If you regularly visit blogs, you know that blog posts come in all shapes and sizes. Posts can be long, medium, or short (sometimes really short, like Jim Henley’s renowned one-word post that has collected 1104 comments to date). They go from the one extreme of dry and objective reports to the other extreme of unapologetic subjective, emotional, and opinionated rants.
If you look at lists of popular blogs, you’ll realize that very different types of content can attract a crowd of readers. The difference between a good and a not-so-good post is all in the execution.
There are many reasons why posts are interesting. Sometimes it’s the writing and the personality behind the writing. Sometimes it’s the ability to find and put together links to content that is interesting, or weird, or unusual. Sometimes it’s the ability to create community around your blog. It takes some experimenting to understand what type of blogger you are and what style matches your personality, motivation, and interest. So try different things and see how it feels.
You will find disparate opinions on what constitute a good blog post. It’s OK. There are so many different reasons for blogging, and each reason requires a different type of posts. Do you blog just for your own enjoyment? Because writing makes you think more clearly? Do blog for a cause? Or to communicate with your friends? To make yourself known? To market your product or yourself? To make money? Depending on your reason, you’ll need a different focus.
If you just want to express yourself, a good post is a post you love writing and represents you unique voice. If the purpose is communication, social networking, and community, you need to write posts that create debate, connect people, are interesting to discuss, and speak to the community. If you want to get known, you need to express interesting opinions on interesting topics that can catch the attention of enough of the right people. If you want to market your product(s) or yourself you need to focus on communicating value to your prospective customers or clients. And so on.
In the end, a good post is a post that has value for you and/or your readers. We read posts to have fun, perhaps to learn something, discover something interesting, hear a different point of view.
Short and crisp posts are popular, because they require less effort to read (but not necessarily to write). It’s easier to grab the attention of your readers with a short post that to maintain it through a long post (read more on this topic) and it’s fun to jump from one short post to the next linked post again and again. On the other hand, long posts can be valuable and satisfying because they allow you to develop a topic, to create connections, and to present a different point of view.
Different styles of posts appeal to different people. You need to choose a style that matches yourself and your audience, and then get better at it with practice.
Whatever you do, try to be respectful of your readers. Provide value, don’t waste their time, put some care and attention in your writing, no matter how long/short, personal/objective, opinionated/balanced your posts are. Put some love in your blogging, and you’ll get some love back.
I’ve read many bloggers suggest "Post frequently, post every day." It’s true that posting frequently can help increase traffic to your site. But in the end, it’s not the quantity but the quality of the posts that creates loyal readers. I read many blogs that are not updated very frequently but are just a really good and stimulating reading. Blogs that post frequently but have few valuable posts are the most frustrating to me.
My suggestions is rather "Blog frequently, blog everyday." Some posts require more than one day to become good. Sometimes I start to write a post and only a few days later I can tell what parts are good and what parts are bad, where there are holes, and what needs to be improved.
The great thing about of "customer-created content" is that we can create our own rules. Some blogs are immediate and spontaneous, and this is great. Other blog content takes time to create. Don’t get trapped in a predefined idea of how a blog post should look like. Take your time, put some practice into it, find your way, and most of all have fun.
[Thanks to Reynold D’Silva for the inspiration and the suggestions.]