The 80/20 Rule is the idea that, for many events, about 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This idea has been translated to various industries. If you’re a farmer, you might have heard that 20% of the plants in the garden produce 80% of the produce. If you’re in business, you have surely heard that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. This rule is also called the Pareto Principle, or — my favorite– the Law of the Vital Few.
I have personally seen this rule apply to many different industries and hobbies, and blogging is no different. 80%, or more, of the rewards of my blogging efforts have been generated by the readership of about 20%, or less, of my community.
Imagine that you have 100 followers. That means 20 followers will be actively contributing.
Just because 20% of your readership is active by their own definition, doesn’t mean they’re active by yours. There are variances amongst them.
In a retail environment, for example, your Vital Few may be made up of regular customers, customers who rarely buy anything but always spread the word, and fans who genuinely love your work and keep your store full even though they never purchase. All of those combined are what create 80% of the results that keep a shop happy and in business. If you need more of one group than another, and you’re not getting it, you need to ask yourself if you’re appealing to the right type of 20 Percenter, or if the problem is that you just don’t have enough of them.
Again, blogging seems to be very much the same. If you have 100 followers, and 20 are actively contributing– it could be that only 5 choose to contribute by commenting, and 15 contribute by visiting and reading every day.
I often read comments in the Community Pool from people who want more comments than they’re getting, or more likes, or more followers. In a way, that’s nitpicking about the type of variances in your 20%. If you want more of those things, you have to seek out those 20 Percenters specifically.
I’m not going to say that’s easy to do, but it’s certainly not complicated. Search for people who have similar habits as the demographic you want to expand. Stop by and say hey.
At the beginning of this month, I asked for you to tell me how you found me. The results were pretty much exactly what I expected since I
stalk all of you study my numbers regularly.
About 10% of my readers responded to the poll (or by email or comment), though it took 10 days to accumulate them all. (Blogging has time zones and reading preferences to contend with, as well.)
These numbers are a reflection of my 20 Percenters who are “good sports” and/or “like to make their voice known”, which is about half. The others, well– y’all only speak when you have something unique to add, and I’m okay with that.
Lots of people, if emails I receive are any indication, think all/many of my followers came from being Freshly Pressed or listed in the Recommended Reading. For my total followers, I would agree– but mostly that number is meaningless to me. I focus on my 20 Percenters.
Most of my 20 Percenters found their way here from seeing my gravatar, comment, or guest post over at a friend’s blog. I sought out and found a lot of you, as well.
And those prompts that I do? Everything from Yeah Write, to Trifecta, to Alastair’s Photo Challenge, to the Daily Post, to Prompts for the Promptless— all of that stuff brought in a good chunk of you guys as well.
Of course, 5% of you don’t remember how we met. Not bad. I anticipated 15% there.
I must make a pretty strong first impression.
I have a feeling that if I had dinosaur-stomped all my readers into completing this poll, the number sent over to me by WordPress’ generous recommendations would be much higher– as would the prompt sites. In fact, I’d bet that over 60% of my total readers came from WordPress and various Prompts, instead of just the 34% represented by my active reader pie chart.
That just goes to show how much easier it is for a reader to turn into a 20 Percenter when they know you through friends or when you find them yourself.
I guess all of this narrows down to pointless research, a fun pie chart, and an answer to the one of the questions I am asked most often. “How do I grow my blog?”
- If you choose to be niche-less, like me, keep in mind that this builds further variances in your 20 Percenters. In a sense, you’re splitting the vote. In my case for example, only maybe 10% of my 20 Percenters seek out poetry– so unless my poetry crosses over into another boundary or is combined with another thought, it’s going to go over with much less of a splash. It doesn’t stop me from writing poetry, and it shouldn’t stop you either– but it does help take it less personally when 100 people ‘like’ a photo and only 2 ‘like’ a poem. If this was a big problem for me, I would be actively seeking out poetry readers by joining poetry prompt sites and regularly giving input on other poems on other sites.
- Keep an eye on your 20 Percenters. Make sure they never have reason to stop loving you.
- Think about what your favorite 20 Percenters have in common. It shouldn’t necessarily effect your writing, but it’s good to keep in mind.
- Don’t feel bad if only a small portion of your followers are “active”. That’s normal.
- Define what you want out of an active follower. Seek it out.
- Make friends. Comment, like posts, read posts. Friends make more friends.
- Do a prompt or two.
- Maybe consider a more branded or personality-indicating gravatar.
- If you don’t like what you have or where you are, do something different.
- Don’t ignore your quieter 20 Percenters. They’re part of it.
- Remember that numbers are just predictions of tomorrow based on reports of the past– but words shape the future. So write, write, and write some more– and leave the worrying over stats to yesterday.
Have you found the 80/20 rule to be true in your blogging efforts, or in any other industries? What kind of 20 Percenter are you generally? (I’m a quiet, loyal sort. The one telling other people about you, but not telling you that I did, or even necessarily remembering to hit ‘like’…)
Did you like my pretty titles or did it make things confusing for you email and phone readers?