The Tail That Wags the Blog
Joel Achenbach has an amusing, and familiar, tale of the progress of his blog.
The Tail That Wags the Blog (WaPo, Aug 21, W13)
The blog originated in January as a catch basin for mental detritus, for the kind of stuff not good enough for print, but too good to waste on casual conversation or, worse, mere thinking. But this spring I began allowing “comments,” and the blog suddenly mutated. America, it turns out, is full of smart, clever, creative people who happen to have no interest in working and whose employers have unwisely given them Internet access. Thus every day, on my blog, these strangers show up, just to shoot the breeze, flirt, kvetch, veer off topic and, most of all, pay zero attention to what I have written.
There does seem to be a fair amount of that, yes.
There is more than a grain of truth in this, as well:
The continual focus-grouping explains why most bloggers write as though their primary goal is to rise in the Google search results. The more you mention people like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the more readers you will have, and the more links, and the more you will rise in Google’s estimation. I have nothing really to say about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and am not even remotely interested in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, but I know that my blog will be read by more people if it mentions famous celebrities who might be secretly boinking, such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
And let me just add, purely for the sake of Google: sex, alien abduction, Oprah, Tom Cruise, Lindsay Lohan, jumbo hooters the size of watermelons, Dick Cheney, Mark of the Beast, Armageddon, free money.
It’s possible to build a large blog audience without pop culture references, to be sure, but it’s much harder.