Insular vs Community

Darren Rouse yesterday had a very useful reader tip on insular blogging.

In his comments I outlined the planning I have for this blog, and I thought it best to include it here.

With my current primary blog, this was actually my core focus

Rather than try to remain a remote island, I am focusing on community

Stage 1 Get rid of “nofollow” – I want people to comment and trackback. Smart blog design can offset total pagerank leakage and spam filters and a clear comments policy are proving to be very effective.

Stage 2 I put my highest priority on subscribers, not monetisation

Stage 3 was reciprocity. I encourage my readers to add me to their Technorati favorites, and I always reciprocate and read their blogs. My favorites feed can get a little owerwhelming, so I also subscribe to my readers blogs individually if they prove interesting.

Stage 4 I get involved in the communities of my readers

Stage 5 Clear branding for my site, and for when I post comments elsewhere, or in various social networks.

Stage 6 Increasing my involvement in various social networking services, such as Mybloglog. I visit and subscribe to lots of blogs that way.

So far the results are very promising. I have gained traffic, and I have also experienced an increase in page views per visitor and subscribers.
It will be interesting monitoring the long-term effects and whether things will snowball.

It is however important to note that this isn’t the complete process.

Sidebar Real Estate

If you hadn’t noticed, many blogs are very successful businesses, and screeen real estate is at a premium.

Social networks thrive on critical mass. Once you reach a certain critical mass, your efforts become self-propelled as you are already out in the lead.

Once a story gets to the front page of Digg, it is going to gain an infinate more traffic than before it reached a certain critical mass.

The same happens with blogging social networks such as MyBlogLog.

When it was first picked up by the highest traffic blogs, it was prominently displayed on all their sidebars. Once these blogs achieved what they judged to be critical mass, the “community” was promptly removed. The service had been tested for long enough, might well be very useful, but took up valuable space on the sidebar.

In addition I am sure these professional media blogs track their results. If they are not gaining more traffic from promoting the community service, than the community service is leaking to other sites, the service isn’t going to remain on their sidebar for long. In fact just enough time to achieve critical mass.

Currently it only takes around 120 members of your MyBlogLog community to reach their top 100. In actual fact the numbers are very similar to how many are needed for various positions on the Technorati Top 100 List based on number of favorites.

In some ways this is very similar to email marketing. When you start growing your mailing list, you have very little leverage, and join lots of cross promotions such as 12 Days of Christmas to boost the size of your mailing list. It is also a good way to earn a little change to pay for Christmas presents and gives great value to your readers.

However, once you have a large established email list, it is most likely you won’t join in such cross-promotions, because the idea of sharing your 200,000 readers with someone without a decent return on your bank balance is not very attractive. Now many would look on this as being selfish, there are limits to how many times you can email someone.
Large email lists just like popular blogs attract more partnership offers, and whilst you can support good products for a limited period of time, limits on both resources and virtual real estate or email space place real limits.

Large popular blogs and email lists naturally become more insular, but their effect on traffic when they do “share the love” can be quite dramatic.

In my overall plan for this blog, there are many more than the 6 stages already listed. Screen real estate isn’t such a premium because the only monetisation I plan is in the content so I have more room for social activities.

I honestly have no idea how I am going to handle critical mass for some of the social services, but today I did sign up for a paid subscription to Mybloglog. Some of the tracking features are very useful.

Also if you see a bug in one of the services you use, don’t forget to report them. I noticed one with MyBlogLog today, and they fixed it very quickly.

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