of us, there’s usually enough fresh content to keep things hopping.

    Of course, the trick is to find fellow bloggers whose style and beliefs are compatible and congruent… the credit to that I give entirely to Kevin Aylward.

    J.

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  9. […] Thanks to Dustbury for referencing this post at Outside the Beltway: “Getting Your Blog Noticed.” OTB editor-writer James Joyner says to have a successful blog, you must put up a minimum of 40 posts a week: The key is content, content, content. 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 crank out several posts before going to work a la Ed Morrissey) you’re at a distinct disadvantage. […]

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