On October 2nd I wrote a post titled, 5 Things You Shouldn’t Spend Your Money On When Starting a Business.
It was my first post for Blog About 5 Things Week.
I thought it was a good post, with some useful information. No advice-related post is perfect for everyone though, or 100% complete with all the advice you’ll ever need. Still, I thought people would like it and I’d probably see a few hundred visitors…and hopefully some discussion.
Here’s what happened next:
- I put the post on reddit, a social bookmarking site. I like reddit. I find interesting stuff there, and generally I’ve had some success generating sustainable traffic from it. I saw a few visitors coming from reddit and thought nothing more of it. Time to write the next post right? (Incidentally, I just checked, there were 18 votes on reddit that helped bolster the post there, but also some nasty comments…more on that later.)
- Someone then dugg the post. I’ve had very little success with digg since it’s much more tech-oriented than the bulk of this blog. Still, I started to see a bit of traffic from digg, and when I checked a couple hours later approximately 20 people had dugg the story. I was very surprised. I didn’t think the post would generate that kind of interest. And then…
- The roof fell off the house. The post continued to get dugg and showed up on the front page of the Technology section.
The website crashed.
I got on the phone with Bluehost and we started trying to work it out. Meanwhile, people continued to digg the story and post nasty comments at digg. (Last I checked there were 816 diggs on my post and 55 comments. Insane!)
- Next, a few other social bookmarking type sites picked up on the post, including del.icio.us (where it appeared on the “popular” page) and techmeme (techmeme was on Oct. 3rd)
- Aggregator sites weren’t far behind; sites that grab popular content and mash it together from various sources. Some of these included popurls, Diggdot.us, Fanpop, TheWebList.net and others.
- People were linking to the post too. As soon as it hit the front page on Digg, links came in from a number of sources, including Valleywag, Bootstrapme, Lifehacker, etc.
- Most importantly in my mind, people were commenting on the post. That was creating an interesting and worthwhile discussion. Last count there were 62 comments!
So let’s look at some numbers shall we?
I started Instigator Blog around September 1, 2006 – moving content from IGotNewsForYou’s blog over to here. I knew I’d take a hit on traffic from the old blog and RSS readers. Before October 2nd, the numbers looked like this:
Approximately 40 visitors/day. (The spike you see is because of Darren Rowse’s group writing project.)
Approximately 40 RSS/FeedBurner subscribers.
So what was the result of getting onto the front page of Digg’s tech section?
The peak was 13,638 visitors. Yesterday I received approximately 250.
The peak was 1,218. Yesterday I had approximately 130. Most of the people that show up as subscribers here are from Firefox Live Bookmarks. These don’t stick around as registered in the RSS feed from Feedburner.
As you can see, traffic went absolutely through the roof. Completely unexpected, completely nuts. Completely fun…well…maybe not completely…
Since people started connecting online, even with the very early days of bulletin boards, IRC, etc. people started feeling free to say whatever they wanted about anyone they wanted. You’re hidden behind a computer screen right?
There’s something empowering about that, and I believe in that. It helps shy people speak up. It helps struggling writers get their word out. It can help open doors and create communication. There’s a lot of value in the Internet as a medium. But, you also get people who feel it’s their job to flame, bitch and moan. I’m all for an argument or debate; but a good-quality one. Not pointless comments on digg like, “This guy’s an idiot. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Like any tool, the Internet can be used to do great things, but it can also be misused and used pointlessly. What value do people bring to the discussion and the community with stupid flames and insults? Zilch.
I believe in the power of the Internet. I believe in social media. I believe that a little guy can write something in the hopes that it helps a few and suddenly 20,000 people read it. I believe people care. I believe people want to connect. But there’s always going to be a few shmucks that try and ruin it for the rest of us. Ignore ’em. Keep your thick skin. Develop thick skin if you don’t have it, and dive right in.
Thank you to everyone that enjoys Instigator Blog — the community growing around it and other similar blogs. Thank you to people who add value to the discussion, help others and generally contribute to the betterment of the community. I’m insanely pleased with what’s happening at Instigator Blog and I hope you’ll stick around for the long-haul…