What makes a writing blog worth reading? Well, you’re here on this site, Dear Reader. Can you tell me? All right. Don’t worry about it. I’ll ask someone else. In fact, the week before last, I sent a questionnaire to three writing bloggers, and the post that follows is based upon their responses.
Overall their reasons for reading and following other writers’ blogs were very positive. They are looking for writing tips, market and competition news, friendship and networking and reassurance and encouragement. When they make comments, it is to congratulate or commiserate writer-bloggers, to discuss a market or technical writing point or to offer their advice. One of them looked at blogs to compare styles of writing and to see how each blogger’s style compared with her own. None of them were surfing absently, seeking any distraction from the day job or from their own writing – which is what I feared.
Surprisingly, they didn’t devour writing magazines (either printed or online) in huge quantities. Two respondents recommended other sites, ‘The Write Practice’ and ‘CommuniCATE Resources for Writers’ – both of which are new to me – for their useful articles and tips. I will look into these.
They weren’t too worried about if blogs written by writers included posts about their everyday lives. However, a distinction was made between general blogs which happened to be hosted by writers and specific ‘writing blogs’; the latter they would definitely expect to keep to topic. More importantly, what they were seeking was, not just useful and interesting information, but humour or ‘a fun read’ and someone who had ‘a real passion for writing’. The big turn off was bloggers who took themselves too seriously or – even worse – did nothing but self-promote (or promoted someone else), although a little self-advertisement was tolerated.
They all liked the interactive-ness of blogging and liked to leave comments to show that they had ‘dropped by’. One respondent reported that she was drawn to blogs where the author was receptive and enters into dialogue, and – most telling of all – is prepared to take the time to visit her site and comment. Following back should feel like it is ‘part of a relationship’.
Although all three respondents watch many writers’ blogs, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they read every word of every sentence of every post of every blog. Like me, they wouldn’t even click on the email alerts if a particular post doesn’t look interesting. We’ve all read, I’m sure, about how important headings are in blogs and on websites generally and this reinforces that point, as most blogging applications include the post heading in the heading of the email alert.
Thank you very much, Julie, Mishka and Patsy. If anyone else reading this, would like to answer my questionnaire, please contact me. I’d be very interested to hear from you.
(Image by jonny goldstein available from Flickr)