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Thursday, 23 February 2012

Crazy Children, Monster Posts, & Awesome Blogs!

I'm coming to get you!!!

Here are my two pence on the topic of the ever-expanding blog-o-sphere…

There are times when I go through a dozen blogs per day (if not hour). And there are days when I don’t bother because I feel burnt out. This is why I rarely ever comment anymore (sincere apologies for that). If I had to comment on every post I ever read, I’d be spending my time online 24/7! Granted, I have done that several times in my life, but I’ve recently decided to try and find some balance.

Quick side-note: If you happen to be wondering what I’ve been up to, I’ll tell you. I am looking after little people, I mean children. *cough* They’re two boys of the ages of 3 and 4. Infuriating, energetic, and ever so bossy and kind, occasionally wise and crazy. I’m living with the family, who are all very… positive, abnormally so, so I can’t really complain. After the last few months’ stress, this is what I need. 

When I am not playing with the boys, I am interning… a lot. I have this constant urge to answer ads on Gumtree, and then regret doing it because I can’t squeeze any more free time. And for the first time of my life I am writing for money, content writing that is. Turns out I’m pretty good, who knew… Certainly not me!!!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, among the hundreds of sites and blogs I view every week, there are a few that grab my attention almost immediately, and a few others that don’t last more than three seconds. I’ll tell you what the differences are, which might as well be my own taste, but we’ll see.

1. They are cozy.

Most of the time, I hate the corporate look. If it’s a business site, it’s supposed to look all syndicated and official and sleek and… you get the picture. But when I look at a blog, or a personal site, I want to see the person behind it. Take my blog for example: it’s actually a reflection of me. (Surprise, surprise. - Yes, I like sarcasm. Goes well with my coffee.)

The title says it all. The colors reveal my playful nature. The widgets and pages are painstakingly organized, which gives away my OCD tendencies… and then there are the posts. I always add some personal element, even just one sentence, because I want to remind you guys that I’m here, in all my glory and goofiness. So I like blogs which look alive and cozy. Like the owner is inviting me to tea and biscuits. On a large sofa with flower-printed cushions… or something less creepy. 

2. They are intuitive.

It’s hard to explain a feeling, but I’ll try it anyway. You know how sometimes you feel like you’ve found a special place? Like the bits and pieces you see are a part of a living whole? Every piece is inviting you to stay, and every bit is there to make your blogging experience easy and pleasant. There are no bright colors which hurt your eyes. There are no glitches or oversized items which distract you from the important bits of information. Everything works as one and invites you to stay just a little longer.

3. They have all the necessary parts.

So you want to subscribe via email… but you can’t find the widget. Then you decide to leave a comment, but it doesn’t let you do so if you’re not a Blogger or Wordpress user or whatever. Finally, you realize the owner didn’t even bother to add an About page. That’s it, you’re appalled and frustrated, so you never come back to this atrocious blog, EVER.

This is what I call counter-intuitive. The owner either doesn’t know how things work in the Blog-o-sphere (which is easy to learn) or they’re too lazy to put any effort into it. Their loss, right? So don’t let this be you, all right? Make sure you’ve all the bits, then blog away.

4. They are active.

Ahem. I know my blog looks kinda dead sometimes. I really regret it, you know. But I won’t beat myself over it, because it’s a personal blog. I’m not really promoting anything, so I’ll cut myself some slack for now. But if you have a business or you’re working hard to promote your new book, please be sensible!

Consistency is what really makes a difference when it comes to marketing, promoting, and advertising… or are those all the same things? Ah well, never really went into business. Take Kristen Lamb’s WarriorWriters blog for example. I’ve been following it religiously because every day there’s something new on there. Not only is Kristen consistent (on her blog and twitter), but she’s also enthusiastic and witty, which makes for the perfect combination for a viral personality. It’s contagious, I tell you. And that’s a good thing!

And don't forget the power of Social Media! It makes people come back for more. :)

5. They are easy on the eyes.

Again, NO bright colors. Absolutely no dark backgrounds with white text. While some people really like that. I think it’s a headache waiting to happen. Also, spare me the gazillion flashy links and widgets, which not only ring in my irises long after I’ve closed the site, but also haunt me for days in my sleep. I hate those blog-induced eye-bags, I do!

And remember, Zen backgrounds are trendy now. The cleaner the design, the better!

6. They have personality.

Two blogs come to mind right at this point. Chuck Wendig’s TerribleMinds and Michael Offutt’s SicKismet, both of which I follow. Chuck Wendig is a typical wordsmith/penmonkey lunatic. Michael Offutt likes to state his mind, whatever the consequences. Both are strongly opinionated and their posts (and blogs as a whole) are always entertaining. They scream PERSONALITY.

It’s all right to blog while you are finding yourself and your style. I’m sure your followers will be patient and helpful if you’re genuinely an interesting person. But don’t just go all over the place just because you can! Stick to your own opinions and your own (crazy monkey) style. People will love you for that!

7. They are fun.

You can't skip that part! My favorite blogs are the funny ones. Alivia Anders makes me laugh at her eternally scattered brain crumbs and wordsmithing tendencies. A. J. Aalto makes me laugh at her inappropriate innuendos and sharp jokes. And you can't miss Tracey Hansen's hilarious drunken stories (both written by her and fellow bloggers) and clever social observations. And finally, Marjorie McAtee is the cherry on top. 

If you value your sanity, steer clear. If you'd like a ride on the fun-wagon, hop on!

8. The posts are graciously short

… not painfully long. I can’t for the life of me survive a 1000-word post (apparently, I can produce one and torture you with it). There’s too much information out there to waste my beyond-precious time on monster posts, so please keep them locked in a cage somewhere in Alaska. Thank you.

And I broke my own rule with my monster posts. But somehow, I think that splitting it in two parts would be a mistake, so just read through the interesting parts. If you read all of this, you deserve a big, fat, Greek cookie. Hang on, I’ll make some for you.

P.S. I sound oddly a lot like a salesman. I blame the content writing gig. It changes you, man. It changes you! *shudders* 

So what kind of blogs do you like? Which ones give you a headache? What does your blog say about you? Do you have crazy children in your house?