Do you give good blog?

>> Friday, 5 April 2013

Well, do you?

A friend recently gave a blogging workshop for people new to this strange online world, and it got me thinking; what makes a good blog?

The thing about blogging is that so much lies in the perspective of the reader.  The young unattached 20-something, not yet a a parent, is unlikely to want to read about the ins and outs of potty training a recalcitrant 2 year old - no matter how funny they are to the writer.  Likewise, the lost-in-the-baby-fog first time mother is probably not going to want to spend too much time being reminded how much her life has changed by reading a style blog devoted to the most beautiful shoes spotted on the high street this week by the urban cool hunter.  (Although - it is nice to dream, occasionally...). The yoga teacher looking to spread her ideas on alternative therapies is unlikely to want to read blogs on the most recent new technologies available in the world of mobile communication.

So it's impossible to say that one blog is better than another because thankfully there are so many different niches to be filled.  This is one of the reasons that the internet, with it's zillions of voices all shouting to be heard, can be such an entertaining place to wander.

But.  I've been blogging for nearly 6 years now (so I wasn't an early adopter, but have been on the blogging scene a while), and in that time not only have I written over 1200 posts on this site alone, but I've read countless more - and there are a few things I've noticed that make me more likely to add one address to my blogroll and to click away quickly from others.  I figured I would share what these are.  They are entirely subjective, of course, and there are no hard and fast rules that govern which sites I do and don't visit.  These are just my thoughts on some of the aspects of 'giving good blog' which you can take or leave as you like...

Background and font colour: there is very little more likely to make me click away when I visit a blog I haven't seen before than light text on a dark or lurid background.  White text on bright pink, for example, or pale yellow on black.  If it's too harsh on the eye, no matter how good the content is, it's a no-go for me.

Font size and style:  When I started blogging I used a stupidly small font. (Look back through the archives to 2007 if you want to know what I mean).  Because of course I wasn't actually typing in that sized font, I never realised there was a problem until a commenter very tactfully mentioned it. So make sure your font size and style is legible.

Paragraphs: use them, please.  A block of text that fills the screen is again not conducive to me reading to the end of a post.  Life's complicated enough without battling through an intimidatingly long paragraph.

Post length:  I used to write lengthy posts.  Partly that may have been because I had more to say than I do now (having already blogged most of the angst out of my system), and partly it could have been due to over-excitement  (as in 'Oh my god!  On my blog, I get to run through a train of thought from beginning to end without being interrupted!').  Whatever, I've said before on here that a good piece of advice on blogging is to say what you want to, then stop - and I stand by that. Posts of 1500 words or more may not be the best way to entice your readers to continue all the way to the end.

Don't feed the trolls.  There will always - ALWAYS - be people out there who find happiness in making others miserable.  I'm not talking about the commenters who disagree with what you may have written and who express their point of view clearly, politely and cogently; I'm talking about those who leave inflammatory and hurtful remarks in the comment box just to get a rise out of you.  Ignore them if you can, delete them if you want; just don't reply to them, because that - engagement on your part - is what they want and crave, and will just keep them coming back for more in a vicious circle of comment and counter-comment.  Walk away, people; there's nothing to see here...

Punctuation marks, in particular: !!!!! Free yourself from the tyranny of the multiple exclamation mark.  I bet there is nothing you can write that doesn't sound just as interesting or entertaining with only 1 exclamation mark as it does with 2 or 3.

And finally, ignore everything I've just written above if it interferes with what you have to say.  There are no hard and fast rules about blogging; the main thing is to sit down and write that post in the first place. Don't give a damn about what others - like me, what do I know? - think of your blog.  If you like what you've written, then the chances are someone else will, too.


Expat mum 5 April 2013 at 19:30  

Also make sure that your page isn't so crowded it takes more than a few seconds to load. I, for one, will not be around when it does. Harrumph. *folds arms*

Sarahmumof3 5 April 2013 at 21:36  

blogging is so different for everyone but you set out some very good pointers (and bahh at the annoying spam around at the minute!)

MsCaroline 6 April 2013 at 07:57  

I'm sure I break every rule in blogging (especially as regards length,) but as long as my mum is still reading, I'm happy.; ) I'm relieved that the fad seems to be gone of having a trail of stars (or feathers, or shamrocks) that follow your cursor around the page. Ditto for music that begins to blare as soon as you load a page. Nothing will make me click out faster. Couldn't agree more about the poor, overworked exclamation point. It feels like hysteria to me.

Vicki TBB 6 April 2013 at 14:29  

Totally agree with the pale text on dark background, turns me right off. Might need to think again about my own font size though...

Iota 7 April 2013 at 08:20  

I've just looked at my font size... You're right. It's off-putting.

I agree with Ms Caroline. No music, and no trail following the cursor.

I don't like things that flash. If it has to try that hard to catch my interest, then it can't be very interesting. I guess they're usually adverts.

Iota 7 April 2013 at 08:21  

And the catchy, intriguing, slightly raunchy title to a post always helps too...

nixdminx 7 April 2013 at 21:52  

I'm such a bad blogger that I just care about the content - photo size is important to me and I try and ensure they're all 600px width and words well spaced, but I'm stuck with a template that I can't change right now so needs must, but saying that, it's all about getting people to your content in the first place, I don't think many people visit blogs unless they've seen recommendations on twitter or facebook. My pet hate is the image carousel...grrrr, but I love all the blogs I read, so it's back to content, good reads work wherever, paper, t'internet, bricks walls...

Susanna 8 April 2013 at 14:48  

I'm not a fan of a reversed out typeface on a dark ground. might be my age but I find it difficult to read.

Katia 9 April 2013 at 02:35  

Very informative, thank you for sharing your experience. I've only recently started using shorter paragraphs and posts realizing that my target audience, moms, are not likely to sit down and read a long post. This was a helpful reminder of important principles. Thank you!

Iota 9 April 2013 at 08:23  

I've changed my typeface, as a result of this post.

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