Let’s begin with two questions:
What kind of content do you expect from your writers who blog? How about from the bloggers who aren’t (and never will be) “professional” writers?
I look for the same things from all bloggers, whether or not they are professional writers.
Good Writing. I’m looking for two things here: a uniqueness of voice and a strength of style. I want my bloggers to sound like themselves: not like someone else and not like robots or news reporters. At the same time, it’s important to me that they express themselves clearly and concisely. Word choice is key. If a writer uses one word and it’s clear she needed another, she’s lost me. I don’t like poetic prose and I always prefer economy of phrase, though not to the exclusion of the aforementioned uniqueness.
Interesting Content. This, too, has multiple parts. A blogger’s content must be of distinct interest to me to keep me coming back. My interests vary, though I tend to focus on one at a time. I’ve followed blogs centered on writing, health and fitness, crochet, video games and fashion, as well as personal blogs. I go back to each category now and again. I’ve strayed away from personal blogs of anyone I don’t personally know because I rarely find the mundanities of a stranger’s life interesting. I would go back to any well-written blog with glee. If opinions and analysis take precedence over lists of daily events, I will stick with a personal blog. In addition to being tied to my interests the content should be original in some way: completely original, reviews, or annotated links. Linking without comment or re-posting of stories found elsewhere quickly turns me off. Lastly, for content to be interesting it should be updated regularly. Less than once a week and I start to lose interest; more than three or four times a day and I get overwhelmed.
Good Design. I’m a sucker for a pretty page. I don’t care who designed it or if it’s a stock design like my own here at lectitans as long as it’s attractive.
On to the next question:
Who drives content: blogger or reader?
Yes. The best blogs are conversations. I don’t want to read a blog where the blogger writes only what she thinks her readers want without putting any of herself into it. That kind of writing is dishonest and uninteresting. Still, I don’t care to read a lot of navel-gazing. A blogger should be aware of her audience and keep them in mind without giving herself over to them completely. An ideal blog post expresses an opinion, presents information, or provides a recommendation and then asks, “What do you think?” This is why blogs didn’t really flourish until comments became a common feature. The sense of community is very important both to individual blogs and to blogging as a mode of publication.
Continue to part two, Writing Blogs.