In Your Words 5: Top Blogs

It seems like yesterday that blogs were the little brother fighting for attention in the Internet world. There was a certain stigma of unprofessionalism attached to blogging. Newspaper writers, television broadcasters and other traditional media professionals scorned blogs. Ironically, the times have changed so much that many of these people are actually blogging today. The diversity of blog topics available is endless, but here are three that I follow on a daily basis and you should too!

ESPN Boston: Patriots 

aadddd

When I wake up, I check Facebook, Twitter, my email and texts. The next site I check is the ESPN Boston Patriots blog. Here is a breakdown of what I consider to be the most informational, in-depth Patriots blog available:

1. What type of blog is it per this week’s lecture?

According to this week’s lecture, this is considered a news blog. Several professional writers contribute on a daily basis, headlined by Mike Reiss. The blog also includes special pieces from other ESPN writers, including Darren Rovell, as well as Associated Press reports.

2. What is its purpose?

The purpose of this blog is to provide a holistic view of the Patriots organization. This includes everything from hard news about signings, trades and other transactions. It also includes feature stories, videos and game analysis that give fans valuable information beyond the box score.

3. What makes them unique? 

What separates this blog from other Patriots blogs is the fact that most of the content is written by a reporter who is directly tied in with the team. Mike Reiss previously worked for the Patriots’ official newspaper before making his name at the Boston Globe. His role with ESPN Boston provides him with excellent access as well as increased visibility and recognition compared to other fan-based blogs.

4. Talk how it reflects about the brand. 

As a part of the ESPN brand, this blog is obviously highly professional and is considered a great source for news. From a credibility standpoint, it’s a step above its competitors and also maintains a very similar layout to any other team blogs under the ESPN name. It reflects the top priority from ESPN’s brand—to break news and present it in engaging format.

5. What drives traffic to the blog? 

Without a doubt, ESPN’s strong brand identification helps drive traffic to the blog. With that, it’s high ranking on search engines probably ranks as the No. 1 reason people visit this blog. If you Google “Patriots blog” it is the first result. Without a doubt, ESPN’s branding power and stronghold on the sports news industry online helps generate traffic as well.

6. Is it a successful blog per some of the bullet points in this week’s lecture?

Absolutely! The site’s main writer, Mike Reiss, is extremely active on Twitter and has more than 120,000 followers. The blog is updated throughout the day with news and analysis. Maintaining fresh, original content is definitely a hallmark of success in the blogging world and this blog certainly meets that standard. Additionally, the ESPN Boston Twitter account also sends out links to posts on the blog.

7. What’s missing on the blog?

I may be nitpicking, but I think the lack of integration with the ESPN section for the Patriots is one small part that’s missing. When I’m writing a Patriots piece for Today’s Pigskin, I often have this blog open as a resource. However, in order to get statistics or box scores, I have to open a separate page since this blog does not contain a link or section that includes that valuable information.

8. Are there advertisers? 

On the right side, there is a column with an ad for the ESPN Fan Shop, which is powered by Dick’s Sporting Goods. Individual posts also have links to sponsored headlines at the bottom of each post, directly above the Facebook comment feed. Overall, there aren’t many ads on the page, which is actually something I really enjoy.

Grantland

grantland

In keeping with my sports theme, one of the best blogs available for full-length featured stories is Grantland. The brainchild of uber-popular and controversial ESPN writer Bill Simmons, Grantland has been around for about four years and features contributions from several staff members and other contributors. The site also features popular culture pieces in addition to its sports coverage.

1. What type of blog is it per this week’s lecture?

According to this week’s lecture, this is considered a news blog. Simmons is an easily identifiable face associated with the blog, as well as other writers like Zach Lowe and Bill Barnwell, who are all very active on social media. The blog also has a verified Twitter account with more than 418,000 followers.

2. What is its purpose?

The purpose of this blog is to provide news and entertaining features for its audience. While the primary audience is sports fans, the site also contains features on popular cultures subjects like TV and movies. Overall, Grantland provides more entertaining content than typical sports news blogs, and a hallmark of its brand is its full-length feature style.

3. What makes them unique? 

Like I mentioned above, Grantland doesn’t operate like a normal ESPN entity. Instead, it provides in-depth features that examine specific games, plays and teams. The writers typically use more analytics in their stories than other sports sites/blogs, and the language used on the site is definitely less strict than with typical news outlets. Simmons is well-known for his wild style and the site definitely takes after its creator.

4. Talk how it reflects about the brand. 

Interestingly, I’d say the site reflects more on Simmons’ brand than ESPN’s. Grantland is supposedly not directly associated with the ESPN brand, but it’s definitely directly tied with Simmons. As such, he and his writers have more creative freedom and definitely walk the line. The types of pieces covered and the overall presentation and length fall much more in line with what Simmons has produced over the years during his controversial career.

5. What drives traffic to the blog? 

Interestingly, Grantland doesn’t generate as much traffic as some of its competitors. This Business Insider piece highlights some of the problems with Grantland’s traffic as it relates to the value of Bill Simmons. Based on this article, it seems like most of Grantland’s traffic is generated by ESPN.com rather than its writers and their use of social media. That could be seen as a weakness, though I would argue that it simply shows the strength of ESPN and its brand.

6. Is it a successful blog per some of the bullet points in this week’s lecture?

Again, this is definitely a successful blog in that it’s generated millions and millions of visitors. Its writers are very active on social media, and Simmons’ brand value and visibility is a tremendous asset for the site. Content isn’t updated as often as some other sports blogs, but that’s inherent considering the length of the content. Still, there’s content updated daily, especially during the NFL season.

7. What’s missing on the blog?

To me, there really isn’t much missing on the blog. While I am familiar with the site, there isn’t a section that explains what the site is about for those who stumble upon it. The section headers also may not be clear to new viewers, though if you scroll over there is a dropdown menu with explanations and links.

8. Are there advertisers? 

One of the benefits of Grantland is its clean presentation without rotational or banner ads. However, this piece does a better job of explaining some of its advertising strategy, which includes customized integration for particular advertisers.

The Blissful Balance

aa

My final example happens to come from a former classmate of mine while I was an undergrad at UF. Christina Valenziano is a UF graduate who has big passions for food and fitness. Her blog, The Blissful Balance, has been an excellent source for both information and motivation and deserves mention. Here’s my blog breakdown of The Blissful Balance:

1. What type of blog is it per this week’s lecture?

Based on this week’s lecture, this blog would probably fall right in between semi-professional and recreational. The blog has undergone many design changes since I began following it last year, and posts are typically up every few days. I’d probably lean toward semi-professional, especially since it falls into the “one-woman show” category and has a professional look that certainly sets a high standard.

2. What is its purpose?

Christina’s tagline says it best: Simplifying the relationship between food, fitness, health and happiness.

Her about section also contains a great statement of purpose:

After a year of blogging about my favorite recipes on ‘Food is Life’, I realized I’d been restricting myself to only one passion. While my infatuation with food is rooted in my blood, I have a love for fashion, travelling, fitness, writing and photography that I’ve yet to truly share. The Blissful Balance is a way for me to show and pursue my interests as more than hobbies, and maybe inspire others to do the same.

3. What makes them unique? 

What makes Christina’s blog unique is that it’s not dedicated solely to food. It’s not geared toward just fitness freaks. And it’s not just for fashionistas, either. It’s a blend of many different topics that also appeal to both sexes. I remember seeing one of her early posts about nutrition and actually asked her some questions myself. Achieving balance, as is the stated purpose of her blog, extends beyond any particular group.

4. Talk how it reflects about the brand. 

This blog reflects upon Christina’s brand in that it demonstrates the passions that have made her successful. She’s an active runner and fitness enthusiast, as well as a big-time foodie. Both of these passions are channeled through the blog in a professional manner. She offers advice and insight, along with facts to support her assertions. Overall the blog reflects her brand as a helpful resource in many different avenues.

5. What drives traffic to the blog? 

Without any look at analytics, I would say the biggest way traffic gets generated is through social media. Christina has her own Twitter account in addition to a Twitter account for the blog itself. The Blissful Balance Facebook page has 316 likes as of Sunday afternoon, too.

6. Is it a successful blog per some of the bullet points in this week’s lecture?

Based on the criteria in this week’s lecture, this blog is also a success in its own right. New posts are published every few days, and they certainly are fresh, engaging pieces that are based on Christina’s own experiences. Her inclusion of photos in every post is also a great touch. She also has social media accounts with which to share links, and she’s on her way to establishing longevity for her blog.

7. What’s missing on the blog?

The only area that I found lacking was advertising, though that’s probably by her own choice. The blog probably needs better traffic and a bigger following in order to generate advertising.

8. Are there advertisers? 

As stated above, I did not see any advertisers on the blog. Potential advertisers could include fitness or food brands she highlights, especially those featured in her Reviews section.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s