What makes a blog popular? Beats me. No, really, I have no idea. I have a handful of “fans,” if you will, but it’s not like thousands of people read my posts. Too bad, I guess, but I’m okay with that. Maybe someday I won’t be, and I’ll stop.
Anyway, I can tell you what I like and don’t like about a blog post and that determines how much of one I’ll read:
Current information, and accurate, is a must. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are also important to me—why? Because if a blog is poorly written, I assume that the writer is an idiot. Simple. I read blogs to learn things, and if someone can’t actually, you know, write, then I assume they’re uneducated and therefore aren’t going to teach me a thing. I mean, this punctuation stuff, that’s taught in grade school! Likewise, if someone links to his blog but the intro in the post is garbled and ridiculous, forget it. Not going there.
Videos annoy me. I’m a writer and a reader, so if I click on something interesting and then have to watch a video, I’m done. If I want to see live and/or moving pictures, I’ll turn on the TV. Same reason I don’t like to go to a meeting, be handed a packet, and have someone read aloud. Ugh.
I get irritated, too, when I see a lead-in paragraph on something interesting, click the link, and go to the SAME lead-in on another page and have to click yet another link to get to where I was going. Sigh.
I like to see regular posts, too. Maybe once a week, maybe more. If a blogger hasn’t posted in months, what’s the point of following? It’s kind of hit or miss . . .
Blogs with themes are nice, too. Cooking, or raising kids, or whatever—just something that’s not all over the map, you know? On the other hand, if a writer has some skill, they can blog about almost anything as long as it’s entertaining. Like a book, or a story. No, no, I don’t mean a serial on a blog; I mean just funny, or captivating, or, well, entertaining. It has to do with voice, just like a novel.
Some people do make money by blogging—yay for them! I don’t. It would be awesome if some big company would sponsor me, or sponsor giveaways, but Adsense and all those pay-per-click thingies don’t always deliver.
So why do writers blog? Or why should they? You can ask this question almost anywhere and get a half-dozen different answers.
I blog for a few reasons:
To get the word out about new books, to pitch my own, to provide information for authors and writers, to discuss the industry, and of course, prepping info—including my own methods.
But I also blog to practice my writing. It certainly helps to do some stream-consciousness putting-the-words-on-the-paper stuff, and practice makes perfect. Sort of. It’s a good, regular exercise in honing one’s craft. Simple.
I encourage all writers to blog, just for that reason. Even if life gets in the way, you know you’re committed to doing X-number of posts a week or a month; kind of like all the “regular” chores you have to do every day. This quickly becomes habit, and gives you a regular creative outlet; plus, it’s more exposure to your work, which is always good if not immediately apparent.
Once, we placed a classified ad for a business we owned. Got nothing. Not a single phone call. Then, three months later, a woman called us. She’d kept the ad for that long. We got her as a client, and then her sister, as well as her sister’s brick-and-mortar business. That $5 ad brought a big response, eventually.
Exposure and networking are a lot like that—you never know when it’s going to click.