Time Magazine has made a list of the Top 25 blogs in the World. I came across this list today and the timing couldn’t be better. I was looking for ways to get back to active blogging and this list gave me an idea. What can we learn from these successful blogs? What is it that makes these blogs awesome? Is there a success pattern that we can adopt for our own blogs? I decided to find out. And so, I patiently visited each of these 25 blogs and made notes as I went along. Here are my findings from my 5 hour mission.
1) Pick a Niche Topic: This clearly stands out as a success pattern. Almost every blog listed in the TIME’s list has focused on one particular area and focused deep into it. Lets take a few examples.
TheBillFold is about money. The site’s tag-line says it all, “Everything about Money you were too polite to ask”!
DesignSponge has fascinating ideas and lovely photos of home decorations.
BookShelfPorn does not talk about books. It only focuses on the book shelf designs and there are hundreds of great ideas.
Well, you get the idea. Pick a niche space that you are passionate about. Then focus on covering that area alone. Easy recipe to differentiate yourself.
Invite Guest Authors: There’s only so much that one can write. A good blog requires regular dose of good content to attract and retain audience. Mike Dang and Logan Sachon, the owners of TheBillFold do that cleverly by inviting writers from around the globe to contribute articles on their personal experiences with money. 500px, a great photo community thrives on fantastic photos shot by its members.
A possible lesson here. Open up your blog and invite your readers to participate. This ensures that your blog don’t get cobwebs for long. And its good to have company too.
Use Facebook Plugin for Comments: Commenting platforms like Disqus sucks. People hate registering on sites. Besides, they never update their avatars. See this page. FB commenting system works great, gets repeat audience and helps build a conversation going. For example, scroll down this page and take a look at the comments below. You can embed similar FB plugin from the Facebook Social Plugin Page.
Photos for Every Blog Post: Almost all the blogs in the Top 25 list use a picture to accentuate their blog post. Not only does it make your blog post look good, it provides visual relief from the monotony of text. Even better if you can mix audio and video into your posts.
Talk About Things that Others Won’t: Its very rare for people to openly talk about failures, embarrassing situations or difficulties in life. When people do, they immediately stand out and earn the attention and empathy of the readers. Take Emily Rapp, a mother who writes a blog about her 3 year old son Ronan, who is slowly dying from Tay-Sachs disease. He can no longer move or see. Its a very difficult situation for a mother but the fact that she is opening talking about it and how she is handling the situation is what makes people love her.
Controversy is Good: Take the case of Martha Payne, a 9 year old student who started posting pictures of school lunches everyday in her blog. Not many knew about her blog until the School Council decided to ban her blog. Word leaked out and this created a outrage on social media. Mainstream press started to cover the censorship and a senior minister had to step in to overturn the ban. Her blog helped raise over Rs.1 crore in charity money and she now has a book published. Goes to show that there’s nothing called bad publicity.
Well Researched Articles and Strongly Opinionated: Across all the 25 blogs, I noticed that the blog posts average around 200 words. That’s about 4 paragraphs. Long enough to write a well researched piece. Leave brevity for Twitter and Facebook. Blogs thrive on longer content. Also, remember that people come to your blog for *your* opinions. Say it the way you feel it.
So, these are the 7 trends that I found. What other trends did you notice from the Top 25 Blogs? Got any new ideas to improve our blogs? Please do share.