How to Learn from Lurking on Other Blogs
The best way to figure out what will work on your blog is by lurking on other blogs – reading or looking at blogs without participating.
Find a few blogs you like, that you regard as competition, or that are interesting for some reason. If you want to see what a blog that has a very active, vocal audience looks like, find one with lots of comments and make sure you read them all.
If you want to see how a blog evolves, find one that has been around a while and look back through the site’s archives to see how it got started. Most of all, pay attention to what you find interesting about the blog.
Here are some things you can learn about from lurking on a blog:
Posts: Watch what the blogger (or bloggers) posts about, how often they post, what days and times attract readers, and see whether you can understand what prompts a blogger to post.
Interaction: Pay attention to the posts that get lots of comments and response and try to understand what gets people talking.
Resource use: Look for instances when the blogger chooses to include a link, a quote, or other resource, and what it adds to the conversation.
Design: Keep an eye out for blog designs and styles you might like to imitate on your own blog.
Sidebar use: Look at the blog sidebars for cool technologies and tools that the blogger is using, and that you might be able to benefit from.
Interaction is great, but some comments can be problematic because they are off topic or offensive, so you can use this opportunity to see how other bloggers handle bad comments, too. Pay attention to whether a blog comment policy is in place and how it’s enforced.
While you lurk, keep a list of notes and ideas for reference later, especially for items that you think are good ideas but that you aren’t ready to implement quite yet. It’s easy to lose those first good ideas if you don’t keep track of them somehow.
What works for someone else might not work for you, and it doesn’t have to. It’s still early in the life of the blogosphere, and you have plenty of room and time to try new ideas. Rules and standards that have been adopted by others are good starting points, but they aren’t requirements you have to use if they don’t work for you.