Friday, March 21, 2008

Does Size Always Matter ... In Blogging, I Mean

The Press Gazette has published a league table of the number of unique visitors for the biggest mainstream media news sites for January 2008.

BBC News 9.77 million
The Sun 4.54m
Guardian.co.uk 4.49m
Telegraph.co.uk 2.66m
The Times 2.65m
Mail 2.59m
New York Times 1.74m
Sky News 1.61m
CNN 1.44m
Independent 1.08m
Mirror 1.08m
Financial Times 0.86m
Manchester Evening News 0.54m*

When you consider that the top three most popular political blogs (Guido, ConHome and yours truly) get between 0.25 and 0.35m unique visitors a month, you have to say that's not bad considering we're all more or less one man bands, compared with the journalistic and marketing resources all the above organisations have at their disposal.

Frankly, the only way individual blogs will ever really compete for traffic with the MSM is to ally themselves with one of the MSM sites. But if they did that they would lose their unique identity, I suspect. The difference between here and the US is that the big US blogs tend to be group based blogs rather than individual ones. Some are even attracting venture capital. I can't see that happening here as the only really successful group blogs have been started by MSM organisations.

Strnagely, I do not see blogs as competing with anyone. Some may compete with each other, I suppose, but it is facile to suggest that an individual like me or Guido can truly compete with a blog run by a major corporation. But what does 'compete' actually mean? Does it purely mean blog traffic, or does it mean quantity and quality of writing? I may get higher traffic than the Spectator Coffee House but I cannot compete with them for frequency of posting or indeed quality of writing. And in the end, that means their traffic levels will, one day, overtake mine, I suspect.

In the end, what makes a blog succeed is its uniqueness. Is it doing something that no one else is? Is it filling a niche? Does it have a 'personality'? Look at all the most successful blogs and those are the criteria they meet - Guido, ConHome, Dizzy, PoliticalBetting, John Redwood, - the list goes on. Perhaps this is the reason why so few blogs on the left have 'made it' outside their own milieu - because they have failed in the uniqueness and personality test. Those that do meet it still fail to attract a mass audience. I'd put Hopi Sen, Dave's Part, Quaequam, Cicero's Songs, Bob Piper and NorfolkBlogger in this category, but I doubt whether any of them get a four figure unique visitor count each day. Does it matter? Not really in the short term, because a good blog is a good blog, no matter what level of readership it has. But in the long term people start asking themselves why they are bothering if few people are bothering to read what they have to say. They shouldn't. Most politicians would give their eye teeth to give a speech to an audience of two hundred. So if you are a candidate with a blog whose readership amounts to only a few hundred, that's the fact you should comfort yourself with! It really is a truism in blogging to say that it isn't always size that matters.

10 comments:

the_beekeeper said...

Iain,

On a different topic, the fact that our supreme leader has been caught cycling the wrong direction down a one-way street, and through red lights, can only be good news. If these are the only criticisms he currently faces then surely we're on the right track!

Newmania said...

I like Hopi , Cicero and Bob Piper for some perverse reason although I do not see eye to eye with any of them.I also never miss John Redwood or the Coffee House.

I thought it was just me

Anonymous said...

I enjoy Cicero and Quaequam and Iain ... what does that say about me?!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy Cicero and Quaequam and Iain ... what does that say about me?!

Chris K said...

I agree. For me, one person reading a post is one person who hears my views who wouldn't otherwise have done; if a hundred people end up reading a particular post then that's a better audience than I would otherwise be able to reach, particulary from the comfort of my flat with a glass of wine in front of me. The fact that Iain's blog is bigger than mine doesn't mean his penis is.

(Hmmm. I wonder if this comment will get though moderation.)

Anonymous said...

It is quality and not quantity that counts at the end of the day...

The Englishman said...

http://www.wikio.co.uk/blogs/top/politics provides an interesting other view on what who are the top political bloggers in the UK

tapestry said...

By writing a blog I find out a lot more. It's interaction, as much as distribution. Comments can be informative, as can clicking on referrals and seeing the other links found by your readers' searches. 100 or so readers a day is fine, or 20 or 600. What does it matter if you're enjoying the process?

Anonymous said...

The ASI put its visitor stats recently on its site. It gets more readers than ConservativeHome.

Dirty European Socialist said...

Does size matter. Not it is what you do with it that counts LOL.