Personal Theory: Top bloggers don’t read other blogs

I have this feeling that top bloggers do not really follow other blogs. I think they are too busy to read other blogs (probably busy with their own blogs or working on other projects). And even if they followed, I presumed that there must be only a handful of blogs that they really followed on daily basis.

In order to test whether my theory was true, I tweeted some of the top bloggers and had two of them respond. One was Jeremy Schoemaker of Shoemoney.com and the other was Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.com Below is their replies to my question “How many blogs do you read daily?”.

techcrunch.png

shoemoney.png

I also sent one line question through email to few top-bloggers and two of them responded. One was Yaro Starak of www.entrepreneurs-journey.com, and the other was Darren Rowse of www.problogger.net

Yaro said:

Usually zero, but every few days I’ll spend some time checking about 5-10 of the leaders in my industry.

Just after I was starting to think that my theory was in fact true, I received an email from Darren.

Darren said:

I track around 700 blogs – however I don’t read them all (I scan) and I wouldn’t do that on a daily basis. For me there are probably 50 or so that are on my daily read list but the rest would be weekly.

So, again it’s a tie. Not really a tie, but there are people on both sides. But if we were to follow the rules of statistics and make a statement on the poll results. It would read something like this:

75% of top-bloggers either followed no blogs or followed less than 10 blogs daily.

Lesson to be learned from this

If you spend your day reading blogs (tens of them) and do not really do much other than reading blogs (like working on your own blog, working on your personal web projects..etc) then you might want to re-evaluate your reading habits.

Because, these top-bloggers are successful not because they read tons of other blogs, but because they know what to focus on, how to prioritize their daily tasks, and most importantly they know how NOT to waste their time reading so many blogs daily.

Because, at the end of the day, if you do not take action (i.e do something: launch a new niche blog, work on a web project, or make a new software… etc), reading hundreds of blogs daily won’t make you successful. The difference here is “reading only and doing nothingvsreading important things from selective blogs, learning from them, and then making use of this newly acquired knowledge – applying them on your personal projects“.

Your say…

Now, let me listen what you have to say about this theory. Do you think top bloggers read many blogs? And what should be a healthy dose of reading blogs daily? Do you think reading too many blogs will affect your own productivity negatively? Look forward to your comments.

Assessing Your Blog’s Strategic Competitiveness

In strategic management, in order to have a sustainable competitive advantage in a resource based view, you need to have a resource(s) that are valuable, rare, difficult to imitate, and difficult to substitute. If your resource has all of the above mentioned characteristics, then you can be sure to have a sustainable competitive advantage, at least for some time. Because sooner or later your competitors will start to imitate. And if you do not keep innovating, your competitive advantage will be short lived really really fast.

How can we relate this view to blogging? Well, blogging needs a strategy too. And you can easily find where you are in terms of your competitiveness against the other fellow bloggers with this table. Based on your answers you can find your competitiveness level on the right.

rbs.png

Of course, you should be targeting for the all-red line – sustainable competitive advantage. In other words, if you are in all-red, it means that your posts are

  • beneficial to the readers,
  • they are difficult to find on other blogs,
  • your writing style is unique (difficult to copy),
  • you have a personality that is charismatic
  • you have an expertise in certain field that nobody else has.

If you find yourself anywhere in 1 to 3, then you should identify where you are lagging behind, and then come up with a strategy to target that weakness. Of course, if anyone is in the 1st line (competitive disadvantage) then he/she is just wasting his/her time with his/her blog. Because if you are in competitive disadvantage, you better do something really fast or just stop blogging.

Gmail Productivity

I have been using Gmail with “shortcuts on” mode for some time, and I should say it’s great. It saved me a lot of time. It’s especially useful when I use my notebook, because I don’t have to use the touchpad for navigation. Touchpad can be a really pain sometimes.

One of the challenges when you start using Gmail with shortcuts is to remember which keys does what. It’s quite a hassle to check the shortcuts page for info. And I think it’s one of the reasons why people feel lazy to enable shortcuts, because they do not want to keep going back and forth learning shortcuts.

But luckily Gmail has a better solution for it, that some of you might not know. After you have enabled shortcuts, pressing Shift + ? will bring up a semi-transparent layered window with all the shortcuts their functions. Below is the screenshot of this window while Gmail is in Compose mode. This works anywhere in Gmail, as long as you are logged in.

gmail_shortcuts.jpg

So I hope you will be more productive knowing this gmail tip.

Invest in R&D, it’s vital for your business’ survival

If your business is running smoothly and if you have some great products that sell like hot cakes, should you stop investing in R&D? Maybe reduce the investment in R&D and reap the profits that is generated from your cashcow products? The answer is “No”. You should keep investing in R&D, you should keep coming up with great innovative products. Because success lies in continuous innovation, not in one-time innovation.

If Xerox stopped investing in Research & Development, it would be earning 60% less revenue:

More than 2/3rd of Xerox’s revenue comes from products launched in the past two years. source

Some companies like Sony believe in innovation so much, that, they would introduce new products even if those new products are going to kill its own current (cashcow) products. Because, Sony believes in creating “new markets” and not creating products for the existing markets.

Between 1950 and 1982 Sony successfully built 12 different new-market, disruptive-growth businesses. These included the original battery-powered pocket transistor radio, launched in 1955, and the first portable solid-state black-and-white television, in 1960. Plus: videocassette players, portable video recorders, the now-ubiquitous Walkman and 3.5-inch floppy disk drives, launched in 1980. source

So, as you can see, continuous investment in R&D is very important. Unfortunately, many small-to-medium businesses and some startups are usually stuck with few products. After developing few successful products they simply stop investing in R&D and stop coming up with new products. Rather, they resort to fixing and polishing the existing products. In some cases, years would past and the company would be still working on the existing products. What a sad situation that is.

If you start your own company don’t make this grave mistake of not investing in R&D!

Offline Usability: Voting Made Difficult

voting usability x markMalaysia is gearing up for General Election soon. Yesterday mainstream newspaper NST had an article about how people in Malaysia cannot even mark the voting ballots properly. It read:

AROUND the world, a simple X is all it takes to mark the spot on a ballot paper. But just leave it to Malaysians to get a little more creative when stating their choice of candidate…

…According to Election Commission figures, there were 134,058 spoilt votes cast for state assembly seats and 165,018 for parliamentary seats in 2004.

While it may sound so simple to just mark [X] beside the desired candidate, little they know that this is actually quite confusing for people, especially the elderly.

[X] is used for Deleting not Selecting

First of all, people never use [X] for selecting something. X is used for deleting, rejecting or making something void. In everyday life, people either tick or circle the preferred choice.

I am sure this problem happens in every country, it’s just more prevalent in one country than another. Sure, Governments can teach its people how to mark [X] correctly during elections and decrease the number of spoiled votes. But the better, more sustainable solution would be to introduce a system that is usable and intuitive to all people. Because when the system is flawed, you have to constantly teach the people how to use it. That means more expenses for the Government. But if the system is replaced with a functional one, the cost would decrease and there would be less errors and less headache during each election. Maybe using “tick” would help!? Or having separate “Yes” and “No” ballot boxes, where you could throw the deserved candidates? I am sure there will be dozens of other better alternatives if one was to brainstorm.

80/20 Rule, and How it Applies to Blogging

You all have heard about the “80/20 Rule” right? Which states that, for many events, 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes.

Example: 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your clients. Or 80% of the total profits come from the efforts of 20% of your employees in the firm. Or the majority of the earth’s species are located in 17 countries, out of total 240+ countries..

While it’s a general rule, it does apply successfully to many circumstances. We can also apply it to blogging.80/20 rule So, for example, according to 80/20 rule, we can say that 80% of the traffic comes from the 20% regular readers (see pie chart to the left).

We can also say that 80% of your blogging income comes from 20% of your advertisers (these are regular advertisers too, keyword is “regular”).

Finally, many of you can agree on this, that 80% of the comments on your blog are done by the 20% (regular) readers.

Thus, once you have clearly grasped the 80/20 rule and its affects on your blog, you will be able to work more efficiently. Because now you can concentrate on that “20%” more. That means paying more attention to your regular readers and worrying less about those accidental visitors, even if they make up 80% of your total unique visitors (per day/month/year). Because at the end of the day, this 20% are the one who is delivering you 80% of the total traffic your blog gets.

Similarly, you can strengthen your partnership with your 20% advertisers that bring you 80% of the total income that your blog generates.

Conclusion

I think in this “time-scarce” era, this rule is a golden rule that many of us can benefit from. It can make us more efficient, and our efforts more effective. Because by identifying our “important 20%”, we won’t be wasting our energies on things that bring no result.

However, here we should note that, we should not totally ignore the other 80% – we just have to allocate our time and energy according to its importance.

Have you been applying 80/20 rule to your life? How about to your blog?

WordPress: Increase your SERP using Post Slug feature

Do you use post slug feature in WordPress? If yes, then great! If not, then you should really start using it. Post Slug feature is located among one of those boxes at the right side: Categories, Post Status, Discussion… etc.

SEO Advtantage of Using Post Slug

When you use it, you greatly improve your blog’s SEO. In WordPress, if you enable permalinks and if you use Post Title in the URL structure, then you know that the post title becomes part of the URL for each individual post page.

Below is a screenshot of Permalink’s preferences in WordPress:

enabling permalinks

As you can see, I have set Date (Year/Month/Date) followed by Post Title for the URL structure.

Continue reading

WP Plugin: Make your blog’s search strings SEO friendly

wp plugin nice searchNice Search is a WP plugin that makes your blog search “SEO friendly”.

It’s in quotes because normally search results won’t get indexed by search engines, because they are dynamic. Unless of course you store them as a static page in a specific folder in your blog.

But the plugin is still very useful, it makes your search strings “nicer” as the name of the plugin says. As you can see from the screenshot, it turns the normal wordpress search string into /search/keyword format, which is a lot more readable.

Plugin page: http://txfx.net/code/wordpress/nice-search/

Write Pillar Articles, but don’t overdo it (please)!

sample pillar articleDon’t you just hate those posts that have too many unnecessary and not important bullet points inside? Writing pillar articles is one thing, but overdoing it is totally opposite.

Writing pillar articles in its true sense will bring you more traffic (Diggs, Stumbles, Reddits, linkbacks), more readers (your blog will be bookmarked more, RSS count will increase) and more advertisers (you will earn more), but overdoing it will have the totally opposite effect. When you overdo it, it sends a message to your readers that you are incompetent and don’t know what you are talking. But before we proceed…

What is Pillar Article?

Pillar articles are complete articles, that start with proper introduction and end with proper conclusion. Body part of the article will contain points, arguments, or sub topics. Usually they are bulleted, numbered, or simply put under separate sub-headings.

It is this part (body) that gets abused. Some bloggers just want to make their article longer, and thus enter all sorts of bullet points, even if the points are insignificant. It’s not the length of the article that counts, it’s the substance, the ingredients of your article that is important. Therefore, do not bother if your article falls short of its intended or desired length. Your article is complete before you add those additional points.

Continue reading

CSS Tip: Increasing readability of your blog in one easy step

One line of CSS code can do so much to improve your blog’s readability. It’s a simple thing to do, yet I see many blogs are not making use of it. It’s the line-height: code in CSS. It defines the space between the lines. Screenshots below show two different pages; one without line-height code and another with line-height set to 20pixels.

As you can see, it’s so much easier to read the second page.

css line height

css line height 20px

Just add: line-height: XXpx; to your main theme in style.css file

Whitespace around images

Another thing that is usually neglected is, not using whitespace around the images (i.e padding). It’s a simple thing to do too. I have blogged about it here, this post teaches you how to specify margins for your images, so that the text around the image won’t stick to the border of the image.

While these things are fairly simple things to implement in blogs (which many of us do not bother to do it), but the result that they produce is: better blog readability and professional looking blog.