Monday, May 16, 2011

5 Reasons Why I Read Your Blog

A friend of mine is thinking about starting a new lifestyle/creative blog in hopes of attracting readers outside her circle of friends and family and asked me for some tips. Pretty funny because my blog is clearly nothing fancy and I wouldn't call myself any kind of 'great' blogger, but I was thinking: I read lots of blogs, why do I read the ones I read? As Tina recently asked on her blog, 'what keeps me coming back?'. So I thought I would answer/post in this format in hopes that it might provide my friend with a few more points to ponder -and maybe even help me get my own act together a bit more!
1) Your blog is somewhat pretty, or maybe even gorgeous in terms of it's layout. This tells me 2 things: a) you care enough to try, even if all you have is a white background and a cute header, i.e., you've invested into your blog, b) your design aesthetic is already piquing my interest and I haven't even read your content yet, but because I like your layout I'm already inclined to like what I read. Personally I prefer blogs to have less bling-bling, blinkies and badges.
By the way, DIY blog pimping isn't that hard thanks to the tutorials over on Pugly Pixel and Blogger Buster -and those are just two examples. Don't want to DIY? Ask Carolyn to do it for you!
2) You have a high level of original content that I don't see/easily find elsewhere. This can be your photos, your sense of humor, your projects, your recipes, etc. Don't post tutorials that are just copies of somebody else's (bad!) or think you're winning points/readers when you post a tutorial of how to sew a napkin or a fabric flower. Those tutes have been posted a million times and the only thing that makes one stick out more than the others is the quality of the photography, explanation, and end result. If you really want to shine in a generic area, put a fun spin on it like this cool series of napkins at Chez Beeper Bebe.
3) You post frequently and regularly, as in, I know you're alive and I'm not wondering if you fell off the face of the earth. Ever run into those blogs that just stop? Kinda creepy somehow. A post a week is a good way to start out I think. That's pretty do-able, right? I shoot for 3-4x/wk because blogging is a hobby, I want to see this blog grow, and the fact is that people are far more likely to follow blogs that publish frequently. I read lots of blogs where the authors will post when they're taking a blogging break for a specified amount of time (due to illness, vacation, workload, etc.) and I think that's totally fine.
4) You post quality. I know I just said post frequently, but if it's lame it's a turnoff to see tons of lame posts. Don't post just to post. I've been so guilty of this in the past and I know how you can feel obligated, but it shows. Quality over quantity folks!

I think the slowest public blog I read is A Field Journal. She posts on average, what, like once or twice a month? But her posts are gorgeous and stunning! Her photos are fantastic and her projects are honestly better than Martha Stewart's, so she can get away with posting so rarely.

Part of quality = clear text and good photos. Fine, I edit for a living so I really notice this, but I think we all appreciate when others run the spell check and don't write eternally long run-on sentences that make you feel like you're never going to reach the end, and by the way they'll throw in forty random facts about their last car repair before getting to the end of their sentence that was originally about spray painting their board and batten project. Do you know what I mean?

What? You can't take photos like Ansel Adams or even Ree Drummond? Me either. Let's try though, ok? Baby steps! Here are some great beginner photo tips, flash tips, and backdrop tips (I need to revisit all of these...). My personal favorites are 'try turning off the flash' and 'read your camera's manual'. I started blogging with my cell phone camera and had 30+ followers in a few months, so anything's possible.
5) It's personal. Even if you're blogging for your business your personality should come through. If somebody just posts pictures of stuff they find online or just put in their shop, I have no idea of who this person is. I don't need to hear all the gory details of your life or see your child's face, but sharing a video that inspired you, for example, tells me something about who you are.

A nice 'About' page can also be helpful in this aspect. Who are you? How can I contact you if I have a question that's not suitable to toss into the comments? Obviously not everybody is ok with putting a picture of themselves online or sharing their private email address, but there are ways to get around that. Add a nice description, get a blogname @ gmail dot com address and have it forwarded to your regular email address, etc. The About pages are supposed to be the second most viewed page on a blog after the homepage, so throw your readers a bone. No connection, no dice.

What keeps you coming back to this blog -or any for that matter? What turns you off? Personally, I'm seeing a lot of room for improvement on my blog after reading my own list, ha! I'll have to work on it...

Stay tuned to hear what makes me want to comment on your blog. (gosh, that sounds arrogant, ha! Just remember why I'm doing these two posts!)

PS- The pictures are from a recent drive through the countryside. Have I mentioned that spring in Germany is wonderful?

12 comments :

zsazsazsu said...

thanks for this interesting post !

Monica said...

Great info! I desperately need to work on my about page and it has been on my "to do" since day one. Ugh.

MS said...

Great thoughts Jules! And no one is going to mistake your advice for arrogance. I'm taking notes and ready for the next one!

Sewandthecity said...

Have you sometimes thought about things that you can't really put into words - well you just summarised my thoughts better that I could have done! I love your "Five reasons" to read a blog, it has given me a lot of insight and I realise that there is always ( a lot of) room for improvement! Great post!

Allison said...

Tja, it's really hard to say why I read some of the blogs that I do. I have to say that I'm a picture junkie... for me, a lot has to do with being inspired by the photos, although that is not the only reason that I read a blog. Since I am more of a visual person, if there is too much text or it is too rambling, I only end up reading the first part and then get too overwhelmed and don't read the second part. But a lot of that also has to do with time. Before the little guy, I visited a lot more blogs, read them, and even commented more. Now, I seem to just drop in on my top 10 favorites, and if I see an interesting title or picutre from a "less frequented" favorite, then I'll pop in. There are a few blogs that are so well written, but I find that I do not check them out as often simply based on the fact that my time is so limited right now, and such posts really deserve to be read with a nice cup of tea on a Saturday in your P.J.'s... those days are few and far between... sigh!

Great post!

Liebesbotschaft said...

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!

Juliette, this is REALLY freaky!

Two persons - one thought!


What an awesome and great post you've written... I love all the practical details!


43845737465 hugs and kisses
Joanna

Carolyn said...

GREAT post! Bloggin' ain't always easy. Thanks for the shoutout too. :)

Kelly said...

I love these ideas! I'm trying to work through a site update which is taking FOREVER, but this is another reminder why these (seemingly) little things matter. Thank you!

Traveling Mama said...

This pretty much sums it up for me. I read blogs that are done well, that are personal, and are original.

I read your blog because I think you rock! :-)

Lori @ Studio Waterstone said...

Love this and could not agree more with every point! Nice post. I'm new here so I'm running off now to peruse. :)

Emily said...

Great post! What an excellent and succinct summary of what a good blog is.

Anonymous said...

Really good post!

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