Everyone has written a post about Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report. There have been arguments on whether blogging is really mainstream or whether it is not. There are additional comments on whether blogging is just powered by things like WordPress and Blogger, or does it include Twitter and FriendFeed. People are getting caught up in semantics and definitions. They are missing the point.
As Technorati points out, 4 of the top 10 entertainment sites are blogs. This would tell me that blogs are definitely mainstream. However, if you talk to “normal” people. They still do not know what a blog is. They just know that PerezHilton is funny and interesting to them. For them, it is a website just like Yahoo’s Entertainment section. The key is that PerezHilton gets a ton of traffic. And that is what the web game is all about, traffic.
I know that entertainment is not what I typically write about, but let’s look at some major technical “blogs”. TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb and Mashable all started as tech news blogs (more or less, please do not nitpick). People who read them today do not see them as blogs, they are news sources, sources of product and website reviews. They are the new “news” sites. CNet and others still have a purpose because they focus on more general topics like enterprise and hardware. However, for current web activities, people read those 3 sites. Does anyone call them blogs anymore? No. They are “news” sites, though I use the term news as a loose definition.
Without traffic, a site could just not exist. Without traffic, nobody cares what you have to say. The other important notion is that traffic is relative. If I have a blog that is about the fundamentals of data mining, I can never have as much traffic as TechCrunch. They serve a bigger audience. However, if my site is the most read blog about the fundamentals of data mining, I may have a good amount of traffic in the relative sense. I may only get 30000 page views a month, but that is appropriate. That blog could make a good amount of advertising revenue because other sites and products may want to target the data mining reader. Because there are a limited number of these types of blogs, they may also be able to charge a premium for advertising. Targeted advertising is the holy grail for sites like Yahoo and Facebook, but for a data mining site it is the only option.
Blogging as a whole has reached the masses. Now is the time to focus on each blog and build the communities. The passionate communities are the ones that build traffic without a lot of advertising or promotion. You are seeing that now with sites like Twitter and FriendFeed. Robert Scoble is basically tripping over himself to mention FriendFeed. There is a reason for that as well. He found a site that serves his purposes very well. It is flowing with interesting information, people and conversations. That is what Scoble has wanted and he praises it whenever he gets an opportunity.
Your goal as a blog or website owner should be to find your Scoble. Find that person who can promote your site to everyone he knows, especially if people will listen. It is not about whether your blog is “mainstream” or not. It is whether you have traffic. It is about your users, the community and whether they talk about your site to others.