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What makes a popular blog?

The "Creating Passionate Users" blog is now in the Technorati Top 100. The big question is... why? We're not the brightest crayons in the box, or the best writers, and we rarely participate in A-Lister topics... so it's got to be something else. More importantly, are there lessons learned that can help someone else with their blog (or other content)? I have my own theories (one of them: this blog tries to practice what it preaches in making it far more about you than about us). The only way to make this top 100 thing useful to anyone is to reverse-engineer the blog and try to make some general principles others can apply (if they're interested in having a lot of readers).

So, there's a lot of brain power among y'all, and if you want to help one another (and me) out, then please please please take a moment to add a comment that answers the question: "What makes this blog popular that OTHERS MIGHT USE?" As much as I appreciate sucking up : ) what I do NOT want in this thread are compliments ("because this blog rocks!") The challenge is for you to come up with an answer in the form of a tip, suggestion, idea, recommendation for others--and without saying anything about me personally.

[To those of you who are just dying to add the snarky-but-uncreative "because blog readers are stupid" or "you must have had sex with an A-lister" kind of answer, don't bother. It's my blog, and I'll consider those unhelpful/off-topic. And besides, I'll just have my new Blog Bouncers Leisa Reichelt (design blog), Rick Turoczy (marketing blog), and James Sherrett (all-around good guy) toss you ; )]

What do you think? Based on anything you've experienced here, what advice would you give others? I'll provide my own speculation, but only after y'all have chimed in. Besides, you're the only ones who can really answer this question, and many of you are coming from very different perspectives.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for taking moments out of your day to read this blog. I consider your time and attention a gift, and I try to give something back by offering something you can use. The reason this blog is in the top 100 (for now, I'm sure it's only temporary) is because of you, and I never forget that.

(I'm heading out now for 24 straight hours of travel to Wellington, but I'll be checking this thread the moment I land. Thank you all in advance!)

Posted by Kathy on May 20, 2006 | Permalink


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I like you blog, because information I read here is not same ol same ol, as in many marketing blogs. The ideas you write are actually applicable to everyday business, and not some theoritic stuff you read in over-hyped business best seller. Also a lot of big blogs, already forgetting what is that all about, and they turned off comments which makes them just a regular news read. You keep it social and that is what blogging is all about. So keep it up.

Posted by: Roman | May 20, 2006 12:30:42 PM

The points you make in words are enhanced by the images you provide. Your lessons are filled with common-sense from a user perspective. In a word: Uncomplicated.

Posted by: Mike Sansone | May 20, 2006 1:11:12 PM

Light writing style without giving up depth. Great use of images that actually work with the article. Very indepth posts. I like reading short articles, so somebody writing long posts and keeping my attention is a real skill. I also like that you use full posts in your feed so I only have to come over to the site when I want to post or look at the images.

Posted by: kalbzayn | May 20, 2006 1:12:17 PM

Because it is very useful. It helps me to understand my mind. And the other people's, of course.

Posted by: JoeP | May 20, 2006 1:15:57 PM

Your articles are very comprehensive and thought-provoking. That is the main reason your blog appeals to me. You show intelligence and wit; combined with a simple writing style you are golden. Part of this is that you practice what you preach as you say, but more of it is that the topics you talk about appeal to a very wide variety of people.

When I first saw your site and read the url, I figured that this would be something that wouldn't apply to me. However, when I started reading the articles I realized that you had a lot of great tips and ideas. Even though I'm not in your target audience, I find the things you write to be very helpful and practical.

Like Roman said, there is all original content here and very little of it has been said elsewhere, at least that I know of.

Please keep up the good work.

Posted by: Glen C. | May 20, 2006 1:28:19 PM

I like the way you break down "dry" marketing subjects into enjoyable reading material, using a easy-to-understand writing style and suprising graphics.

Posted by: Wouter | May 20, 2006 1:33:45 PM

I'm constantly sending links to your pages to people I know. Why? Because your insights go the next step beyond "getting it": you provide analyses of how helping users succeed works as marketing, using specific examples that apply to the situations of my clients and colleagues. That's why I read your every post, and I think that's how you made the Technorati Top 100.

Posted by: Sterling Camden | May 20, 2006 1:37:29 PM

because your blog has a pov - and a strong one. too many marketers believe that "not offending anyone" is the goal. keep up the good work!

Posted by: dave | May 20, 2006 1:43:40 PM

Easy .. I have read more relevant wisdom/opinion here than any other blog out there, and its fun to read and not at all preachy

Posted by: Deepak | May 20, 2006 1:55:52 PM

"Me too" - it's the images that connect what you're saying to an emotional/intuitive understanding of your point.

Many times you say things that I've tried to convey, but something about your posts really make for impact. And, many are the times I've forwarded just the link to one of your graphics to someone as a follow-up to a conversation. :-)

(with appropriate link to the blog as well, of course)

Posted by: jh | May 20, 2006 1:56:23 PM

You seem to genuninely like people and find them fascinating. It's always refreshing to find someone who's positive, smart, and generous, in real life and in the blogosphere. Your showing in the Top 100 tells me that snark (the fuel behind many blogs) only goes so far.

Posted by: Asha Dornfest | May 20, 2006 2:13:03 PM

It is definitely the images. The images let me know whether I will enjoy the article (i.e. whether it is relevant to me) within a few seconds. No other blog allows me to sort out what I do and don't want to read as quickly.

P.S. Seeya at Webstock ;-)

Posted by: Lloyd | May 20, 2006 2:24:19 PM

Your blog stands above so many others for several reasons:

1. You see a "bigger picture" and frame it well.
2. You write well, with a style that reflects your personality and humor. I get a sense of you as a real person.
3. You may think you're writing spcifically about the tech world, but so much of what you say transfers to other disciplines--and life itself. People sense this and respond to it.

I can personally vouch for the last one, because I have little to do with the high-tech world--I'm a full-time artist-yet I find your blog thought-provoking and powerful. You're sort of an uber-teacher--something who inspires passion in others because of the passion they themselves have.

Posted by: Luann Udell | May 20, 2006 2:40:13 PM


Great post. I think that blogs which consistently create value (learning, understanding etc.) for their readers will naturally and, more importantly, sustainably rise to the T100.

IMHO writing articles of a readable length (not a book yet neither a post-it) combined with clever, colourful graphics which succinctly get to the point of the matter in a memorable way only goes part of the way (less than half, for that matter) to creating value.

Content matters. Original content rocks. Having a point of view rocks. Practicality rocks.

Rock on!


Posted by: Shaun Orpen | May 20, 2006 2:48:23 PM

In addition to what others have already said, I will add broad appeal. I often find your posts to be relevant to my job as a high school teacher. I am not interested in marketing per se, but I believe this blog is mush broader than marketing.

Posted by: Lianne | May 20, 2006 2:52:56 PM

surround your self with greatness, and you will be treated like a great person. Okay so how many great people do you folks hobnob with and how did you get to hobnob with them. If you write about that, then you know what put you in the top 100.

Posted by: Terry Fernandez | May 20, 2006 3:06:25 PM

well, you already said it: you write this blog for the readers, not for T100.

You don't seem to care about the quantity of readers, but to deliver quality to the readers you have. And sometimes, rarely, those who don't care about prices rightly get them :)

Posted by: Sam | May 20, 2006 3:48:09 PM

Your blog is really informative but light at the same time. It's an enjoyable read and still gives insight on how to improve a business (it can be applied to everyday life as well). The pictures are great too because they illustrate the concepts really well.

Suggestions? The only thing I might say is to write at a broader level. By this I mean writing about different types of people and how to connect with them. I'm interested in marketing, but only a high school student. It would be really fun to read about how to appeal to (or interact with) a younger age group.

Posted by: Nis Mohan-Ram | May 20, 2006 3:50:44 PM

I think your point of view is reflected in your name: you are focused not on how to sell 15% more consulting hours next quarter, or 20% more licenses of your app, by how to get over the other side where users LOVE what you are doing and you are really in tune with what your community is waiting for. I think this is the point we are trying to reach by most of the time we are focused on incremental improvements that may entirely miss the point.

Posted by: michael stein | May 20, 2006 4:23:41 PM

Every time I read this blog, I learn something. The same way you often talk about how a key part of creating passionate users to make sure they're always learning something, your blog continues to educate me. Often you present things from perspectives that I might not have previously considered, or topics that hadn't yet crossed my mind. I often find myself saying to friends "Hey, I learned something about from Creating Passionate Users ... check out this article...".

Posted by: Skrud | May 20, 2006 4:36:58 PM

I'd have to say that CPU is probably the best example of the Generous Web at work. Your willingness to freely share your wisdom and understanding, whilst taking the time to build great graphics never fails to amaze me. We get to metaphorically sit at your feet and learn - with time our only investment.

In light of CPU, a successful blog is one that is passionate about freely teaching what wisdom its author possesses.

Thanks for being a great example to the rest of us plodding along in the land of winkin', blinkin' and blog.

Posted by: Bill Kinnon | May 20, 2006 5:12:02 PM

It's just plain great content. I find a few articles per week that make me think, and that I pass around to other people. I've learned a great deal from you...

Posted by: Arien Malec | May 20, 2006 5:44:50 PM

To add on to the other commenters, here are a few of the reasons I think this blog is popular in no particular order.

1. Insights into how marketing/brands/sales/job/etc work.
2. You acknowledge you don't have all the answers. But comment on what you know and think, leaving the 'understanding' up to the reader. When you do have the answer, you still leave the 'understanding' up to the reader.
3. Because of #2, you make me think in terms of my own marketing/branding/sales/job/etc.
4. You practice what you preach - making the blog an example of what you are talking about.

There are more reasons, I'm sure. Make sure you let us know what you think the reasons are...

Posted by: Michael Vanderdonk | May 20, 2006 6:50:27 PM

It's the content, silly. (Sorry, I can't call someone else "stoopid" without tasting that bar soap from long ago.)

No worries about being PC or some other nonsense...just good info that we can use, no matter what our field.

Posted by: Cyndi L | May 20, 2006 7:01:38 PM

Because you make us feel good about being marketers, and teach us all a thing or two about writing as well. From each post you teach me something about writing, marketing and blogging in on hit.

Posted by: Ben Rowe | May 20, 2006 7:13:24 PM

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