This article made me smile on ProBlogger, "91% of ProBlogger Readers Don't Fake It", which is a blog dedicated to helping you becoming a successful blogger.  So I spent 30 minutes this afternoon doing a bit of research and here's what I found:

What makes a successful blog?

There is a wealth of information out there... but I found reading Darren Rowse's own lessons on blogging interesting, especially comparing his advice to other bloggers, like my old boss, Steve Clayton.  For me, I liked this comparison on BlogHerald between writing a blog and riding a bike...  practice, practice and practice.

How do you improve traffic?

If you are looking at creating or improving the traffic to your blog, you should check out Scoble's Corportate Weblog manifesto up on ChangeThis.com or read his book, Naked Conversations, with the latter being published in January 2006. 

But even though Blogs have been around for a while now (with 1.4 new blogs being created every second according to Sifry), many companies still are hesitant in having this method of uncontrolled PR.   Like Scoble says in this posting, somebody was fired for appearing on his ScobleShow recently, which makes you wonder how far some people will go to prevent creating bad PR...  Microsoft has really embraced blogging now along with many other companies as you can see in the chart below... but measuring the pros and cons and overall ROI is still a challenge.  You can do a search like this one and it just shows you how many people are on the brink of starting blogging but still very nervous about the repercussions.

Information Week reported that General Motors blogging strategy is paying off handsomely.  In 2006, the company's FastLane blog delivered an estimated $410,470 worth of customer insight and marketing at an approximate cost of $255,675 -- a return on investment of 67% -- according to a newly released report from Forrester Research. Compare that to 2005, when GM's blog generated an estimated $578,374 worth of information and publicity at an approximate cost of $291,196. That's a 99% return on investment.

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I believe that blogging at Microsoft has really made a difference in opening these news lines of communication, especially with the likes of the Blue Monster. People like Seth Godin have published books, manifestos and blogs on how to use new media to reinvigorate traditional business and has plenty of advice on "How to get traffic for your blog" as well. 

The long tail is where blogs as a media type really start to come into their own.  The power of conversations within smaller groups of people, like friends and niche topic bloggers has a larger amount of influence that a single A list blog may have...  this aggregate influence of all of the long tail far outstrips even mainstream media.  Read this report on Sifry for more background.  Like Robin Good says, "...tags have become a lingua franca of Live Web, helping to categorize social media while also indicating where people’s attention might be at any given moment."  You soon know if you have a successful product or campaign or strategy because the feedback is almost instant.

So what's next?

With Blogging taking off in Africa as technology improves, there will be more and more blogs being published... With social network sites being so popular, from Facebook to LinkedIn, I wonder what's going to be the next big thing?  Food for thought.

Some stats from Sifry:

  • Technorati now tracks over 37.3 Million blogs
  • The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months
  • It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
  • On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
  • 19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
  • Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour