What do you look for in a blog?

thumbs upI read a large number of blogs on a wide variety of subjects in different niches.  Aside from subject matter there are some things that are likely to encourage me to become a regular reader.  That line of thinking made me wonder about my readers.
What do you look for in a blog?
Which blog features are must haves?
What does it take to entice you into becoming a regular reader?

I’m inviting you to add to the list I have begun below.

The Blogger

The character of the blogger is the most important thing to me. I like to feel there’s a real person behind the words reaching out to me, to move and touch me with their own unique experience and vision of life.

  • is an authentic person who is both passionate and knowledgeable about their topic without being condescending
  • is original with a feisty spirit of can do
  • provides a profile and a statement of purpose for the blog
  • states how frequently new content is usually published
  • provides links to sites with high quality resources in posts and in blogroll
  • provides contact information
  • responds to readers’ comments

When it comes to the blogs that I return to again and again, just to see what’s new, it is inevitably because the author has captured my interest.

The Theme

  • minimalist, non-cluttered design
  • attractive
  • pleasing and restful to the eye
  • frames content
  • intuitive and easily navigated
  • provides a way to subscribe by RSS feed and/or email

The Blog

  • content is front and center
  • uncluttered sidebars
  • easy to use commenting  setup
  • lacks distracting pop-ups or auto-play music
  • lacks advertising
  • or has minimal advertising and placement of advertising does not outrank the placement of blog content

The Content

I look for common sense, researched information and true feelings expressed.

  • an attention grabbing title that accurately reflects the content
  • original and unique
  • focused
  • is free of typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors
  • post length preferences vary from reader to reader – some prefer brevity  and simplicity- content presented in bullet points -  structured in  short paragraphs with space between them, others prefer longer more comprehensive posts
  • has substance
  • is updated regularly
  • informs or teaches me something
  • entertains  me
  • contains humor (clean)
  • inspires me
  • challenges me
  • contains an invitation to participate in discussion and helps readers  add to the content of the post, so everyone benefits
  • has a graphic or photo to add some visual interest
  • quality writing and stimulating content, presented without distraction
  • high quality writing written in an engaging style that flows
  • contains links  for verifiability, acknowledgment, examples, and context.

Quirk. Eccentricity. Genius. Content I won’t find anywhere else.

That extra ‘something’ of time, effort, engagement, competence, caring, a world view that is worth respecting – those are the kinds of things I look for in a blog.

Appreciation for the contributing bloggers:
pop_culture_bookworm
Sandra Lee
Lisa
Vernon
Rachana
Mark Armstrong
Dave Bonta
Libdrone
Egaladeist
Hani
JaneneMurphy
Jean
Frances
David
nothingprofound
Jayme
stevmap
yun yi
sonnybadwind
baxter
Cynthia
Steve

Related posts found in this blog:

Building a blog with readers in mind
Blogging: How to lose me as a reader
Minimalist Blogging: Strip it!

62 thoughts on “What do you look for in a blog?

  1. Pingback: 8 Tips for Effective Blogging « one cool site

  2. Pingback: Better Blogging: Powerful, Persuasive Writing « one cool site

  3. Wonderful site you have here!

    Found it tonight having started a month ago

    What does ‘frames content’ mean?

    I have a traction wordpress theme (www.cantheyscore.com)

    I don’t know if mine frames

    Thanks

    • In blogs it’s our content that we want to be front and center. Think of it this way. When we look at a lovely photograph in a frame the frame is not the most not meant to take the eyes away from the content. If visitors are more enamored with theme than the content then the theme is not framing the content it’s competing with it.

  4. Pingback: Celebrating the Miracle of YOU with Gratitude « *POSITIVE PROVOCATIONS*

    • The post contains a compilation of all the submissions made by my readers by way of comments. I hope you do find it to be a useful guideline for your own blog. Thanks for commenting and best wishes with your blogging.

  5. I have just spent the last three hours reading your blog and I would like to say thank you for the information you provide. It is truly appreciated. This post in particular is excellent!

  6. Thought provoking, as always TT – and stopped me mid-read to go fix something on my own blog, so see, it’s working! You and your commentators do make a difference! [thank you Vernon too] I agree with just about everything here, the only one I would quibble with – possibly – is about brevity. Where appropriate, yes, of course, but sometimes I get frustrated when something good feels as if it has been dropped mid-thought, or on the flip side, I suspect that actually, the author hasn’t thought the matter through well enough to discuss it further, or is doing a quick mention just to get on an attention getting band-wagon, not because they actually know much about it or have anything to add. So, I’m open minded about length of post. I’ve read some quite long things that were worth every syllable – and some short things not worth one letter. I would boil it down to quality writing and stimulating content, without distraction.

    • Hi Cynthia,
      I find what you say to be interesting. I don’t have a specific blog article reading length preference. I will read longer articles, providing the subject matter is of interest to me. In the case of lengthy articles I usually bookmark them for evening reading as I tend to be reading most blogs while I am also working and must be available to customers and clients. Every day I experience reading very well-developed articles. So are so well-developed that I simply have no comment to leave and “excellent post” sounds like spam even though it frequently reflects my reaction to what I have read. . lol :D

      When it comes to the length of my own articles I try to avoid making them too long. I have found that when I have done that in the past I actually provided so much in the post that I “killed” the urge to comment and discuss in my readers. These days I find that I am responding to comments in this blog with lengthy comments of my own. Perhaps this explains why the numbers of subscribers to my comments are several times larger than those who subscribe to posts are.

      I love your last sentence and when I update this post I will be including it. Thanks so much for contributing to this discussion and all the others too.

      • First thing to catch my eye – crikey, woman, you have ANOTHER job??? I thought this was it! Respect… I can’t imagine how you do it all. Your observation about too much length and detail killing discussion is a light-bulb for me, thank you – in the commercial blog we’ve been a bit stumped at the dearth of response and discussion – this may be the key to it – I’m guilty of smothering perhaps. Must try that concept with some of the articles this winter. thanks, take care.

        • Hi Cynthia,
          You made me laugh. Yes, I do have work to do in our small business and I do contract work as well. Blogging comes last for me. Sometimes it’s a real struggle to make the time to create posts at all but I’m hanging in there. ;) I don’t know if my observation applies to your blog or not or even if other blog readers have experienced the same thing. There are so many well written comprehensive posts I read that I frequently find I have nothing to add so I mutter “excellent post” to myself and click out. I’m interested to hear if others experience the same thing too.

  7. A title, it has to have a good title to catch my eye. If it’s simple, generic title I can’t focus my attention on it. Good posts, on a regular bases, it for the most part they suck I’m going drop ‘em.

    • Hi Sonny,
      Great contribution! Yes, an attention grabbing title has a strong influence on whether or not I will read a post. In blogs where the blogger has consistently provided attention grabbing titles that accurately reflect post content I will be inclined to become a reader. However, the opposite applies too. When a blogger uses an attention grabbing headlines that does not reflect the content of their posts I feel betrayed, and that deters me from becoming a regular reader.

      I also understand and accept that not every one of my posts is appreciated, and that other bloggers may have some posts that are not that great either. But as you say if the blog as whole contains mostly posts I enjoy reading ie. “good posts” then I will become a regular reader.

  8. I am here TT.:-)
    Yes, I cannot read something too long with too many GRE words, lol. I like simplicity, something brief, right into the point. Subject wise I like some unique thinking about life, cultural difference, social matters, etc.. Due to my own health issue, I sometime visit bloggers with same situation, finding about their struggling, treatments and thoughts about our physical well being.

    • I’m sure it must be difficult for you as English isn’t your mother tongue. Thanks for your contributions with regard to simplicity and brevity, unique thinking about life, cultural difference, social matters. I also visit blogs of those bloggers who have the same health issues that I do.

  9. I like interesting, unique information and/or visuals that I can relate to –or teaches me something, or makes me think. Presented without too many distractions or adds.
    I hope my blog has a few of the features covered in your post. My aim at this time is mainly to entertain people in some way with my art.
    I have picked up a lot from reading the information you post TiTi.
    Thanks! =)

    • Hi there Jayme. Thanks for submitting your input. I intend to update the post and inclide any points that haven’t been previously posted later today.

      P.S. Your blog is an interesting one that doesn’t contain distractions. I like it. :)

  10. Hello Timethief. Yesterday I spent a little time looking at ‘blogs about blogging’ and I realise that many of them were trying to monetize their blogs. There is a change in how you perceive a blog and its content once someone does that and I prefer to read blogs where someone isn’t trying overtly to sell me something.

    An invitation to participate, as here, is always attractive to a reader and helps the reader to structure their comment and if they write something interesting it adds to the content of the post, so everyone benefits. I love the co-operative relationship that I have with some of my food blogging pals, and the way our relationships spill into other spaces on the internet. I find I can only read a few blogs regularly, and yours is one I like to come back to. You practise what you write about, which is very attractive.

    • I’m with you on the trying to sell me something blogs. I click out. Our lives are saturated with signage of all kinds. Advertising is before us wherever we turn urging us to buy products we don’t need. The consumer driven society rolls on and on flogging products made by consuming valuable resources many of which are non-renewables.

      I was NOT among those who welcomed the entry of advertising on blogs and internet marketers into the blogsophere. Without doubt my response to those blogs that are aimed at selling me anything is to click out.

      Please click this link http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2010/09/02/blogging-demographic-groups/ and scroll down to “Online advertising: Generation gap” as I think you will be interested in the results of the Connect Insight study re response to online advertising, and the demographic break downs.

      Only 17 percent of Internet users find online advertising to be appealing and most people considered it to be “intrusive, repetitive, unappealing and cheap.

      I’m so happy that the subject matter I blog on and the discussion my readers provide and have led you to become a regular reader of my blog. Thanks do commenting and best wishes with your blogging. :)

    • You’re welcome Vernon. I consider your blog to be a great resource for my readers and I appreciate your contributions to our discussions here. My weak point is commenting. I’m an introvert and since the head injury I have become a slow thinker, who has to mull things over and over before I’m inclined to comment. I envy those who read a blog post and are able to immediately respond to it.

  11. I agree with all your lists. It is true that the most attractive design is one that’s not having too much on it. After all blogging is all about content and not the ‘look’.

    • Hi Baxter,
      Yes, I agree that content ought to be king and the theme design ought to frame it and place it front and center. When I experience a blog where the theme and/or sidebar clutter or advertising placement or simply the amount of advertising makes the content difficult to locate and focus on, then I click out never to return again.

  12. The character of the blogger is the most important thing to me. I like to feel there’s a real person behind the words reaching out to me, to move and touch me with their own unique experience and vision of life.

    • Thanks for your contribution. I agree with it and other readers have also commented on the character of the the blogger, so I created a separate heading for “The Blogger” in the post.

  13. One of the BBC reporters (Tim Wilcox) who has been reporting on the mine rescue in Chile speaks good Spanish. He has been talking to the relatives, getting background, finding out what really makes the system tick.

    He obviously cares for and respects the people he has been speaking to and it shows in his reporting.

    Of course the mine rescue is a big event, so he has an interested audience, but he has impressed my wife and I with that extra ‘something’ that transcends plain ‘rote’ reporting.

    That extra ‘something’ of time, effort, engagement, competence, caring, a world view that is worth respecting – those are the kinds of things I look for in a blog.

  14. I like blogs that tell me something I don’t already know, or make interesting connections, or provide links to great websites. All of which you do!

    • Thanks for introducing a very important consideration when choosing a site to become a regular reader and that’s links. Links to sources in blog posts are important for at least four reasons: verifiability, acknowledgment, examples, and context. Links in blogrolls ought to be to sites that provide high quality resources for readers.

      P.S. Thanks for the compliment. :)

  15. More than ever before, easy to read but original blog content is becoming increasingly a priority to me. My weeks are numbered to read a variety of blogs since I will have alot less time in the future.

    Nice to have 1-2 photos or drawings that relate to the content also.

  16. Great topic!

    As I quoted at BC, I like the funny. It helps me to relax and, as a humor writer, keeps me in a silly state of mind. Still, I read others, too. Writers that have a style that flows and is both passionate and knowledgeable about their topic without being condescending are the ones that tend to draw me.

    With that being said, I agree with all that’s been said about appearance. Pop ups frighten me. I can’t stand blogs pumped full of ill-placed ads.

    • Hi Janene,
      Thanks so much for joining the discussion here.  Its seems that the negative response to pop-ups is universal among all the readers who commented on my earlier posts on pet peeves and is mentioned in this discussion too. So why do so many bloggers choose to have those offensive in your face pop-ups?  I just don’t get it. Thanks also for your feedback on humor, flow in writing style and ill placed ads.

      We’d be a sad lot indeed if we didn’t appreciate sharp wit and skillful writing. I appreciate your blog because you craft humor into the messages for your  target audience, and your passion for the subject matter ie. advice on teen issues shines through the text.

  17. I found your blog randomly trying to know why my blog does not show up in the search engine or anywhere. It feels like I do not exist. What you are doing is amazing. I read your articles and they are very helping and to the point. I am trying my best to work with this new world of blogging but I find it very challenging. Even more challenging because English is not my first language and when I look at other blogs I feel like mine is a mess.
    Anyways just want you to know, your blog is really helpful to me and other new bloggers I suppose definitely.

  18. Generally speaking for a site to interest me it has to have something unique to offer.

    And I try to reflect that with my own sites. For example my site is the only site on the Net that offers over 1000 games to play ad-free and full-screen. No one else does that. You play, Pacman or Aliens ( for example ) 100 times a day and we don’t make a penny off of it.

    Cookie-cutter blogs.sites don’t interest me much. Show me you have something no one else does and that would make me keep coming back.

    • @Egaladeist
      I think we all search for original and unique content and I venture to guess that it would top our list across the board. Thanks for taking the time to enter this dicussion. I appreciate it.

  19. For me following a blog is almost exclusively about the blog author. Like everyone there are things that will turn me off and drive me away– pop ups, auto-playing audio, dark background/poor contrast. I read lots of blog articles (or posts) usually because the subject interests me or the post somehow caught my attention. But the blogs that I return to again and again, just to see what’s new, it is inevitably because the author has captured my interest.

    • @Alan
      Oh my … suddenly I feel inadequate. lol :D Thanks for commenting and reminding me to me more captivating … (she exits stage right to ponder how to achieve that).

  20. I agree with your list, would add the following (might be some overlap):

    1. simplicity (minimalist, non-cluttered design)

    2. brevity (short posts– tho I’ve read some lengthy interviews)

    3. short paragraphs with space between them

    4. humor (clean)

    5. a graphic or photo to add some visual interest

  21. What I look for in a blog is
    1. yes, definitely pleasing to the eye, no dark or spooky or gory themes for me please, cant sleep after reading those ones.. :D

    2. interesting content that’s

    is teaching me something, not hate or vile spitting, public service, good morals, what they read and what they have on their blog roll, absolutely no personal nonsense like, went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth and such, spelling mistakes and poor sentence structure: I immediately move on to another random site because cannot tolerate that :))
    Actually, your blog will make an excellent example for me because you have all the right kind of posts and thats why you are on my blog roll.. :)

    3. How many readers they have, what kind of crowd they attract and if i become a reader what kind of a reader group am I joining..

    Some of the things on top of my head.
    Thanks girl for everything you do, there is so much to learn here!!
    Rachana.

    • I am visually impaired and dark-colored themes not only evoke dark off-putting emotions even without the spookiness factor, when they are combined with low contrast fonts I cannot read them.

      I also heartily agree with what you contributed in your point 2. I do not cotton to blogs that are full of nasty language and negative emotions.  I do not cotton to blogs that provide personal information beyond the context of the subject matter ie. I do not read blogs that are comprised of a record of the mundane I did this and thai like toothbrushing.  We all eat and we alll sleep lol :D 

      In addition I find blogs that contain too much personal information to be off-putting. I don’t want to hear about your argument with your spouse, unless yours is a personal development and relationships blog and you are providing the information as to how you succesfully resolved your differences. Even then I need the assurance that your spouse does not object to you discussing your personal affairs online.

      Your point 3 does come into play for me when I am visiting blogs as well. Every link in a blogroll ought to direct readers to additional related content that expands their experience.

      Thanks for placing onecoolsitebloggingtips.com on your blogroll and for letting me know you have done so. I appreciate it and I sincerely hope my content is valuable to your blogging experience. :)

      • People like you and a few other bloggers I follow constantly are people who have been teaching me humility! As I was reading your reply, I was like, “are you kidding me.. ???” I mean you are probably so busy with your site and traffic, you actually did reply with relevance to my comments?! Ha ha..

        Thank you and I don’t care if you do this for a living or for pleasure, because you do it with compassion and honesty! And anytime I have a WP problem, I end up “googling” it here and that is a fact.. There, I put it in writing :)
        Good day!

        • I’m actually busy with work in our business and in my home and I blog around the fringes of that or I multi-task. Thank you so much for the kind words. It’s great to hear such positive feedback and I wish you well with your blogging. :)

  22. There are many things that can make a blog stand out, and I guess these days, with the shear volume of blogs on the Internet, every little thing counts.

    But, for me there are very few things that are important – if the content is really good – and if I can actually manage to read it, then that is the only thing that ultimate matter to my becoming a regular reader. I guess you could go into depth on what constitutes good content, but some of that is very subjective. There are some blogs that I get such good content out of that I excuse a multitude of poor blogging style.

    What is far more important to me than what little things are there is what isn’t there – all of which can be summed up in two words – irritating stuff. Pop-ups, in your face newsletter sign ups.

    I really like a feedback button or some way that I can directly get contact to the author of the blog – it makes you feel like they aren’t so high and mighty that you can’t talk to them, but it also allows you to say some things about the blog/website that you may not think is appropriate to in a comment section – including simple things like feedback on typos.

    • Hi Vernon,
      Thanks for your submissions. I steered away from going into depth about content because the call as to what is interesting can only be made subjectively by each individual.

      I’m with you when it comes to irritating and distracting stuff on blogs that draws my eyes and mind away from content. In fact I have blogged my pet peeves that lead to losing me as a reader in two posts.
      http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2009/05/31/blogging-how-to-lose-me-as-a-reader/
      http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2010/08/18/minimalist-blogging-strip-it/

      Your last point about contact information is important to me as well. When I visit a blog where every post is authored by “Admin” and there is no profile on an About page and no contact information I begin to suspect that it’s a splog.

      I removed my email address and contact form from this blog when summer approached because I was receiving too many messages that amounted to technical support questions and that had not been posted to the appropriate support forums. My blog was also being flooded with spam comments, trackbacks and pingbacks and my time for blogging was limited.

      Summertime and fall are a very busy time for our small business and because I receive many visitors all summer long. When I have the time I do answer questions on support forums. When I don’t have the time I don’t. When I’m being flooded I remove my email address and contact form because all comments on this blog are moderated and any reader can use any comment box to reach me.

  23. I look for interesting subjects, preferably literate writing,often the humorous, comment form and someone who replies at least half the time, the occasional visit to my blog, likable, and I prefer the bloggers who want to be friends.
    Awesome post!

  24. This is an excellent question. I agree with all the qualities above. I would add two qualities to the list (1) substance (2) authored by an authentic person. I especially appreciate quality writing, which would probably fall under “engaging.”

    I’m quite disenchanted by bloggers who write 20-minute posts just shooting from the hip, whatever comes to mind, without providing much substance or depth. There’s so much repetition and recycled information in blogs. Following those links just wastes a lot of time.

    • I actually have the same criteria. I admit that I frequently struggle to find a new and interesting perspective to blog when it comes to both of my blogs.

      In this blogging tips niche and in almost every niche just about everything we blog on has been blogged about previously. There’s an overlap when it comes to blogging tips blogs with writing blogs as well because blogging is writing. And, even though writing for the web is somewhat different the subject matter is frequently covered by bloggers in both niches. There’s another overlap when it comes to the personal development and self-improvement niches so it’s challenging to come up with new material and interesting ways to present material that others have blogged on. 

      I also admit that there are times when my composition of a post may only take 20 minutes but the thought process of selecting subject matter and researching what has previously been written on the topic is many times longer.

      I worry that I may not be writing in a manner that encourages my readers to become part of the ever evolving branding process on both blogs. And I worry about sounding like preachy know-it-all rather than a fellow blogger sharing her experience with her readers. But I’m definitely genuine and authentically yours — warts and all. :)

      Most of all I regret that I am not an on-the-spot thinker who can read a post on a readers blog and immediately have a response to it worth sharing. Excellent post! sounds like a splog comment but I am an introvert who finds I am often reading excellent posts and that I have no meaningful comment to post. This runs parallel in my verbal life. Offline I’m even more taciturn than I am online. Online I have become far more “chatty” lol :D but no matter how much I prevail upon myself to come up with immediate comments that add to discussion it just doesn’t happen for me.

      Whew! I feel exposed but in a good way. Thanks for being such a faithful reader and commenter too, Sandra. You are precious to me. All my readers are.

      Love,
      TiTi

  25. My list would look very similar. It’s important that “content” gets several bullet points: this is definitely the most important. Blogger response to comments is another vital component.

    I also look into the number and placement of ads to determine if it looks like the blogger is just out to try and earn a quick buck or actually trying to contribute something useful.

    • I also agree with you on bullet points. I am visually challeneged and I am short on time. I appreciate reading blogs where brevity prevails and where the reader uses the bullet point style. When I am faced with a blog post that is comprised of a single block of uninterrupted text without no white space and no images to break up the text I click out. I will not waste my time trying to focus and struggling to read.

      I also strongly prefer to visit only blogs where I don’t have to experience advertising at all so I use a Firefox browser with AdBlock Plus. However, when I am making my decision to dollow or not to dollow a blog I switch to IE and check out what I find. If I feel I’m viewing a blog that’s been pimped out for profit then I don’t become a regular reader or subscriber.

      We live in a world that’s saturated with propaganda called advertising. It’s blight on the landscape and a blight everywhere it’s found. Most people no longer recognize as pollution but I do. My partner and I dropped out of the consumer driven society over 30 years ago.

      Thanks for commenting and please come again soon. :)

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