I maintain a link blog about Colorado food and local food in general. I use Tumblr, but I’m only incidentally interested in Tumblr traffic. Tumblr hooks up to Facebook and Twitter, and pushes links there. (I realize that I am missing interaction on Twitter and Facebook by using these networks as broadcast only, but I don’t have time to fully engage, so I thought a limited presence was better than nothing.)
Having maintained this link blog for over two years, I have learned a few things.
- It is easy to start a project like this, but hard to finish. There’s always more to do. I think I’ll stop when it stops being interesting.
- Deciding to do this is a great way to gain a broad understanding of a field while providing some value (via curating). As you find more and more sources of links, videos, articles and audio content, you’ll gain a sense of what is happening. Even if you don’t painstakingly read every article, you’ll still get a sense.
- Speaking of sources, Google alerts is your friend. I get emailed alerts on a variety of searches, and about 25% of the results are worth posting. Facebook and twitter are additional great sources of links.
- An RSS reader can help you if you are really diving in.
- Giving someone notice that you’ve referenced their article via an ‘@’ mention will get you their attention.
- Queuing up posts on Tumblr is a life saver. This lets you stack up posts and portion them out one per day. I typically have between 15 and 30 posts in my queue. This makes timely posts more difficult, but frees me up to forget about the link blog for weeks at a time.
- A link blog like this is a great use of your in between time, especially if you have a smartphone. In five minutes I can scan and post two or three links, where five minutes is barely enough time to think of a regular blog post. The Tumblr app is very good.
- A linkblog is a great resource for other content generation. I have a newsletter about local food as well, and a key section of that is interesting links. Those are almost entirely drawn from the Tumblr.
The linkblog approach is very similar to Twitter, but differs in a few crucial ways:
- the permanence of the link repository (Twitter only stores your last 3200 tweets)
- less interaction, unless you login to each social network
- the ability to post richer media
- you own the content (and can host it on your domain)
- ability to queue up content (without paying)
These attributes make a linkblog a fine complement to Twitter.
There are some problems with this model, however.
- Limited interaction with followers, either on Tumblr, Facebook or Twitter.
- I’ve found that engaging on Twitter and Facebook directly is far more effective if you want content to be viewed or links to be clicked.
- A linkblog like this is not truly building my tribe
So, if you have limited time, want to gain insight into a particular area of interest, and are OK with the drawbacks, create a linkblog.