LifeTwo and the Future of Blogging

Darren Rowse’s Problogger has a post called Future of Blogging and contains observations on current blogging behavior, described generally as a “period of consolidation and extension”:

  • adding authors – group blogs are the new black
  • clustering blogs around verticals – bloggers extending their blogs by adding sibling blogs on related topics
  • networking – 2006 was really the year of the blog network but it continues to happen in both loose and formal ways. Many of the blog networks didn’t really survive but there are quite a few that continue to bubble away and sustain themselves
  • adding services and features – whether it be video, podcasts, forums, job boards, classifieds, chat features, voting tools… many bloggers are beginning to add interesting features to their blogs that attempt to add value to blogs. I think what we’re seeing is bloggers more willing to see the limitations of blogs and wanting to blur the edges of what is and isn’t a blog.

Problogger couldn’t be more right and using LifeTwo as an example we are doing every single one of those. For those of you who don’t know, LifeTwo is my online media company/blog that is focused on issues relating to midlife. Over the past year we have taken the traditional blog model and:

  • Added authors. We now have 5 contributors including David Houle (a noted futurist) is now a contributor and is providing advice to would-be career changers on what industries they might want to avoid. We also have the “Dating Goddess” (a best selling author who blogs anonymously on midlife dating).
  • Clustered blogs around verticals. We use an open source platform called Drupal that, among other things, allows us to create virtual blogs on the fly around any topic, keyword or person. We then present this in a manner that makes it appear to our readers that there is an individual blog (or cluster of blogs) on each vertical (which for us is a “topic” such as “Job and Career“). My partner Greg Yorke gets credit for this and he laid the groundwork for us to be able to reconfigure the site on the fly to reflect changes in interests of our readers.
  • Networking. In terms of becoming part of an official blog network we have no interest. But working closely with other like-minded independent networks focused on the same market is very interesting to us. Unfortunately, this has been a bit more of a challenge since the real opportunity of LifeTwo was the dearth of blogs or media companies addressing issues of middle age. If you are interested in learning about parenthood there is no shortage of quality sites with more launching all of the time. And there has always been sources for senior information (such as AARP), but looking for a comprehensive information source on middle age and it was a vast wasteland. That said, little by little we come across quality blogs tackling one aspect or another of middle age and we love to work with these sites since it gives our readers more resources to turn to as they look for answers to whatever is ailing them.
  • Adding services and features. Just last month we published our first podcast and we will become extremely active in that area. Video is coming and we’ve been working on a number of tools that will provide a richer, more useful experience for our visitors.

Another area we are starting to tackle though it is not on Darren’s post is syndication. We spend an inordinate amount of time sifting through RSS feeds looking for stories relevant to our audience. It turns out that these stories are relevant to the audiences of other blogs as well so we are starting to see bloggers capture these feeds and post the headlines (or better yet have them continually scrolling) on their blogs. Of course people don’t even need our permission to do this and can grab our feed and do with it as they like but we are finding that blogs are using this as the first step in a content/audience sharing partnership.
Of course there is much, much more for us to do but this gives an idea of what we (and by observation other bloggers) believe are the most important to do.

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