I have recently subscribed to a new blog, Invincible Summer from lovely YA writer Hannah Moskowitz. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually the first new blog I’ve subscribed to in a year.
So why did I subscribe to it? Did I stumble upon it on Google? Find a link on a bookmarking site like reddit or delicio.us? No. I kept running into links on other sites and blogs. Took part in some conversations on Absolute Write. After about the fiftieth link on blogs to which I am already subscribed, I stopped by and read the first ten posts on the blog. Several of them were exactly the sort of thing Ilook for on a writing blog, and so I copied the url into my googlereader. Now, I’ve done similar things with other blogs, but I ended up not subscribing. Here are the five most common reasons I subscribe to a blog, and the five most common reasons why I do not:
Why? (In no particular order:)
1. Links from blogs I already follow. The more the better. They tell me that there is a consistent pattern of valued and valuable content. These can be posts about the link only, or they can be round-ups. If I start to recognize your name on a round-up post, I am very likely to give your blog itself a look.
2. Meeting the blogger in a community setting, such as a forum for writers. My top forum for finding good blogs? Absolute Write.
3. I buy one of the bloggers books and like it. if I like your book, then I have a reason as a reader to look you up. If I like your blog, it’s because I enjoy it as a writer, as well.
4. I see one of your books on Amazon or Wikipedia. These are the places I go when someone recs a book to me.
5. Guest posts on blogs I read. These are fantastic advertisements for your own blog. They mean someone I trust likes what you have to say, and they are a good sample of what I expect to find on your blog.
1. I go to your blog and I see advertisements. If I get to the point where I’m reading through your recent posts to see if there’s a pattern of value, I don’t want to see adverts for your books. I don’t want to see contests, or giveaways. All of these things are fine. But they are not what attracts people to a good blog. A good blog gives something to the reader, it does not only solicit money for the writer.
2. I go to your blog and all I see is pictures of your cats, covered in bacon or otherwise. I am not looking for cat blogs. I am looking for writer and/or writing blogs. If you want to occasionally post pictures of your cats or of sunsets, or of your cute little kid, that’s fine. But it’s a grace note, something you can foist off on me as content once I am engaged and interested. John Scalzi likes to post amateur photos of sunsets, and they are very pretty. I like them. But they are not why I read his blog.
3. If there have not been any posts for over two months. I don’t think I need to explain.
4. If the posting schedule is inconsistent. This is not a big loser. It’s why people invented blog readers, so I don’t have to check every day to see if a bloggers has dug up and displayed some nugget of wisdom for me. It’s a small issue, but consistent posting does tell me that this blog is likely to survive long enough to be worth my inital investment. (I am also a hypocrite for saying this, since I have updated irregularly of late.)
5. Boring stuff/stuff I have seen before. This is tougher. These sort of posts will attract blogging newbies, because they have not seen all the other examples out there. But the best blogs provide something new, something you can’t get elsewhere easily. After the thirtieth generic query advice post, they all start to seem the same. If they are well-written, I will forgive you.
So, here is the conclusion. I want good content on a consistent basis. I understand that promotional posts will pick up when a book release is imminent. I understand tha real life gets in the way. But if your entire blog morphs into promotion when a book is coming out, or you suddenly veer into all extras about your cats and kids, then I am likely to not subscribe, or else to drop my subscription if I already have one.