Here's something for the finalists at the Irish Blog Awards to consider (BTW - congrats to all finalists!). Canadian blogger (and all-round Learning Technologies guru) Stephen Downes in a recent post Fads and Fanboys: The Top 10 Tricks Bloggers Use to Drive Traffic writes that "bloggers have typically turned to some tried and true methods for attracting and keeping their readers' loyalty" - in other words "Tricks".
|Photo from downes.ca.|
Here are the 10 "tricks" described by Downes:
- Simple Structure - "avoid taxing their readers' minds"
- Pander to Fads - "if something is in the news, its a trending keyword, which means that it's time to write an article mentioning the fad or trend"
- Celebrities - "Pick a few people who are ‘stars' in your field, and follow them religiously"
- Homespun wisdom - "Don't give people new things to learn; stick with the comfortable and familiar"
- It's new! It's new! - "Talking about harmless new things is a surefire winner"
- Tips and Tricks - "introduce people to a small thing they can do that doesn't take much time and gives them a shiny result, you will have your readers' interest every day"
- Work the Social Networks - Use Twitter and Facebook to "will generate legions of loyal readers"
- Be puzzled - "If you can ask questions of your readers while getting them to think you're actually informing them, you've hit the golden mean"
- Arts, Entertainment and Sports - "Never stray far from arts, entertainment and sports"
- Find the ‘Best Of' - "Your list need not actually evaluate resources for different values of ‘best' – just list the ones you know, and call them the best"
After taking the piss out of each of these "tricks", Downes goes on to say that we should do the "exact opposite of this". He then challenges all us bloggers to (among other things) "Focus on what's important, not faddish..., Challenge your readers with new ideas and new ways of seeing the world..., Don't be distracted by the gossip chain that is the social networks..., Take the time to weight, evaluate, try out and look up".
Wise words indeed - something we should all take into account when we blog. We should ask ourselves what are we trying to do? It is very tempting to regard blogging as a "look at me" exercise, or spend time looking up page hits data, or counting our followers and comments. Sure - we want as many people to read our blogs as possible. I'm certain that the traffic to the finalists' blogs is up since they were nominated. If we take Stephen Downes' advice, we may have less readers - but they will be better readers and we will have played a role in making them better.