One of the challenges facing blogs today in the sea of noise is the balancing act between quality and quantity. It's actually easy to pump out posts and drive up traffic, but do many posts offer a depth of quality that delivers engaged readers, or simply higher, drive-by page views?
It's an issue I've been grappling with since the day The Inquisitr launched. I know that the days I post more, the traffic goes up as a rule, and yet I know, particularly in the first month, that pumping out posts on the latest hot news item of the day wasn't a satisfying experience for me. If I don't like the content I'm producing, how can I expect an engaged audience to like it as well?
The Quality Equation
If you're a blogger, ask yourself what defines your blog? Is it a range of Digg focused lists, are you simply chiming in on the latest big news story because everyone else is? Does this deliver something unique, or is it simply a page view chasing game?
Blogging 2.0 is quickly defining itself by original content. You can see the quality posts by visiting FriendFeed, or popping across to QMeme, which itself pulls data from what's popular among the 1200+ people I follow on FriendFeed. New voices are being heard, people who don't shout the loudest or write posts for the sake of being controversial because it makes for a quick Techmeme headline, but people who write what they honestly think, but in a way that makes a positive contribution to the blogosphere. I know they're the sorts of people I want to read, and I hear the same thing from many others.
Long term gains
The hardest part of shifting to a 2.0 way of thinking is giving up the quick traffic fix the old ways often deliver. The Inquisitr actually went backwards in terms of traffic in its second month as I came to realize that I didn't want to chase the hottest story, but has slowly started to build traffic again as (hopefully) readers have found The Inquisitr offers something unique, on top of our eclectic mix of content.
Shifting away from the glib headline, the me-tooism of the Crunchmeme-osphere, the need to yell the loudest and offend the most is like quitting drugs, not always the easiest thing. I'm betting that as a goal it will deliver long term, sustainable engagement that translates to traffic over the medium to long term for anyone who pursues this for their blog. If it doesn't, look for The Inquisitr listing on eBay in around 4-6 months time :-)
You can measure engagement
Engagement as a selling proposition isn't always easy. Advertisers and others looking in at your blog will naturally migrate towards pageviews, and if you're not shouting the loudest, there's every chance that your page views wont be quite as high. I've been discussing engagement with some potential advertisers recently, and I'm pleased to note that more and more, advertisers are taking into account engagement as well as pageviews. The Inquisitr isn't about to break any records in the page view stakes, but I'm immensely product of the Technorati rank, with the site about to break into the Top 5,000 blogs online mark, and I've notice that advertisers are already aware of this when I talk to them.
One other defining feature of Blogging 2.0 is the level of community participation. The days of building a blog and expecting people to find it have long past. Participation is part of the quality equation that defines you as a blogger, and by relationship your blog. My own preference for active participation is via FriendFeed, but I hear of other people being active on services such as Plurk and getting similar returns. Forums are still alive and kicking, and you can take your pick of social bookmarking/ voting sites. The quality of your participation can play a role in defining the perceived quality of your posts.
You might also find that by reading and engaging with smart people, people with different viewpoints, or from different backgrounds, that the quality of your writing improves as well. There's no better way to improve yourself as a writer than reading excellent content elsewhere. You don't copy it, but you absorb the various inputs and turn them into an improved you.
The old ways of blogging are slowly dying out. Community, participation, quality are all words that need to be at the front of your thinking. Ask yourself as you write a post whether you actually think it makes a good read, or whether you are only writing it on the off chance it ends up on Techmeme or Digg. In the massive sea of noise that is the blogosphere, will people remember what you write and come back from more, or will they forget you 5 minutes later?