The Secret to a Great Blog and a Great Business

By Carlos Portocarrero

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There are a few hard-coded rules in the world of blogging that you’ve probably heard over and over. Among them:

  • Create content people want
  • Comment on other blogs to get the word out
  • Guest post on other blogs to get more exposure
  • Don’t overwhelm your audience with ads: you could alienate them

I’m good with the first three, but I also believe the first one kicks the last one’s ass.

If you own a site with content people really want, it doesn’t matter how many ads you put up or how many hoops you ask your readers to go through to get to it.

If the content is good enough, they’ll do whatever it takes—I speak from experience.

Case in point: The Baseball Cube.

I’m a huge baseball fan, and a few years ago I stumbled onto The Baseball Cube, a site that devotes itself to compiling baseball stats for every player in baseball.

Nothing special, right? Wrong. The Cube compiles minor-league data, college-ball stats, and even international league numbers for any player you can think of.

Alfonso Soriano’s numbers in Japan before he played in the minors with the Yankees? Gott’em.

Hideo Nomo’s Japan stats before he came to the US? Check. (FYI: he won 18 games in ’92)

The site even collects salary data, coaching data, scouting data, etc. Anything you could possibly think of that’s related to the game of baseball is all in one convenient place. To stat nerds like myself, this is the kind of stuff we drool over.

Although some would say “convenient” is a stretch.

When I found the site I couldn’t believe it: it wasn’t ESPN or Yahoo Sports who put it together, it was some guy with a website and an idea. I started posting about it everywhere until I got a nasty response because I was linking to a site that was “way too ad heavy.”

Which is true, The Baseball Cube has TONS of ads. Sometimes you get one of those “He married her!?” ads that are so annoying and force you to wait five seconds before taking you to your page.

It’s not only ad heavy, it’s ad-centric.

And you know what? I don’t give a crap.

Good for Gary, the guy behind the site. After all the hard work he did to get all this data together, he should make some money off it.

I’ll still keep going every time I want to find out more about a player, regardless of the army of ads on his site.

He’s hosting the information I want and can’t get anywhere else. Baseball Reference has a much “cleaner” look but I don’t like it as much. And no amount of ads or crazy interstitials will keep me from hitting the site when I want the information I want.

When you think about it: that’s the secret to any business, blogging included: create stuff other people desperately want.

If it’s good enough, they’ll show up no matter what.

Click here to read my interview with Gary, the man behind The Baseball Cube. Also check out this post about advertising and trust first got me thinking about this subject, so I figured I’d share it.

4 Responses to “The Secret to a Great Blog and a Great Business”

  • Greg Go Says:

    This is a great point. Great content is the foundation of a great blog.

    But hyper-aggressive (and ineffective!) advertising is not a necessary part of the equation. I think there’s a happy medium that makes all parties happy: higher revenue for the content creator, more effective marketing for the advertiser, and a pleasant experience for the reader.

    Of course, that’s the holy grail everyone’s working towards. :)

  • Nut Says:

    I agree that a medium would be best, but I like the example of The Cube that it has such valuable content (to me), that I put up with all that garbage advertising. I don’t care to the point that I applaud the man: he built it and we’re all coming, so go ahead and make some money.

  • Financial Samurai Says:

    What about plenty of those ridiculous Adsense ads like “800% Penny Stock Winners”, and stuff? I cringe when I see them. Feel bad for those who click and get tricked.

  • Roger Says:

    It’s always interesting to see what people are willing to put up with if you have quality and unique content. I think the ‘rule’ about not alienating your audience with ads is highly dependent on what content you have, and whether there are legitimate alienate sources available to your potential readers. If you have a unique or otherwise very valuable site, like the Baseball Cube, then you can get away with a lot of ads on your site (to say nothing of not promoting it as aggressively or doing many of the other things that blogging advice sites are always recommending). On the other hand, if you’re another in the vast sea of, say, personal finance bloggers and there are plenty of alternatives that are just as good (or better) than your site, than it’s imperative that you make the experience as pleasant as possible; nobody’s going to stick around to hear ‘invest regularly in index funds’ for the two hundredth time if a dancing penguin pop up assaults them every five minutes. The more unique and valuable the information you provide, the more eccentric and annoying your site can be.

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