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Don't Bore Me With Your Blog

by Susan Solomon

Blogs are beginning to bore me. Not all blogs, but many are getting on my nerves. And, believe me, I'm not a teenager with the attention span of a gnat—I'm the mother of one, and you can bet he has no patience for most blogs either.

What's wrong with most blogs? They're too chatty, like my first paragraph. You probably didn't need to hear about my teen, but I thought it was clever. So I bulked up my writing with inconsequential meanderings. That's bad blog form.

If you're going to blog, become an expert on something. This is especially important for blogging in the business world. Think content, not rambling comment. Years ago I wrote an article mocking bloggers who post pictures of their dogs and cats. I was inundated with emails from outraged blogging pet owners. I stand on my conviction. Blogs are for sharing information, not pointless doggerel (or catteral).

The best blogs provide chunks of great information. Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion is among the best blogs available on corporate blogging. Rubel rarely writes an entry of more than 150 words, but his blog is packed with content. He's also generous with hyperlinks for each of his entries.

I also love Adrants. It covers the most bizarre underpinnings of the marketing world and it's fun to read. Copy is light, but Adrants does its homework. Entries are topical, original and grab the reader. It's meaty stuff delivered concisely. I'm not in love, however, with Adrants' right-justified paragraphs, which brings me to another observation.

Don't make your blog look boring. There's nothing more disturbing than a well-written blog that looks like a newsletter template from Microsoft Publisher. You know exactly what I mean—thin and unreadable type, negligible spacing between lines, justified paragraphs and very little graphic relief.

A blog should be welcoming to read. Embrace white space. Be generous with line spacing and use bigger fonts. Well-written subheads almost guarantee readership. Pictures that illustrate your point are also fantastic. Go easy on the clip art and stock photos, though. A blog is about originality and sizzling hot information in written and graphic form.

How else to make a blog sizzle? Consider the following:

  • No passion, no blogging: Don't think about starting a blog unless there's a passion for your topic. Your blog will wither and die when there's no fire for writing about new and breakthrough ideas. Passionless blogging leads to bored readers and, as we all know, bored readers vanish in a click on the Internet.

  • Take risks: A blog is not a buttoned-up corporate newsletter. Invite comment and even some controversy. Don't be afraid to begin dialogue on an issue that may prompt a different opinion. Good blogs invite interesting conversations.

  • Find your tone: Corporate writing is different from brochure writing, which is different from Web writing, which is different from blog writing. Nick Usborne taught us how to write for the Web. We also need a course in blog writing, which in my opinion means offering a personal perspective without excess chattiness.

  • Break from the pack: One problem with blogs is that they tend to link to the same sites and regurgitate the same news. Offer something new by channeling your inner news reporter. Strive for the scoop.

  • Be topical: Unless your blog is on Jane Austen (and I'm hard-pressed to find a business blog tackling this topic), relate entries to current themes. You can create your own energy off the current "buzz."

  • Know your audience: This adage from Marketing 101 still sticks for bloggers. There are literally too many blogs and too little time to read them. Only post items relevant to readers. How to gauge what's relevant? Consider those postings generating the most comment.

Finally, be truthful with yourself. Before hitting "send", read the blog entry and make sure it excites you. After writing the entry, are you jazzed about floating the information in the blogosphere? Will you feel the urge to constantly check for commentary from interested readers? Those are sure signs you're writing inspired copy.

On the other hand, do you simply feel relieved of your daily duties after completing a blog entry? Do you shrug it off as not your best, but a task completed? If blogging becomes a chore, it's a chore for the reader, too. And that's what makes for utterly boring blogs.

Susan Solomon has been in healthcare marketing for more than 20 years. She teaches marketing communications at two Southern California universities.

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