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

Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017).

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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28 Comments on "How to Research & Identify Top Websites & Blogs in Your Category"

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Bonnee
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… Read more »
JebHarrison
 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… Read more »
Bonnee
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… Read more »
Jim Hamlett

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?

Cheryl Barker

Thanks so much for this post. What a great resource!

Kbergreen

Thank you, Jane.  This is giving me heart palpitations, but I guess that is a good start.

Hope

I like to think I’m my own category!  But now I have no excuse not to find out for sure….

Henyad

…And, I found you several years ago. Been following you since. Lots to learn from you.

Patricia Volonakis Davis

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. 

Charles Specht
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… Read more »
Patricia Gligor

Jane,
Very useful information. I’m going to share this with my writer friends. Thanks!

Ashen

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 🙂

marta chausee

Fantastic advice.  So useful.  Thank you.

Matthew Turner

big fan of some of these methods, especially stumbleupon 

you’ve reminded me to go update my links section too 🙂 thanks for that

Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

Matthew Turner

big fan of some of these methods, especially stumbleupon 

you’ve reminded me to go update my links section too 🙂 thanks for that

Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

Brian Holihan

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

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Robert Bruce

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. 

Boris Vladimir

Thanks for posting this Jane! The info is incredibly useful.

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Ryan Cruz

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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Scott Sprich

For the life of me I couldn’t remember technorati so thanks for the list.

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