Is the Web Bogged Down by Metablogs?

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

To signal its self-referential nature, I thought that I had cleverly affixed the prefix “meta-” to “blog” to refer to blogs written about blogging; yet I recently discovered that others had already coined the term metablog to describe this phenomenon. Whether it was a post recommending the type of content to include or avoid in a blog, or tips on how to attract and secure blog readership, I am sure that all of us – either by accident or intentionally – have stumbled upon at least one metablog while online. When you consider how many blogs exist worldwide, and that reputable business publications such as Forbes are helping to disseminate claims that blogging can turn a profit [1], it’s no surprise that blogs dedicated to the practice of blogging are on the rise.

A quick visit to Worldometer reveals in real time just how many blogs are written and published worldwide per day [2], with Tumblr alone accounting for more than 275.9 million blog accounts as of January 2016 [3]. It appears that metablogging has the potential to become a formidable industry in and unto itself, if it isn’t considered one already. However, in reviewing these statistics, my newfound awareness of the pervasiveness of metablogs left me to wonder, “To what extent are current blog statistics actually just attributable to blogs about blogs?”

Metablogs seem to be thriving, but is there really a need for the incredible wealth of blogging tips and tricks they place at our disposal? I began reflecting on this when I discovered Blogging Basics 101: Social Media & Blogging Tips. It appears that Jessica Knapp, as editor of BloggingBasics101.com, has continued to provide tips and instructions to beginner and intermediate bloggers for an entire decade, since 2006. Her six most read blog posts have garnered between 53,138 and 190,241 views [4], with BloggingBasics101.com having been mentioned in Smashing Magazine and Huffington Post, suggesting that the metablog she maintains is a significantly sought-after product. A 2012 HubSpot.com article, “10 Amazing Blogs About Blogging to Start Reading NOW” [5], likewise highlighted Knapp’s metablog as well as nine others, with a more recent article directing additional attention to as many as “34 Top Blogs About Blogging in 2015” [6]. And from there, the list of metablogs simply grows.

Unless metabloggers agree to each target a particular niche market segment, logic would dictate that, at some point, the content of their respective blogs will inevitably overlap. With that theory in mind, I decided to review a selection of some of the metablogs that I found were most recently updated and widely endorsed to see how greatly their content varied from one to the next. My hope was that my research sample, consisting of the following metablogs, would prove my theory wrong:

Disappointingly, my review of the aforementioned metablogs left me feeling more overwhelmed than focused as a burgeoning blogger. This research sample suggested that aside from content tailored to novice versus intermediate or advanced audiences, most metablogs offer similar guidance on how to develop and enhance blog content, differing only in the sources of inspiration or methodologies they suggest for doing so. Other topics I found equally addressed across most – if not all – of the metablogs listed above, included: how to “build” a blog; blog promotion; techniques for driving traffic to blogs; writing sharable posts; guest posting; blogging for income; as well as more technical aspects to blogging such as finding the right web hosting provider for blogs and search engine optimization (SEO). Although Copyblogger.com’s scope was more narrowly focused on “content marketing mastery”, and Blogherald.com read rather uniquely like a serial publication – sharing blogging news, feature posts, guides, editorials, interviews and tips with readers – I uncovered little in the way of variation through my brief study of metablogs.

Despite my research findings, it is nonetheless reassuring to know that an endless supply of help is only an online search away if blogging is an activity I wish to continue. However, I am left to question if the Internet could reach a metablog saturation point? And if so, what are the odds that my contributions would float to the surface amidst a sea of blogs about blogs?

References:

  1. Clark, Dorie (24 July 2014). “How To Make a Living From Blogging”. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2014/07/24/how-to-make-a-living-from-blogging/#63d10a5a27bc
  2. According to the latest statistics on worldwide blog activity published by Technorati.
  3. “Cumulative total of Tumblr blogs between May 2011 and January 2016 (in millions)” (n.d.). Statista. Retrieved from http://www.statista.com/statistics/256235/total-cumulative-number-of-tumblr-blogs
  4. As of the date of publication of this post.
  5. Wainright, Corey (2 January 2012). “10 Amazing Blogs About Blogging to Start Reading NOW”. HubSpot. Retrieved from http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30311/10-Amazing-Blogs-About-Blogging-to-Start-Reading-NOW.aspx
  6. Romano, Jeffrey (26 January 2015). “34 Top Blogs About Blogging in 2015 [BONUS Inside]”. WP Lighthouse. Retrieved from http://www.wplighthouse.com/top-blogs-about-blogging-roundup/

2 thoughts on “Is the Web Bogged Down by Metablogs?

  1. I find this pretty interesting, and there’s one conclusion I can come to when thinking about the necessity for so many metablogs: differing voices.

    While most of the information in these blogs is shared, every person with a blog that needs help is going to respond differently to a different voice. The easiest example I have is this: I can tie a half-windsor knot without even using a mirror, but if I want a full-windsor, I need a youtube video to help me get there. I’ve tried at least five different videos, but in the end the I always end up using the same one to successfully tie the knot. I think each of these blogs ends up asking the same question: who likes us, and who do we cater to?

    In how-tos and instructionals, people will always have a preferred voice, even if the information is all the same. I guess it just comes down to whose delivery you prefer.

    • Thank you for sharing this perspective. As we embark on developing our own personal social media brands, we cannot lose sight of the importance of differentiating our product (i.e., the content we have generated) from the similar products of others that we and our consumers will undoubtedly encounter online. On social media, voice and tone are absolutely key differentiating factors, and could mean the difference between attracting and engaging listeners versus going completely unnoticed and unheard. I suppose one of the greatest challenges to overcome is figuring out exactly how to adopt a unique voice for marketing your brand and product – and how to do so through the effective use of the numerous media options available – where any individual who has access to Web 2.0 technologies is essentially free to add their voice to the mix at any time.

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