10 Candles Burning Bright

The Wall Street Journal (paid sub. req.) is celebrating blogging’s 10th anniversary, although they afix no hard and fast date to the form’s emergence.

The business paper asked a number of people to pontificate on the subject. Blogerati chairwoman emeritus, Elizabeth Spiers, offers some nice insight into the practice (as does Scott Karp…see video above). So I’ll share some of her commentary here:

Of the various blogs I’ve written or produced, the ones that worked best — the ones that had the biggest and most loyal readerships — always had a few consistent qualities. They were topically focused, often in niche areas. They published regularly and frequently, typically during office hours and several times a day. They published content that was original or difficult to find, from breaking news to proprietary photographs to obscure links that readers are unlikely to find on their own. They were usually well-written, which has its own intrinsic appeal for anyone who prefers to enjoy what they’re reading. And lastly, they engaged their readership by soliciting feedback and responding to it, in the form of asking for tips, allowing comments or otherwise demonstrating some level of interest in their audience’s preferences.
Most blogs are personal diaries and don’t fit those criteria, even in part. But the success of the various blogs that do choose to follow the aforementioned formula indicates that it’s possible to create commercially viable media products for niche audiences.

The subjects of this article were also asked which blogs were personal favorites. Spiers likes Design Observer, MaudNewton.com and Reason Magazine’s blog. Mia Farrow likes BoingBoing and GPSMagazine.com. Newt Gingrich likes RedState.org and PowelineBlog.com (no surprise there). Novelist, Tom Wolfe, “weary of narcissistic shrieks and baseless ‘information,’ ” says he no longer reads blogs.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.