One of blogging’s most important goals is to keep thinking of innovative ways to reach a larger audience. That’s pretty much the point of blogging, isn’t it? At a personal level maybe it’s okay just to reach your friends and family but if you’re blogging for a company or hoping to make your blog your job it’ll take a bit more. Read more “Blogging Tools to Measure Progress and Growth”
At Blog Trackr, we devote our posts on suggesting helpful tricks and advice designed to propel your blog to the top of its respective field. However, without specific examples of blogging done well, these ideas may simply remain in the realm of vague concepts. In this article, this author would like to highlight a blog that does its job well providing engaging content to its readers. The REI Co-Op Journal does just that. The focus of this article will be to point out what techniques REI uses in their blog that make it stand out among its competitors. Read more “Spotlight on Blogging Done Well: REI’s Co-Op Journal”
We’ve written about how personality makes the difference between one blog from another, but if your writing is poor then let’s face it your blog will suck. I’m sorry but it’s true. If you want your blog to succeed, in addition to a winning personality you need looks; looks being quality writing that is enjoyable to read. Here’s the rub though: not everyone is a gifted professional writer. That’s why we’re sharing our best blogging tips. Because you shouldn’t have to go this alone. Read more “5 blogging tips to take your posts to the next level”
So a few weeks ago I wrote about my/our ‘why’ (check out the full post here). This week I want to talk about your why. Well, not your why specifically, but to encourage you to think about your why as I have. So let’s go ahead and answer the question ‘why do you blog’ together. Read more “Why do you blog?”
Here at Blog Trackr, we are devoted to blogs because we simply enjoy writing blog articles on issues we are passionate about. For example, I used to write for the blog Monstah Mash, a blog devoted completely to the Red Sox. While blogging, our goal was not to be just another Red Sox blog out there because there are plenty. We wanted to provide our own unique spin on current Red Sox news. Read more “Top Three Lessons Learned at Monstah-Mash”
In this third installment of our blogging history series, we will be looking at the growth of blogging from a typically short article to other forms of media. Blogging was about to differentiate into novel types of displaying content and sharing your opinion on an issue. Read more “A Blogging History: Blogging Differentiates”
Last week, Blog Trackr began a mini-series of blogging articles dedicated to exploring the history of blogging. In this segment, we will discussion how blogs started to expand in the early 2000s as they increased in number.
The End of the Nineties
At the end of the 1990s, more resources emerged for aspiring bloggers. One of these, called Open Diary, became a pivotal blogging platform as it was the first time others could comment on others’ works.
Clearly, this was a major development because it allowed for bloggers to engage in a dialogue with their readership.
As mentioned in the last installment, 1999 saw the term “blog” take form and included the emergence of Live Journal, Blogger and Xanga all launched as blogging software options. They all proposed unique features designed to distance themselves from these new competitors.
Expansion in the Early 2000s
As blogs started to populate the internet, the most popular were political blogs. In one famous incident in 2002, US Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott praised US Senator Strom Thurmond and even going so far as to say the US would have been better off had he won the presidential election of 1948. In this post, Lott incited controversy as Thurmond was a supporter of racial segregation.
Blogs were becoming a form of expressing your ideas and creating a dialogue among those to discuss them. In-depth topic blogs examined contemporary issues in more depth than traditional media sources and blogs could even comment on what the traditional media was reporting.
In 2002, the same year Lott wrote his controversial post, Mommy Bloggers started to form. Melinda Roberts founded TheMommyBlog.com creating a category of blogs that would only accelerate the number of bloggers in the future.
2003: A Pivotal Year for Bloggers
2003 was an important year for bloggers. The blogging platform WordPress started in 2003 and that same year also saw the inauguration of the AdSense advertising platform which was the first ad network to match ads to the content on the blog.
AdSense made it possible for first-time bloggers to start making money off their blog even if payments to low-traffic blogs was not huge.
Once bloggers had the chance to make money off their blog, the number of blogs only skyrocketed. Bloggers like Darren Rowse and John Chow used their blogs to give advice on how other bloggers could turn blogging into a full-time career.
In 2002, Newsweek predicted that blogs would soon replace traditional media sources as a go-to place for the public to search for news. Examples like the Lott episode clearly show that blogs were here to stay.
In the next installment, we will examine how blogging expanded in the mid-2000s and what impact YouTube had in blogging’s development.
At Blog Trackr, we have devoted blog posts to covering basic and more advanced blogging tips and tricks. However, have you ever wondered where blogging began?
For the next few blog posts, I will spend time introducing you to blogging’s history from its humble origins to its rising popularity in the last five years.
Join me on this little history of blogging and continue to research how your own blog can contribute to the larger, blogging story.
Beginning of Blogging 1994-1997
A random piece of information that you can use to stump your friends is who created the first blog? People trace blogging’s history to the Swarthmore College dorm room of Justin Hall, whose blog, links.net, reviewed different examples of HTML examples he found.
The New York Times ran with this idea and called Hall “the founding father of personal bloggers.” What is interesting about this origin of blogging history is that Hall’s website was simply called a “personal homepage.”
Three years after Hall introduced the idea of blogs, people started calling blogs by the name we know them now today.
Jorn Barger, a blogger for the early blog Robot Wisdom coined the term “weblog” to describe the process of logging the web while he searched the internet for quality content.
Period of Growth into Mainstream Media
In 1998, Jonathan Dube blogged about Hurricane Bonnie for the Charlotte Observer which marked the first time someone started a blog for a traditional news site.
Gradually, the term “weblog” got shortened to blog and five years later the Merriam-Webster dictionary declared the term their “word of the year.”
What Did Early Blogs Look Like?
Obviously, over time blogs have become even easier to create and manage on your own without much technical expertise.
However, in its early days the original blogs were clunkier and had to be updated manually, often from a central home page.
That was often inefficient. Programmers were the only ones who had the technical knowledge to manage a blog and make them successful.
However, that was soon about to change. LiveJournal was one of the most recognizable early blogging platforms, but it was soon replaced by the platform Blogger.
Blogging was ready to take a huge leap forward and enter a new era of sharing ideas easily and to a wide audience.
I learned quite a few lessons from running Monstah Mash, namely when it came to growing my blog and competing with the already numerous other Red Sox-themed blogs on the market. It wasn’t about being the loudest, writing the most, or having the biggest team. There was a different secret weapon we utilized: personality. From the get go, creating a blogger persona was crucial and instrumental to our success.
In fact I credit most of my success on the blog to it. If I wasn’t able to differentiate Monstah Mash so well I doubt I would’ve recruited a team of 18 and reached so many readers. Instead I probably would have run it as a one-man show only for it to peter out when I got too busy, tired, or bored. Pretty bleak, right?
What is a blogger persona?
Crafting a blogger persona is something we’ve written on before. And for good reason: it’s essential. I’m not going to bore you too much though and rehash everything I said before. No, instead this post will be a deep dive into how I actually did it with Monstah Mash, and why your blog should too.
Before we go ahead though, let’s look at the basics.
The reason people read blogs is to be educated as well as entertained. Primarily it’s to be entertained though; if I wanted the score of the game I’ll read ESPN, if I want the commentary, the “something extra” I read my favorite sports blogs. It’s not just to get the facts, it’s to get the opinion that you’ve come to know, love, and trust along with it. That’s what makes blogs special, because they are biased and not afraid to show it (unlike the news which can be biased and afraid to show it). That “opinion” or “stance” is the blog’s persona. It’s what separates it from the rest of the pack, the unique proprietary quality that no other blog can copy.
With Monstah Mash we were sarcastic, authentically Bostonian, often angry or bitter, and sometimes outrageous. We made jokes in our articles, used lame pop culture references, and ragged on Boston in the way only a true Bostonian can. Someone who read our blog wouldn’t feel like they were getting the box score of last night’s game. Instead they’d feel like they were on their friend’s couch, favorite bar, or the corner of the kitchen table swapping sports facts with their favorite uncle.
Everything we wrote tied back to that unique persona to strengthen and affirm it with each article. Just like how your actions and words contribute to your own personality, the actions and posts of your blog will reaffirm your blog’s persona to your readers.
How do I create one?
That’s great and all, but how do I actually do this?
I’m not going to lie to you: it’s not easy and it won’t be finished in 10 minutes. It may even take months to perfect, but it will be worth it.
I knew I wanted Monstah Mash to be unique right from the start. I was fed up with stale and bland news. Not to mention that bloggers who were disassociated and removed from the city I’ve come to love were irritating. So I knew I wanted Monstah Mash to scream “Boston” and have a hefty dose of tongue-in-cheek humor sprinkled into each article I wrote. It was an important first step that shaped the three years that I ran the site. And trust me, the initial leg work paid off. I tried to cultivate a personality surrounding the site that was built around my writing style as well as the types of stories we would cover. As I brought on new writers more voices joined the chorus adding some unique flavor to the site while committing to the same essential goal.
I’d be lying if I said we didn’t evolve. We found more pieces to add to the puzzle, new sections of stories to cover and new voices to bring different styles of humor to our readers. All the while though we stayed the course, improving but not deviating what we built in the past, and wouldn’t you know it worked. Monstah Mash quickly gained thousands of dedicated readers worldwide, which I attribute entirely to the work we put in. So how do you create a blogger persona? Start small, thinking about the top five adjectives you want to come to mind when someone reads your blog. And build upon that. As the months go by try to experiment and see what works, see if you can bring on additional team members and let things evolve in their own time.
Creating a quality persona takes thought, planning, and the ability to adapt. With those three in your tool belt you can do no wrong.
Why bother with a blogger persona?
This seems like a lot of work. That’s because it’s a ton of work. Make no mistake about it, crafting a compelling blogger persona takes time, effort, thought, and planning. But it’s worth it.
A quality personality for your blog separates you from the rest of the pack. It’s not just about what you’re writing, it’s how you write it and how your readers identify with your work. A quality persona attracts like-minded people to follow your blog and inspires loyalty with your base. How do you build a brand that has thousands of dedicated readers? Give them a brand they’ll believe in and trust. Monstah Mash didn’t grow just because we were good writers, it grew because people cared about what we had to say and identified with our message.
If you truly want to see your blog succeed, craft your blogger persona and watch the views and followers roll in.
At the beginning of the year, Blog Trackr ran a post related to New Years’ Resolutions and called it “5 Blogging Resolutions for 2017.” In our own way, we participated in what David Meerman Scott has termed “newsjacking.” Newsjacking is the process of finding a way to relate your blog or business to what occurs in cultural or national news.
When breaking news happens or a piece of news starts trending on Facebook or Twitter, the time could come to halt your next scheduled blog post and think of innovative ways your blog could relate to that news story both on your blog and on social media.
How to Newsjack
Some may argue that a potential flaw in newsjacking is the fact that numerous voices will appear simultaneously in Google News or other search engines. However, if you ignore what is happening around you and disregard its relevance to your blog, you could be missing out on a source of new readers and new traffic to your blog.
Once breaking news happens, the first step is to consider how you can inject your blog or business into this topic. Think about what reporters or curious readers would input into search engines so that your blog appears near the top of search results
On social media, start following recent tweets or Facebook posts to see what has been said already. Once you do that, it is time to strategize and think about what unique spin you can put on the story that has not been said already.
After you decide on a potential topic, you can blog, tweet or even create an infographic or a video related to the piece of breaking news.
Examples of Newsjacking
There are so many examples of newsjacking out there. With Super Bowl LI over, there are always blog posts, videos, tweets and social media posts related to the big game which happen both before and after the game. There could be posts related to football, the halftime show, the commercials or even how to plan a perfect Super Bowl Party.
For other examples of newsjacking, check out the Boston Beat section of Monstah-Mash where the author, Tyler Scionti, thinks about Boston-related news stories even though he writes primarily about the Red Sox.
Bottom Line and Further Reading
The bottom line about this whole topic is that you do not need to be a political blog to offer insights into politics or a sports blog to write about the Super Bowl. Newsjacking can be the key to differentiating your content while remaining timely and relevant to today’s evolving news cycle.
For further reading about newsjacking, David Meerman Scott offers great insights into this topic. Check out more information on this vital topic here.