Thursday, February 5, 2009

word player 2.0 > Research

Snapped this John Baldessari at LACMA, where there is still virtually no blog-related art

Yesterday I decided to take a week and attempt to conjure a "reboot" concept for this blog that, when executed, would fulfill me creatively AND reach a wide enough audience to serve as a marketing tool for my services as a professional writer. Now that I've laid out what my goal is, I think it makes sense for me to tackle this assignment as I would any other gig. I've heard from many other creative professionals that just as doctors are often terrible patients, they are their own worst clients. I will try to be levelheaded as I give and receive direction to and from myself, but I am Hollywood-adjacent so there may be obscenity-filled tirades and pandering illogic.

I know that this is a pipe dream, but what the hell: what could really make this process interesting is if you chimed in with thoughts and direction for me to consider along the way. As a work-from-home freelancer since 2001, the thing I miss most about office life is the ease of collaboration, the bouncing back and forth of ideas. The end goal is to create a blog concept that's entertaining and/or thought-provoking enough that you would want to read it regularly, so why not help me sculpt it out of clay?

So, now that I have my creative brief in front of me and I've had some time for contemplation, the next step is a little research. To be honest (I say that a lot , don't I?) I don't read many blogs nor do I read about blogs other than the occasional article in the newspaper. Let's look at the current state of blog affairs and see if we can spot a burgeoning trend or identify an underserved niche that could be helpful.

Technorati, one of the primary search engines designed specifically for combing through blogs, has a "State of the Blogosphere: 2008" post that is as good a place as any to start. Here are some interesting stats:
  • comScore MediaMetrix (August 2008)
    • Blogs: 77.7 million unique visitors in the US
    • Facebook: 41.0 million | MySpace 75.1 million
    • Total internet audience 188.9 million
  • eMarketer (May 2008)
    • 94.1 million US blog readers in 2007 (50% of Internet users)
    • 22.6 million US bloggers in 2007 (12%)
  • Universal McCann (March 2008)
    • 184 million WW have started a blog | 26.4 US
    • 346 million WW read blogs | 60.3 US
    • 77% of active Internet users read blogs
Wow. So I am one of approx. 26.4 million bloggers in the U.S. That's a lot of competition. I'm glad I gave myself a whole week to figure this out. It's good to see that 77% of internet users read blogs. That's encouraging.

My background is in the entertainment industry, and according to MediaMetrix 4 of the top 10 entertainment sites (OMG, TMZ, Asylum and Perez Hilton) are blogs. Good to know.

Other than Jessica Alba (who is currently tagged in an amazing 15,499 blog posts), who and what are people blogging about? Barack Obama is tagged in 223,934 posts, while the iPhone has a whopping 184,991 tags. I could check these numbers all day- it's fascinating to see what people are spending their days talking and writing about.

Here's what people are looking for in blogs, based on the top Technorati searches:
I've never seen an episode of ALIAS- apparently I'm in the minority there. Several of these searches mean little or nothing to me, hmmm.

Here are the top 10 blogs by "authority" (or, how many other blogs have linked to the site in the past six months.)
  1. Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post
  2. Engadget
  3. TechCrunch
  4. Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide
  5. Boing Boing
  6. Official Google Blog
  7. Lifehacker, tips and downloads for getting things done
  8. Daily Kos: State of the Nation
  9. Ars Technica
  10. Smashing Magazine
OK. Two politics/news sites, and eight technology sites. No fear of me going there.

this will still be my command post, so please don't suggest a travel journal
of my experiences at the world's best water parks.

I've chosen not to have advertisements on my blog because I think they look cheesy and I've never approached the kind of traffic numbers that would produce any meaningful income. This, though, is pretty startling:

The majority of bloggers we surveyed currently have advertising on their blogs. Among those with advertising, the mean annual investment in their blog is $1,800, but it’s paying off. The mean annual revenue is $6,000 with $75K+ in revenue for those with 100,000 or more unique visitors per month.

Looks like 100,000 unique visitors per month is a magic number.

Another interesting place to take the current temperature is Blogger's "Blogs of Note," a daily pick by the Blogger staff. Here are the conceits of the last ten Blogs of Note:

Expat Journal
Expat Journal
Tablescaping (the art of, it seems, setting a good looking table.)

OK, a little more room to play with here. Interesting.

I'm now going to return to my paying clients (I'm working for myself on spec), but I feel I've done some good foundation work for the days to come. Plenty of food for thought. Next I will select five different general areas in which to brainstorm a specific angle for the reboot. Then, at the end of the process, I'll give it all some more consideration and announce the "winning" direction.

Tomorrow's blog angle will be "The Curator." See you then.


peter k said...

something i thought about... what about the idea that some people want to just do good work and some people want to be famous. But what's wrong with either? Its okay to want to be famous, right? What if you know that by doing good work you will be famous so that's your motivation. or being famous will let you do whatever work you want?

Mr. Word Player said...

That's an interesting question "It's OK to want to be famous, right?"

I don't want to confuse "fame" with "exposure", because although I'm seeking greater exposure the last thing I want is fame.

I certainly understand why people chase fame, but I think oftentimes they're confusing fame with success and happiness, and there are just as many examples of people's fame bringing them misery as there are of fame delivering happiness and fulfillment.