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Who Reads your Blog, really?

If most of my acquaintances are to be believed, they work all day, go home, eat, relax (with their partner) and go to bed. In office, work apparently is hectic, they barely scrape out time to eat, or talk to their colleagues (when they can).
Surf the Internet? Sure! Once in a while though, and rarely at home. Just weekends and the 'time between work'. Those who are stay-at-home have too many personal activities to succumb to the lure of the net. Are they lying? Well, about their presence on the web, I don think so. On the rest, I can't comment.

Of the zillions of people out there who download stuff, a hundred million does exactly the above - connect to the net, check mail, find a certain song/ movie/ TV show they want and download it. At max they go to a news-site.

So who gets the time to surf, and to check-out blogs?

'Mainstream' as they are considered now, blogs are still alien concepts to many modern day individuals. Twice in the past two weeks I have been asked by colleagues what a blog is (and I am not even talking of my parents generation) and how that makes them different from an Editorial. There are still TV shows which discuss 'blogging - a new tool' with introductions by the hosts and description by a blogger. Even those who see the presence of a "Blog" on a common information site like yahoo, rediff etc, barely ever venture to them, and even if they do, the quality is not good enough to keep them hooked. In that respect, I don't consider blogs mainstream for the real population. (Real population are those who are alive in the real world) It is a reality in the realms of the Internet.

Out of the millions of people who have Internet, the number of people actually using it for more than email and an occasional download will be few. For the rest, the funda of a blog remains unfathomable (whats the point?) or, they keep a private 'journal' - not a 'blog' - that too rarely online.

The few remaining are the Internet-ers. They scour the Web, search its nooks and crannies, and sometimes have a feed which they check on a regular basis - daily or weekly or even monthly.
They are the audience for a blog, an unconventional post, the unrelated surfing of the Net-waves.

And often, they can be classified.

There are others who spend all their time at home doing nothing but reading their feeds and finding new ones. Perfect. They are audience for drivel, and anything, as long as it is virtually available.

Then there are the repeats. The audience who goes to 50 different pages and searches 10 more. They are the traffic for most of the regular bloggers. If you read a comic online, you are bound to be reading at least 3 more. If you read a blog on political unrest, I can bet you are subscribed to the feed of its competitive blogs as well. The seemingly billion plus population population can become a few hundred millions of you just consider the repeaters. Every site does not have unique visitors, neither do they have a unique visitor for every single comment and click. The phenomenon of tagging reveals this. A Digger, a Redditer, a StumbleUponer, s Delicious-er... they can be the same person!

And then, there are the blog writers themselves. For most of the writers to be updated, they have to spend sufficient amount of time surfing and investigating the web. It is a commonly understood fact that to gain popularity for your blog one should comment on well-founded ones - its a cycle.

There is another pseudo-category. The people who stay at home, and their job entails reading on the Net.These are those who are editors, writers for speakers, public relations people, book writers - you get the idea. They need to be on the Net to know what's on it, and they do that all day long, every day.

Some of the people who read this very blog don't read any other, save the one odd article recommended to them, or further blogs of their other flesh-and-blood friends. They rely on word of mouth.

This brings us back to the question, who is a blog catering to, really? The person who is jaded by content on the net, is a voracious reader, or one who writes another? The population which falls in between is extremely small in comparison, and unadventurous. Repeat visits from that population is unconfirmed.

The one category that really makes a diligent blog reader is not the wanderer of the www, nor is it the other contemporary blogs and news sites. What really will differentiate a blog and ensure it is found is a category. A marketing blog, a finance blog, an angst blog, one on steel, on politics - blogs catering to a niche. This ensures the average marketing guy chances upon your blog, the economist reads you, and so on. Thus, you get found more easily on searches, and you get read. By all three categories.

That makes it the jaded Internet crawlers, the topic-dependant interested parties, the competition, the ones forced by work, and those who chance upon it by a random search (the last explains popularity of movie and sports blogs and the prior that of informative ones)

And Those, according to me, are the people who read a blog.

And, perhaps that is how big the Internet really is*.

Notes:
* By my logic, checking mail and reading the daily Times (or books tickets on-line) does not constitute an Internet user. A person who is willing to spend some extra time online, in pursuit of added entertainment/ benefit is someone who is really 'using' the Net. And thus makes it exist.

Population - The population I am considering here is the Average Joe/ Janice.
In my office of 1000+ people barely a handful (5-6) would be regular blog/ feed readers. I would say since this is the population that is floating within most companies, its a representative count? Plus, people who use computers and internet the most can be found in universities and work places. University people eventually end up in work places. And most of them still don't know what a RSS Feed is.
Talking of those who work in IT companies? Well, barring a few innovative firms, really, IT people and/ or software engineers are rarely the ones who indulge in the wacky world of the internet. At least that's what I have seen. They are drone workers. I guess that's what makes 'innovative IT companies' that. They have a group of individuals who are adventurous on the internet and thus know what is happening. Not too difficult to be innovative there now, is it?

Definition of a Blog - as understood by regular blog readers ;) Of course, in most parts I have talked of better known blogs.

As for the post itself? Well, I am sure there are statistics out there to support my claim (which brings me to the fact that like all statistics there will be those that prove it worthless - but those are untrue. Take it from me.). However, I am a lazy being who likes to inform people and not always scour the internet for supporting data. I believe that if you are reading it, Take it, you dare not leave it. ;)

As an aside, how would you categorise your blog? What is it about? And, what do you think my blog is about. It would be interesting to know.


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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
rexzilla
6th Jun, 2008 15:19 (UTC)
Holy mind reading!!
I for one can definitely confirm what you said about IT workers being drones. 'No time' is what is heard. Many of em would still figure RSS was a rightwing Hindutva organization.

Office colleagues are boring and dull.Chances are if you're in some 'creative' field (advertising/media perhaps, I'm just speculating) you'll find more such people, atleast I know that you and I are hence ruled out :(
You should perhaps also add a disclaimer that this applies to the Indian online population.

If you really want to monitor your blogs popularity, FeedBurner is the place to look. Then again you hit the nail on the head with the point that topical and niche blogs attract more readership. Or you have to be a shock writer like Violent Acres or Maddox.

Me- I'd say my own blog defies categorization :)
dippyblogs
7th Jun, 2008 06:10 (UTC)
Re: Holy mind reading!!
Well, it wasnt about monitoring blog popularity, but trying to think who is it that *can* stumble on a blog.

Indian population? I would say, barring certain states and countries, it would be true for the world. How many Australian bloggers? And even in the US, or Europe ('active and high internet usage areas') the majority of the 'real population' will be more bothered about their schools/ jobs/ TV soaps than the net - that would be the geeky population/ the gamers.

And really, if you want to see the penetration, look at what TV focuses on. How many of the reality show ppl are net savvy, and how many are shown so in soap-type shows? Not even Teen Queen Hannah Montana will be shown as a computer user, except for the most mundane tasks.
My US/ Europe colleagues were not prowlers of the Net, and I can take them as case in point. They are 'real population'.

For all the hype of the blog and the Net, its influence remains to those on the Net.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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Regurgitations of my mind. Specific, Vague, Memorable, Forgettable, Thoughtless, In-depth.

More variegated than your dreams or colours off a crystal. More than I can pen down. What I can, you can read.


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