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Choosing the Topic of Your Blogs

May 20th, 2013 by

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

This quote from the children’s book Dr. Seuss is also David Waller’s advice when asked what people, interested in making money via their blogs, should write about.

Waller should know. He is the founder and chief executive officer of Storeboard.com, a Tenafly, N.J.-based website that bills itself as the “missing link between social networks and business directory sites.” Storeboard.com posts thousands of blogs every year. People can put their blogs into one of 56 categories, including Arts, Business, Education, Health, News, Non-Profits, Social Media and Technology.

Many bloggers just want to express themselves, but many others want to establish or increase their online presence so their business can increase its profits. Advertising and word-of-mouth have been the traditional ways to grow businesses, but blogs have increased in popularity as de-facto advertisements since the late 1990s because they give the writers of the blogs an opportunity to show their expertise in topics like marketing content or the product and/or service they are selling. Accountants, for example, can give readers tips in blogs that will ultimately persuade prospective clients to hire them.

Blogging often works, but a blog can also get lost in the crowd. The Nielsen Company reported that there were 156 million public blogs in 2011. There are two ways to measure the effectiveness of a blog, according to a report entitled “Audience, Structure and Authority in the Weblog Community” by Cameron Marlow of MIT Media Laboratory.

Marlow wrote that the popularity of a blog can be measured by its public affiliations — how often it is on a list of blogs that are regularly read by other bloggers. These are called blogrolls. A blog’s influence can be measured by how often it is cited in other blogs. These are called permalinks.

Marlow’s 2004 report identified the top blogs as measured by blogrolls and permalinks. Metafilter.com, a website where people posted links for other people who read the website, ranked first in blogrolls and third in permalinks. Boingboing.net, which operates the same way and, like Storeboard, allows bloggers to categorize their blogs, ranked first in permalinks and third in blogrolls.

Whether bloggers who have a lot of blogrolls and permalinks make money often depends on whether their blogrolls and permalinks are on general interest blogs or specialized business blogs. Consequently, bloggers often try to write about topics that will increase their popularity on commercial blogs, but Waller said that is a mistake unless and until you can credibly demonstrate your expertise in that topic.

“Bloggers should focus on areas they’re passionate about and have a unique viewpoint,” said Waller. “They should be genuine and truthful.”

Waller said the most popular topic on Storeboard.com is technology, particularly news about new products such as cellphones, tablets and laptops. The second most popular topic is advice, including how to improve your productivity at the office, your communication skills and relationships. The third most popular topic is people writing about what is happening in their daily business lives.

Storeboard.com measures the popularity of blogs and reports on its Top 10 blogs every day. On May 7, 2013, the most popular blogs included articles on job search advice, why employees leave their jobs, home-office tax deductions, an Xbox product, and the nation’s top moving companies.

Waller said that he knows many people who hesitated before getting involved in blogging, but are better off because they decided to go with their gut.

“Speak from your heart,” he advised. “Try to get past your hesitancy.”

Martin Z is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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