Thursday, February 19, 2009

Secrets of the 80/20 blogger

There's a lot of Eve Online players out there who are trying their hand at blogging, and a lot of them are very, very good. But there's a few who are struggling. So in line with my interest in helping the bloggers and anyone interested in blogging, I'm going to start writing more posts about how to blog. I hope some of you find them either interesting or valuable.

There's a secret to business that some of you might be aware of. It's the 80/20 rule. The way it works is that 80% of business comes from 20% of the clients, while 20% of business comes from 80% of the clients. The 80/20 rule is a centrepiece of improving business results, by helping to understand that if 80% of the clients are generating only 20% of the business, then there should be a greater focus on the 20% of clients who are generating 80% of the business.

We can apply this rule to anything, and this article is about applying it to blogging.
  • 80% of your posts are meaningless
80% of what you post is going to be completely meaningless. Absolute rubbish. But they're still important, because without them your regular readers are going to go somewhere else. The regular readers you have are there for the 20% of your posts that are meaningful to them. And of your regular readers, 20% of those will link back to 80% of your meaningful posts.

If you're writing 1 post per week for your blog, then over the course of a year you would have about 52 posts. Of that, 42 of them (80%) are rubbish, while 10 (20%) are fantastic! If you want more fantastic posts, you need to increase the effort you put into it.

Let's say you decide to write 3 posts per week, which is about 156 posts over a year. This means you will have 31 posts that are fantastic. You'll also have about 125 posts which are rubbish, but because you've increased your effort, you're also going to increase your exposure. More posts generates more interest. (I would even hazard a guess that if you increase your effort by 20%, then your results will be increased by 80%...)

Also, if 2 in 10 posts are fantastic, then if you are writing once per week, you'll do a fantastic post once every 5 weeks, on average. But if you're posting 3 times a week, then you'll do a fantastic post once every 1.5 weeks. That's going to get a much better response from your readers, and you'll have a lot more of them wanting to hang around and read your posts.
  • Your website is a resource
If you can work out why 20% of your posts are good enough for your fans to link back to, you can actually increase the ratio. Start writing more of what they find interesting and meaningful. And if you can't do this, then you're just not interested in writing for your readers, and that's ok too. But then, if that's the case, you really should stop reading articles like this that help you with your blogging.

Try to aim for 80% of your posts to be fantastic, instead of only 20%. Understand what your regular readers like and link back to on their own blogs, and try to write more of it.

When you can write some fantastic content that a lot of people link to, then your blog becomes a resource for others to share. The reason they want to link back to your posts is because they think you're good enough to share with their own readers. You eventually become the resource for the content you want to present.

Look at Crazy Kinux's blog for an understanding of how he's made this work extremely well for him.
  • Delete your archives
Review all your posts. Clear out the ones that either aren't popular because no one commented on them, or simply are not a good reflection of how you want your blog to be. If you have less content, but more of it is linked or has discussions on it, then guess what? You become an overnight sensation.

Another interesting side effect is that the more content you have that is linked to from other sites, the more likely your content is going to be displayed first by Google. It will recognise that your site is a popular resource, and will show your site more often in people's relevant Google search results.
  • Drop all the advertising, simplicity is better
If you have advertising that's not making you money, get rid of it. If you remove 80% of the advertising that's not making you money and optimise the 20% that is, your readers are going to visit your site more (because there's less advertising cluttering it), and will make you more money in the process.

Remember, 20% of your advertising is creating 80% of your income. Get rid of the 80% that is generating only 20% income or less. You don't need that much clutter on your site.
  • Quit feeding at the trough
Spend more time on your blog and less time reading websites or RSS feeds - it's wasting your time! Quit feeding at the trough and do some creative writing of your own, instead of using other people's content to inspire you. People love original content, and that's why you're going to get a lot of your regular readers coming back for more.

Why would they come to you for content that's already been posted somewhere else? Stop riding the coat tails of other people's posts and success, and start working on your own original blog posts.

If you can write about the source of something, rather than on what someone else has written about it, you'll get a much better response from your readers.
  • Don't TRY to be a blogger, just BE one!
To be one of the 20% of Eve Bloggers that 80% of people are going to come back to (I think the Eve Blog Pack represents this rule quite well), you have to be one of those 20% that 80% of bloggers wish they were.

Do more writing. Care less about the crap, and care more about the quality. I have a saying sticky-taped to the top of my screen: "combine quality with consistency". Consistently create fantastic content, and you will achieve the success that you desire. (And if you don't desire it, why did you read this post all the way through?)

I hope this has been helpful. There will be more coming soon. Please leave your feedback and even your own suggestions in the Comments.

3 comments:

  1. I am just looking at starting a blog and this artical has given me a real insight into how to monitor and hopefully produce a great blog, thanks

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  2. I'm not sure I agree with all the 80/20 tips you post here, but the idea of focusing on what gets the most readership makes a lot of sense. There is a difference in approach depending on whether one blogs with the primary objective of increasing traffic or whether they blog for personal pleasure and just so happen to produce material that others enjoy as well.

    This post at copyblogger offers some insights that seem related to your 80/20 philosophy. Copyblogger is a great blog for bloggers, by the way.

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  3. Hmm I disagree with various pointers in this post.

    No posts are meaningless. They are only meaningless to some, where as to others they may well be informative.

    Never delete your archives! Even if a post isn't commented on it doesn't mean its a bad post. I rarely comment on a post unless asked a specific question, I do however read a lot of posts. IC ones are a prime example, its hard to respond to IC posts unless prepared to be IC too. Also hiding your "bad" work will never let you grow.

    I am also a fan of quantity over quality in many circumstances. A blog is not a work of professional journalism, it is a blog, a public diary of your thoughts, actions and desires. A blog is IMO something to express EVERY thought, not just those to which you will gain the most notice.

    There are some Eve related blogs that I no longer read, yours isn't one of them obviously, because they concern themselves more over being noticed than of being interesting.

    I don't want to read the most popular blog, I want to read the one that makes mistakes, makes me laugh or informs me of something I didn't realise I wanted informing on :)

    I do agree with dropping advertising. Again the sites I have stopped reading are full to the brim with Eve adverts, buy isk this, do this and that... its a terrible price to pay for popularity, to sell out in such a way.

    Your line "Don't TRY to be a blogger, just BE one!" is dead on though, however it seems to go against your other advice, but that's mainly my perspective of a blogger I guess :)

    For the record, Your site is still one of the definitive sites IMO for Eve, a lot more than some of the more "popular" ones.

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