Today’s Daily Prompt is: What makes a blog great? What makes you follow a blog or “Like” a post?
As all the best prompts do, this got me thinking and it seemed a good idea to drop a brain dump on you while I was at it. Hard luck, but here it comes! Warning: serious blog alert! (That’s serious by my standards, of course)
After a quick count up I realised to my surprise that I am now following a total of 88 across the various blog provider sites. Looking at these to see what attracted me to them should have given me some pointers for this piece but they are so diverse that this wasn’t as helpful as I’d hoped. I was going to have to get my brain in gear! Where’s the WD40 when you need it?
Quite a few of the 88 are people who have followed this blog. As I do with Twitter, if someone has taken the trouble and chosen to follow me I usually return the compliment. Not always, of course – abuse, racism, hatred and intolerance have no place on my reading list or anywhere else in my life. But I’m glad to say that I don’t have any of those following me here or on Twitter. Well, not any more, anyway. A number of those I follow are people who, like me, started blogging to share their experience of an illness and how it affects their lives. A fair proportion are fellow depression sufferers but the range of illnesses is wider than that and I am pleased I follow each and every one of them. They bring a perspective to my life that I wouldn’t otherwise have and I respect them all for their courage in sharing their experiences, thoughts, hopes and feelings.
The remainder cover a range of my interests and there isn’t really any common factor in my reasons for choosing to follow them. Of course, as they are my provider, I follow WordPress avidly! Others are just interesting people who are fun to read, who write on subjects that I like to read about. I have found that following blogs gives a much wider perspective than I can get from newspapers, magazines and the TV: blogs offer a much more tailored source of information and entertainment than mass media can achieve. So what is about them that makes them great in my eyes?
First and foremost: honesty. I don’t mean just in the sense of being truthful in your writing, but in the much wider sense of being true to and honest with yourself. Not all of the blogs I follow are ‘non-fictional’ – some write stories or poetry, or both, and what unites them all is that their writing reveals something of themselves, whatever the medium. I will, of course, happily read novels that are purely for entertainment, but in a blog I look for something more personal. And if I’m following your blog and this is what you write, then I think that’s what you are doing! And that is great, in my eyes. Just as in real life and Twitterland, I have no time for people who are being false, hiding behind a persona of some kind. You’ve no doubt seen the sort on Twitter – usually hiding behind avatars that aren’t themselves, using a descriptive name which reveals their self-delusion, or in some cases people who think they are animals. It is difficult to take anything they say with any seriousness. They certainly aren’t being true to themselves so why should anyone else believe in them?
The second quality that defines a blog as great for me is closely related to the first. It is personality. I don’t mean that the writer has to be one of those tedious larger than life ‘characters’ who assumes that everybody finds them amusing and likeable. What I like to see is someone who isn’t afraid to reveal something of themself in their writing, who lets the real person show through – I like to see someone who, whatever may be wrong with their world, shows a strength of character in dealing with it and is using their blog to work it out and to stand up to it. I don’t read whingers!
The final element in making a blog great to me is that it is well-written and has something to say. Having something to say is a no-brainer! Blogging just for the sake of it is mere attention-seeking. As for being well-written, I am a Virgo so I have to accept that I have an innate tendency towards Grammar Nazism, and it can sometimes be difficult to read something which breaks every grammar rule going. But as I get older I’ve managed to control that trait in my character because what is being said is more important than the spelling. I have a fairly sarcastic sense of humour and the sort of error I admit to delighting in is the typo which creates a new word and changes the sense of something – like the old school exam answer about mud huts having ‘rough mating’ on the floor. I will and do pick these up, but I do it in fun and pleasure in language, not as a negative or critical thought or as any kind of attack on the writer. By well-written I mean that the piece flows naturally, makes its points clearly and leaves me feeling a little bit in admiration of, and inspired by, the writer. As I said earlier, if I’m following your blog I see this in you, so take a collective bow, people!
So that’s it, really. I like blogs to show honesty, personality and to be well-written and have a point. And if anyone suggests that I don’t do this myself, do please remember that I can moderate your comments out! Not that I’ve had to before now but I guess there’s a first time for everything 😉