Not all that long ago, blogs were consumed consistently and comprehensively. A blog was a comfortable slipper of information that fit into your daily (or near-daily) pattern because you were “fed” updates via RSS and/or email. Your favorite blogs (and you could rattle off that list of favorites on command) were oft-updated collections of content from writers you felt you knew, about topics you embraced.
Blog consumption is a Mixtape not an Album
The unit of information was the blog itself, the same way that the unit of audio in the same era was the album (or the CD, to be more precise). You were loyal to a blog and a blogger, the same way you were loyal to an artist and an album. You might not love every post (or song) but you kept coming back for more.
The dominance of the album is over, replaced by the preeminence of singles (driven partially by iTunes, and then Spotify).
The dominance of the blog is over too, replaced by the preeminence of the blog post (driven partially by the death of RSS, and the rise of social sharing).
How many blogs do you read religiously now, vs. a few years ago? Instead, you pick and choose the “best” from among millions of blog posts published each day, your attention drawn by social shares and curation tools. Blog consumption is a mix-tape now, not an album.
Succeeding with a Blog in the Mixtape era
As a blog owner, this is both challenge and opportunity. The decline in true “fans” who will visit the blog daily means you have to replace yesterday’s readers with a different group of readers today. But, because most visitors are not coming back over and over, you can adopt a much broader editorial approach without fear of confusing or upsetting the community (in the album era you had to worry more about thematic blog consistency).
The evidence of success for today’s blogs has changed too. RSS subscribers, comments, and repeat visitors were previously used as important effectiveness proof points. Those have been replaced by new visitors, time on site, and social shares.
Even at the granular level, the calculus has changed (at least for me). Seeing a steady uptick on a month-over-month basis used to be the ultimate objective from a traffic standpoint. No more. Now, with so much blog traffic coming from Google and social, a much larger percentage of total visitors come from the “hits” – a handful of resonant posts that generate new visitors day after day, month after month.
Here at Convince & Convert, my work with InboundWriter found that nearly 68% of our traffic comes from just 25% of our posts. Your blog may have the same dynamic. Thus, the role of the blog overseer doesn’t necessarily hinge on steady, daily visitor increases, but rather on finding and cultivating more hits that can provide “breakout” performance and keep bringing new visitors to the site for the very first time.
That’s one of the reasons we have such an aggressive guest blogger program, and why we make use of tools like InboundWriter and Atomic Reach – we’re trying to find and manufacture hits the same way Simon Cowell finds and manufactures boy bands. (If One Direction could write a great post on paid Instagram ad strategies, I’d run it)
New Merchandising Approach for the Mixtape era
The mixtape era for blogs extends to promotion as well, as the effort put forth every day by our team, and our colleagues at blogs like Social Media Examiner and Content Marketing Institute, to draw attention to each day’s blog posts are significant indeed. We create something like 14 pieces of semi-custom artwork every day to suit each social network, etc. Not long ago, that number was zero and we just hoped the blogger would include a photo in their post. Now it’s all about merchandising the blog posts (not the blog). The same way the cover of Taylor Swift’s CD (if you find yourself in an actual record store somehow) will include a sticker that “featuring “Shake it Off”” blog proprietors are essentially doing the same: Convince & Convert, featuring “Social Media Strategy in 8 Steps”
Blogs are still online. They are still multi-author in many cases. They are still (often) powered by WordPress. Just about everything else has changed because of the death of the album era, and rise of the blog mixtape. If you haven’t changed your thinking and your blog operations, do it now.
(Incidentally, the new “album” for information is podcasts, where your listenership is much more consistent – like blogging used to be. You might want to take a look at my free guide – How to Produce a Great Podcast in 15 Steps. Or, to find some amazing podcasts visit our world-class search engine at MarketingPodcasts.com)