Now, don't go getting offended. This isn't high school. We are talking about blog strategies today and lucky for us -- it isn't all based on outward appearances :)
There are three basic types of blogs. If you look at your blog, you can probably classify it as a popular blog, a talent blog or a social blog. Most blogs are social. In fact, when polling you guys, almost 90 % of you said your main reason for blogging is social. You want to chat about your life. You want to read other blogs chatting about their lives. You want to connect and build friendships online. That is fabulous! Today though, we aren't going to talk about the social blogs. We are going to talk about the other 2 categories because they are the two basic ways to:
#1 Make Money.
#2 Garner Influence.
#3 Create Opportunities.
If you aren't interested in making money, garnering influence or creating opportunities through your blog, then you probably don't need to worry about whether your blog is a popular or talent blog. However, if you ARE interested in those three benefits, you have to define what you are and build on it.
So what is a POPULAR BLOG?
Popular blogs are pretty easy to figure out. Simply look at the comment section and see how much interaction is being created by the blog author and readers. A popular blog lives and breathes on comments, interactions and personality. Remember in high school how the popular kids built their circles? Popularity depended on creating levels of circles socially. There was the inner circle where the cool kids lived, but that is not the only level. The popular kids depend on branching circles. For example, the captain of the football team has his football circle and the beautiful girl circle, but then he is also accepted by the guys with cool cars, the kids that work at the theme park in the summer, the kids that are in his youth group at church, AND perhaps most importantly - the college kids that he hangs out with once in awhile. All of those circles are interested in Mr. Football Captain because he is interesting, he is social and he makes them want to be part of HIS life. This is what a popular blogger does well. She brings you into her life, makes you feel like you are a part of hers and invites you to interact in her "cool" world.
Before you start thinking this how system is rigged and shallow, check out a few popular blogs.
Ashley Ann has crafted a world on her blog that hundreds and thousands of girls want to be a part of. She is a classic example of an approachable, popular personality that is inclusive and invites readers to be a part of her blog. Unlike most high school football players though, Ashley Ann is not at all shallow or truly concerned with her popularity. Instead, she has learned to garner influence with her readers and regularly encourages readers to invest in their relationships with their children and their connection to God.
Another blog that capitalizes on a popular personality is Roo's blog, Nice Girl Notes. Roo makes stick figure drawings, writes in a humorous captivating manner and makes her readers feel like they are part of a hip, fun community.
Now in high school, everyone kind of wanted to be popular even if you acted like you didn't, right? Let's face it - popularity can make many aspects of life a lot of easier. The trick with popularity is that is limited. Everyone cannot be popular because then it is an even playing field and popularity no longer exists. SO. What does that mean for you as a blog host? You have to be honest with yourself. Are you a popular personality? Are people drawn to your personality? Do you blog readers really want to reach out and get your attention? If so, congrats!! Build on your popularity -- start blog hops -- interact on facebook -- go crazy on twitter. Build traffic to your site, and you will be able to earn income and start influencing your readers with your opinions and make a difference in our world.
On the other hand -- if you are not naturally a "popular" personality, you might want to take the TALENT BLOG route for blogging success. I have come to grips with the fact that I am NOT a popular personality. I am quite introverted and even in the somewhat anonymous forum of a blog, I cannot share my deepest, darkest thoughts. Some bloggers are able to cut to the marrow with their words because they are able to share the crux of their issues. Ann Voskamp is an example of a blogger that can reach deep and connect emotionally with her readers. I can't.
However, what I CAN do is create really great content. I am a photographer, so I can take beautiful photos of mundane things like boiling eggs. I also fancy myself a modern dilettante -- interested in everything art, everything design, all things DIY. So THAT my friends is my catch. DIY projects and photography is where 90% of my traffic and opportunities stem from. (The gardening stuff is just my passion and doesn't get much traffic comparatively, but I am just trying to convince all you folks that love babies and Pottery Barn that you would love gardening too...). Now, don't get all up in arms because you are don't like DIY stuff and don't take pictures and can't do this and that. You CAN do something. I don't know what your talent is, but if your blog is not going to rest on your personality, you have to find a platform for it to rest on. Maybe you are an excellent knitter. Find the communities that revolve around knitting and build your reputation for excellence there. Maybe you can build things like nobody's business. Ana White did and now has a site chock full of plans that thousands of people visit every day. Perhaps you can create actions. Rita of the Coffeeshop blog creates free actions, and in turn receives multitudes of traffic that earn her ad dollars. Maybe your skill is understanding SEO or social interaction. Carol Schiller has maximized her expertise in social networking and created a highly successful career.
So what about those blogs that are talented AND popular?! Well, yes there are many and there is a lot of crossover. Many popular blogs are insanely talented (Ashely Ann and Ree of the Pioneer Woman certainly are). Many talent blogs have lots of followers and comments that have built up over time. It is not an exact science, but each blog definitely has a leaning. Dooce, for example is a popularity blog. Readers appreciate her humor and candid writing and are drawn to her personality. Young House Love is another blog built on popularity. John and Sherri spend hours answering comments and interacting with their readership, creating an atmosphere of commenters clamoring for their attention. It is brilliant!
SO. Be honest and evaluate yourself. Are you talented or popular? Are you interested in taking your blog to the next step? Would you like to make money, garner influence or create opportunities for yourself? Pick the avenue that is your strong suit and build on it. If you have talent, build on your expertise, join communities that you will excel in and join an ad network focused on that talent. If you are popular, interact with your readers, continue drawing them in and create a full fledged community. If you are a purely social blog, then engage with your friends, build deep relationships and enjoy the community!