Fake moustaches, cute manicures and a sense of humour are a must.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reading an e-book by the lovely Violet LeBeaux, entitled Blogging In Style. The book was an excellent guide for people who are just starting out with blogging, but I found it very helpful as well. I have been blogging for about five years now. Originally, I had a little blog on Myspace that I would update very sporadically. It was mostly a series of rants about college life. I started writing on LiveJournal about three years ago, but my writing there was relatively short-lived. In September last year, I created this site, and vowed to get more serious with my blogging. I wanted to create a website that was fun to write, and informative and inspiring to visit. Even though I enjoy writing posts, answering comments and taking photos, the amount of work that goes into my blog is immense.
Over the years, I have read a number of books and articles, and even listened to podcasts about blogging. There is so much advice out there on what makes a good blog, and what you should do if you want your site to be successful. Some of this advice I agree with and some of it I do not. I started thinking about some of the aspects that I believe a good blog should have.
A good blog should be updated regularly. Most of the blogs that I read update at least three times a week. I don’t think that you need to post every single day, but having a regular posting schedule keeps your readers interested. There are many, many blogs that I have given up on because they have gone weeks without posting a single thing. I like blogs that are updated on a regular basis, because you know that you can count on them to provide a regular dose of bliss.
It’s fine for bloggers to advertise on their site and do product reviews. I really enjoy reading product reviews from some of my favourite bloggers, because I trust their opinions. People like Gala Darling and Violet LeBeaux are always brutally honest with their reviews, without being too harsh. I also like the fact that these bloggers are upfront about whether the product they are reviewing is something that they bought for themselves, or whether it was sent to them by a sponsor. I think that there is nothing wrong with reviewing sponsored products, as long as your readers know that you didn’t purchase it with your own money. However, while product reviews and advertising is just fine, there is a point where you have to draw the line. If you bombard your readers with too much advertising, or do nothing but sponsored product reviews, they are going to lose interest. Several blogs that I used to love have fallen prey to this, and I have grown bored of reading their reviews for products that don’t even gel with the subject matter of their blog. If you usually write about fashion and you start reviewing fishing tackles, your readers are going to start wondering whether your brain has blown a gasket. Reviews and advertising should be honest, relevant and well-measured.
Many of my favourite blogs are so fantastic because they are filled with personality. The best writers are able to inject plenty of their own voice into their writing and give you a sneak peek into their lives. I especially love the conversational writing styles of Lady Smaggle (Smaggle Style) and Kathryn (Project Kathryn). Both of these gorgeous ladies have me in fits of giggles, because they are able to accurately describe their opinions and experiences in their own words. Reading their sites is like talking to them one-on-one. I also love it when bloggers take their own photographs, and include photos of daily outfits, interesting things they have seen or places they have visited. It really improves the personality of the site and makes me want to keep visiting.
I prefer blogs that are generally positive. While I don’t think that you have to be a ray of sunshine all the time, I don’t like reading posts that are overly judgemental and bitchy. I want to read something that is uplifting and inspiring, not something that makes me feel inadequate.
I believe that, as a blogger, it is really important to reply to your comments. This can be tricky to do if you are getting a lot of comments, but it’s vital to enhancing the atmosphere of your site. If a reader has taken the time to respond to something you have written, it is good manners to reply to their comment. Plus, I love getting comments, and it is a pleasure to respond to them. Comment responses are a great way to encourage discussion and debate and they help your readers feel as though you have paid attention to what they have to say.
It is so important that your site is easy to read and navigate. I am instantly turned off by websites with fancy fonts or glittery lettering, because they are just too hard to read. The colour scheme and layout of your site should not cause your readers to strain their eyes. Similarly, it is really important that your archives are set out in such a way that it is easy for readers to find things. I often look up my favourite posts on some of my best-loved sites, and it’s so much easier to do this when the site is well organized. A good layout also helps readers to find posts that relate to topics that they are interested in. Using tags and categories to group similar types of posts, as well as including a search widget, are great ways to make your site easier to navigate.
There are a lot of things that separate the great blogs from the bad blogs. If you are thinking of starting a blog, or if you already have your own website, these are a few things that I believe are important to turn your mind to.
What features do you think a good blog should have? What are some of the things you love about your favourite sites?