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Why The Elite Blogs Are The Elites?

This is my contribution #5 to the “31 days to better blog” project.

After blogging and babbling for a couple of months on any topics I feel like to, I start to wonder what make those elite blogs so elite? What are the top bloggers talking about? What kind of common characteristics do they share? With those questions in mind, I did a mini research to gather some data from the top bloggers’ sites.

How the research is conducted:
I randomly picked 10 sites from Feedster’s top 50 list and another 10 sites from Technorati’s top 50 list. I read each one of them to answer the following questions:
- What does the blog talk about?
- Is it a collaborative blog with mainly links or a blog with original contents written by an author?
- How old is the blog?
- How often does the blog get updated?

Findings:
Top category of the topics:

Feedster Top 50 List Technorati Top 50 List
politics, news and news commentary: 40% politics, news and news commentary: 60%
technology: 10% technology: 20%
Collaborative Pop Culture News: 20% Collaborative Pop Culture News: 10%
arts, history and literature: 20% Personal Blog: 10%
Music: 10% .

Collaborative vs original contents
20% to 30% top blogs are collaborative news sites that collect news from main events to odd news. Majority of the blogs still fall under the traditional kind which involves one ore more authors writing their own commentaries and thoughts.

How old are the top blogs
A third of the top blog sites are less than 3 years old. Another third are established in the 2000 to 2001 range. Only 1/3 of top blogs are run by the real seasoned pros who started before year 2000.

How often do the top bloggers update their sites
7 out of the top 10 Technorati’s sites update daily with multiple posts. The rest of the site owners blog at least a few times a week.

Conclusions:

  • People love news, especially politics and current events. To be honest, I am quite surprised to see that the political related blogs attract so much attention from the public.
  • The older the blogs, the better chances they have to hit the main stream. So the young bloggers shouldn’t be discouraged to be ranked at 2,987,445 right now. You never know what’s gonna happen 2 years down the road.
  • Personal blog doesn’t make to the front page. Dave’s Davenetics is the only one in my sample data that made to the top list. I took a closer look at why this rare gem is so rare. Turns out, although the blog is about anything that sparks his mind and brain at that moment, almost each entry is linked to another article that is fun and informative. In addition, he spends a chuck of his time blogging about politics as well. So, I’d say his blog has very little to do with “personal” materials.
  • I know this is old news, but the data further proves the rule of “blog often”. Majority of the bloggers update their sites daily with multiple pieces of contents. Those elites who can get away from this theory are either very unique (such as postsecret) or have long posts (like dooce.com). Again, davenetics makes an exceptional case of being a non-daily blogger with short posts yet is able to make to Technaroti’s top 10 list. What’s his secret?

Final Thoughts
So, what does that mean to us, the little guys in the Blogotown who often talk about nothing to everything? I guess the chance of a regular personal blog becoming an A-lister is pretty slim. Even for those ones that do talk about the niche topics may not receive the kind of spot light, unless you are really good at talking about politics and digging out the odd news.

So the question goes back to what your purpose of blogging is. If the purpose is to make money and turn blogging into a full time gig, then it’s time to retake Political Science 101 and Journalism 201. But if we are happy to be the little guys and blog for our own joy and personal growth, then maybe it’s a good idea to stop being the stats’ whores and be happy with whatever the rankings we get.

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