How To Improve Blogs In 4 Easy Steps

by Jason Falls |

When I was eight I wrote an essay, certainly for some fascist language arts teacher, which I began with the phrase, “I was born at an early age …” I thought it witty. She thought it C-level work, the grade not professional rank, and it’s a good thing, too. If I’d gotten praise for my smart-aleck-ness early on, it may not have developed into a full-blown case of smart-assism, something of which I’m very proud.

I’m Typing It was then I knew I wanted to write for a living. While I wasn’t sure exactly what I would write or for whom, or even if it would be any good, crafting wordiness into indecipherable babble would be a major part of my life’s calling.

One thing led to another and I became a writer who blogs. And now all my fellow blogger friends have decided to proliferate the same third grade fascism and decorate their blogs with how-to guides and top 10 lists telling me how I’m supposed to write good.

Well “phtphtphtphtphtphtphtphtpht” to you. (That’s how you spell the word made when sticking out your tongue and blowing. I looked it up.)

First, allow me to say that I do read several blogs about blogging. It’s part of social media and there are a handful of people out there who advise responsibly, whether it be on deciding whether blogging is right for you, developing a strategic, business approach to blogging or even the (dreaded) “how-to” write blogs.

But I will also say there are two types of bloggers that irritate me. One regurgitates the same blogging advice over and over again, proving they really know nothing about blogging in the first place. The other are those who feel the need to share their great wealth of knowledge about blogging despite the fact their blog is about something totally different, like endocrinology or some other topic I can’t spell without help. These bloggers bug me. Tell me about anthropomorphic robotic design, not how to write headlines sure to get my post on the front page of Digg.

Every day my RSS reader is crammed full of junk posts telling me how to blog. You have to write headlines as how-to’s or numeric lists. You have to use related imagery. You have to link to exactly 17 other bloggers, 14 of whom must be more important than you and so on.

But in the end, successful blogs are ones that provide consistently strong content. CONTENT. Not wrapping paper. Not ribbons and bows. Not Digg shouts and Stumbles and Sphinns for friends. If you write something meaningful, people will notice. If you don’t, we’ll notice as well because your Digg shouts are annoying as hell.

(Yes, I’ve been guilty of them, too. And to all my Digg friends, I’m sorry.)

So, mister bloggy blog, blog stud, I challenge you to come up with something I want to read. And formulaic headline advice won’t cut it anymore. Challenge me. Make me think. Help me learn. Force me to grow. And stop peppering my RSS reader with crap.

For my part, I promise to do the same. No more formulaic headlines, unless they tell the story I’m trying to illustrate. No more blogs about blogging, unless it’s a useful case study that might enlighten you to a particular challenge or strategy I’ve tackled.

I will continue to link to people, mainly because I like people and want them to like me, too. But I do promise to link to articles I think will add depth or context to the subject matter and not just be a link whore.

And from now on, I’m no longer going to Digg, Stumble or Sphinn my own stuff. If what I offer is of note, you will do it for me. If what I offer isn’t, then it doesn’t deserve the recognition of being presented to those communities.

(For the record, I refuse to plug Reddit. I hate Reddit, don’t feel the need to include Ron Paul in my headline just to get votes, can’t even buy karma there and hope it steps on a rusty nail. Hey Reddit … phtphtphtphtphtphtphtphtphtpht!)

This is my pledge to you. Will you join me? If so, tell me what you don’t like about the state of the blogosphere and what we (you and me and all our friends) can do about it. The floor is yours.

IMAGE: “I’m Typing” by pirate johnny on Flickr.

[tags]blog, blogging, howto, ethics, blogger, improvement, self-improvement[/tags]


About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).