Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why you'll never have an A-list blog

Kent Newsome has been participating in an interesting discussion about why it's impossible to build a successful new blog in 2006.

Kent's a techno geek and he would like his blog to build up the kind of numbers achieved by Doc Searl, or Boing Boing for example. These guys get thousands of visitors every day and they're part of a cabal called the A-list. The rest of us are mostly Z-listers and are to be pitied, even despised. Oh, and excluded too. We're on the outside looking in.

There appear to be a number of reasons why this situation has developed but for brevity's sake I'll confine myself to the most plausible explanations.

Primarily these guys are popular because they have first mover advantage. In other words, they have been around longest. As they've grown they've built up their own momentum and now inhabit a different universe from the rest of us. I should say at this point that it's a given that they produce regular, quality content, although so do a lot of bloggers who labour in obscurity.

Kent has given this invidious situation a lot of thought and he also argues that these A-listers receive help from other established bloggers, either formally, or informally via links and interblog conversations. So far so good. The problem arises with the implication that A-listers are perfectly happy to maintain the status quo, indeed actively encourage it. So much so that they have become gatekeepers, excluding the rest of us from their party. You try and link to them but they ignore you, for example.

Assuming that most bloggers actually want a decent readership, this is a pretty depressing scenario if it's true. What's to be done? Kent suggests that you should try making friends with other bloggers. In other words form your own z-list cabal from amongst the long tail of anonymous toilers in the blogosphere. Actually, this is not a bad idea, and it has the laws of physics on its side as far as building momentum goes.

The other strategem he suggests is leaving comments on popular blogs. Friendly, informed and witty comments that is. Keep your spleen and envy well-hidden if you want to dine, however briefly, at the top table.

In my next post I'll describe my own treatment at the hands of the A-listers of the literary firmament.

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