How to Research & Identify Top Websites & Blogs in Your Category

Searching for best blogs / Marcel Germain

Flickr / Marcel Germain

I often advise new bloggers to identify the top blogs or communities for their target audience, and build relationships with those bloggers. (Don’t see blogging as a competition. It’s a community.)

But then the question arises, how do you identify the top websites and blogs in your category or for your audience?

Here are free methods and resources you can use. Don’t rely on any single resource—try them all. You’ll get different results.

  1. Topsy. Use Topsy’s expert search engine to find out who’s leading the online conversation about your book’s topic. (You can also explore the book and publishing experts list!)
  2. Delicious. Search by combining as many keywords as needed for your target audience (using a plus sign), e.g., romance+erotica.
  3. Technorati (blog index). Drill down by whatever category best fits your audience or type of work. Or, click here for the books category.
  4. StumbleUpon. It can be frustrating to search this systematically, but give it a shot. E.g., the first result to come up during a “romance” search is All About Romance, which is one of the top-ranked sites appealing to romance readers.
  5. AllTop. You can search by keyword or browse categories.
  6. Twitter. Using Twitter’s recommended follows by category, you can identify influential people, then visit their site and see who they follow and recommend. Alternatively, try WeFollow.
  7. Google. Try searching for “top blogs” + keywords for your audience or category. Imagine what your target audience might search for, and see what Google uncovers. You can also try “top 10 blogs for XYZ.” Top 10 lists are exceptionally common and popular.
  8. Try the blog awards. The two most common are the Webby Awards and the Bloggies, but such awards typically don’t drill very deep into a category or audience, which makes them less helpful for authors.
  9. Blogrolls. Once you’ve identified a few top sites or blogs, check their blogrolls or resource lists to find others.
  10. Finally, crowdsource an answer. If you use Twitter, Facebook, or another community site, post a question soliciting other people’s favorite sites and blogs.

With No. 9 in mind, I hope you’ll share your favorite techniques for uncovering the top blogs or sites for a specific category or audience.

 

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Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has more than 15 years of experience in the book and magazine publishing industry, with expertise in digital media and the future of authorship. She speaks around the world at events such as BookExpo America, Frankfurt Book Fair, and Digital Book World, and has keynoted writing conferences such as The Muse & The Marketplace. She currently teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia. Find out more.
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30 Comments

  1. I can’t remember how I found my first blog… I remember starting to follow Speakeasy, the blog of the Australian Writer’s Marketplace, after one of my teachers told me about the AWM and I’d happened to make a blogspot account. After that, I just picked some random other blogs from their blogroll and followed them, and if I decided I really liked certain blogs I was following, I’d check out their blogroll too, or follow the blog of specific authors who contribute to the blog. I’ll also follow blogs recommended in the blogs I already follow :) I like to keep my options open, so if they’re writer-related, I’ll follow them. 

    •  Hi Bonnee. You mention that focus on blogs that are writer-related. How to you distinguish between those that consist of writers chatting with other writers vs. writers trying to build a following with the audience that might buy their book?

      And here’s a question for you, Jane: have you come across any directories that match bloggers or writers with audiences. It’s one thing to “stumble upon” a blog that targets folks with your audience profile, vs.  directory that suggests “literary fiction focused on relationships” = the following sites, blogs, bloggers. I know sounds like the Pandora of blog searches, but we can wish, yes?

      • I think it’s pretty easy to distinguish the two types of blog-writers: writers chatting with other writers will talk about writing in general, techniques, agents,  publishers, share useful links, explore answers to frequently asked writer-related questions, give their opinion on other literature, etc. A writer trying to build a following with the audience that might buy their book would probably talk more specifically about their own writing and their own books and themselves. Of course, you can get those who balance the two sides out a bit more and could probably be placed in either category. Either way, I think it’s good to follow both types. I hope that answers your question JebHarrison! 

  2. I woke this morning with a familiar hum in my mind. Must be another of Jane’s blog posts that’s now on frequency, I thought. Opened the Google Reader, and sure enough, you’ve answered another question on which I’ve recently raised my hands in helpless supplication. Do you have ESP?

  3. I love this!  And have one suggestion which may seem contrary to the end goal, but can actually be as useful as finding the most popular. Find one that is good, well written, but is as yet only known to a few. Those are the bloggers who absolutely appreciate a comment, and will in turn follow you. It’s a more build your house small brick by small brick method, but I find that when I take the time to do this, I earn a connection for sure. 

  4. Jane, I just “discovered” your blog yesterday and I have been quite pleased with what I’ve been reading so far.  Thanks for providing great content like this article.

    Personally, StumbleUpon has been my greatest social media outlet.  I have had a few articles go viral (according to my own definition of viral) and it has been awesome.  And I “stumbled upon” StumbleUpon only because someone…like you…suggested I at least try it out.  The first night I had 56 unique visitors from one post and, to date, my best was around 450 from StumbleUpon.

    All that to say…people should take your advice and try each of them out to see what works for them.

  5. I’ve networked for others all my life, it’s a full time job. Since I made time for writing I treasure the creative process and frankly don’t have time left to spend hours searching for an audience. Sigh! This really an impossible balance to achieve unless one has resources, a secretary, or an agent.  For now I rely on synchronicity :)

  6. As a new blogger, I’ve gotten 70% more traffic by posting 3 links on Stumbleupon each day in the past week. I haven’t tried Digg or Squidoo yet. Do you know of any other sites that are good for bloggers to post links to?

    Thanks,

    Brian Holihan

    • Really depends on your audience. Other sites that are good at driving traffic require a little more work on your part to be a community member, e.g., LinkedIn, Tumblr, or Pinterest. You might also check out Delicious, but I don’t think that site is nearly as popular as it used to be.

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  8. I didn’t realize Technorati was still relevant. I’ve tried to get listed on there 3 or 4 times, and they are totally unresponsive. They just kick back a generic email that says it can take up to 6 months to list a blog, then they never do.

    The rest of these are spot on. Maybe I’ll try Technorati again. 

  9. thanks for this list Jane, I’m currently using Alltop +Twitter. Hopefully, there’s a way to track blog list based on pageviews or visitors per month. Something like Alexa but more robust. Any ideas?

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