July 5, 2009

On Blogging

There's an interesting blog post, entitled The Blogosphere 2.0. The author discusses nine ways in which blogging has changed over the years, and I thought I'd comment on a few of them:

1. The A-List Doesn't Matter Anymore. ... People used to read the A-list blogs because they were first on the scene to tell us what the hot articles and issues were. But now we get that information from Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader. ...

Personally, I've never followed the so-called "A-List" bloggers that much. Looking at Technorati's top blogs (the first 30), I'm only a regular reader at one (Daily Kos, because I occasionally post there), and have only visited very rarely two others (Huffington Post and Boing Boing). Almost all of the others I've never heard of. For me, the "A-List" has never mattered.

2. It's all about niche blogs. If you have a particular expertise and unique perspective, they you can quickly gain a following. Everyone else is out of luck.

I completely agree, which is why I've created a few other niche blogs; my problem is, very few people ever read them and they're much more difficult to keep going.

3. Norms and practices. ... Bloggers do not link to each other as much as they used to. It's a lot of work to look for good posts elsewhere, and most bloggers have become burnt out. ... Many have stopped using blogrolls, which means less love spread around the blogosphere.

The first part is true; writing up my links posts can be a lot of work to do, even for a fairly short list of links. I also find myself arguing (to myself) that I should really spend more time writing my own content, as opposed to commenting on others' writings (such as I'm doing now). Doing that would mean less time to link to others.

Blogrolls have become somewhat passe' with the advent of feed readers. I occasionally maintain my blogroll, but it's really there more for people who visit my blogs sporadically (which is most people). I almost never use my own blogroll; I rely solely upon Google Reader now.

4. Blogger Burn Out. Many of the top bloggers have been absorbed into some other professional enterprise or are burnt. It's a lot of work to blog. Most bloggers, and not just the A-listers, spend 3-5 hours every day blogging. That's hard to maintain, especially since there is no money in this.

This is actually my biggest pet peeve about other bloggers (especially Muslim bloggers): there are a lot of quitters out there. While I have the long-term goal of growing my readership into a much larger group over time, I try not to overwhelm myself with a high level of output. Yeah, I do have a wife and a baby, and they are a much higher priority than blogging ever will be, so if I don't post anything for a few days that's fine by me. But I do dislike other bloggers quitting. If you're on my Google Reader feed, hey! You're someone I want to read! Pace yourself better! I realize life gets in the way of writing, but don't just out-and-out quit! Take your time if you need to but keep writing consistently (once a week) if possible.

Use your blogs to target particular audiences and have a clear mission, and you'll get a following. Blogging should be the means to another goal -- a rough draft for future articles/books, a way to network with professionals, a place to document your life for your children, a way to have fun. Those are very real and good outcomes of blogging and that's why I'm continuing to keep at.

All of this was excellent advice, and I already use some of it. I do like to experiment with blogging, trying different series, some of which have worked out and some of which hasn't. (The jury is still out with respect to the links posts, which is another experiment of mine.) What I have found about my writing is that I get a lot more attention over the long run from my more "educational" posts. Looking at my current top 20 posts, I've got two posts that date back from 2006, one from 2007 and one from 2008. (My Titanic pages, which are on my website and not on my blog, were written back in the late 90s and still generate about a third of all my daily hits.) What I've discovered is that the vast majority of my readers are college students, businesses, and government agencies, people who are searching for specific information. And that's why I frequently write about oil and the economy, because a lot of people are interested in those subjects (as am I). But, of course, I think of myself as a Muslim writer, and I like to write Islam/Muslim-related posts. My Muslim readers are my core audience, and I hope you all enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy reading yours. (But write some comments here, darn it! ;) ) So "Dunner's" remains as it's always been: a blog that covers lots of different topics, those that "amuse and abuse" my mind, resisting the lure of niche writing, and probably at the expense of a larger audience. But I do enjoy blogging so. :)


kinzi said...

Aha! NOW I get it, you contribute to Kos and read HuffPo regularly.

Well, I am your opposite in every single category out there, but still enjoy reading your blog. Even when it makes me crazy and I don't have time for a discussion.

I still can't believe you cheered the woman in England who won a lawsuit for having to wear indecent dress. Why would any serious woman of faith even consider working in a bar?

Anyway, hope you get some comments from your true core readership to encourage you. Bless.

JDsg said...

Actually, I contribute to Kos (and read it selectively) and very rarely read HuffPo; I think I've visited that site maybe three times.

Well, if reading my blog drives you crazy, I must be doing something right. ;)

I would still cheer that woman on for winning her lawsuit, but the point about working in the bar in the first place is valid. Still, sometimes one must do what one must in order to survive. Even the eating of pork is halal at times according to the Qur'an; if the choice was starvation vs. eating pork, starving one's self to death would be the sinful behavior.

Thanks for your comment; I didn't know you were still visiting. :)

kinzi said...

Glad to hear your Kos is selective and HuffPo rare,just since both are quite contemptuous of faith even if they haven't poured it out on Islam yet.

I realized we are both American ex-pat 40-somethings, perhaps that is what draws me back.I also believe in learning about Islam from Muslims who believe and follow. Sane, thinking Muslims help me understand the more insane of the ummah.

Yes, I do still come back. I even have several drafts of posts that I wrote in response to yours. I haven't commented as I have four kids home for summer vacation begging for lap-top time (both using mine and sitting in it for stories).

Have a great day!

JDsg said...

Kossacks can be quite contemptuous of faith, that's very true. I've had a fair share of run-ins with Islamophobes, both there and at sister site Street Prophets, although most people at the latter are more understanding. I've told one woman recently at Kos that if she keeps maligning Islam in her diaries that I would continue to call her out. Hopefully that'll stem the tide somewhat.

When you finally put up your responses be sure to let me know. :) I understand about the computer-time issue; don't be afraid to crack the whip when you need to. ;)

And a good day to you, too.