December 9, 2007

What's It About? Don't BlogRush Me.

Just what is this blog1 about?

You may have noticed a new widget on my blog. It’s in the sidebar and especially prominent on the individual entry pages. It’s from a service called “BlogRush.” If you did notice it, you probably thought it was advertising. I guess it is a sort of advertising, but it’s more like link trading. I post the widget, which displays links to other blogs. In turn, they throw up links to my blog posts on other people’s widgets.

The idea is to try to reach a wider audience. In that way it is communal advertising. Link trading isn’t a new idea, and this widget makes it easy.

I was faced with a familiar question when I set up my account with BlogRush. I had to choose a category for my blog.

Categorize? Bleh.

I have this blog for fun, for venting, for expressing myself on various topics. There was no category for that. After poking around the different choices, I eventually went with “Personal.” The choice has some importance, because it determines what sort of blogs my posts will show up on. It also governs what types of posts show up in my widget.

I went with “Personal” because the one thing the blog posts really have in common here are that they’re written by one person: me. What I found was that most of the posts I saw on other people’s “personal” blogs were about things that I don’t imagine my blog readers would ever be interested in. It wasn’t stuff I was interested in. So I rethought this blog category thing.

I’ve always been told that if you want a successful blog you ought to pick one subject that you know well and post about that. Post often enough and you’ll catch more and more readers. Eventually, if you try hard enough, you’ll make the “B” list! Whee! your Google ads will start to rake in the dough as your reader base increases. This makes sense. Readers interested in your topic will bookmark you and return to learn more about the subject. Even better, people who find your blog through a search will be more likely to be interested in more than just the one post they find. Bang - that will get you repeat readers.

My blog gets search engine traffic. But is a reader who is interested in Crown Pilot crackers going to stick around to read jokes about about Mitt Romney?

What if I did choose one topic and go with that? I’d probably have to start another blog. The small group of friends and contacts who read this blog already know what to expect, even if there isn’t an easily-described category for it.

I could probably create a reasonably successful topical blog. But that just seems like work to me. And I already have a job, which I happen to like.

I came across this blog post which describes a phenomenon of prominent blogs degenerating from longer, substantive and informative posts into quick posts which are topical but covered only superficially. That makes perfect sense to me.

Let’s say a reasonably intelligent and knowledgeable person has about 10 really good essay ideas in his or her head on a subject of expertise. He may futz around for a while and pepper his blog with a few of those essays, written really well. One or two of those blog posts may get posted toReddit, Digg or another link blog. Suddenly, this blogger has a reputation. But slowly he’s going to run through that list of 10 essay ideas.

Sure, a creative person will have more ideas as time goes on. But many interesting people are very busy as well. An interesting person is, almost by definition, busy because in doing things with your brain you come into contact with more creative fodder. Stagnation is not interesting. Busy people have less time to post, so once they’re through with their most passionate writing ideas within one subject area, the best way to stay on-topic and still stay somewhat relevant is to do drive-by posts about whatever new thing is happening in your topic area.

That doesn’t interest me in the least. Not only is it work, but it eventually becomes crappy work.

I’ll stick to what I’ve been doing. Trying to be at least somewhat interesting to my readers while getting most of my motivation from my desire to express some (hopefully original and entertaining) ideas and (hopefully sincere) feelings and perceptions.

Back to BlogRush. I’m sticking with it for now. But in the interest of bringing us some l inks I think you or I might be interested in, I changed my category to “Atheist.” This is not an atheist blog, really. I don’t define myself by my atheism. But I noticed that the atheist blog posts were more interesting than the “Personal” ones were. This is atrade-off . It means my blog posts will appear on Atheist blog widgets. Yet I am not restricted to that topic. I’m hoping that it’s good enough that my point of view is often informed by my atheism, and my belief in a natural basis for our morals.

1 I use the word “blog” here in the sense of the entire weblog, the entire journal, not in the sense of one post or entry on a weblog.

Posted by James at December 9, 2007 3:38 PM
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I have a similar type of blog -- that is, um, what type is it??? Some people tune in for my recipes, while the non-cooks might read my movie reviews; others like to hear stories about the funny things my kids do and say, whereas the child-free are often more interested in my rants about word usage and syntax. Music? Politics? Macs? Whatever. I doubt there's anyone out there who shares ALL of my interests and views, but I am OK with pleasing some of the people some of the time.

Posted by: Karen at December 9, 2007 10:33 PM

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