Seven Ways [Not] to Commit Blog Suicide

Filed under:Blogging — posted by Anwyn on September 29, 2007 @ 9:36 am

Anne tagged me with the learning curve for all new bloggers: things not to do on your blog if you want to have any readers. Aside, if Anne really has 40,000 readers after only blogging for six weeks or so, then it may be time for this blog to commit ritual suicide. I mean, not that she doesn’t deserve 40K readers. I mean, … on with the post.

Would you believe this is a hard post for me? Sure, I can reel off seven things that turn me (and likely a good many others) off of a blog, but … interesting? funny? Not really. So I guess rules #1 and #2 are be interesting and funny.

Wait, no. I read plenty of blogs that aren’t really that funny and, moreover, shouldn’t be–i.e. either their subject matter is too serious or their author is a good blogger but just not naturally funny (hem, hem). And there’s nothing much more socially or mentally painful, in its way, than either listening to or reading somebody who thinks he’s being funny but isn’t. So I guess rule #3 is don’t be funny if you aren’t funny.

Did I say “subject matter?” All blogs need subject matter. The age-old dilemma (possibly reaching back to 2004, experts believe): confine your blog to a single topic field or roam around? My blogroll/favorites lists seem to argue for a roaming blog. Let’s face it, the only way you’ll have enough material to fill a blog on one topic is if you are already an expert in that topic. So I guess rule #4 is talk about what you know or can form a reasoned opinion on, whether it’s one topic in depth or many lightly touched or a good combination of both.

Yeah, that one holds–even the funniest raving rants of insanity are always best when you’re already aware they’re based on sound reasoning. So I guess rule #5 is sure, pop off–but only about something you really know how to argue about.

I just realized I’m giving rules for how not to commit blog suicide. I guess that’s still within the topic limits. I also just realized there too many blogs (the kind regularly mocked by Ace, for example) that have thousands of readers even though they are shrill rather than funny, know-nothing rants rather than reasoned arguments, and general idiocy fests.

Before I get to #6 and #7, I’m going to throw in an #8 here, following Anne’s footsteps, but it’s more of a question than a rule: How personal is too personal? I’m finding these days that unless I’m reading an expert, I’m very interested in aside personal anecdotes of people I’ve been reading for months. But there’s a limit, of course. Too much and I won’t want to spend my time reading about your life instead of living (or writing about) my own. Hmmm. That brings up the whole anonymity debate. Which is far more than the scope of this post.

So I give up. Go forth, blog, have thousands of readers no matter what your style, because of the thousands of viewpoints out there, as long as you #6 don’t crowd your content with annoying graphics and ads and #7 respond to your commenters or have plenty of other commenters to do that for you, which you’ll only get by responding yourself.

Blog on!

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace