Day’s Verse:
Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth. Scripture says the same:
Your words stand fast and true;
Rejection doesn’t faze you.

Romans 3:3-ish (context)

American ScaleI’m now theoretically posting on three blogs: This one, the Bicycle Alliance’s new blog, and the AmeriCorps blog. Fortunately, my commitment to the AmeriCorps blog extends to only one more post. I have agreed to write one post per week for the Bicycle Alliance blog, not exactly an overwhelming task. It’s sure strange to have to dig up something creative to write; I’m so used to posting or not posting on my personal blog as I please for all these years.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Bike Snob‘s rise to fame. Waaaay back in 2007 he started an anonymous blog making fun of…well…everybody in “bike culture.” His dry wit has led to his meteoric rise in popularity, and recently he released a book and, to much fanfare (in the biking community), revealed his true identity. Here’s a guy who’s basically a normal guy and who started a blog — much like millions of other people. Yet, of all the bloggers in the world, Bike Snob rose to extraordinary popularity, while most blogs perish or languish in the twilight world of family-only readership.


It’s pretty simple, actually. He:

  1. Kept his personal life entirely out of it. Until he revealed himself, very few readers actually knew his identity. There was no “I saw Date Night with my dear wife last night” on his blog.

  2. Stuck to one specific topic. Bicycling and bicycling culture. He didn’t worry about appealing to a broad audience; turns out, the audience came to him.

  3. Wrote daily and profusely. This must have taken hours every day, quite a labor of…well, not love, but something serious anyway, since he held a real job at the time.

  4. Used humor ruthlessly. He has occasional moments of hilariousness and he made fun of everybody across the board. Nobody can accuse him of leaving some bicycling group unscathed. He also coined humorous, expressive phrases like “bike salmon” and “colorway” that have actually made it into fairly broad usage.

I really believe that those are the relatively simple recipe to “success” as a blog. When people find your blog funny, they come back. They talk about it. Word of mouth does the rest.

My blog, for example, would never achieve that level of popularity because I don’t adhere to any of those practices. Ultimately, it comes down to a question of what your blog is for. How you answer the question “Why blog?” really determines what format you choose to follow. For me, this blog has become as much of a record for my own reference as an opportunity to share. “Readership”? Who needs it?

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Blog Popularity

  1. Yeah, there’s no point in angling for popularity if you’re sacrificing the principle of the thing in the meantime. Chimaera gets a fair number of first-time visitors, but not a lot of return traffic, mainly because the topics it covers are so varied. People find a politics post or a books post, but then lose interest when the next post is about something entirely different. But I don’t want to write a blog about just one topic. I want to write about whatever I feel like.

  2. “I want to write about whatever I feel like.” Exactly!

    I used to keep track of site traffic, but eventually I decided it wasn’t really meaningful. Plus, looking at the stats encouraged me to start obsessing about the numbers and how to increase them, which sidetracked me from the enjoyment of just blogging without worrying about what other people think or if anybody reads it.

  3. You have to have a pretty intense drive to have a successful blog. And you do need to have a consistent voice. I don’t think that you need to ruthlessly expunge all mention of your personal life, if you weave it into whatever your message or focus is about.

    I think I’d like to have more of a voice, and that’ll require some new things. I don’t want to give up my tiny personal blog for friends, but I think I could be doing more.

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