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Thursday, December 01, 2005
The Dartmouth Observer: Blogging Styles

There's a great entry over at Mister Snitch on blogging styles.
We've been blogging just long enough (not quite a year now) to have spotted at least seven distinct types of traffic-generating blogging styles.

Just as there are different styles of investing, there are different approaches to traffic generation. Aside from the occasional, reclusive J.D.Salingers, most writers want to be read as widely as possible. Some bloggers literally will do anything to gain audience, others have defined boundaries. Site traffic is a subject close to bloggers' hearts, and is front-of-mind right now, thanks in part to the misadventures of Pajamas Media.

Not every blogger practicing these distinct styles gets as much traffic as they might like. However, each style has the potential to drive traffic. Other styles of blogging, such as the let's-discuss-what-I-ate-for-lunch style, aren't suited for driving traffic, unless of course you're talking about what Madonna had for lunch. As a rule, navel-gazing gains an audience of one.

Many blogs employ a combination of styles.

After watching the blog market for a while, Snitch decided to create a typology of how people blog and how this might relate to their site traffic. In so far as the Dartmouth Observer has been bringing you (awesome) content since the Summer of 2002, but has only recently been providing you daily content since mid-October 2005, I want to offer what I think ChienWen and my blogging styles are. In July we might re-evaluate and extend to some of our own writers from ages past. Feel free to comment.

ChienWen falls into the following categories: 3 and 7
3) Nichebloggers, aka localbloggers. We've posted on local blogging before. Local bloggers focus on their locality, but we also consider someone focused on any particular subject a "local" blogger (that subject being the 'locality'). The subject is usually something the writer is passionate about, or has special expertise in. Econbrowser is a great niche blogger, specializing in macroeconomics. Some 'niche' bloggers switch their 'locality' from time to time. Dan Riehl is an important 'local' blogger whose 'locality' for some time has been Natalee Holloway. When another story of size comes along, he may switch to a new 'locale'.

Like a caterer, the niche blogger writes according to what his audience is coming to read. Unlike the caterer, the niche blogger pursues his/her chosen subject regardless of traffic stats. Generally, niche bloggers sacrifice quick stats in order to pursue their subject.

(We do a fair amount of local blogging in terms of writing about Hoboken and Jersey. We also nicheblog on favorite subjects, such as blogmarketing.)

This style of blogging reminds us of investors who specialize in finding opportunity within a particular industry.

7) The long-tail blogger is the rarest of successful breeds. This style requires consistent blogging over a long period of time (hence the rarity in a fairly new medium). As we have noted in previous posts, blogging is heavily favored by search engines in the current Internet cultural environment. A classic long-tail blogger such as Dustbury gets a very respectable audience (currently approaching 1,000 unique visits a day) because the site has been commenting on popular culture, steadily and succinctly, for over nine and a half years. A look at Charles' site stats tells the story: Out of every 1,000 hits, about 70% come to the site's front page or a current post. The remainder are links that trickle in - one, two, three at a time - for archived posts. Charles rarely enters trackback festivals or Carnivals. (Although he was the very first person to send an entry to the very first Carnival of the Vanities, he now submits an entry about once every other week to Outside the Beltway or Wizbang.) His site gets found because the search engines reward authoritative blog posts - and longevity.

We haven't been doing this anywhere near as long as Charles. But it's encouraging to see that simply by writing decently and adding value to links, a blog can, over time, find its audience. Of all the blogging styles (and many blogs, like this one, are a melange of several styles), this seems to be the most natural and satisfying for blogger and reader alike. Fausta is another long-tail blogger whose traffic will grow as she continues to post. Charles, James Lileks (who has some 'outside celebrity' backing - see 5, above - but whose 9-year online background suggests he belongs in this category), and Fausta Weiss are the Warren Buffets of blogging.

This category is very much related to nicheblogging (3). Long-tail posts tend to drill deep into 'local' or 'niche' areas of expertise.

I, John Stevenson, am probably a mixture of 1 and 7, with an occasional 3. Since you already know what 3 and 7 are, I give you 1.
1) Meme-du-jour bloggers comment on the high-profile ideas of the moment. This requires more or less constant research, and results in posts that are often less than polished or complete (because they have to be composed quickly, and also because these stories are after all, developing). This type of blogger is usually focused on political issues.

High-traffic bloggers working in this style develop an entourage of lesser-trafficked bloggers. This forms an ecosystem: One big blog drives big traffic to many small blogs, and many small blogs return a modest traffic streams back to the source. Michelle Malkin is the epitome of this blogging style in its purest incarnation. This type of blogging reminds us of a hedge fund investor: At its best, it offers outsized, quick returns. However, it's not always in the best interests of the companies being bought and sold, nor is it necessarily good for the general public. Likewise, this style of blogging does not always serve the issues well. Posts in this style are too often long on POV, short on insight. This style also skews toward links to other high-trafficked bloggers at the expense of lesser bloggers offering more insight (although this is a problem with most bloggers in general).

(We do a certain amount of this style of blogging, as there are fleeting memes that interest us, and also because it is a way to introduce ourselves to new audiences. Most blogs are at least somewhat 'meme', keeping up with current events and fashions.)

The analysis of blogging is excellent and I offer that you should read it.