Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


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10 Blog Things that Drive Me Mad

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.


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The State of the Blog

Do you remember the days when blogging was new and you’d breathlessly check your stats every half an hour to see if they’d crept up to 22 views? Or that shaky feeling when you pressed “publish” and sent your thoughts out into the world? Or the tingling joy when your new post got its first comment?

No?

Maybe it was just me, then.

I miss the days when blogging was the most exciting thing I’d ever done, when it seemed like a radical act. I miss the effort I used to put into posts, the conversations they would start and the thrill of finding a new blogger whose ideas seemed to resonate with mine. Blogging was a form of connection that my life on an English island in the middle of Germany sometimes lacked.

My goal for my blog was to write posts of which I could be proud. My rules were:

1. Never blog about the laundry

2. Never moan about being sick

3. Don’t apologise for not posting

In other words, I didn’t want to be boring. A brief ruffle through some old posts shows that I wasn’t. Here are links to a couple of posts that, while they didn’t get the most hits, I most enjoyed writing and putting out into the world:

An anecdote about someone taking a phone-call during a yoga class: Zen and the Art of Switching off Your Phone

My guide to bores: People Who Explain too Much

Something on post-wedding depression: Bridezilla, moi?

My early incarnation was as a bit of a Mommyblogger, but I came to the decision that using my children as blog fodder before they were old enough to read what I was writing about them and tell me to shut up was a bit unfair. So I stopped mining that rich vein. Instead, I got rather a lot of leverage out of teasing the Germans.

I tried my hand at writing book reviews, but I found the effort I put into writing them well difficult to sustain. Instead, I wrote reading round-ups, which were a bit of a cop-out.

One thing this blog has done well has been to document my progress in writing a novel, from finishing the first draft to snagging an agent.

In numbers, this is where Charlotte’s Web stands today:

350, 768 views

576 views on its busiest day

565 posts

8,033 comments

Since we’re auditing, here are my top commenters: LitloveDoctor DiDad Who WritesLilian Nattel and Kit. Thanks for your loyalty – I hope I’ve been as frequent a visitor to your blogs as you have been to mine.

And the post that get the most hits – 17,776 as we speak – is still this one: 10 Things I Find Weird About Germany. If you have five minutes to spare, go and take a look at the comments. I have archived a couple of adorable little trolls there, a small museum to the eccentrics of the Internet.

So, five-and-a-half years into blogging, I no longer get the tight-throated thrill of a new post. However, I have maintained friendships, made new ones and even met some lovely people who started as commenters here and are now real-life friends. I still enjoy crafting a good post, when I have the time, the energy and inspiration. The question is, where to now?

Obviously, I hope to one day make an exciting announcement about Balthasar’s Gift right here, but having seen so many writers’ blogs turn into overt and crass marketing tools, I want to avoid that. My question is, what would you like to see from Charlotte’s Web – more of the same, a bold new direction, the usual mix? Please let me know in the comments. And, if you don’t want to talk about me (I can cope), then let me know how your blogging journey has gone. How far down the line is your blog? How have you coped when your blogging energy flags?

I would love to feel the blogging thrill again. Over to you for ideas.