29.9.10

How to Be Boring in Ten Easy Steps

So, here's the thing: there are a gabillion and one blogs out there and only about a million blog readers. *you can click those links for more accurate numbers Don't believe me? Check it:

How many blogs do you or have you run? Seems to me most bloggers have three, at least. One may no longer be updated but damn them if they'll take it down and free up some breathing room on the interwebs. How many non-bloggers read your blog? Your mother doesn't count. Heck, half the bloggers out there have their mothers blogging too!

My point? Yeah right, I'm supposed to have one. Well that's it right there: Blogs and their multifarious posts are actually supposed to have a point

Nobody reads your blog? Quelle suprise! Most bloggers have an audience made solely of bloggers themselves. Except for, you know, the really popular folk like my new BFF Jessica (don't believe me? Check this post. She calls herself a "devoted reader." Even my own mother isn't a devoted reader. Jessica? Will you adopt me?). So, bloggers subscribe to a tundrillion blogs they never read in the hopes that the people they subscribe to will subscribe back. It's kinda like Twitter y'all. But what that means is that there are blogs that look active and yet no one reads them. The comment zone is a gaping hole like that in Aunt Nelda's chompers.

Come on. Are we each going to read fifty blogs a day? Every day? I don't know about you lot, but I actually do have a life. And my real life - you know, the one with the breathing people and the messes and no search box or SEO to make things easier - that gets in the way of this handy little virtual reality we have going on here where we all love each other and think the lot of us are brilliant writers just on the cusp of being discovered. There's a whole lot of people uploading videos to YouTube, but there's only one Justin whatshisface.

I, personally, have a handful of blogs in my "must read" list. Those are the ones I try to read every day. I have a fair number in my "reference list" - those awesome niche blogs that I may not read every day but are my go-tos when I need a craft, recipe, etc and I'll devour ten posts at once. And then I have my crap list. Not that I'm saying you're crap if you're on it. I won't subscribe to a blog that's utter crap - unless I'm throwing you a bone. But it's crap in my mental space that I don't often have time for. And then, of course, there are the 20 or so blogs that I keep forgetting to subscribe to and only read because they link their posts on Twitter or someone I subscribe to has them in their blogroll.

So, yeah, point. Here it is: if you want people to read YOUR blog out of the gabillion and one blogs out there you have to not be boring. It's as simple as that. If you're not boring and you play the game right you'll get readers. Problem is, there are a lot of boring blogs out there. You know the ones. The ones who:

1. Write about the same thing every day. Yup, niche blogs are awesome and will get you tonnes of SEO hits via google. But unless they're truly awesome, like Frugal Family Fun Blog, or No Time for Flashcards, or Bakerella you're not going to get people subscribing. And if you do get subscribers they will probably not read every day. Because, let's face it, Valerie is the only mom in the entire world organised enough to do a fun craft with the kids every day.

Here's the thing - bloggers have been around for a while. The majority of the niche markets are pretty full. Joe Blow from Arkansas will not make a big name for himself in a field where there are already 20 big names. Get over it.

2. Moan all the time. So some people seem to write blogs just so they can complain about how miserable their life is. This is mostly true of mommy bloggers, but there's others too. They're the ones who see the grey lining on the fluffiest, whitest, unicorn-shaped clouds. The moany mommy bloggers have miserable brats for kids, their husbands are useless twats and the school is always asking for money.

Save it for girls night out, missus. Seriously. Unless your life is really miserable - like third world impoverished with ten disabled kids and a convicted murderer husband - I'm not going to find it interesting. Yes, the occasional moan is fine - cathartic even. But try to be a bit lyrical about it or something. Like this one of mine. Because I'm a class A moaner (get your mind out of the gutter) but I try to do it with style.

3. Have a soapbox and use it. I'm a feminist, lactivist, back to earthavist, gay-marriage-supporting, special-needs-sympathising, Christian, pro-choicer. And I'm totally going to love some of your posts along these lines. I will also enjoy reading the other side. However, if that's all you ever talk about and there's nothing new going on, I will avoid you like the Latter Day Saints that come a-knocking on my door. I will shut out the lights, hide behind the couch and duct-tape the kids' mouths just to make you go away.

Get a life. That's all I have to say.

4. Write about every day stuff without a point. You might think you're being all "voice of the people" or perhaps you're going for deconstructivist irony. I don't give a hoo-ha. It's not working.

We can all churn out a "this is how my day went in point form" post once in a while, but unless you want the aforementioned Aunt Nelda and your mom to be your only readers, a blog is not an online journal. And if you are writing about the ordinariness of life, take a note from Kyran's page and make it sound good. Write about cleaning the bathroom floor but give us some modern-day behaviour analysis with it. 'kay?

5. Are perfect. Oh I get it, you savour the sweeter things in life. But if you post another pic of your little pixie in her handmade pink dress with nary a hair out of place while waxing lyrical about how she can count to 3 million during her gymnastics floor routine practice while you fix up a "little" gourmet dinner I will vomit. I will vomit hard. I will vomit heavy. And your immaculate kitchen floor and designer living room will get dirty - at least on my screen.

There's a little something called integrity and there's also being valid. I appreciate poetic license but unless you're so drugged up on Prozac that you actually live in another dimension I know there's dirt under your couch. Don't try to lie to me about it.

6. Act desperate. Each blogger is allowed one and exactly one and no more and preferably-not-even-that-one-but-it's-understandable post about why they don't seem to have any subscribers or comments or both. We will rally to your side and proclaim how wonderful you are before promptly ignoring you again. Unless you're really good and your little plea actually drew attention to how good you are (that's how I got Heather over at Note from Lapland to read me! Although it was a comment, not a post. And of course I'm not conceited enough to say I'm good.). Usually, though, if you want attention the best way to get it is to actually write a really good post. And then pimp your post like a train station whore.

The way to lose any potential reader's attention is to continue writing posts pleading for attention; leaving 20 comments over 15 days on the blog of someone who has never and will never read you; pimping your own post on Twitter every three minutes; or - my personal favourite- declaring that you're going to shut down your blog because nobody reads it - we're all nodding our heads and rooting you on there!

7. Have Wildly Schizophrenic Ambitions. If you're blogging because you're in love with Annie at PhD in Parenting and you want to respond to everything she writes with copious backlinks in the hopes that she will notice you and requite your love and then you decide that she's a stuck up bitch who will never respond to you because you're better than her so you decide to start mimicking The Bloggess because she's always been your second-choice for life blog partner and then you realise that The Bloggess is already married to Twitter so you decide to write "What Would Angelina Do" posts that bespeak the perfect parenting and social-justice perfection of the Jolie-Pitt family in the hopes that maybe Angelina will notice and adopt you - if you do that, I won't read you. I can't speak for the others. But me? Naw. I got enough craziness right here at home, thanks.

8. Have No Clue About Grammar, Spelling or Syntax. If you flunked Grade 8 English twice? Don't blog. I'm not sure how much more I can say about that. Typos and the occasional verb tense gaffe are understandable. Posts that are harder to read than Vegemitevix's on predictive texting? Not good. Call up your Junior High English teacher and ask for some tutoring before you return to the blog world.

Next?

9. Don't Know When to Stop Writing. Some people write 400 word posts. Yup, 400 words. I can't even tell someone how to brush their teeth in 400 words. But there are those who do it. London City Mum? Brilliant - in 400 words or less. Most blog posts tend to be in the 500-800 word count. A decent number, informative yet precise. Then there are the rest of us, like myself and Very Bored in Catalunya who tend to be in the 1000 range and sometimes higher. It's because we have a lot to say and we haven't figured out how to work the humour in without upping the word count. If your posts are longer than mine, you're doomed. Heck there are days even I get bored reading mine.

If your reader has to scroll for five minutes to get from the first word to the last, you might want to re-think the whole blogging thing and become an auctioneer or something instead. Because nobody wants to suffer from eye-strain to read your nuggets of wisdom. Even Jesus knew to keep his parables brief.

So on that note, I'll shut-up. Yeah I said ten. I gave you nine. I'm unpredictable like that. It's what keeps me interesting...


Ok, one more thing. If your blog is full of reviews? Get lost. You bore me to tears.

Got anything to add? Keep it interesting...

41 comments:

  1. hah, i enjoyed reading this. i do agree wholeheartedly with #2. a dealbreaker for me, immediately. unfollow, unfriend, unsubscribe. and too funny about being "unpredictable like that".. keep us on our toes.

    though, i think you're assuming all blog writers write for readers. i know a few who do it for other reasons, like record-keeping and because they actually like writing (journaling, venting, etc). they don't care if anyone reads it. (i believe them when they say this, but, who knows, they may be checking their subscriber numbers 17 times a day when i'm not looking)...

    it's true, there are a gabillion blogs out there. i think if you're doing what you enjoy and trying to do it better all the time without being consumed by numbers and stats... then it's all good. hope that didn't make you gag ;) if even 0.1% of that gabillion decides to read your words, that's still quite a few people who are interested (i don't know the exact number, 0.1% of a gabilion, but it's still a lot).

    in the end, i read what i enjoy reading. i don't have google connect or whatever that follow-back stuff is because i hope people who read my blog do it because they want to. not because they feel obligated.

    uhoh. just broke rule #9. does that apply for comments too?

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  2. just noticed this: "if you want people to read YOUR blog " gotcha :) i was distracted by the funny.

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  3. It was the one comment that got me to read you? I thought it was the 57 (and yes I've still got them and yes the law suit will be reinstated if you start again) begging and pleading emails you sent a day.

    Geez woman, take some of you own advice and know when to stop writitng, okay?

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  4. YOu win blog of the month award Missy.
    Arse rippingly funny.

    M2M

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  5. Treat us mean, keep us keen!

    I'm sure I've broken some if not all of your blogging rules at some point or other. Gulp! And yet I concur wholeheartedly with what you say. How many blogs do I read? About 50 in all but half of them don't post regularly and thank God too or I'd never leave the house.

    And you blog? Is wonderful! Mwah! x

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  6. Agree with everything and have one to add-writing about why you aren't writing? Then stop writing and go do something to write about. ( I think you made that point a few days ago). I'm well over the "shit I've got nowt to say" panic. I doubt anyone will ever look at my blog and say, "shit I'm not reading her ever again, she hasn't posted in five days."

    Blogging only works if you have a life too.

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  7. I love this. Can I add one? Blog hopping for the sake of filling up your blog with blog hops. I've hopped, I confess. But I don't understand the point of blogs that seem to be all about the blog hop and no other content. I need something to read or I will not be hopping back.

    And I love your BFF Jessica. She commented on my comment if only to tell me I had the wrong idea. I now follow her on twitter and she rocks. So thanks for that introduction.

    Am now going to scrutinise my blog for boring content. Wish me luck...

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  8. I think I have managed all 9 in one post.

    (BTW what is blog hopping?!)

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  9. ha! great post. in the 2 months i have ventured into mummy blogging, i have picked up far too many blogs on my rss reader list. it's ridiculous to keep up with all them girls and one good post doesn't make a good blog...indeed.
    i like to read and think before i comment, i may get too long at times, it's not solely to pick up readers. some ("big"/semi pro) get so many comments on every post anyway, but they are read for a reason. they are funny, they are interesting, people can relate, and it's not always the same shit. (although reading a lot of blogs you have frequent deja vus..say, posts about bloggin' sins :b)
    i don't believe for a second those mums who post 'more for themselves' - on a public blog ?
    my moaning, my repetitive rants, anything too private goes on a friends locked private journal, always has. even there people drop out, but it's ok and reciprocal.
    this said, today i am sitting here all chuffed and puffed from being FRICKIN'FEATURED ON WP FRESHLY PRESSED!! how did this happen? awesome, top notch quality posting ? a bit of luck i reckon, as well. 5000 views 80+ comments, hyperventilation... i am not fooled, internet fame is an ephemeral bitch, and as much as I have some good culling to do on my list, most people will turn away from my blog as well.
    for those who stay, i will bookmark your post tho, so at least i won't fall into the most obvious traps now.. :)

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  10. This is gold and I think perhaps all bloggers should tick a box when they sign up to blogger/wordpress/tumblr saying they've read it, understood it and will abide by it!

    Here! Here!

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  11. You have opened my eyes and made me question my own blog. You make some excellent points. Personally moaning blogs and perfect blogs are my pet hate. xo

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  12. Spot on and very funny. I am totally turning off reading a lot of blog posts - especially those that are so obviously becoming PR machines - bore offs!

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  13. giggling, snickering and relating.
    I've sinned and will probably continue to do so.
    I have the most inanely boring filler posts inbetween my flashes of brilliance (all two of them).

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  14. How very dare you suggest that my blog posts are too long, I'll have you know that they are not a word over 999.

    *tootles off to delete the last word from every sentence of recent blog posts*

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  15. Some good points here! One thing I don't do is moan.....

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  16. Nothing I can add - and certainly nothing witty or interesting that will make you want to leap over to my blog - so will just add sycophantic 'ooh what a great post' comment and leave it at that, but I think I might have to put a link to this in my sidebar anyway, because it really is good :)

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  17. Why some blogs get a lot of readers is a total mystery to me. I mean I get where you are coming from but it doesn't always follow that interesting blogs get a lot of readers for example many bloggers who seem to have huge followings are boring as buggery and write the same crap day after day about how to organize the nursery and color coordinate floral arrangements and plates etc. But I will try and be shorter and sweeter in future.

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  18. I'm scared to comment now lest it not be interesting. The one thing I can't do it boring. You hit it. I have bloggers friends I love. I want to support them. But man, they just don't capture me with their writing. Like you, I tend to write mini-novels when I write. Minimum 800 words. I'm still shocked that people come and read. But then again, I'm my biggest fan so why wouldn't they.

    This is a totally awesome post because it sums up the things I just might be too scared to say yet I agree with completely.

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  19. This post made me laugh out loud (literally - my kids were staring at me). I'm new to the blogging world and I have to agree that not all blogs are interesting and yet have numerous followers. I'm not sure what the "secret" ingredient is, but I hope I can find it. You've made some excellent points.

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  21. Love this! So true in all aspects, but I am really turned off by perfect bloggers. That is so what I AM NOT. I don't want people to think I am perfect, I want them to know I am real and I screw up royally quite often!
    Bernice
    http://bernicewood.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/pruning-away-to-be-more/

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  22. OMG - please don't leave me....we've only just met and I love you!! See you next Tuesday! Mwah! xxx

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  23. Interesting points.
    How about dropping on over to my blog, having a little read or two, let me know what you think?
    I haven't been blogging long, but I do put something up everyday. Skip around in there a bit, leave a comment. Constructive criticism is welcome.

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  24. So I'm only your *second* choice for a life partner?

    Rude.

    PS. My mom's name is Nelda. True story. Now I'm assuming you're stalking me.

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  25. @Ana: No long rambling comments are what you inflict upon bloggers who post long rambling posts and they're well deserved by me. I'm glad the funny distracted you. But yeah, this was totally aimed at all the bloggers who want followers.

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  26. @Heather: Yeah, um, actually have they delivered the restraining order yet? You are one wacky woman. "Follow me" isn't meant to be taken literally, okay stalker!

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  27. @M2M: Glad I could rip your arse, and in a funny laughing kind of way instead of a 9 1/2 weeks forgot the butter kind of way.

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  28. @Steve: I love you because you love me. Yes. I am that shallow. Anyway, free ticket to you to break all the rules. Your pictures of pretty women are not boring at all.

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  29. @Missy. So true. There was time this summer when I didn't blog for over a month. Did I lose some followers? Yes. Did my stats go down? Yes. Have I now regained those followers and better stats. Yes. The only reason I get upset when I haven't written in a while is because I WANT to write. Just getting the time is hard.

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  30. @LifeinaPinkFibro: Yeah, I think everybody tries bloghopping if only in a small way. And there are times I like the idea of the blog hop. More when it's a carnival wherein certain sides of an issue are discussed. But bloghopping thats all about the hop just frustrates me.

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  31. @mrshev
    You must be really boring then. You're probably so boring that you're not!
    A blog hop is essentially a blogger orgy. Everyone links up and you're to "hop" from one blog to another leaving comments and hopefully signing up. There are blatant bloghops that are all about gaining readers but not the content and then there are the ones I respect that are about creating a community of bloggers blogging on the same issue.

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  32. @suburp
    Wow! Congratulations! That is amazing.
    As for cutting down the subscriptions. I find a good cull is useful for it makes room for more. I also organise my g-reader so that I can stay subscribed to certain blogs but keep them in a folder separate from the ones I really must read every day. As described in this post http://www.readilyaparent.com/2010/09/finding-your-g-spot-part-1.html

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  33. @Liss: Ah, I see my former work in writing training manuals has come in handy. Thanks for the love.

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  34. @MrsWoog: Don't question. I love your blog.

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  35. @Family Affairs: Thanks
    @Lsibbs: yeah I almost didn't mention the PR/Review sites as I figured it was a given.
    @toushka: See you don't really need filler. The brilliance will carry you. Trust me. And, also, self-deprecating humour is only allowed on my blog when it's mine. So just stop it already!

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  36. @VeryBored: Well I was going to mention vegemitevix, but had already mentioned her and thought to be fair I should mention someone else. Is it my fault you were the first wordy person to pop into my mind? You'd think you'd thank me for the linkage. See you next tuesday.

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  37. Ha! Brilliant once again, Dara. This along with your Tribal Wives of the Blogosphere and you could write a manual or something. Love it. And I think I'm guilty of every one. Hehehehehe.

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