I recently noticed a seemingly increasing amount of negative comments on growing blogs. Comments vary from “You used to be cool but now you suck” to comments bearing a warning signal “Don’t continue like this or I will unsubscribe” to more constructive criticism.
There are different strategies you can follow when you are becoming increasingly popular. Which path you take depends on your goals and whether your blog is a hobby or a (potential) business. Do you keep on doing what you are doing or are you going to deliver more content. Most importantly, are you continuing on your own or are you going to expand?
Becoming more popular also means a changing audience that may be more demanding. Can you maintain the same quality as before? And how do you manage a growing team of (guest) bloggers that you will very likely do not know personally? These are just some of the problems a growing blog may face and that you should take into account before taking it to the next level.
If your blog is your hobby I think your main goal is that both you and your readers should be satisfied. Listen to your commenters and their (constructive) criticism and be open and transparent in the process you are going through. Transparency is what mainly seems to be lacking on the (wannabe) professional blogs that are picking up their posting pace or expanding their editorial team.
One of my favorite design blogs/magazines PSDtuts recently experienced first hand what it is like to go big and ran into a major problem. One of the contributing editors duplicated a Photoshop tutorial. PSDtuts handled the situation in possibly the best way they could with total transparency:
Today we’ve had to unfortunately remove a tutorial due to copyright issues. As all creatives should, we take copyright very seriously here at PSDTUTS. The tutorial in question has been removed, the author has not been paid and I’ll personally be investigating further to get in touch with the original author to apologize and ensure everything is sorted.
The reaction of most of their readers? Respect.
What to do when your readers are complaining you are growing big and bad? Be honest and transparent. Admit you are going through a transfer phase and trying to adjust to the new situation. If you can’t get your new big blogging act together don’t be afraid to radically change your approach. Do you want to be big and bad or rather small and good?
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.