Monday, April 6, 2009

Five Steps to Effective Blogging

[Disclaimer: the author does not wish to imply that she knows anything about effective blogging nor is she discussing personal journals detailing the self-exploratory journeys of literary ants.]

We've all heard about the bloggers who were so witty, so poignant, so spot on that they soon found themselves surrounded by serenading agents. Likely story? Well, I just read about her in the latest Writer's Digest. And we've all visited blogs that vibrated with luminous life, where we couldn't help but leave a comment in hopes that some of the joy and verve might rub off. Or where we've laughed or cried or nodded in agreement. Where we've murmured an "Amen."

And then we've all skimmed blogs that totally sucked. For lack of a better word.

What do we find so distasteful? I did the research so you didn't have to. Okay, you probably already know what you don't like, but here's what a lot of others don't like:

  1. rambling, wandering, yapping with no point
  2. a title that has nothing to do with the post
  3. shameless self-promotion
  4. long blocks of paragraphs with no breaks
  5. overuse of font color, size, emoticons, etc

Some of the posts I perused actually contradicted themselves or others, but this was the general consensus in the highly scientific, double-blind, and triple-sanitized study that I conducted late last night. In my laboratory. Hidden in a secret compound. Deep below the earth.

But I digress. The point is not to pen pointless and irritating blog posts. The point is to inform, amuse, titillate, even enter the dialogue, if you will. So how?

  1. Review blogs you are drawn to and look at the posts that have garnered the most conversation. (Disregard contests or giveaways; unless, of course, you're just looking for numbers.) What do they have in common?
  2. Check your language: is it clear, lyrical, full of imagery, or sweetly succinct? does your voice shine through? or are you clunking along like a automaton?
  3. Check your content: regardless of your style, make sure you have a point, then stick to it. Flesh it out, add examples, but don't spew out streams of unconnected vomit.
  4. Add white space: I could expound, but Lady Glamis did such a delightful job here.
  5. Use format buttons effectively: help our eyes move through your post by using bullets or bold, numbers or pictures.

Blogging is a lot like writing. Oh, wait. It is writing. But you know what I mean. Points 1-4 apply directly to the novelist. Or the poet. They need no explanation. Point 5 is simply knowing how to use the tools of the trade, whether that is dialogue or spell check.

So, what have I forgotten? Any pet peeves? Glorious bursts of insight? Do share!


  1. I already shared my thoughts about white space on my blog, *grins*

    I think you've covered this well. I certainly like blogs that have a theme and stick to it. And I hate rambling.

    By the way, THIS is a great blog. :D

  2. I agree with you - but. But. Sometimes you just need to ramble. And for me, my blog is something I use to help me keep track of myself and my goals in well as the occasional brain farts that come from that. My attitude is, if you don't like it, don't read it.

    I do stick to a theme, though. My writing, different aspects of writing that puzzle me, my catz, BSG...I don't tend to just p*ss away on there. But sometimes I ramble like today. Hm.

    I agree. Me likey this blog tho. :)

  3. Great post Alex, couldn't agree more. I follow a number of different blogs, agent blogs, writer blogs, even a conservative blog just for the giggles, but they all have one things in common, good writing.

    I may or may not agree with everything that's said, but if it is entertaining, I come back.

  4. @Lady Glamis: It was so funny, seriously. I really did head to your blog to grab an example of format/white space, and there it was, all sparkly & pretty & waiting, like it was meant to be:) and it looks like you've sparked some dialogue because Amber's picked up the topic!

    @JKB: i probably misspoke ... i don't mean the blog as a whole should necessarily be coherent. Just the post. And too, it completely depends on your goal. If you're simply wanting to document your life or keep track of goals, you're darn right: if they don't like it, they can leave :) on the other hand, if you're seeking a certain community or hoping to connect with your readers, then I think you have to be aware of audience.

    @doug: right on! it's not always about right or wrong but rather about the quality of the discussion...what fun is there in always agreeing w/ someone? pretty boring, actually. writers who can get you to disagree just a little bit keep you involved (versus ones who drive you away completely or write things you can only nod in agreement to), and involved readers come back.

  5. Sometimes I don't mind when bloggers ramble a little--or should I say rant? I suppose I don't mind that, as long as it's amusing :) and ultimately has a point, which goes back to number 3 on your list. I don't like when bloggers have a negative attitude for days upon end, however. And I REALLY like when bloggers comment back on the comments once in awhile. It makes readers feel like the blogger isn't too busy to check back and see the response to what he or she wrote. Thanks for the post!

  6. Elegant post. The form your post is in speaks to the point. Thanks.

  7. @cindy: no doubt -- i've always admired people who take the time to individually comment to each person who stopped by the blog. it says a lot. it's a learned behavior, though: when I first started blogging, I didn't know I should or could. I actually thought that I might be violating some unknown principle if i did! :) (yeah, i'm crazy & paranoid, don't you know)

    @dave: thank you :) i was just taking your suggestion from way back when... thanks for the inspiration

  8. Good points... I guess I better go do an effective blog inventory at my own. Perhaps we could have a peer conference when we get together soon!! I did spend about two weeks reading blogs that seems to match my interests before I ever started. That really helped.

  9. Good share. Whitespace I don't see enough of. Odd titles with no relevance are also too common.

    Myself, the problem is likely just not consistent enough content.


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