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?


Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Ara, your words are seriously touching. We pour a lot of effort into the blog because we love the readers and the faithful followers. It's so wonderful to know that what we do helps others. In the process, we're meeting such amazing, supportive writer friends. You're definitely on that list :)

Thanks so much again!

Ara Burklund said...

You're welcome! The two of you have done amazing things with your blog!!! : )

Catherine/Suburban Vampire said...

Great post, Ara! Thanks for including Suburban Vampire. And I'll definitely be checking out John Green's blog on a regular basis from now on (he had me sold when I saw the giant turtle coitus vlog posted there). I enjoy visiting all the types of blogs you described.

Ara Burklund said...

Thanks, Cathy! Yeah, John's a funny one. I love the edge of sibling rivalry his vlogs include, too. If you have a chance, check out the ones about Who Put Poop in the Nintendo?

Suzanne Casamento said...

I love you! Calling my blog "one big party" is like the nicest thing I've ever read. Thanks!

And great post. You gave awesome examples of what keeps bloggers coming back.

Ara Burklund said...

I mean it! Your blog is a lot of fun!!! Glad you liked the post. : )