Argh, it’s time for me to practice what I preach. Judging from my late submission, you should be able to tell that I’m pretty apprehensive about joining my own meme…
Peanut Butter Jelly Time isn’t going to save the world anytime soon.
It all started after I saw a strange scene in Family Guy where Brian the dog dances to cheer Peter up. He sings the tune “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” and wears a banana outfit to go with it. At that point I was baffled enough to do some research, and lo behold, a quick post that soon became my most referenced Google seach item ever. This now begs the question: Why is it still the most popular post? Perhaps a topic for a future investigation.
You can easily tell the rest of my popular posts from the “Top Ten Posts” widget on my sidebar. As aggregated from the “click-thru” readership count at the bottom of each post, the Top Ten plugin (downloadable here) simply shows posts with the highest number of views. This popularity is determined entirely by readers and is a part of my blogging workflow which I have no control over. It’s my lazy way of getting readers to generate meta-content for additional reading.
Do Popular Blog Posts reflect Identity or Utility?
As some of you have already experienced, your most popular posts might not represent you as well as you might hope. Having my top ten posts completely in the hands of my readers turns out to be both a boon and a bane. For instance, you can tell how I love gadgets and web oddities, but what you might not realize are some of my perspectives on politics, academia, as well as life in Singapore and America.
On a similar note, notice how we can spend hours writing solid content, only to get less viewership than a five minute quick post you wrote previously? Popularity may seem to have an accidental nature to it, but it’s something which prolific bloggers have been trying to bring it down to a science. That’s where this meme gets its existence…
While my professor Alex Halavais and blogger Julie Meloni noted the flimsy metrics I suggested for finding your popular blog posts, it really doesn’t matter. The results might differ according to methodology, but they shouldn’t stray off the same cluster of thought unless you have a tendency to write eclectically.
The driving force behind this meme lies in my ultra-secret-yet-altruistic motive of having you create your own “Greatest Hits”
album blog post roundup for your readers. Combine this with the fact that this is a meme, means that everyone has a fair share at redeeming refreshing themselves and giving attention to those posts which you feel are like diamonds in the rough.
So what do popular posts tell us?
A lot, but it mostly gives us a chance to reflect and rethink our writing habits. A little marketing sense gets you readership, but too much tactical blogging and your blog will start to sound cheesy. As a guide, your popular posts have shown me a few interesting trends:
1. Blogging at the Right Place, at the Right Time
RamblingLibrarian and Jennimi are both librarians but in different parts of the world. Interestingly, both of them cited specific library related events as their most popular posts, which goes to show how blogging at the right place, at the right time matters. If you read some of the other meme submissions, you’ll also realize that blogging reviews about the latest movies also brings good results.
2. Connecting with Real People
Nadnut’s popular post was a reader rollcall, where she discovered how a primary and secondary school friend had been reading her since her 1st year blogging. Leisa Reichelt also noted how you need the network to make anything you write widely read. I practice this simply by reading other blogs and leaving comments. It’s a tit for tat routine that pays off for everyone.
3. Adding Numbers in Titles
Leisa also shares how numbers play a big part in getting readership. We’re talking about those posts that go something like “Five ways to speed up your Mac” or “Ten Tips to getting more chicks”. I’m guilty of some of them only because it’s a nice way of saying “this article is going to be short and sharp”. People like that, especially busy ones.
4. “How-to” write popular posts
Alec over at the8thsign wrote a semi-how-to by mapping existing PC apps with equivalent Mac apps, which is great for the rise in Mac switchers. NoFancyName shows us the power of her “How-To for making expandable blog posts in Blogger”, which alone accounted for a full 26% of her blog traffic. It’s also Topic 21 in Chapter 3, “All About Posting,” in her book on Blogger called “Sams Teach Yourself: Blogging in a Snap”. Being a good netizen, she kept the how-to online even though the book went to print. Smart move since that makes for really good marketing. I must add that combining a how-to with something blog related gets you tons of traffic as seen in my writeup, “From Del.icio.us to WordPress: How to automatically post daily links“. Not only is it a how-to, but being meta means you get tons of trackbacks. I still get one or two every single day!
5. On eternally popular conversations
Leisa couldn’t let us go without sharing with us another killer tip she realized. In her own words, “Some conversations never die and seem to be eternally popular. In my case, my brushes with the “Ugly Design debate” and the “Where are the Women Bloggers” debate were a lot more high impact than I’d expected. At the time of writing, I wasn’t really aware that these discussions had been going on in the blogosphere for years already, and since I’ve written them I’ve seen them bubble up from time to time.” While most people tend to stay away from old issues, it’s a good idea to refresh it sometimes by giving it a new perspective and adding your valuable two-cents to it.
6. Joining memes works
Chuck of Chutry scored big with his book meme. Joining this meme means you are practicing the actual. Nuff said.
7. Can you Digg it?
Social bookmarking sites are a trendy way of getting your blog posts heard. Digg and Del.icio.us both have popularity rankings mechanisms which promotes your article accordingly. With their popularity with everyone else, it won’t remain effective unless you have good content to begin with.
There are bound to be more tips out there, but these are just a few I’ve glanced from some of your popular posts. Ultimately, I’m aligned with CrappyCrap’s philosophy, where blogging should be all about writing for yourself, not others. Still, understanding how readership works and adapting it to your writing routine might help us extract more joy from our work. Though popularity shouldn’t be the main motivator for blogging, it does help add validity your blog’s existence. After blogging for a while, I find it important to get into your comfort zone and not feel pressured to gain a wide readership. Instead, try to focus on making a few good friends and remember that contentment comes best from within.
Remember to read all the BestBlogForward meme submissions via technorati and see what others have shared so far!
NOTE: For those of you doing this for the $25 Amazon Gift Card or Flickr Pro account, do note that the closing date for the contest is at 11.59pm (Eastern Standard Time) or 11.59am (Singapore Time) on Wednesday, 31st May 2006. You are welcomed to continue blogging the meme, but just remember that you’ll only be getting the consolation prize… i.e. some traffic to your blog. :P