“Wealth is now defined, at least in part, by the ability to be offline whenever you want” Fernando Gros.
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Blog // Thoughts
September 4, 2006

A Small Trend In Blogging

The world of blogging is changing fast and the trend away from daily blogging seems to be moving fast.

Here’s my tip for the next trend in blogging – fewer posts.

There’s an awful lot of blog-guilt around – people wishing they blogged more often, or that they had better content. Blogs were originally conceived as a diary-style platform, but why should that approach dictate content? Not everyone has the time to post daily, or create compelling content that frequently. Blogs are, by definition, updated content, but why be obsessed about daily update? What if the focus is episodic in a broader sense; weekly, or monthly updates for example.

Consider Maira Kalman’s blog, The Principles of Uncertainty. This is a once a month blog, very high touch content and from what I can tell, quite high traffic levels as well. Would you tune into a once a month or once a quarter blog with meaningful interaction from your favourite author or musician or artist? I would.

Moreover, there are some new blog designs that are less obviously journalised. Take a look at the Hemingway theme for WordPress – a big break from the traditional blog design (and closer in many ways to the layout of old static pages). I think this is a great theme for the more infrequent blogger (incorporate some asides and maybe some flickr images and there is still enough width to maintain interest.

Of course, some of you may be wondering; won’t that cost me readers? Well maybe. But the fact is most of us will never even get close to the A-list. The typical blog only ever has the potential to reach small (in internet terms) audiences. This is not a bad thing, it is a very good thing. In a pre-internet world, you had to guarantee a pretty big audience for an idea, in order to get it past the gatekeepers in the TV, radio and print world. Now, the gatekeepers can be bypassed and the public is available to you all over the world. Lots of worthwhile content can find a thriving place online that would never have been public in the old media hierarchy.

Given that, it makes sense to maximise the depth of connection (and complicity) with your audience. I think that is why we are going to see some bloggers going for quality over quantity, trying to strike a deeper connection with their core audience, further blurring the gap between blog content and print/new media content.

In simple terms this means fewer posts. Watch out for it.

Responses
trendoffice 13 years ago

Agree! “quality over quantity” is the best approach and it is natural to come after the initial period of obsession about daily update

Stephen Garner 13 years ago

Good points. Content that is well thought out, engages with an particular audience, and has depth (and therefore tends to have length) costs. And that cost has to be factored into what the blog is about and how it impacts on the other things you do.

On the other hand, if you audience are looking for small, helpful tidbits of information in a particular niche (rather than reflection upon that information) then frequent posting might be more useful and generate better feedback.

The episodic approach might work, though if posting is too infrequent and there is a thread or theme connecting posts, the thread might get lost (or require reading of previous posts again to catch up).

Rodd Jefferson 13 years ago

Abraham Lincoln once said “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”. I’m not sure in my life when this lesson will actually be learnt as evident by my silence, but I agree with it nonetheless!

I note that Technorati still measure the frequency of posts when you take a look at the stats on someone’s blog, though, so this trend is probably a way off.

Still, I agree we’ve created a monster if we think we need to post all the time.

John Smulo 13 years ago

Okay, totally off topic. But had to say I love the new blog look. The colours are a lot more welcoming and cheery–not that I disliked the previous look. Like the picture banner a lot too.

Graham Stacey 13 years ago

Agree! I have beaten off the blog-guilt a long time ago, first about not having a blog, then not having a ‘deepcast’, then not updatig daily.
Now happy with a shallowcast with blogs when it seems right to me and with content that I think refelcts who I am and what I do and not hung up about people commenting or even reading.
From someone who is still new and training rather than trying!

Toni 13 years ago

But the need to produce posts of depth and quality will become it’s own burden, just as posting daily can be. Better it seems to me to be real and post a mix of random tat and deeper thoughts – much closer to letting someone into your life. Otherwise you might as well stop pretending to be a blog and instead become an online zine.

FWIW though I DID catch myself trying to stimulate traffic the other day, to my abject horror. Somehow that seems plain wrong and counter to the point of blogging – if your words aren’t interesting to draw people, why should they visit at all?

Steve K. 13 years ago

Fernando,

You nailed me! I recently switched a couple of my blogs to the Hemingway template (or derivations of it) on WordPress, mostly because it does look very un-blog-like. I also feel that serious blog readers are using RSS readers, so why have a long scrolling page of posts that takes longer to load?

Obviously not all blog readers use RSS (although everyone should! 😉 but these WordPress blogs have great search functions and links to previous posts are BOOM! right there. I’m also trying to be more intentional about inter-linking my blog posts — linking from a new post to a previous post that directly relates or is at least somehow relevant.

And then of course there’s “categories”/”tags.” By assigning posts to categories, it gives the user another way to navigate to more content on the same subject. I’m still not “tagging” proficiently yet, but I hope to do that more regularly as I get back up and running on this new WordPress system (recently switched from Movable Type).

Thanks for tapping into the zeitgeist on this one! I think you hit it square on.

Shalom,
Steve K.

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Trendoffice – thanks for your comment and I agree fully!

Stephen – good comments. I think you are right that it the thread that connects the posts is really important and the more you stretch that out over time, the less coherant a blog might be. Perhaps that needs to be related to the other work the blogger has available outside the blog (books, papers, etc)?

Graham – thanks. I guess we all have to find the style that works for us.

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Rodd – good point about technorati. However, I think we can get sucked off course if we let technorati’s tools dictate our content. Think about the most popular magazines on the newstands. Sometimes we need to be a little bit elitist to be true to our calling.

John – Thanks. I dig the way the Mesozoic theme functions, but the colour scheme was a little too cold. The current mod is a little too bright, but closer to my ideal.

Toni – I agree and it won’t work for everyone. Something I alluded to in the post was the use of asides. I’m seeing more an more people using those for the small eveyday and random things. It’s partly about taking the pressure off, letting a small thing be a small thing.

As for traffic,well I think a fair number of bloggers get sucked into traffic as their goal (one of the blogs I used to read everyday has done that and now it is plain as chips!). Like I’ve said before, by the categories that matter to me, this blog is doing better than ever, but my absolute visitor numbers have not suddenly shot up and my technorati ranking has remained pretty constant.

We all need to be a little careful about greed and pride as well. Maybe, instead of being dissapointed with “low” numbers and traffic, we should be grateful that anyone reads our blog at all. Certainly for me, blogging creates a bigger real audience for my ideas than I have ever had before; that is quite amazing.

Fernando Gros 13 years ago

Steve – thanks, that’s an excellent comment and you are right about the functionality of wordpress.

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