September 16, 2008

My Blog Is Less a Destination Site than a Conduit

By now, we've all likely grown used to the fact that RSS readers don't often see a blog's redesign. For those who choose not to click through and leave comments, there's little reason at all to visit a blog directly any more, considering it's possible to power through dozens or hundreds of feeds in a feed reader, be it Google Reader, BlogLines or any other. With tangential services like Disqus enabling me to even engage with readers via e-mail, instead of through the blog, there's now even less reason for me to even visit my own site.

At this point, I probably, on most days, can't even tell you my daily RSS subscriber count, visible on the blog, or see the MyBlogLog widget's most recent visitors, as I'm using my blog as a way to project content outward - to RSS readers, to aggregators, like FriendFeed, Strands and Social Median, and to connect with readers via e-mail, using Disqus. It also, via RSS, powers popular sharing sites, like ReadBurner and RSSmeme. But none of those activities, with the exception of comments, require actual visits.

While it's still important to be sure the blog itself loads quickly, for those who view it for the first time, or for those who do click through RSS and choose to leave a comment, the look and feel of the blog is less important over time. I expect fewer people are typing in the URL and viewing pages directly, as they accumulate feeds and read more, and see the blog's UI more as a shell for content than a destination where a reader would spend a good amount of time. At this stage, the blog is simply a point in time for the content to begin its journey.

The life of a post, as always, for me anyway, starts out in e-mail, where it's authored. Then it's copy/pasted into Blogger. Then I visit the site, quickly, and ping FeedBurner. Subsequently, I refresh the blog feed in FriendFeed to keep it up to date, and send a TinyURL copy to Twitter. At that point, I really don't have to come back. Should someone opt to comment, I can reply via e-mail in Disqus, and even Delete unwanted spam or other messages.

The bulk of the activity around the blog is pretty much happening someplace else - making the number one purpose for the blog site itself to convert new visitors into signing up for the RSS feed. So if they bump into the content, via Techmeme, Digg, StumbleUpon, ReadBurner, FriendFeed, or anywhere else, they'll sign up and take in my content in the way they choose. But my blog is not the destination. It's a point in the journey. For those who are relying on ad revenue to come through via page views, this won't be good news, but that's what I see happening. For me, as I'm not trying to convert visitors into cash, this is the new reality, and we're fine with you just signing up, passing through and being part of the conversation as you choose.