In this post, I’d like to share with you ten qualities that strike me as particularly sexy in a blog. These qualities are likely to make me comment on your blog, hit the subscribe icon for your RSS feed, and generally cause me to talk about you as if you had just invented blogging yourself.
1. You know you’re not Wolf Blitzer*. Don’t go breaking your back trying to be what you are not. Leave that to the big boys who have staff working for them 24/7. If the network guys leave something out which you think is a crucial element of the story then do it. Otherwise, it will be more appealing to me if you tackle timeless topics and ideas you’re knowledgeable about.
Tip: When you recycle news, I might not tell you directly but I’m wincing and cursing under my breath. When I want news with great commentary, I’d have myself a haircut and talk with my barber. That’s the truth.
2. Talk with me. Writing posts can be intimidating. You’re writing, however, in your blog for a while now so I’m telling you this. It helps to remember you are not David Sedaris and you’re not writing for the New Yorker. Simply show up in your blog as you are and start talking with me. So quit posing and try connecting with me in a language we both understand. And please use the tone of voice you normally have when you talk with a friend.
Tip: In replying to comments on my blog, I find myself relaxed and having fun. It’s that quality of banter I want to bring to my post: relaxed, candid, funny and honest. I personally feel that if I consistently fail to bring this on the front page, I might as well go back to blog reading and commenting.
3. Be nice to me. Please keep your rants to the barest minimum. And spare me the drama. It’s very easy to be angry, to point fingers and to liken every incidence of petty crime in your neighborhood to the thieving national government. But this gets old very fast. And you’ll find me taking a long walk to shake off your rants ringing in my ears.
Tip: Set your head firmly on your shoulders. You can still convince your readers by showing restraint and by using a touch of humor. Please remember: Snarky is a dime a dozen and requires the least effort.
4. Be yourself. When you put your name and face on your blog you can be only yourself. Trust yourself more. If you’re thoughtful in real life, let your posts be reflective. If you’re weird in real life, give us a glimpse of that wackiness and nail it down to a science. Nobody can be Seth Godin so be your vulnerable self and be candid about it.
Tip: I always love blogs that not only inform but also let me an occasional glimpse in the inner workings of your mind and personality. Take for example this post by Elmot – written on the fly, little typos here and there, but what shines through is the candor and tension in his voice while telling the crisis that grips his family.
5. Repeat after me: “I’m not a pirate”. This means you will leave piracy to Johnny Depp or the Somalis. What do I mean by this? I’m suggesting you limit the keywords you hijack to those related to your niche. It’s very ugly seeing you chasing profitable but unrelated keywords as if they’re going out of fashion. This makes your blog a mishmash of unrelated posts. Your home is where you can be yourself, put your feet up on the table and admire the view. Have you seen a refugee camp or a picture of a refugee camp? Ugh. I think it’s a matter of time before your blog becomes one.
Tip: See how Roy of House of Puroy handles his varied interests. One day, he wakes up feeling particularly poetic. Does he pack it in his flagship blog, unsettling his readers who are expecting something else? No, he creates another blog precisely for his creative writing.
6. Chase me, not Google. Why is it you’re chasing Google all the time? Google is not wearing a skirt. Remember, it is me you should please. I talk about you after all. When you write your posts as if these were addressed to me, I will see you in a lovelier light. I’d tweet about your post in Twitter, update my Facebook status with your words ringing in my ears, drive me to write a review of it in StumbleUpon, Digg and Delicious. If you set your heart on winning me over, guess what, you’d be sleeping not only with me but with a community of my peers, networks and even mere hangers-on.
Tip: When Google begins changing its algorithm to what it thinks might serve it well, are you prepared for the loss of search traffic? Here’s Chris Garrett’s sensible idea of building authority rather than relying exclusively in using tweaks to reap web search traffic.
7. Your place or mine. Maybe I saw you commenting on another blog and clicked the link back to your blog. Ah, you write well, covering topics close to my heart. I’m intrigued, my interest peaked, and I dropped a comment to talk with you. And because I find you delightful, I come back for more. But it soon becomes clear to me you only want to talk about yourself and what matters to you. The realization chills me. And it will take a long while for you to lure me back.
Tip: Please return my visits. Meet my own family of readers. Spare yourself the trouble of only emailing me when you’ve new posts. It’s unlikely we will move up to being online buddies if you come on as a hawker.
8. Touch me. Okay, this is tricky stuff. So you’re writing about geeky tutorials or topics that require you to be formal. I’m fine with that. The trick is to make me feel involved. What’s in it for me? How can it help me in my real life? The bottom line is not only the useful stuff you’ve got for me. It’s my personal connection with you that matters.
Tip: Think of being helpful. But also consider I’m here because of my fundamental need to connect with you as a human being. Quick example. Closely observe how Jaypee conducts himself in his blog. I don’t know about you, but I feel like a rock star because of him.
9. Being confident is sexy. Don’t sulk in the corner just because you thought you express yourself poorly. It’s the ideas that matter to me. Good ideas make me sit up and pay special attention. Good grammar helps, of course. But I will not think less of you if you slip up and let a dangling modifier to fend for itself. Or if in your excitement to pin down your ideas you’ve thrown in a pair of mixed metaphors.
Tip: Over time, your writing will improve especially if you work at it by studying and reading good writers. Collaborate with a buddy online using Google doc or any other application to improve your writing.
10. Save that stimulus package for me. Because it’s me you love. Not Google, certainly not all the social media put together. Give yourself to me. It’s your own algorithm and my intimate recognition of it that will keep this relationship for the long haul. Trust me, what we have is the real thing.
Tip: Do you remember your first post? It’s raw, tentative, and naked. You’d rather forget about it, right? Maybe you should not. That’s where the magic began. It’s how I found you. I am the first one to overlook the rawness and see your potentiality as a blogger. Show me you’ve not lost that authentic self and I will stand by you.
Did I leave out something important? Perhaps there’s something you’d love to take exception to? Please feel free to share your thoughts, guys.
*Wolf Blitzer is an award-winning American journalist who has been a CNN reporter since 1990.