Sunday, May 25, 2014

How to Write a Successful Blog

Last week at the school our advanced students were studying topics related to success.  We discussed how the definition of success is objective.  Some measure success by the amount of money they make.  Others measure success by their health and/or relationships.  I mention this because I am going to talk about what makes a successful blog, in my opinion.  Lots of people probably won't agree but it depends on what your goal is with your blog.  It's important to understand your purpose in blogging so that you don't lose your way.  My purpose in blogging is to reach more customers, have an outlet to write about my personal life, and offer a resource for my friends in the doll community.

I read many blogs for many different reasons.  For humor I go to Hyperbole and a Half, Badder Homes and Gardens or Awkward Family Photos.  For craft and design I go to Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge and A Beautiful Mess.  For food I like Skinny Taste, Everybody Likes Sandwiches and my friend Morgan's blog Fo Reals Life.

One of my favorite lines from Hyperbole and a Half.

I have been reading a lot of business blogs lately which sparked a lot of ideas for my own blog posts.  However recently I have become disillusioned by them.  I used to be very excited to see new posts and I was enthralled by the advice and inspiration.  I gave it some thought and I think I know what bothers me about "business blogs".  Once you read the same blog for a while the author begins to repeat topics and themes.  It starts to feel as if they are only writing for new readers and have no concern for retaining long time readers.  They repeat the same stories and advice every couple months or so.  This does not give the impression of evolution.  It makes me feel as if the purpose of their blog is to grab new readers who will be so impressed or shocked they immediately buy the author's book or seminar, which is fine if that is the purpose of their blog, but honestly I think that makes a bad long-term blog.

One of the best blogs I have ever read was written by a fairly wealthy Mom living in silicone valley.  The blog was called Sweet Sweet Life and was generally a lifestyle blog.  Mostly she shared beautiful and interesting things she found on the Internet.  I liked her style and loved her choices.  Well then her husband lost his job and the blog slowly turned into a heart wrenching story about a family who lost their affluence in the blink of an eye.  As the money and job opportunities dried up they eventually moved across the country, taken in by family.  I don't believe she writes her blog any longer but the reason it stands out in my mind is because it was a great story.  The blog evolved and was interesting and well written at all stages of her life.

Originally I was very into Penelope Trunk's blog but as I said above I've lost interest.  Mostly it's because I've noticed a theme in these types of personal business blogs.  The theme of how poor they were at some point in their life continues to come up.  It's like telling us how they had no food and slept on the floor will hook us.  Here's another example on James Altucher's recent post.  I just want to shout, it's not shocking anymore!  It feels like such a disingenuous sales pitch.  The theme of rising from the ashes is so over played.  It screams to me "buy my book/seminar and you too can get off your living room floor and stop eating expired cans of tuna!"  I suppose it works, but after hearing it so many times on the same blog it becomes tiring for a long time reader.

Here's what I mean about your definition of success.  By all means James and Penelope have successful blogs for their purpose.  I still recommend reading them.  But if your definition of a successful blog is one in which you build a readership invested in the story of your life, then I believe Amy's blog Sweet Sweet Life was much more successful.  There's evidence of this on Penelope's own blog as the most popular posts are about the violence in her relationship and even the relationship itself.  So whether you're rising from the pit of poverty or slowly sinking into it, let your blog evolve to keep it fresh.  In my opinion in the long run you will receive a lot more personal and financial gain from this strategy.  What do you think?  What are your favorite blogs and why?

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