- Phase 1: Get a Blogspot account.
- Phase 2: ?
- Phase 3: One million visitors!
Lacking advanced, sophisticated technological gee-whizzery, I have been forced to employ astonishingly crude Web 0.1 methods of traffic-enhancement, namely:
- Write stuff people might want to read; and
- Compulsively e-mail my posts to bloggers who might possibly consider linking me.
- 1. Shameless Blogwhoring.
However, the smart newcomer to the 'sphere doesn't just suck up to big-traffic bloggers who can throw him major traffic (although he does that with a single-minded fanaticism), he also sucks up sideways and downward, to bloggers who might not be able to throw 10,000 hits a day, but who are nonetheless valued contributors to the blogging community.
Little Miss Attila is my favorite example of the "valued contributors" category. Her best recent month was 24K visits in October, but she's been around the 'sphere a long time, is much beloved, and it is bad kharma not to link her. Every so often, while on the hunt for good stuff to blog about, I'll go over to LMA, find something good she's blogging about and link it. Why? Because, among various non-kharmic reasons, she has done the same for me, which brings me to Rule 2:
- 2. The Full Metal Jacket Reach-Around
Reciprocal linkage is the essential lubricant that makes the blogosphere purr with contentment. If somebody's throwing you traffic, you should either (a) give them a link-back update, or at a minimum (b) keep them in mind for future linkage. Because you don't want to end up on the wrong end of a kharmic unbalance in the 'sphere, where you're always taking and never giving.
Every beginning blogger confronts the Zero Hour. You've been blogging steadily for a week or two, sending around e-mails, trackbacking where you can, trying to develop some kind of regular traffic. And then, late one night, you think you might have finally composed your first Instalanche-worthy post and you e-mail it to Glenn Reynolds. You go to bed like a 7-year-old kid on Christmas Eve, then wake up at 4 a.m. and check your Site Meter to discover that your latest hourly traffic is . . . ZERO.
At which point, you want to swallow a handful of sedatives, wash it down with a quart of bleach, slit your wrists and stick your head in the oven. You are a complete and utter failure.
I've never forgotten the Zero Hour, and if I've become slightly less conscientious about reciprocal linkage since then, God forgive me, but I do try. In the midst of a traffic upswing, not all linkage is noticeable on Site Meter, so I check Technorati, which shows linkage regardless of traffic level. And thank you Dad29, thank you Joe Kristan, thank you, Andrea Shea King, thank you Jimmie Bise, thank you William Teach. Damn my lazy thoughtlessness, but please don't doubt my gratitude.
Now that we've scratched the surface of technique, let's address the tricky little subject of content with Rule 3:
- 3. Memeorandum
I especially like their "Featured Posts," sort of a random grab-bag of stuff that will occasionally feature some lefty shooting off his mouth in pure idiotic moonbat mode. Grab that sucker by the neck and give him the Mother Of All Fiskings, with enough vitriolic ad hominem to make sure he never forgets it. Because buddy, the lefties will turn right around and do it to you if you ever rate "Featured Post" status, and there's nothing like a vicious flame war to earn your spurs in the 'sphere. Which brings me to Rule 4:
- 4. Make Some Enemies
At the same time, however, don't confuse cyber-venom with real-world hate. Maybe Ace of Spades really would like to go upside Andrew Sullivan's head with a baseball bat, I don't know. But at some point you understand it's just blogging about politics, and you start wondering if maybe it shares a certain spectator-friendly quality with pro wrestling. For all we know, Ace is spending weekends at Sully's beach shack in Provincetown. (Next on Blogging Heads TV: Can "Bears" and Ewoks Be "Just Friends"?)
Some readers might remember when I first kicked Conor Friedersdorf in the knee for "insufficient cynicism." Conor is, in real life, a nice guy. But he's also (a) young, and (b) as earnest as John Boy Walton. So I got into a habit, when he was at Culture11, of kicking him in the knee with some regularity. It's the Fraternity Initiation Principle: Pledges must be abused by their elders, and learn to be properly respectful, or else one day the ambitious little monsters will strangle us in our sleep. (Cf., my suggestion that George Freaking Will should be air-dropped on Jalalabad from a C-130.)
A couple days ago, hunting around for a reason to link my friend Russ Smith's SpliceToday, I happened upon a column by Russ's young minion, Andrew Sargus Klein, offering a particularly insipid argument for federal arts funding. Now, having been born and raised a Democrat, and arguably having never outgrown my obnoxious youthful arrogance, I can actually relate to Klein's insipid argument. Stupid is as stupid does, and when I was 25, I might well have written something equally stupid. But the boy will never outgrow his stupidity unless he gets whomped on the head some.
Easy as it would have been to ignore Klein, I hit upon the delightfully fun idea of laying into him in Arkansas knife-fight mode: If you're going to cut a man, eviscerate him. So I quickly composed a hyperbolic ad hominem rant, with the thoughtfully civil title, "Andrew Sargus Klein is an arrogant elitist douchebag." I forward-dated the post for Friday morning, and sent Russ an e-mail to the effect of, "Hey, hope you don't mind me abusing your office help a little bit. Nothing like a flame-war to build traffic. Don't let on to Klein that I'm just funnin' around with him."
I'd hoped to bait Klein himself into a response. However, before that could happen -- as if intent on illustrating how to make a fool out of yourself by taking this stuff too seriously -- one of Klein's friends offered up a comment:
Andrew Klein may be arrogant and elitist but he could craft logical arguments around your bumbling hypocrisy all day and night.Of course I never bother "craft[ing] logical arguments," sweetheart. It's a freaking blog. If you want logic, subscribe to a magazine or buy a book. Pardon my double-entendre, Lola Wakefield, but people come here for the cheesecake. Logical arguments are a dime a dozen on the Internet, but sexy hotness . . . well, that reminds me of Rule 5:
- 5. Christina Hendricks
- A. Everybody loves a pretty girl -- It's not just guys who enjoy staring at pictures of hotties. If you've ever picked up Cosmo or Glamour, you realize that chicks enjoy looking at pretty girls, too. (NTTAWWT.) Maybe it's the vicious catty she-thinks-she's-all-that factor, or the schadenfreude of watching a human trainwreck like Britney Spears, but no one can argue that celebrity babes generate traffic. Over at Conservative Grapevine, the most popular links are always the bikini pictures. And try as I might to make "logical arguments" for tax cuts, wouldn't you rather watch Michelle Lee Muccio make those arguments?
- B. Mind the MEGO factor -- All politics all the time gets boring after a while. Observant readers will notice that the headlines at Hot Air often feature silly celebrity tabloid stuff and News Of The Weird. Even a stone political junkie cannot subsist on a 24/7 diet of politics. The occasional joke, the occasional hot babe, the occasional joke about a hot babe -- it's a safety valve to make sure we don't become humorless right-wing clones of those Democratic Underground moonbats.
- C. Sex sells -- Back when I was blogging to promote Donkey Cons (BUY TWO!), I accidentally discovered something via SiteMeter: Because the subtitle of the book is "Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party," we were getting traffic from people Googling "donkey+sex." You'd be surprised at the keyword combinations that bring traffic to a political blogger who understands this. Human nature being what it is, the lowest common denominator is always there, even if it's sublimated or reverse-projected as puritanical indignation, which brings us to . . .
- D. Feminism sucks -- You can never go wrong in the blogosphere by having a laugh at the expense of feminists. All sane people hate feminism, and no one hates feminism more than smart, successful, independent women who've made it on their own without all that idiotic "Sisterhood Is Powerful" groupthink crap. And if you are one of those fanatical weirdos who takes that Women's Studies stuff so seriously that you're offended by Stephen Green's sexist objectification of Christina Hendricks and her mighty bosom -- well, sweetheart, to paraphrase Rhett Butler: "You should be offended, and often, and by someone who knows how."
UPDATE: Probably special mention should be made of Kathy "Five Feet of Fury" Shaidle, who never heard of a fair fight. She's one of those people you don't want angry at you. A ninja blackbelt in Rule 4, when she goes at an antagonist, it's a knee in your groin and an elbow in your eye. However, she also keeps the customers satisfied with some naughty pinup hotness. (Rule 5!) That rare creature: A Canadian we like.
UPDATE II: Linked at Conservative Grapevine.