As I’ve alluded to in the past, I get a lot of email. With my email address located directly on my Twitter page, people use it to say hello, drop a comment, or sometimes throw a question my way. One question I get a lot is what does it take for someone to be A Successful Blogger? What traits or skills do they have to possess? Do I have any tips?

Because “um, not really” and “just be yourself” doesn’t seem to win me favor, I thought I’d share a list of common blogger behaviors that I look for and respond to. For me, these are the qualities you must possess to win yourself a spot in my Google Reader. I’d love to hear what attracted you to some of your favorite bloggers, as well. Teach me how to be better.

They’re good openers

The Web has given us increasingly shorter attention spans. You either capture readers within your first few lines or they’re going to go do something else. The problem with this, of course, is that most people aren’t good openers. When we set out to write a blog post (or, say, ask someone out) we don’t get into our flow until paragraph five. We spend the beginning part humming and hawing, greasing the wheels and trying to pinpoint what it is we want to say. This is fine for a first draft. But when you go to publish, eliminate as much of that throat clearing as you can. It’s better to cut your first 400 words than to bore people with them. The bloggers I love are the ones that skip the awkward introduction and get straight to buying me a drink.

[For future reference, I like mojitos and Sam Adams. Oh, and Rae is really good at cutting to the chase, in posts and IRL.]

They get it out quickly

Unless you posses dooce-like writing abilities, no one is going to read your 3,000 word blog post. They’ll see it, get intimidated and move on. As a blogger you need to set up your point, make aforementioned point, and then let people get on with their life. Marketers and people who don’t write for a living, ironically, tend to do the best job with this. It’s writers (like myself) and insecure people (shut up) who feel the need to constantly bore people to death elaborate. Writers are wordy because they like flowerly writing and insecure people do it because of their unhealthy need to explain and defend themselves. Don’t be an insecure writer. You don’t always have to spell everything out. People will follow. And better yet, they may even read your post. There’s a reason Seth Godin’s posts are 200 words, not 2,000.

They write on the edge of their topic

Newbie bloggers are told to “find a new perspective” to “avoid regurgitating everyone else”. What that really means is blogging on the edge. Get out of that safe, center space where everyone is saying the same stuff, fighting for the same readers and blog from the edge of your niche. That may mean taking the opposite perspective, blogging about the intersection of two parallel topics ($), or just being dumpster-diving crazy. Are people going to tell you you’re taking this approach simply to “be provocative” and write “silly link bait”?. Yes. But if it’s good, they’re also going to read it.

They connect

Sometimes I read blogs simply for the information, but most often I read them because I feel a connection with the person writing it. It sounds sappy, but there are a million blogs on SEO and marketing, right? Which ones do you read and why do you read them? Chances are it has something to do with the style and voice of the person writing it. One of the added perks of writing on the edge of your topic is that it helps you form a connection with people. Sure, you’re going to drive some people away but those are the wrong people. They don’t get you. You want to find the people that do. The bloggers I flock to know this and don’t compromise themselves for a mass audience. I happen to think this is one reason newspaper writers are struggling to find an audience in this new connected world. They write for everyone and connect with no one. Smart bloggers know their audience matters and they take steps to connect with it.

They’re always writing

Consistency is so, so important to becoming a successful blogger. Penelope Trunk once wrote that writing a great blog post is easy. Its writing consistently great posts that is rare. And while she’s right, writing consistently can help you create those consistently great posts because it teaches you how to trust your voice. When you do, magic happens. I’d say that most of my favorite bloggers are people that post at least three times a week. Not only is their content better from all that practice, but they also work their way into my daily routine and life, which takes them from random blogger to Beloved Internet Friend.

They’re passionate

You can’t fake passion. And that’s the reason why most blogs sucks. They suck because either the person has no real interest in what they’re writing about OR because they’re afraid to be themselves and let their freak flag fly. And, holy moly, can people tell the difference. The reason the blogosphere loves rants isn’t because of the drama, it’s because of the passion behind it. People spend so much of their day in a haze that they’re hoping to feel something, anything.  Even if the passion sometimes reads as slightly crazy. When I stumble across a blogger that sparks an emotional reaction in me, it doesn’t matter what their topic is, I subscribe. And when I can write strongly about something I’m passionate about, well, there’s no greater feeling as a blogger. Those are the best days.

Above are some of the traits I look for when evaluating bloggers, but I’m more interested in your opinions. Why do you love your favorite bloggers? What is it about them that caught your eye? What do they possess?


About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.


55 thoughts on “What Do You Love About Your Favorite Bloggers?


  • Kristi Davis on said:

    I’m a complete sap and love reading blogs because I connect with the person. In fact, you are no longer writing EVERY SINGLE WEEKDAY and that severely disappoints me. haha :-) You must be like, busy, or something?

    You make a good point about being an excellent opener. I think most of use don’t even realize it but it’s nice to know you delete/edit many of your words. I usually tend to leave my ramblings in because I feel like SOMEONE will appreciate it. Reality is, they start to read and then probably move on cause I’m a babbler.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Ah, guilt trip! Yeah, I’m typically writing 3-4 (usually the latter) during the week these days, there’s just too much other stuff. BUT I attempt to make up for it with a post on Saturday. It’s the same amount of blogging, just spread out. :)

      After you headline, your opener really is the biggest grabber. If it’s not good, people aren’t going to continue. I probably write 3-5 openers for each post by the time I’m done with it. I’m sure that’s really effective use of my time. :)


  • Dan on said:

    I love bloggers who have a passion for their subject matter, and back it up with quality content (copy, images, video, etc) without being too verbose. I don’t trust bloggers who are too verbose because I think that they’re just writing to reach a certain word count or so their post has lots of keywords and ranks high in search engines. I worry about bloggers who blog too often because I think a) they really need to get a life, or b) if they really knew what they were talking about, they wouldn’t have all this time to blog.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      I try to be good about keeping my posts as short as possible, though I think I’m getting worse, not better. It’s hard for writers because we enjoy writing…so we keep going and going even when people really don’t need all that fluff behind it. We’re all works in progress.

      I worry about bloggers who blog too often because I think a) they really need to get a life, or b) if they really knew what they were talking about, they wouldn’t have all this time to blog.

      Ha!


  • Jill Whalen on said:

    I think you covered everything! I was going to say that my favorite bloggers have to be great writers, but everything you wrote here sort of adds up to just that…great writing.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      I think bloggers have to be good storytellers, which I don’t think exactly equates to being a good writer. Michael Gray is a great storyteller and knows how to use words to get people riled up. He probably wouldn’t classify himself as a “great writer”, though. Because blogging is more about connecting people, I really think it’s more about the story than the actual writing.


  • Minnie on said:

    Have been avidly reading – and learning so much from – your posts, Lisa: time to say ‘thank you’!
    And you’ve asked such an interesting question. The blogs I like best (and they tend to reciprocate) are: (1) ones from which I learn (either expanding existing interests or developing new ones or simply clarifying something puzzling); (2) they’re well-written; (3) they reflect an interesting mind + personality, and (4) they respond (mostly) to comments – courteously.
    Not too sure about ranty blogs: a little goes a long way – and they rapidly become monotonous IMHO.
    PS Stopped comments on mine due trolls, etc. Too fragile to cope; but hoping to return to the fray soon.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Hey Minnie,

      Thanks for the comment! As for ranty blogs, I definitely agree with you. If someone was always up in arms/being aggressive that would get old pretty quick. However, the occasional kick-in-the-face post works really well.


  • netmeg on said:

    I like passion, humor and intelligence. I also really really appreciate anyone who can write something that makes me think about something in a way I may not have considered (whether or not I end up agreeing with it). Like you, I also appreciate people who can get to the point, and I appreciate even more the people who, once having gotten to the point, can then get off it and on to the next one (There’s so much “blogging a dead horse” out there, geezopete) I like people who seem to write the same way I would imagine they talk, because I (mostly) write like I talk, and it’s easier to connect that way.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      I think passion, humor and intelligence are three things to look for in people in general, not just in blogging. But agreed on your points. I need to become better at getting to the point and not just writing more so there’s more room for my TOTALLY FUNNY JOKES! :)


  • Waqas Ali on said:

    Hi Lisa, really good topic to bring under discussion.

    Here’re few but most important things which I like about my most favorite blogger:

    -She is human, not a computer. (I see many people write like a computer wrote that)
    -Passionate about connecting her readers
    -Writes regularly and genuinely
    -Mutual learning happens at her blog (many people claim that they’re the master of their field, and shows on the blog, which sucks)
    -Believe in her Readers

    You may check her at http://IvanaSendecka.com


  • Ryan on said:

    Great article – especially to a new blogger such as myself. Great writing is so hard to find, and the ones that can do it often don’t get the props they deserve!

    Ryan


  • Dawn Wentzell on said:

    …and this is why Wayde suggested I blog drunk. Cuz while I am passionate about SEO, I don’t particularly write passionately. I grew up writing science reports, not English essays. There is simply no way you can make the mineral content of clay sound sexy.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Heh. There’s definitely something to starting a post while under the influence. For me, it helps get the words out of my head. Sometimes I get stuck writing and rewriting stuff…that I write nothing. Writing with a few beers in me takes away that filter and gets the stuck onto paper, so to speak. Writing drunk is okay, like I said on Twitter, just don’t *publish* it til you’ve had a chance to sober up and read it over. :)


  • Justin Hornung on said:

    Of the above, passion and connection are the most important to me. However, what factors most for me when deciding on whether to follow a blogger’s work – or hell, even finish reading the piece – is writing style. If you can wind words around your fingers and play cat’s cradle with them, you’ve captured my attention, regardless of what you’re actually writing about. There are maybe a dozen bloggers out there whose prose I’ll actively seek out, looking for content to take a vocabularical bubble-bath in.

    (I know I made that word up, but whatcha gonna do, sic the word police on me? Them stiffs ain’t took me down yet!)


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Ha, I’m totally with you. There are some people who could blog phone numbers out of the phone book (assuming they could locate one) and make it hilarious and awesome. Great writers are a rare find, but I hold onto them like crazy once I find ‘em.

      Vocabularical bubble-bath? [swooooon]

      :)


  • kate on said:

    My additions were basically what netmeg said so I had to think harder! Which made me realize, an author who respond to comments is a nice bonus since knowing they (or others who comment*, if it’s a good community) might read/respond makes me pay more attention to the post so my related comment might be something half-way intelligent.

    (*spell check will not tell me the plural of “people who comment” so i am avoiding!!)


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Responding to commenters is definitely a big part of that “connecting” thing mentioned up above. A blogger who is engaged with his/her community and takes the time to bring others into their show is definitely one worth following.

      haha [high five] for avoiding uses words/phrases that spell check cannot verify. I’ve….totally never done that. ;)


      • Kristi Davis on said:

        … and realizing when you don’t have to connect with every single person, every single time is a good trait to have. You have managed to find a great balance, imo.


        • kate on said:

          … unless, like with Lisa’s folks who comment, they are all BRILLIANT and FUNNY and USEFUL so you are just compelled to comment on all of them. In other cases, it can quickly lose the special affect if you just reply to ALL comments… honestly it depends on the topic, if it’s ‘a day in the life’ blog or a tech blog or business blog… my content expectations/responses are different.


  • Maranda GIbson on said:

    My favorite bloggers are ones that make me laugh, but only in that under the breath, tongue-in-cheek kind of way that sort of sounds like a sneeze. I like bloggers who are around my age, because I can relate to them. I’ll read anyone’s blog at least once to see how I feel about it. I like finding blogs that have a different opinion than I do, but can discuss it like a grown up, rather than berate you into compliance. Healthy debate is a big yes for blogs that I read on a regular basis.


  • Annie Cushing on said:

    I think the qualities that attract me most in a blog depend on the blog. If it’s a how to I’m interested in, like how to use a particular SEO or social media tool, I like it when the writer chunks the info and includes screenshots. I also like them to include real-world examples of where, when, and why you might use it.

    If it’s more motivational, I really like writers who reveal a touch of their humanity and pull in illustrations from their own experiences. And, over time, if there’s too excessive of an emphasis on their awesome wins, I start to become a little suspect that the person may be writing more to invite people to join in their celebration of themselves than provide useful insight.

    Your posts for @smallbiztrends epitomize the first characteristic (and I read and pimp all of them for a client) and this blog the rest. Well done.

    Finally, it’s way cool when blog writers actually engage with their audience. The Internet has become a bit of a social equalizer in that way.

    Okay, I also really grok on great graphics, a clean writing style, and making me at least smile. Total bonus points if s/he makes me laugh. :)


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Writing for Outspoken and SmallBizTrends often makes me feel like two different people because the writing style/goal is so polar opposite. It’s good to know both are useful in their own way. :)


  • Becky Holland on said:

    Wow… all things I struggle with day after day! I found that having a theme for each day and writing posts ahead helps keep my writing fresh and focused. I post 5 days a week… every week. Most of those are written and scheduled ahead, but if there’s a particularly timely topic, I either move an already scheduled post or add a bonus weekend post.

    People seem to like the consistency and the fact that each day of the week is a bit different. Everyone seems to have their own favorite day. :)

    Thanks for a great article!


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Major props for posting 5 days a week. I used to blog that often (though I guess I still do, just spread out with a Saturday post), but I remember how difficult it was to keep up. Major kudos!


  • kate on said:

    going back to why the lead-in is so important: RSS Feed excerpts. If you cannot convince me to click through in however many sentences you feed to me in my reader, it’s not going to happen.
    That said, I am always a little happier when the full post is available in my reader – so much so that when I am procrastinating, i will go back and read (ok, skim) those with full content, just because it’s easy.


  • Suzanne Vara on said:

    Lisa

    My favorite bloggers became or for new ones become my favs as they write in a manner that makes me walk away with something. A new way of thinking, a bit of usable information, etc. Yes their passion for writing is a given as throwing words on a page is not always going to get someone to think about the post later on. I also like the consistency as knowing that they are going to be posting regularly so I have something to go back to.

    @SuzanneVara


  • Jim Morgan on said:

    As a committed skeptic and ex-reporter, I appreciate bloggers who back up their claims. If someone is expressing their opinion and says so, I appreciate that as well. But I’ve read too much stuff stated as fact that I knew to be untrue scientifically or from direct experience. If someone says “studies say,” I want citations! One of the reasons I follow Outspoken Media is y’all are good at separating fact from fiction.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Excellent point. I almost included Research as one of my topics above but though, pfft, bloggers don’t research. ;) Fully agree with you though, it’s really nice when bloggers point to the “studies” they’re referencing so you know they actually, um, exist. :)


  • Alan Bleiweiss on said:

    Not sure about the post length issue. While I do mostly prefer reading shorter posts, I can’t control myself in my own writing. Well, I can a little. Yet I feel it’s important in my SEJ articles to provide depth of information. Especially when so many people condense their articles into bite-size morsels, which don’t really help people learn anything past the surface…

    Something else I really like is people who rant as well as I do. That’s always a good thing :-)


  • Scott Golembiewski on said:

    I like slapstick behavoir rich with misspellings and other contradictory type meanings behind words and a natural ability to flow.

    I sometimes crave arguments so I’ll seek out bloggers who will match my aggressiveness, but have a serious side to them as well.

    Hate it when someone says you have to sell them in the first paragraph or you’ll bail, to which I think so….. go ahead and keep consuming content because eventually you’ll forget what you were looking for anyway.

    I yearn for people who lay it out naturally, and not hold back because of what “everyone is doing”

    Good information is not hard to find, its the people and the collections of information that they have that I like, and conversations that don’t follow predictable and typical outcomes.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Probably the first person I’ve ever seen say they like misspellings. I always get emails and DMs about my typos. I’m gonna pretend to be doing it on purpose now! ;)

      I don’t think you necessary have to ‘sell’ them in the first paragraph, but you definitely have to hold their interest and make them want to keep reading. There are A LOT of distractions on the Web. You have to hold someone where they’re at, and that’s not always easy.


  • Lyndit on said:

    When I find a blog I like the first thing is first – subscribe to their RSS. Mostly because Google reader makes it easy for me to hop on the reader and catch up on my favorite blogs. The best blogs are consistently challenging me, they have clear points that are relevant and the best is when they have a great story to tell like Deirdre Breakenridge’s blog.


  • Doc on said:

    Great topic, Lisa!
    Like Alan, I question the post length. Sometimes you just get on a roll, and suddenly realize you’ve created a 900 word monster. But that isn’t necessarily bad. My blog posts range from 200 -750 words most days, but if it’s cohesive, and interesting, I think you can get away with it once in a while.
    I started out many years ago on a newspaper, and my editor kept a huge coffee mug on his desk, full of red pencils. More than once, he told me that the day I left, his consumption of pencils would be cut in half!


  • George on said:

    The simplicity in their writing skills and their willingness to share their domain is one of the major thing that I get stuck with my favorite bloggers. The blog posting frequency is also taken into account…


  • Sharel Omer on said:

    I loved “They’re passionate” you can read the person passion from his post… its like a blogger DNA inside the post..

    thanks,
    Sharel


  • Lisa @ Practically Intuitive on said:

    WOWZA! You nailed it. It’s the person behind the words and the passion behind the person. Yep.

    I have a personal blog that I’ve kept for well over eight years now. When I started my other non-personal blog, Practically Intuitive, I assumed (what I thought was) a more “mature” voice. Doing that strangled my flow. The best advice I got from Kelly Diels was “bring your personal blog voice over to PI because it’s really who you are”.

    Once I did that, things just flowed again. Oh sure, I don’t go on about my love for all things David Cook on PI (shh! I’m a fangirl, what can I say) or rant about my political views and other extraneous matter on PI, but I do keep my dorky self intact and often write from that perspective. And if someone sticks around, I’ll know they love me for me – dorkiness and all! :)

    Thanks for this post – it really stood out for me.


  • dianeski on said:

    My favorite bloggers are funny.

    OK, informative, too, but most of all funny.

    I like funny. As the Reader’s Digest says, laughter is the best medicine. I need my daily dose.


  • dianeski on said:

    BTW, I don’t blog. I write about apparel all day, every day, and that’s enough for me.

    I tried blogging a few times (personal blog, mostly about music). Actually got traffic and responses, which amazed me to no end.

    But it was too darned much work after a long day writing apparel copy. Enough is enough.

    dianeski, mild-mannered ecommerce copywriter for a great metropolitan apparel company


  • Doc on said:

    I guess my favorite bloggers are the REAL ones, that write like they talk, and don’t try to present their opinions as facts. A little humor goes a long way to holding my attention, too, but at the end of the post, I’m more likely to leave a comment if I felt a connection of some kind. Sometimes I may disagree totally with their opinion, but it they presented it as just that – an opinion – then they’ve left the door open for discussion, and I can respect anyone’s opinion.

    On the more technical blogs, I most enjoy those that present their case well, with enough evidence to back up their conclusions.


  • Kelly Watson on said:

    I’m a little late to the party, but I love my favorite bloggers because they’re edgy. They’re not afraid to go against the grain and say what’s on their mind (instead of just rehashing stuff that’s been said before and better by those with more authority.)


  • Adam on said:

    Nice post because I feel you are imbued with all the qualities you were writing about. Your post was kind of long, but it had the passion and flow of a real conversation so I stayed interested.

    I will definitely watch out for throat clearing! One thing I try to do in my blog posts, if possible, is to think about if it helps solve my customers problems (its a b2b blog). I realize after reading this post that I need to be more personal, and maybe should include a pic the way that Lisa does.

    Please check me out if too… http://www.aimintegratedmarketing.com/internet-marketing-blog/


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