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Great Blog Traits: Audience Participation

Written by Scrivs on April 27, 2006

When I say “audience participation” I don’t mean how well people comment on your site or if anyone even comments on your site, I am talking about how well you interact with the people who do decide to participate on your site. Having no comments is one thing (not a bad thing at all since some subjects lend themselves better to discussions than others), but having 10 comments and the discussion dies repeatedly because you refuse to participate in it is another thing.

Now this isn’t really something we notice when we are evaluating sites, but it is something you should be aware of when running your own site. It takes time and effort for people to leave comments and it’s a good feeling when the owner of the site responds to what you have to say. Admittedly you reach a point where you can’t address every single comment, but that doesn’t give you the right to drop out of the conversation completely.

Right when you receive your first comment your site becomes a community site. Sure you run it and dictate it, but you need to keep the community happy and hopefully you having discussions with your readers will make you happy as well.

Return Customer Turns 1

Written by Scrivs on April 27, 2006

Reaching your first anniversary, or any anniversary, for your site is always a major achievement since sticking with it for so long isn’t the easiest thing in the world so I am more than happy to see that Return Customer has reached such a great milestone. Joe continues to produce great business content and if you haven’t done so already I highly recommend subscribing to the site.

Cheers Joe, and here’s to many more years of independent publishing.

Great Blog Traits: Design

Written by Scrivs on April 26, 2006

Being well-known in the design community had its benefits when we started the Network. The majority of first round submissions were design related sites done by designers and a great deal of these sites were top-notch with regards to design quality. The Network got labeled as one where all sites are beautiful and over time people became to believe that a requirement to join us was a great blog design.

Well to be honest, design does play a factor, but it isn’t about beauty.

When looking at sites, the ones with great designs do keep us on their pages longer, but that doesn’t replace great content. Sites that are simply unreadable due to their design get about 2 seconds of our time. We don’t expect beautiful, but we do expect clean so that we can get to your content. We are not a design gallery and we don’t showcase great designs, we showcase quality content, so please make it easy for us to get to.

Don’t fall under the misconception that everyone uses RSS. You want people reading your site then give them the content front and center. Don’t get cute with things because you probably get annoyed just as easily when visiting another site and you can’t get to the content immediately. So you see, design does play a huge role, but not in the way you probably thought.

We Don’t Want Just One

Written by Scrivs on April 25, 2006

Christian Montoya has put together a great entry asking why there aren’t other networks like 9rules, but what is interesting is that there are other networks like 9rules. There just aren’t any other networks like 9rules if you catch my drift.

We would never want to be the only ones in this space because we love competition. We love seeing what others bring to the table because we know that can only make us better. What we do is no secret. Maybe there is a secret formula that I have yet to write down, but otherwise everything is laid out on the table.

So why do people feel there is only one network like us? I can’t say for sure, but I do share my thoughts over at Whitespace, but it’s good to know that people want to see more 9rules because that means they want to see a lot more quality content floating around the web and we have to agree.

Great Blog Traits: Consistency

Written by Scrivs on April 25, 2006

It’s hard to pin down what the first thing we look for in a site when evaluating it for inclusion into the Network, but one of the top traits has to be consistency of writing. Consistency can mean a couple of things, but the two big ones for me are:

  • Writing patterns
  • Writing quality

Writing Patterns

We have all been there before with our blogs. Those streaks of time where we tell ourselves we are going to pump out great content day after day without fail and after day three we seem to lapse and a week or two goes by with nothing. Maybe we convince ourselves to try again or maybe we just give up. In any case, how often do you go through these streaks? If it’s on a couple of occassions you are definitely losing the consistency of your blog that your readers may be looking for. Whether we like it or not our readers come to expect content at certain intervals based on previous patterns.

Posting daily over a 3 month span will lead them to believe you will always post daily. Posting a couple times a month means a couple times a month. How consistent can you remain? A big issue I have is that it seems a ton of people that submit have a great amount of content and then for the previous 30-45 days there isn’t anything to show on the site. We aren’t going to troll through your archives to see what you have written if the homepage’s latest entry is from January.

Find your pattern and try your best to stick with it. Your readers will thank you.

Writing Quality

The best example that I can think of to signify my viewpoint on consistency of writing quality is John Gruber. When he writes a lengthy entry he always makes sure its top notch. It’s that little bit of extra effort that takes a good entry to a great one, but so many people seem to avoid that effort. How often do you produce good-to-great writing on your site?

One entry linked by Digg or Slashdot means nothing to us. How many entries actually bring readers back to your site is what is important. Are you content with writing one good thing and then posting blurbs for the next two months?

Now I understand producing something grand takes time and energy and not all of us are up to the task of doing it on a frequent basis, but that doesn’t mean each entry you produce can’t be at least good. Think of the sites you read and why you keep going back. If you were reading your site would you go back to it?

Overall be consistent with your site. We all experience downtime and many of our members have had stretches of time where their offline lives take precedence (as they should) and we talk about it. Your blog shouldn’t be your life, but if you are going to put one out there for the public to see why not try to be consistent with it?