Let’s talk about blogs
February 9, 2011 § 18 Comments
‘Blog’ is a word that I hate. It sounds like something repulsive, probably something that comes out of the mortal nose. I much prefer ‘weblog’, but in this rushed age, two syllables is far more than one can expect a person to write or say when they can get away with one. ‘Blog’ it is, then.
I’ve been writing blog posts at ‘Words About Words’ for a few months now. I’ve also been reading other people’s blogs more and more often. Some patterns are forming: things that I like to write about the most, things that I particularly like about other people’s blogs, and things that put me off a blog. We bloggers thrive on readers, of course, and ‘likes’ and comments, and I believe most of us would like to improve. In the interests of helping each other out, let’s talk a bit about what makes a good blog or a poor one. Here are my preferences.
GOOD BLOGLY THINGS
1 – Unusual topics. This is tricky, because with so many blogs updated every day, most topics one can think of will have been covered many times already. I by no means expect to be presented with unique topics every time I visit a blog, but the more unusual subjects covered – or unusual takes on a common topic – the more interested I’ll be.
2 – Pictures. Is this shallow me? Maybe… but colour! Visual interest! It’s not that I won’t take a post seriously if it has no pictures in, but there’s no doubt that it helps.
3 – HUMOUR. This is a big one, for me personally. It’s not always vital. There’s plenty of room for serious blogs about the craft of writing, with much helpful advice, and so on. But there are so, so many of those, and they are always competing with the large numbers of expert books available on the topic. I always make more room in my life for the blogs that can make me laugh.
4 – Related to the above point is: character. Personality. Dry essays about ‘how to write’ or endless lists of writing resources simply grow stale after a while. Blogs are different from other mediums because they allow room for personality. Show me yours!
BAD BLOGLY THINGS
1 – Poor presentation. I particularly refer to posts filled with mistakes in grammar, spelling and punctuation, especially with blogs written by aspiring writers. Everyone makes an occasional typo, but a lot of errors suggests a lack of professionalism. Running a post through a spellchecker before publishing it is a very good idea. Also, good paragraphing and, if applicable, use of sub-headings is attractive. I’m put off if I find myself presented with a largely unbroken wall of text.
2 – Too few posts. If I look at the homepage and the last post was five weeks ago, then in most cases I’ll move on. I certainly won’t subscribe, because I’ll feel like there isn’t any point.
3 – Too many posts. I know this seems contradictory, but it’s true. There’s a limited amount of spare time in my average working week, and that grows less and less with each passing month. I don’t have enough time to commit to reading anybody’s blog every single day; particularly since, in most cases, it’s really hard to write good posts every day. Too many of those posts end up being hasty, rushed, very brief, and essentially, not worth reading.
Also… too many posts gets to feel like spam.
4 – A lot of completely off-topic posts, especially when many of them are about personal topics which a complete stranger has no reason to care about. If the aim is to write a personal blog for family or friends, then of course it doesn’t matter, but if the idea is to write a blog about, say… writing, and you want to build a readership, then don’t make every other post about your kids.
Naturally these lists influence the direction I take with this blog. I like to laugh, and I like to make other people laugh, so I often write posts that are at least vaguely humorous. It helps to leaven the heaviness of life. Too much of the same thing grows wearisome, however, so I divert from time to time into some more serious discussions. Likewise, I write mostly about writing, but sometimes I write about reading too.
I have rate buttons up on each post, but they are rarely used, so I’m going to ask directly. Dear readers, thank you for being readers. What do you like about this blog that makes it worth reading? What would you prefer to see less of, or more of?
In the more general sense, what do we, bloggers and blog-readers, like and dislike in blogs? Why do we read them in the first place? Insights appreciated.
I leave you with this thought from despair.com: