The 9Rules blogging network will open its doors to welcome submissions for Round 5 tomorrow. Over 700 sites were submitted last round and 111 of the sites were selected to join the community. As I understand it, there is an expectation that thousands of entries will be submitted this time around and I was still curious what 9Rules was interested in.
Tyme White, the 9Rules site selector and co-founder, believes that content is king and she needs to be able to easily identify what your site is all about. She recommends tag clouds and she “dreads long archive lists” which tell her nothing. Since she has communities to fill, if she can’t quickly determine site content, she’ll not going to stick around to find out. Ms. White also mentioned she is looking for curb appeal. This is the first impression someone has when they see your site (or a house from the street.)
A passion for the subject that you are writing for. This is evident from the writing on your site.
Quality writing. If itâ€™s supposed to be funny then make sure it is funny. If it is supposed to stimulate the mind, then make sure it is intelligent. Mistakes happen within entries, but too many mistakes on too many posts definitely raise a red flag.
Consistency in writing quantity. We donâ€™t expect sites to have entries on them every single day, but if you have a site that posts one entry a month we expect there to be at least one entry a month. If you write every single day for 6 months and then disappear for 3 months then we begin to raise questions.
Topics. Obviously we offer a wide range of topics (as can be seen on the homepage) and we are always looking to expand. If you have another web design blog or another blog that has its niche filled (10 or more sites) within 9rules you should make sure that you are offering a really kickass site.
Design. We donâ€™t base our decisions on the design of your site, but a clean design definitely makes us look more carefully over your site and a unique design often shows a passion for your site.
Blogger/Blogspot domains. In all honesty I donâ€™t like adding sites that are hosted by blogger or blogspot since there are so many other parts of the design of those sites which donâ€™t really distinguish them from the rest, but if your site is worth it we will add it.
Scrivs is consistent with Tyme as he appears to be mostly interested in content and writing style.
Though I don’t plan to make a play for one of their coveted spots, I appreciated what the 9Rules team had to say. It was reassuring and it did challenge me to take a look at my site:
1. First, I considered archives. Now, why do I even include this list on my site? Talk about useless! I currently have less than 40 posts — all of which we published within the last three months. This is a waste of space and it provides zero benefit to my readers. Even when I have hundreds of posts, I don’t figure there is a use case for the monthly archive links. It’s not like a reader is going to say, “Let’s see what Ben was writing about back in October of 2006. If I recall, he posted a great article about archive links then.” Nope, I would hope my reader would search the site instead.
2. 9Rules also made a point to say that most blog owners make the mistake of not having their header link to the home page. I had already nailed this. Wheww. But it did bring my attention to the block of empty space in the top-right corner of my blog. I’m going to use this real estate for something soon. I think bringing “Search” to the top of the page is a decent idea. Or maybe I will include an advertisement.
3. I’m starting to really dislike the blockquote style. I’m going to make it simple like everyone else and either display indented text partnered by a left-justified vertical line or I’ll start using something like an open quote background image.
4. I also don’t like seeing the number of views on top of each post. For one, the numbers are depressing. I can see “0 Views” only so many times without crying. And 2, these stats don’t have to be there since I can collect them and review them through other means without distracting my few readers.
5. I think I might also include an “about” page. I believe this would follow the 9Rules advice and give visitors more insight into what johnnycoder.com is all about. These links might work in the top-right corner as well.
So these are my thoughts. Please try to get yourself into a 9Rules community if you wish. In the interim, I’m going to try to “clean up” my site. Hopefully it will turn out better for you.