Blog About Boring Stuff

In his TCS column, “Blogging: The Next Wave” Glenn Reynolds gives advice to wannabe bloggers:

There are lots of political/national security blogs (“warblogs” as they’re sometimes called, though most of them spend a lot of times on non-war subjects). There’s always room for another, especially if it offers special insight: either in terms of knowledge or location. But there’s no question that the warblog field is probably the most crowded, and that it probably is harder to get attention, even with a very good blog, in that area than in any other.

So if I were starting out from scratch, with the goal of having maximum blog-impact, I think I’d give that subject a pass. Instead, I’d look around to see what’s going on that’s potentially very interesting, but that isn’t getting enough attention.

That can be a subject-matter area (Howard Lovy’s Nanobot blog on nanotechnology is a good example), or it can be a geographic area (just look at all the attention that Iraqi bloggers have gotten, by virtue of being close to the action).

It can also combine the two. One of the things that gets undercovered in American journalism is local politics. One reason is that many people think it’s boring. But the other reason is that local newspapers and television stations have trouble covering it. They tend to be understaffed (my local paper has fewer reporters than it had 20 years ago, but it’s not as if there’s less news) and they tend to have trouble making the stories interesting to casual readers or viewers.

***

If politics isn’t your interest, local blogs focusing on the music scene, restaurants, or retail can do just as well. Review local bands’ shows, shoot a little video, post some interviews with fans or musicians, and you’ll soon be well-known in your area. You may even find people willing to pay to advertise on your blog, or to donate in support of your efforts.

So now we know how he stays on top: Throwing potential competitors off the track!

No, no, no–don’t write about the things that the top hundred or so bloggers are doing–it’s a crowded field. Instead, write about boring things because nobody else (at least, nobody anyone reads) does that! Hmm. This reminds me of the old Yogi Berra line, “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

Although, in all seriousness, I’d probably read a good blog on Iranian nanobots that cover local restaurant bands.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Humor,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Or, like Seinfeld, your blog can be about nothing. The more I think about it the more I think blogs are probably like sitcoms. Uh got to go think this one through and post on it.

  2. Kate says:

    What I don’t get is his fixation with Wonkette. I can barely stand her. Maybe that’s the problem. The first couple of things I read were juvenile, flippant, and misguidedly snarky, and I’ve never gone back.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Wonkette is a cute little site, I guess, and she’s a full-time blogger. But she’s been up less than a month and has had more visitors than I’ve had since I started. I don’t get it.

  4. Jay Solo says:

    Yeah, I have gone and looked at this Wonkette that appeared out of the blue as a steadily instalinked site and wondered what I wasn’t “getting” that made it worthy of attention.

  5. 42nd SSD says:

    James, if you changed your name to “Jane” you’d be halfway there already. Sex sells, and the Internet is full of… desperately horny geeks. 😉

  6. Of course, you would have to change your blog name to “Beltway-ette” also for that to work.

    I too am not into Wonkette. Nice site design, but I read for content.

  7. Paul says:

    WHEW- I’m glad it was not just me on Wonkette.

    I keep going back trying to figure out what I was missing.

    I just figured I was not smart enough to see the attraction.

    Glad to know I’m not alone.

  8. RicK DeMent says:

    Interesting, but I’m curious I wound what would happen if Glenn, or any of the other top bloggers, changed their names and started from scratch? Would Glenn be able to repeat his fairly significant success? My bet would be that good bloggers would attract a lot of attention regardless but to get to the stratospheric levels it takes a bit of timing and luck, sort of like any thing else in the “entertainment” industry.

  9. Jalal Abu Jarhead says:

    I read Wonkette for a while when she first came out, but I don’t go there much any more. I think the main reason is because there’s not much “meat” there. She covers many of the same things that are blogged elsewhere, but without saying much about it, and I’ve never seen her present much of a rationale to support any of her views.

    So in the end, it doesn’t seem to me that she adds much, if anything, to any discussion. Unless, of course, your primary concern in life is what’s going on with Jenny.8., or whatever the hell her name is.

  10. Moe Lane says:

    “Wonkette is a cute little site, I guess, and she’s a full-time blogger. But she’s been up less than a month and has had more visitors than I’ve had since I started. I don’t get it.”

    She’s either the flavor of the month or lucky enough to find just the right niche at the right moment. If I knew how she does it I would’ve done it for my own site. Then again, I read her daily myself, so I’m probably one of the people that others here are shaking their heads at: take that as you will.

    Moe

    PS: Besides, anybody who can make Rittenhouse Review piss and moan can’t be all that bad. 🙂

  11. Paul says:

    Question for all you blog owners.

    Can her numbers be rigged?

    There is a disconnect when almost everyone says they don’t like her but she has incredible numbers.

    (wondering not implying) Is it possible the numbers are rigged and thereby it is self-created buzz?

  12. Hm.On the one hand, I’ve never been there, but have seen her links all over.

    OTOH, there is something sexy about a combination of “wonk” and the dimunitive.

    Have I ever mentioned that I sport a pair of double-Ds?

    I’m just sayin’.

    –Little Miss Attila (part-time blogger, full-time asshole)