One of the most useful features blogs brought to the internet is two way conversations. Conversations between the writer and the reader were not common until then. Comments, usually free to post by anyone, essentially make blogs a conversation. Social media sites made life even easier with simple association of groups without the need to find people on at a time. Essentially, these two features make writing on the internet the same as having a conversation on a street corner. Anyone can speak with everyone and bystanders can join the conversation. If you can start a conversation on your blog or social media site, you have people’s attention. Conversations usually mean you have an interesting topic, you have something to say, and eventually others will also be interested.
When you are new to starting conversations, it may seem difficult or at least tricky. Actually, like a busy street corner in any city, people will talk (i.e. write) about anything as long as they are interested. The writer and the commenter usually have something interesting, informative, or controversial, to say. Since comments to blog posts were such an innovation, initially bloggers tried to get as many comments as possible. The logic was: if a reader sees lots of comments, she will think the blog is popular and a good source of information. Many comments also tended to help SEO, the most sought after element in the early blogging days. Today, bloggers are more focused on niche sectors or well developed message type. In many areas, discussions are in very specific areas. Here you need to be familiar with deep topics. Another type of popular blog takes the form of specific format. MATRIXSYNTH is essentially a collection of (mostly) old synthesizer information. Sometimes video, sometimes eBay sales reference, sometimes a company announcement on new product or the use of a specific product feature. I tracked this blog from it’s early days as a simple Blogger blog. Today, it has a large advertiser support and seems to be covering many old analog synthesizers with many posts every day. Here is a great example of someone tapping an active, yet hidden world, very niche, very serious and creative. You can probably come up with a dozen areas you know that can emulate the MATRIXSYNTH format.
On the broad appeal side, publications like the NY Times and Chicago Tribune opinion columns are essentially blogs. This shift into the format was a natural one for newspapers. A recent NY Times editorial received 43 comments in six hours (see Pussy Riot at the NY Times). Chicago Tribune uses Facebook for comments. Washington Post political blogs are also a good example of lively discussion with comments. On one day, I counted 27 highlighted articles with hundreds of comments. I guess the promise of the internet becoming a “common man’s soap box” with no limitations from government or other political organization has come true. Except it is not exactly in the format or style described in the early days. Blogs are active and strong, they are evolving all the time. The good news: there is plenty of work in writing, editing, managing, and promoting content (i.e. writing). But, the popularity of content is so wide, you need to specialize and become an expert in a specific domain.