Have you ever visited a blog and wondered why it's so popular? Every post will have dozens of comments, the hit counter will display hundreds of thousands of visits, and there will be hundreds of links to it, yet you scratch your head and wonder...."What's so special about this blog?"
It might not be horrible. It might have good posts from time to time. But, the popularity seems greater than the sum of the blog's parts.
I used to feel bad about that. I would wonder why no one would comment on my posts. Was I doing something wrong? Was I so boring that merely glancing at my blog induced a coma in my potential readership? Was I a legend in my own mind?
Feeling like the high school freshman not invited to the party, I would suck it up and remind myself that I didn't really care about whether or not I was popular. That was fine for a while, though I still wondered about my viability as a blogger. Some bloggers seemed to have a knack for building traffic. They were incredible writers and very skilled at getting their points across and "branding" themselves. I definitely didn't view myself as being on the same plane. But what about those other bloggers?
I realized a few things.
Some blogs with lots of comments are relying on the visits of family and friends. After a few posts, it becomes obvious that many of the comments are back and forth conversations between old friends...not that there's anything wrong with that. It did, however, change my perspective about the numerical count of comments. Take away previous friendships and how many commenters would that particular blog have?
Other blogs rely on the tried and true method of the controversial post. If it's a mommy blog the title will read, "Are Working Mothers The Devil's Spawn?" Political blogs--"Bush's Hot Air Contributes to Global Warming!" Religious blogs--"Why Jesus Hates Those Other People." Crackpots, trolls and anyone with an axe to grind will be sure to show up to comment vociferously on these topics, which in turn will lead others to try and reason with them. Bingo! That post will have at least 50 comments.
Of course, an easy way to get comments is to stay slightly superficial and post things that everybody agrees with. "Hitler Was A Pig!", "Injustice Blows!", "Abusing Animals Is Sick!"; posts like these lead to the inevitable "great post!" comment. Everyone falls all over themselves to say how incredible you are for addressing such a timely topic.
The most valid way to have a prominent blog is to craft a very specialized, focused topic. Post after post about underwater basket weaving, or sumo wrestling, will build your relevant search results transforming your blog into the first stop for many web surfers.
After realizing that 80% of popular blogs fall into these categories, I don't feel quite as bad when my stats are low and my commenters are nonexistent. I know that I haven't stooped to posting articles about Britney Spears just to steer a few wayward surfers my way. I know that I don't want to resort to mud-slinging just to get a conversation going. I know that at least I can count on my husband to comment...he's a captive audience.
Don't feel bad if your blog isn't "successful". I still have a long way to go with mine and am hoping to one day have the time to improve on it and draw commenters who want to stop by.
I've had a few this week, and let me just say--Thank You!