I just got a severe bout of writer’s block. Funny it should happen right after my post about taming it. It must be a jinx.
To break the spell, I decided to do some research about personal blogs and their readers. My previous experience as a reader was predominantly with specialized blogs, like photography, design, writing or social media tips for business. Because personal blogging is still a whole new ball game to me, I figured it might help to poke around with some questions.
As a first step, I visited an online forum that I had frequented before the advent of Twitter, Facebook and blogging. It’s the only forum I’ve participated in for a number of years, and it’s so ancient you may call it a social media fossil, with the only difference that this fossil is still alive and kicking. It’s a tightly knit online community whose regular visitors are mostly women between 25 and 55 years old, who like to share their musings and who read blogs regularly. So I opened a new discussion asking what kind of blogs they like and how they find them. Within a couple of hours I received my answers.
It came as no surprise that my respondents had pretty high expectations. They liked the blogs that had:
- interesting, thought-provoking topics
- fresh ideas and original content
- passion and candor
- a sense of humour
- good images and video
- good writing
- easy to read presentation and relatively short posts
Surprisingly, no one mentioned usefulness and practicality of posts as a make-or-break quality, unless it was a cooking recipe or a Photoshop tutorial. Some of them said they hated post titles like “7 deadly sins of …,” “10 sources of …,” “20 books you should read,” “5 mistakes you should avoid.” You get the idea.
According to the results of my poking around (I wouldn’t dare calling it a survey), I divided readers of personal blogs into three categories: the first one sticks with a few select bloggers, who are on the same wavelength as the reader, and ignore the rest. Those in the second category don’t favour a particular blog or author, but read whatever grabs their attention at the moment, or whatever is being discussed in online forums. The last and the smallest category includes those who read only blogs by people whom they know personally.
Obviously, my quick-&-dirty findings reflect bias of only a fraction of a fraction of the vast online readership. Yet, I maintain, any information is better than none. 🙂
How about your experience and habits as a blog reader? Are your expectations of personal blogs as high as those mentioned in this post, or are you willing to cut bloggers some slack? What, in your opinion, is the most important attribute of a good personal blog?