When I posted my first attempt at “15 Minute Fury” – blog posts that I don’t spend more than 15 minutes on – I thought pretty hard about it.
You know, afterwards.
I was wondering if I was sacrificing quality for quantity. If, by trying to force myself to create something by giving myself a very tight deadline, I would write the equivalent of an essay someone would (charitably) grade as “D+.”
Then, I reflected on what blogging is these days. I’ve been doing it since about 2009. I’ve had two blog posts take off, two masterpieces that got around 25,000 views and ~500 social shares via Facebook and Twitter on Open Salon.
Yes, folks, they went “viral.” Or at least bacterial.
Here’s what I learned about the state of blogging from that experience:
1. Give it your 80%.
Blog posts are more write-y than social media, but they’re not novels or white papers, either. They have to stay fresh or they will go rotten.
When I say “fresh,” I mean fresh by internet standards, by the way. Blog posts can’t stay in the Fridge of Ideas for more than a week or they will grow the Mold of Obsolescence:
Why? Because the internet will have moved on, but also because one of the millions of other bloggers will have gotten there first.
Therefore, a post that has to get examined by four different people or four different insecurities by the same person (my case) will go obsolete.
2. Blog readers are Knowledge Vikings.
How do I know this? I found out that one of my “viral” blog posts had been “tumbled” on Tumblr by some kind soul.
“I don’t know who the author is, but he or she has some really good points,” the person said.
That is the definition of social media nowadays.
Everyone is the equivalent of a Knowledge Viking. Each day, we ransack villages along the coast of Facebook, raid the hamlets of The Huffington Post and The New York Times, pillage the kingdom of Google News, and occasionally delve into the fiery abyss of Fox News. Or something like this:
We stuff Knowledge into bags, haul it back to our social media longships, and transport it back to our relevant countries.
It’s up to bloggers to make sure that things are always stocked for that next Viking raid. New content, be it good or only 80% good, is better than content that only appears once every month or two.
It’s not like you’ll alienate your “regulars,” because there are so few regulars at this point.
Which, you’ll be amazed to learn, brings me to my third point:
3. You won’t get many comments and most commenters will be ephemeral.
On the post in question, I got approximately 20,000 views and 20 comments. That means 0.01% of the blog’s visitors paused to comment. Yet I got around 400 Facebook Likes.
Mostly, the only people who paused to say something were only interested in voicing their disapproval and vanishing, like someone yelling out a car window:
4. Almost All Your Blog Posts Will Be One-Hit Wonders, Over and Over.
This isn’t true for everyone, but I know that I don’t consistently check any blogs. Most of your readers will tumble into your blog like wayward cowboys and cowgirls at saloons.
Why? Because they are increasingly relying on internet searches, news aggregators, and social media to direct them to the stuff they actually want to read. Take a look at this infographic from Schools.com:
CopyBlogger’s Jon Morrow touched on the tactical consequences of this phenomenon when he posted this perplexing quiz:
Which is better:
- A) Starting a blog about a topic you are interested in, and then convincing the world to listen to you?
- B) Starting a blog about a topic the world is interested in, and then convincing yourself to write about it?
“If you chose B,” he writes, “congratulations. You chose correctly.”
Writing for the world means writing material that is catching people’s attention. Bloggers don’t really have a choice these days, because there’s so much competition out there, and catching people’s attention usually means getting there fast.
Remember the Vikings
Most people will be taking the Viking-approach to your blog posts.
They run in, bag it all up, and run out. You don’t get so much as a comment before your Knowledge has been pillaged and distributed somewhere else.
This model has evolved in part because of the vast quantities of pillagable Knowledge on the internet. “Online” and “information” always means “free.”
That means that, while it’s great that people read your stuff, it’s not so great that they’re just pillaging it.
That’s where the art of content marketing comes into play: these days, all your information – especially on your blog – will have to lead to action. Invite those Vikings into the mess hall, give them mugs of mead, and turn that mead into… a lead!
If this was real content marketing, then this would be a great place to tell people to take a next step in a sales cycle. But I don’t have something to sell, so why don’t you read another blog post with equally fun pictures?