I’ve been blogging for over six years now, and I have written nearly 600 posts of my own and read thousands more. I no longer have the patience, or the time (writing novels, full-time job, not to mention tending the ever-growing humans), that I used to have to scroll through new blogs and try find like-minded people to befriend. I tend to stick with my old friends, those who have lasted the blogging journey alongside me, or occasionally follow a new stand-out blog, or that of someone who loyally visits and comments here.
So in my years of reading, writing and trawling, I have developed a blogging radar that helps me discern within seconds if this is a blog I want to follow – or run from.
Here are ten signals that send me screaming into the hills:
1. Any blog called ‘Rants’ or ‘Musings’ or ‘Thoughts’. Especially bad if combined with ‘Random’. This is now done to death and unoriginal. I am not interested in your randomness, nor your musings. I want you to be specific and interesting. Specifically interesting, if possible.
2. Blogs that play music. Don’t do this! I don’t want to know what your taste in music is, unless you have written a brilliant post about it. If you assault my eardrums, I will skip away at high speed and not hit the follow button.
3. No updates in the last six months. This is a dead blog and its corpse must be removed from sight. In the public interest, please do so.
4. Blatant self-promotion. There is nothing wrong, if you are a published author, of having links on your blog to somewhere where readers can buy your book. The end-goal of any writer’s blog is to ship product. However, I also want to know what kind of a person you are, and I will find that in your words not in big shiny product placement.
5. Messy design. Too many flashy, jumpy things. Header photos that are so large I have to scroll down to read the words. Too many boxes and intersecting lines. Once again, writers and readers are out in the blogosphere for the words. These are the things that we like and we like them when they are joined together in clever ways. Don’t let your design fight your words, and win.
6. Cutesy. It’s starting to pall. I’ve done the chocolate and the shoes and the cupcakes references myself and it’s okay in small doses, but twee is over, done to death by a million bloggers, skewered by its own pink polka-dottedness. Be yourself, don’t be Cath Kidston.
7. Being boring. Just not allowed. If you have to write about the laundry or your head cold or that strange rash on your ankle, then at least do it with flair.
8. Making excuses. If you need a blog break, declare it and own it. However, blog posts that begin ‘I’m sorry I’ve been away for a long time, but …’ are dull and unacceptable.
9. Bad grammar. Sorry, but if you are a writer and your blog is peppered with grammar errors, I will sigh and turn away. As writers we must stand up for the apostrophe and defend it to it’s bitter end.*
10. Posts that start “10 Tips for [Fill the Gap]”. We all know these are pimping for search engines. Don’t do it.**
What makes you follow a blog? What makes you run screaming?
* See what I did there? If you did, then I will follow your blog. If you are scratching your head, then sorry, our blogs will never find conjugal harmony in the link-love paradise that is my Google Reader.
**I’m lying. Do it do it. If you are an author with a book to sell, or a blogger trying to build a platform, you need to work that SEO.