One of the bits of advice that Scott Hanselman gave in our interview with him on Ignite Your Coding was that a good way to stay on top of all the things happening in the tech world is “follow the aggregators” – the people who take the time to comb through all the tech news and collect it into a single place. I hope that you consider this blog one of your aggregators.
Even aggregators rely on other aggregators, and this one has relied on Techmeme for the longest time (since writing for Canadian Developer Connection since 2009 and Global Nerdy since 2006). Techmeme is Gabe Rivera’s ever-updating “Page One” powered by news crawlers and a human editorial board featuring breaking tech news stories and commentaries on those stories, from big tech news sites to tech blogs (ranging from big, corporate-funded ones to one-person developer blogs). I hit Techmeme several times a day and have found it incredibly useful in all sorts of ways, and it’s nice to see Gabe and Techmeme get their due in the New York Times article Techmeme Offers Tech News at Internet Speed.
Not Just the Story, But the Stories Around the Story
One of the great things about Techmeme is where it leads you. Not only do the big tech stories of the moment appear on Techmeme, but so do stories that link to that story. As a result, you get not just what’s going on, but also links to articles that follow up on, expand, provide context for and even counterpoint to that story.
Here’s a screen shot of a story featured on Techmeme last week, Mary Jo Foley’s article on WebMatrix:
Mary Jo’s article, Microsoft takes aim at Web developers with new WebMatrix tool suite, appears at the top. Below it, in the section titled “Discussion”, are all the blogs that link to Mary Jo’s article. Each of these discussion articles provides some additional context, often with a different angle, from the developer-specific angles covered by Scott “ScottGu” Guthrie and me (in the 3rd article in the discussion list) to the overview angle provided by Ars Technica to the managerial angles provided by Softpedia News and Betanews. You’ll often see disagreeing points of view as well. This “story plus discussion” approach is often very useful for getting a better picture and broader perspective of what’s going on.
Okay, What About the “Your Ticket to Nerd Rock Stardom” Part?
According to the New York Times article, Techmeme has a reach of about 260,000 readers and get 3 million pageviews a month. Its Alexa traffic rank worldwide is 7,845 (out of all the web pages in the world, it is the 7,845th most popular) and its traffic rank in the U.S. is 2,954 (the 2,954th most popular site for U.S. readers). How can you harness that power for yourself?
The trick is a simple one: it’s to get Techmeme to mention your blog articles in the “Discussion” section for its stories, or better still, make one of your articles a featured article. Once that happens a couple of times, you’ll notice that your readership will grow from the “Techmeme bump” and if you play your cards right, all sorts of opportunities will follow. It’s worked for me at Global Nerdy, which often gets listed in “Discussion” lists for Techmeme articles and has had a few articles as feature articles, and it’s grown from zero readers in 2006 to getting 1.6 million pageviews (1.3 million unique) in 2009.
How do you get noticed by Techmeme? I gave away this secret back in 2006, in an article titled Jason Calacanis Swiped Our 5-Step Plan for Becoming an A-Lister! It goes as follows:
- Go to Techmeme.
- Blog something intelligent about the top story of the day.
- Link to and mention all the people who have said something intelligent.
- Repeat for 30 days.
- Go to a couple of conferences a month.
(And to get noticed by Techmeme, you can ignore step 5. But attending conference helps in all sorts of ways too. Did I mention that TechDays is coming?)
That’s all there is to it: find featured articles in Techmeme, write something intelligent about it in your blog (don’t forget to link to the article!) and keep doing it. Like a lot of other things in tech, as long as you’ve got the threshold amount of smarts, it’s all about perseverance.
If you take on this challenge, let me know how it goes!
This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.