I have been discussing various kinds of blogging community widgets as a core topic for close to 10 months now, first Mybloglog, then Bumpzee, and shortly after Blogcatalog.
From every single one of those communities I have possibly gained more traffic than I have given them in return, though it is very difficult to judge exactly when you start gaining traffic, and maybe that isn’t really the point. You can’t easily track RSS clicks to a site unless you destroy the SEO advantages of syndication by having nice clean links and ultimately you hope for people to discover you once, and then subscribe.
As you send people to a particular site, just like when you send people to a useful blog post, you don’t lose them as readers, and more often than not you get traffic back in return.
I posted these traffic numbers over on Tinu’s blog in a comment, but thought I would share them here as well.
- MyBlogLog – I have received 2600 visits directly from MyBlogLog since November, and that increased a fair amount once I hit the top50 communities which only happened fairly recently. I would also gain a small surge each time I was included as a hot member. I have never used their broadcast facility, and only rarely send messages to other users.
- Bumpzee – I am very active on Bumpzee running one of the largest communities (No Nofollow), and it really is only since I started investing time in building that community that I saw a major benefit other than for networking and discovery. Bumpzee has delivered … 3700 visitors in total.
Remember that is over less time – I joined Bumpzee in January, and it was not until April that I started my community there.
- Blogcatalog is another community that I have been actively involved with for a number of months, and I even do a little consulting with them. The biggest driving force of traffic for Blogcatalog is without doubt being highly active on their forums, and I don’t have that much time for forums, but I have received a healthy 985 visitors in total, though many of those visits are from people who use Blogcatalog for bookmarking their favorite blogs. This is traffic since April, so half the time compared to MyBlogLog.
It is strange how communities develop from different directions
Blogcatalog Solving Problems – Adding Features
One of the biggest requests Blogcatalog received was that people were looking for more categories on the main discussion forums, or for a place where they could have a more focused discussion regarding a specific niche topic. Blogcatalog are now beta testing group discussions.
Currently you can only start a group if you are a contributor, but soon that restriction will be lifted. Any member of Blogcatalog can however participate in groups.
Bumpzee No Nofollow Community & Lack Of Bumps
A recent discussion on Bumpzee highlighted a problem, but I am not yet sure of the answer.
The NoNofollow community is fairly cohesive but people are not necessarily bumping stories even if they appreciate them.
It only sometimes takes 2 or 3 bumps to appear on the widgets, so just you and the author is enough, yet people don’t bump, but they might stumble or sphinn instead.
Note: in the following example I selected to randomly choose niches just to aid understanding, not to single anyone out because
The problem is that whilst the community is strong as a horizontal market with many shared beliefs and goals in building a community, only a fraction of the members are going to be interested in a vertical niche such as parenting or fiction writing.
The community on Bumpzee really needs to grow larger to gain sufficient members in a niche, followed or nofollowed blogs, for the niche sites to stand out.
Bumpzee grew from the original Affiliate Marketing community and there is plenty of overlap with the Dofollow cummunity. This frequently results in affiliate marketing articles appearing on parenting blogs which have joined bumpzee for the dofollow community.
The solution is to grow the number of parenting blogs in the dofollow community, or to grow the number of members in a dedicated community for parenting blogs.
Who is responsible to grow the number of parenting blogs to improve relevance?
In my mind it is a shared responsibility, Bumpzee need to maintain a stable and inviting platform, and parenting blogs need to promote Bumpzee to their topical neighbours.
MyBlogLog Decline In Usage?
It seems like eons ago, but around December/January when this blog had less than 100 subscribers, a full 7% of my traffic was coming from MyBlogLog, and the community was very active. I established many new relationships during that time with other bloggers who remain some of my hardcore readers, and who I can frequently count on for the occasional link, Stumble, Digg or Sphinn.
Some bloggers still use MyBlogLog for browsing occasionally, in fact many do and I even take the occasional stroll, and it may be that you grow beyond the biggest benefit or have problems with the way they make changes.
Once you have found your place within the blogging community and have an established readership, and a bulging feed reader, you end up going increasingly directly to the source.
You still see the same familiar faces on the widgets, but you know who they are, and quite often they are visiting because you have just visited them, and left a comment, but they might not visit you through the MyBlogLog interface.
This blog isn’t extremely high traffic – whilst feed subscriptions grow, that doesn’t necessarily increase page views a huge amount. I don’t have any front page Diggs to totally destroy any stats I might have. I can still remember the people who sent 10 or 20 visitors to me, and gave me a few new subscribers.
With total page views (counted in Google Analytics not the totally unreliable AWStats that reports 6x as many) of 192,000 over the last 10 months, and discounting a lot of clicks I have made from Mybloglog to some of my articles from the stats (I can’t use IP blocking), MyBlogLog accounts for slightly more than 1% of my direct traffic.
However I have only had 897 MyBlogLog clicks leaving the site, some of which are mine as well, so it might be that only 1/3 of the traffic is what I would regard as “browsing” traffic, people actively using the MyBlogLog widget for discovery, which takes new traffic down to 0.3%
The more you get involved with the communities the more you get in return, but that takes time, just like many forum communities.
If you are the only knitting blog using Blogrush, you will get poor traffic, but you will probably get some. There needs to be enough blogs in a category to achieve adequate distribution.
There might be a slight decline among people who have moved on to other blog networking communities for one reason or another, but overall MyBlogLog is still growing. What has declined is my own activity, and the amount that active involvement affects my total traffic.
Parallels With Blogrush?
I have sent far more traffic to Blogrush currently than they have sent to me? I am not worried about that in the slightest, it is very early days.
If you are the only one with a parenting blog using Blogrush, you are going to get very little targeted traffic.
You have a few choices:-
- Rip it off your blog and declare it as a load of junk
- Not put it on your blog and just sit back and do nothing
- Place it on your blog and suffer in silence
- Place it on your blog, give constructive feedback, and try to build your topical community.
One of the good things with Blogrush is that there is a relatively low time commitment in using it. You can just place it on your blog and do nothing, you might get a few visitors.
Can you imagine Stumbleupon if no one hit the “Stumble” button?
Can you imagine the “qualified traffic” you would receive if you were the only web design site currently listed?
Whilst you might not think of Blogrush as “community building” because there are no faces, and you click directly through to the article on the site, if there isn’t currently a topical community for your niche blog, you are not going to receive as much targeted traffic.
Are You The Hub Or The Spoke?
Discovery is a pretty powerful thing when you use it to leverage other networks. Being the first to discover a blog that happens to be created by one of your readers, and then stumbling it can bring about some strange reactions.
The story is up on Sphinn and on Andrews local search blog. I didn’t realise it at the time but Andrew is actually one of those less vocal regular readers of my blog, and even signed up to Blogrush under me.
- Do you think I am likely to stumble his content a little more?
- Do you think Andrew will remember to stumble my posts occasionally?
- Will we find an occasional way to link to each other when topics cross over?
Now I am sure I might have come across Andrew’s blog sometime in the future, if someone else had come across it, or maybe he had submitted an article to Sphinn or gone on a linking spree, but Blogrush in this particular case provided a bridge that might otherwise not have existed.
The Value of Blogging Communities
This is just a clinical look for those sterile types that are just crunching numbers rather than looking at relationships.
- Conversational Bloggers are linkerati
- Conversational Bloggers are often sophisticated users likely (but not always, bribery helps lots) to subscribe without paying them with free gifts
- Bloggers typically leave useful content in comments, and might return to carry on the conversation
To the sterile number crunchers I would point out that whilst those seemingly horrible figures such as 1% of traffic from MyBlogLog might seem meaningless, I would estimate that I have gained 70% of my subscribers from my involvement in these communities, either directly or through the relationships I have built.
Might I have gained that traffic regardless? It is possible, if you are really a believer in destiny. I am more a believer in hard work.
I do know I could set up a squeeze page and pay for traffic, and have 2000 email subscribers for less than $1000, but they wouldn’t be the same.
It is much easier to launch a new blog or a whole business if you already have the attention of a reasonably sized audience.
Adding a Grazr widget to aid in the discussion. With Grazr you can import and OPML file to display feeds. There are lots of other widgets that do something similar.