Monday, December 13, 2010

What Do You Like in a Blog?

I've got a winner for my contest, so if you don't feel like reading my drivel post, feel free to skip to the end.

Rachelle Gardner posted a blog the other day about what she dislikes about writers' blogs.  Here is a little bit of what she said in case you don't want to click the link (don't worry, I'm lazy about clicking links too sometimes):

→ A humor writer whose blog doesn't seem funny to me.
→ A memoir writer whose blog consists of reflections on life (something I enjoy) but they're just boring.
→ A writer who rants and complains about the publishing business in general or agents in particular . (And I recognize the difference between ranting and simply processing inevitable disappointments.)
→ A writer whose blog has irregular and infrequent posts.
→ A blog that is really unfocused and doesn't know what it's about.

Read some of the comments from fellow bloggers if you have time- you'll get an idea of what they're looking for too.

What do you all think about that?  Do you generally agree with those statements or are you okay with a blogger "breaking" some of those etiquette-type rules?

For me, when I started reading blogs, I really just wanted to get to know the author better.  Whether he/she is an aspiring or published author, an agent, or editor.  I love getting sneak peaks into their lives, finding out about their writing process, or learning a little piece of wisdom.  But I'm not sure my opinion of blogs is as strict as Rachelle's.  I just really want it to feel genuine to me, no matter what the content.  I really don't mind if it's a post about someone's day, their families, their writing or something majorly profound.  I don't mind if their blog is all over the place- I think it makes it more interesting.  Honestly, as long as I'm entertained (which is really not hard to do for me- I'm pretty easy to please)...I don't really care what it's about.  Plus, if someone doesn't have a regular post schedule, I don't really notice that either- to me, family, writing, and other personal related stuff are more important than getting a blog out, so it's not a big deal if someone doesn't write a blog for a week.  I'll still be there when they come back.

I guess my only pet peeve is SUPER long blog posts.  Like, novel-length posts (which frankly, this one seems to be almost there so feel free to stop reading at any time) that take me a million years to read.  Of course, everyone has their own opinion as to what constitutes as a long post, so I won't get into that. 
I really want to know what you all think about the "etiquette" of blogs.  What stands out to you in a blog, whether it's good or bad?  What do you like reading about, and does it always have to be gleaming pearls of wisdom?  Are there any "rules" that you think a blogger should absolutely follow?

And now for the winner (completely chosen at random from this site- everyone got a range of numbers for the amount of entries they had) of The Sorcerers Companion!

Jennie Bailey!!  Woohoo Jennie!  Congrats!  Email me your address and I'll get that out to you asap!!


lotusgirl said...

Congrats to Jennie! My main pet peeves in blog posts is the same as yours. I don't like looooong posts. If it's a rare long post from someone I read regularly, I don't mind so much. BUT I can't spend my whole day reading posts. Mostly I like to get a laugh or a small tidbit of advice and connect with fellow writers.

Quinn said...

The only thing I don't like is when the blogger only talks about themselves. I don't mind the occassional post. I also don't mind if there's a little something about his/her life and then that's related to writing or something else. But I can't read about someone's life and problems day after day after day.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think those are good check points. I try to remain interesting - and brief! And my Q&A session is only because everyone wanted to know - otherwise, I don't talk much about myself.
And I think your blog is great, Abby!

Anonymous said...

Like everyone says, I'm not a fan of super long posts. Which is ironic, b/c I know mine often tend to fall in that category. I also like blogs that are witty, ones that make me laugh.

I guess for me, it doesn't really matter that a person changes topics, makes typos, is serious one day and then silly the next. I choose blogs like I choose friends - I pick the ones that I can relate to the most. The ones that are the most genuine. The ones that, if I didn't meet them in blogworld, I'm sure we'd be going out to lunch in the real world. I suppose that is why a lot of the people that I followed 2 years ago on my other blog, and they followed me... we're still the first to comment on each other's blogs today.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Congrats to Jennie. :)

As for blogs. Well, I never know when I'll post and I don't notice if somebody else posts irregularly because I don't read regularly.

I'm with you. I don't like to read super long posts. I usually read blogs during moments of the day when I don't have a lot of time.

I enjoy hearing personal things about a blogger, but if it's all rant, I'm turned off. If there's a legit complaint, I want to know what they learned from the experience. I want them to teach me, not just complain. (Not that I'm not guilty of the occasional rant myself.)

Lucy Westenra said...

I'm with Quinn! I try to avoid bloggers who write only about themselves, sometimes at such inordinate length one wonders how they find the time. They should get out more.

Candyland said...

I'm SO with you. I hate long posts in general, not knowing when the person will post next and a blog that, to me, doesn't seem like the actual person.

Patti said...

I agree with you on the long posts. I have so many I want to read that I often skip the ones that are too long.

Hart Johnson said...

I'm often guilty of those long posts... I don't have time to write shorter ones! *high fives Twain* SUPER short posts feel slapped together to me... there is a sweet spot in the middle, I think... maybe 400-750 words. But I think what i really look for is getting to know the writer--not necessarily a journal of life's minutae, but I want to get a feel for them... I look at blogs as sort of a friendship tool and if posts are strictly professional it feels like work. I FOLLOW several... I bookmark posts... but those aren't my relationship blogs.

I like to share process, but don't want ALL of it about writing. I usually DON'T read writing samples. I take that too seriously to browse on my lunch hour--if someone wants a critique, I'd rather go email, print the doc, do the real deal.

My motto is you either need to be helpful or entertaining--I LOVE the blogs that make me chuckle regularly, but especially when it is just about life--not attempts at humor. Those are the 'friends' I enjoy hanging out with most... shouldn't be surprising that the blogosphere is like real life.

Donea Lee said...

Congrats to Jennie!! :) Lucky girl!

I'm all about the contests, really. If I'm not getting something for my time here...what's the point?

Yeah, SOOOOOO kidding! (I'm a perpetual non-winner, so contests are moot...anyhow!) Actually - I'll read a whole range of any kind of posts if they're entertaining, endearing, honest, genuine, fun, engaging, real. If I learn something about writing? Great! If I learn something about you? Awesome! If I post regularly to your blog - you fit the bill of everything I mentioned above! I like what I like. :)

Melissa said...

I agree with you. I mean, I can have pretty infrequent blog posts (I'm fixing that next year!) because life gets in the way. I don't always have time to blog. (especially cause on the days I blog, I make it a point to get to everyone on my blog roll.) If people are infrequent, it doesn't bug me. I know I ramble so sometimes my posts can be long but I prefer to read shorter blogs too. And I just like to be entertained. That's all I want. Entertainment

erica and christy said...

Hmm - blogs that seemed unfocused. . . thank goodness you like ones that don't necessarily follow the rules and we'd maybe never see you again!

Seriously, though - it would be difficult to judge what an author's "focus" is by their blog, wouldn't it? To entertain? To be helpful? To empathize with fellow writers/authors.

And shorter blog posts? Okay, fine, we'll try! :)

Colene Murphy said...

I think I totally agree with everything you said! But, you already knew that. I don't mind long ones if they're the ones that are all over the place because it keeps my focus when topics keep changing.

Anonymous said...

For me it's overwhelming when a person post more than twice a day. I'm all for commitment, but when I check my blog list and see that a whole chunk of that is from a single blog, I often find myself scrolling through it.

As for infrequent posts . . . once upon a time I was frustrated by that, but now I understand that it happens, and am trying to work on it myself.

Shayda Bakhshi said...

I commented on Rachelle's post, and then went back and read what other folks said. I generally agree with them. The only thing I don't have such an issue with is [somewhat] irregular posting. She suggests blogging on certain days of the week. I'm of the opinion that if you average two posts a week, I don't care what day they're on. I probably won't even NOTICE what days they're on if there is a schedule.

Now, one post every month--or seriously erratic posting--causes me to lose interest. I just flat-out forget that blogger is there, and when they do pop up on my feed, if their name isn't in their blog title (and even if it is, sometimes), I've forgotten who they are and I just click through to mark it as read. I also imagine that person won't engage with my blog, either, so I don't bother commenting even when I remember who they are.

By the way, I tried explaining blog "politics" and etiquette to my fiance, and he was totally flabbergasted by the amount of social structure we bloggers have created amongst ourselves. It's kind of mind-boggling isn't it?

Jules Ausborn said...

Congrats Jennie! That's fantastic!

I have to say that she was write on, everything she listed is something to be mindful of.

I would also (like you) add long blog posts. If you want to write a lot just make sure you put them in paragraphs so those who have a lot to read (and want to read) can pick a part to comment about and move on.

I like funny, interesting, witty and snarkiness when I visit blogs. If you're overly sad, constantly complaining and not very nice, chances are I won't be staying for long.

Unedited & Jules and the Stars

Abby Minard said...

A couple people don't have their email set up, so I thought I'd reply here:

Angela:You are so right, I feel like I could be friends with a lot of you that I visit frequently

Amanda: Occasional rants are totally fine- sometimes we need to get things off our chests and we're the only ones who understand. It's just when it gets to be ALL THE TIME that is's annoying ;p

Melissa:Yes, entertainment all the way. I honestly don't notice if someone is all over the place

Kelly: Oh yeah- twice a day can be much. And yeah, I understand infrequent posts which is why they don't bother me much

Shayda: I tried explaining it to my husband too and he just didn't understand either!

Lisa said...

I agree about super long posts. I don't mind writers going off topic once in a while. I like to blog about Harry Potter and Glee for example because those are a few of the things that inspire me (and drag me away from my writing!). I try not to post about family, just because I'd like to keep it personal. Rants about how unfair the publishing industry is or overly negative posts (though I'm guilty of being a little sad sometimes) are pretty annoying.

I don't know. I try to focus on reading and writing, so reviews of books, updates on my writing, query progress, etc. I'll sometimes give out writing "advice," but as an unpublished writer I feel immensely unqualified to do this (I know, I have self-esteem issues!). I do love reading it on other people's blogs though.

I guess as long as a blog is entertaining and gives me some peak into the writer's world and personality, I like it :)

Angela Felsted said...

For me, it's length. Just like you said. I don't want to read a novel when I'm surfing the web.

Carol Riggs said...

I dislike horridly long posts. We're busy and we have lots of blogs to visit! (at least I do). I tend to skip or skim the longer ones. Sometimes I read for the humor or unique perspective of a blog, not just "pearls of wisdom."

Carol Riggs said...

Oh yes, one other thing. I dislike the Comment Moderation function, as though someone is afraid of getting a bad comment. No prob--just delete it if you don't want one on there!

Jennie Bailey said...

YAY for me!!! Thank you SO MUCH!

I don't mind longer posts if they are broken up with cool pictures. One of my fave blogs does that.

I look for funny. I love funny. And to have a personal connection with someone, I need a peek into their life - little stories here and there. I don't mind people who break etiquette for a reason. My brain is still a bit addled so it's hard for me to think what exactly draws me. YOU are funny. Colene has AWESOME pics (and she's funny). Jennifer Hillier makes me laugh to tears sometimes (and she writes about serial killers!). I think funny is at the top of the list. Regular posts help. Common interests. Cool chicks. Good advice. Things like that!

alexia said...

I agree with you - I'm not super picky. I don't have most of the same peeves as Rachelle. I've oftened wondered about whether I talk about me too much... usually its writing related though. I try to steer clear of advice, unless I'm discussing a well known person's advice or giving advice naturally through my own experiences. But I do like to read it from others... I guess I can't pin down exactly what I do like - probably just a person's unique voice, which is ironic since agents are looking for the same thing. The blogs I like just have that zing that I connect to (yours is one of them!)

Sam said...

-winces- Oh, jeesh. I am now convinced that I have half of those vices.
I dislike whiners. Like, consistently whining. It's one thing to complain every once in a while, and it's okay if it's linked to something, but I don't like people who just consistently bash anyone and everyone.

Amie Kaufman said...

I'm pretty hard to put off, to be honest. Things that put me off are people who post super, super frequently (twice a day) and people who post superlong posts -- though I reserve my right to love people who do either of those things! Because ultimately, I love people who give me a glimpse into their lives, who offer the opportunity to get to know them a bit, and who share the lessons they're learning. Do that, and you can get away with anything!

Matthew Rush said...

Loved that post, commented on it too. I'll read just about anything, but I do prefer blogs that are genuine, honest and funny. Like many of my friends commenting here today!

Rachael Harrie said...

Great post Abby and I've enjoyed reading through the comments as well. I also use blogging as a way to get to know people, so I like a variety or personal posts, writing-related posts, etc. Biggest turnoffs are the rants that seem a little too intense, and I once visited a new blog where the blogger was ranting about only having x followers and why other people wouldn't follow her - I closed that one down straight away!

I don't mind reading long posts that teach me something, as long as they're formatted in a way that's easy to read :)