This is a guest post by Jonathan Brill. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Most of the advice for bloggers online is given from other blog owners and blogging experts. Well, I would like to turn this around and offer you some advice as a reader. Below you’ll find a list of things I wish all the bloggers I read would do.
1. Be easy to understand. Maybe I’m an expert in your field or maybe I’m just trying to be. Either way, domain-specific words and acronyms can be daunting to the uninitiated. Since blogs are the gateway to getting initiated, please spare me from having to learn the language before I can read your blog. If I need Babel Fish to parse your writing, you’ve already lost me.
2. Be relevant. I’m going to read dozens of blogs today. That may seem like a lot but considering there are over 900k posts uploaded every 24 hours; it’s obvious I’ve already done some serious filtering. Even so, that’s a lot of reading for someone who has a real job. I’ve picked blogs that I think are relevant to my career or life in some way. You’ve gone through a process to select me as a reader and I’ve reciprocated by subscribing. Make sure your posts are written for the audience you’ve cultivated.
3. Be consistent. Nothing worse than going to my favorite blog and see they’ve taken off a week or two without notice. Should I stop going there? Will it ever come back? Is there a schedule I can follow? If you want regular readers, then be a regular writer.
4. Be interesting. Let’s make a deal: I’ll give you the most valuable thing I have, my time, and you give me something interesting. It doesn’t have to be funny, although that certainly helps. But it does have to be interesting or new or at least novel. This has as much to do with personality as it does with story. If your topic is one I’m already familiar with, like a well-covered news event, then at least give me a fresh take. It’s OK to blog about events with observations, but you better make sure your observations of those events are worth reading.
5. Be thorough. I get that blogging may not be your full time job and that you won’t be able to explore every topic fully, but I still need a resolution. Give me closure. On every single post. Don’t just introduce me to topics and then leave, like a person at a party who starts a conversation and then walks away mid-sentence. Respect the rules of composition and the anatomy of any good story: make sure your posts have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
6. Have authority. I appreciate that your interest extends past what your blog may usually cover. But you need to qualify your authority so I don’t question it later. If you run a tech blog and start riffing about politics you better know enough to stand up to the political blogs I’m also reading or admit that your opinion is unqualified. I respect that you’re an expert at tech blogging but that doesn’t make you an expert at everything. To paraphrase Colin Powell on what makes a good analyst: tell me what you know, tell me what you don’t know, and if there’s any time left, you can tell me what you think.
7. Be authentic. Considering there’s now tens of millions of people throwing up everything they’ve heard or thought about on the internets, there’s a fair chance that whatever it is you’re about to write already exists in some form or another. That’s OK. I’m reading you because I think your opinion is interesting or valuable. If I find out that it’s not really your opinion, but the opinion of your Master or Advertiser or Sponsor, you’ve lost me. If I want compromised corporate crap journalism I can go to a major newspaper. I’m reading you because you have a quirky opinion that occasionally flies in the face of conventional wisdom. I dig that about you. One that trust is gone, however, so is any appeal of reading your work.
8. Show you enjoy writing. You don’t have to smile when you blog, but you should enjoy writing. You don’t have to love it every day but you should enjoy it enough to be good at it. Every day. The day you stop having fun writing a blog will be the day it becomes less fun to read. Our relationship is built on mutual satisfaction and it’s more fragile and transparent than you may realize. It’s OK to not want to blog for a day or two. Or even longer if you give your readers a heads up. Better than tossing up forced content that makes your readers the worse for reading it.
9. Be accessible. Regardless of the teachings of our social media czars, blogging is still largely about one person publishing so many people can read it. Occasionally, however, you’ll blog about something that inspires the normally uninspired to want to interact with you. Do yourself a favor and be accessible. This doesn’t mean having to respond to every comment or mail but it does mean at least taking part in a conversation you may have started. If you’re not willing to interact with readers who are looking for conversation, someone else in your space will.
10. Be something other than a blogger. As good as your writing may be, much of the value to your readers comes from your knowledge and experience in other areas. This doesn’t mean you have to “Hemingway” all over the world to bullfights and battles so you have fresh content; it does mean, however, keeping people interested in what you’re doing and thinking will be much more challenging if you never do anything interesting. Most of the blogs I read are an output of lives so full they crave to be documented, not random musings from people bored with television.
One of the best ways to improve as a blogger is to be a prolific blog reader. Hold yourself to the lofty demands to which you hold your favorite bloggers.
About the Author: Jonathan Brill is the owner of Prolific247, a company that has been building and managing business blogs since 2007. The company has a collection of best practices and current information for corporate blogging. If you’d like to learn more, you can reach them at [email protected].