Monday, November 29, 2010

Creating the Destination Blog

With so many writing-related blogs on the web, I've been thinking about what draws my attention to certain sites over and over again. As in, what makes certain blogs reliably fun to visit and others viewed only by chance? I mean, sure, we can keep our content fresh, trade comments with our fellow bloggers, link our blogs to our friends' blogs, and hope and pray industry professionals will drop by for a visit, but sometimes all that's not enough. So what, exactly, is it that grows follower numbers and attracts exponential attention?

After studying the success of friends and admired professionals, I've come to the conclusion that there's more than one way to grow blog popularity. That said, here are what I like to think of as the five types of destination blogs in the writing world:

1. The Published Writer Who Gives It Away for Free on a Regular Basis. Just being published isn't enough to make your blog a destination. Content must change. If you've sold as many books as, say, John Green, your market presence alone will bring traffic. However, John doesn't stop there. With his brother Hank's help, he's created a regularly scheduled series of video blogs (vlogs) that's led to an almost cult-like following (see Nerdfightaria).

2. The Industry Professional. These are the blogs put up by the movers and shakers in the industry. Sometimes they're quasi-anonymous, sometimes they're joint ventures contributed to by various members of an agency. Whichever the case, we writers are drawn to them for their wisdom and industry insight.

3. The Community Resource. These blogs serve the greater writing community. My favorite example of this category is the Adventures in Children's Publishing blog. Every week, blog geniuses Martina and Marissa offer up an assortment of writing advice, author interviews, inspirational success stories, conference reports, categorized lists of the best writing-related blog posts of the week, and news of new titles on the market, which includes book giveaways. With all the quality content, it's no wonder their followers keep coming back!

4. The Niche Hangout. These blogs inform and entertain readers, writers, and fans of a certain genre. For example, writer Catherine Karp has a love for vampire culture, so she started a blog called Suburban Vampire that draws attention from all over the world.

5. The Interactive Hotspot. These blogs consistently solicit reader participation. Examples include writer Suzanne Casamento's blog entitled Question of the Day. Regular visitors keep coming back because Suzanne's blog feels like one big party.

So what about you? What are your favorite types of blogs to visit?