Understanding the news cycle is critical for any blogger because potential readers are more likely to come to a blogger’s site if it offers content on a hot topic. As such, an important part of your blogging strategy should focus on generating content relevant to a trending news topic.
How do you find out what’s trending?
Find Out What’s Trending
There are several ways to find out which news stories are generating the most interest. First, simply go to your favorite news sites and see what articles dominate the headlines. You can also monitor Twitter feeds to see what topics are trending in your particular areas of interest. The New York Times also has its own “most popular” tab, which lists articles that its readers most frequently email and to which bloggers most frequently link. The New York Times also provides the most popular search terms on its site for that given day.
Comment on Trending Topics
Once you determine which topics are generating the most interest (and traffic), you should quickly comment on the topic by: 1) linking to the original content and 2) providing your own unique analysis of what the content means to your audience. By doing the former, you help your readers by serving as an information aggregator. In a world that is inundated with information, you provide a valuable service for your readers by distilling content to that which is most important to them.
By providing your own personal analysis of this content, you provide a compelling and unique voice for your readers that they cannot get anywhere else. Ideally, this unique voice will keep your readers coming back for more.
Break Stories, If You Dare
Sometimes certain media outlets break stories minutes before others. Sometimes you can thread the needle by blogging on that topic after one media outlet breaks the story, but before others do. That way, more folks are likely to visit your site in the absence of more information.
I was able to thread the needle the day the United States military killed Osama bin Laden by quickly posting the news on my blog before many mainstream media outlets did. Alas, that event is outside the time period I am covering for this series, so I will not show the data supporting how effective this strategy was until perhaps a future post on lessons from six months or one year of blogging.
Take Advantage of News Implications
You will rarely, if ever, be able to scoop the mainstream media on a particular story given their superior resources. That said, you can add value by offering perspective on the implications arising from news stories. For instance, during the media’s coverage of the Japanese nuclear plant meltdown, I knew hysterical people on the West Coast would panic and try to purchase potassium iodide pills. Of course, I also knew that there was simply no reason for them to fear for their safety.
In light of this revelation, I posted “Sell to Sucker: Potassium Iodide for Sale!” As a result, the post generated 106 hits between March and April. Not surprisingly, most of these hits were clustered around the date of the meltdown.
The bottom line is that you can generate more traffic by leveraging the power of the news cycle.