In 2008 the biggest blogs in my RSS reader were personal. They had upwards of 20,000 unique visitors each month. Their authors wrote about daily life in the most entertaining or enlightening ways – spinning a night out with friends or a trip to the zoo with the kids into a 1,000 word yarn that had me belly laughing, pondering or weeping by the last sentence.
These blogs got lots of comments too. The conversation stayed on the blog in those pre-Twitter-and-Facebook days. Readers gathered daily around these blogs, not for the content but for the person behind the posts and to talk with other readers.
Today, just five years later, I read blogs as part of my job overseeing Compassion Bloggers. A lot of blogs. Presently, I have 169 blogs in my RSS reader. The top blogs are no longer personal but niche.
Blogs about decorating, cooking, saving money, fashion and homeschooling have the largest audiences today. Tens of thousands of readers gather around these narrowly focussed blogs because of the content – expertise, advice, freebies, how-to’s, recipes, coupons, tips and tricks. I wonder sometimes if it even matters who’s writing these blogs as long as they deliver the information the reader wants, it’s of a consistent quality and it’s posted regularly.
Niche blogs run low on comments – as a percentage of total views – when compared to personal blogs. They generate more revenue than a personal blog but not as much loyalty or engagement. There’s little to no relationship with the author or between readers, often reducing a blog to not much more than a textbook…with lots of ads.
As a learner? I love niche blogs. I want the recipe for that grilled pork chop marinade without the hilarious story about the time it went wrong, please.
But as a marketer? I prefer the personal. Readers have to like the blogger, trust her, be true to her to tolerate a week-long commercial interruption and click on what she’s selling – whether that’s a mixer, a book or a solution to childhood poverty.
What are your favorite blogs right now? Why do you like them?