I have been thinking a lot lately about the blogging community. Also, I was taking a look at what makes blogs successful and contrasting thoroughly interesting blogs against those pitifully and admittedly boring. I am not offering any advice, mind you, just looking objectively out of curiosity.
Since that infamous discussion on Is Garden Blogging Dead, so much has happened here at GWGT in the world of blogging. Subscriptions increased tenfold and GWGT made the WordPress pinnacle of Freshly Pressed.
Thinking I might be losing some focus to make the blog appeal to the wide variety of subscribers, I started thinking that all this means nothing if a blog can’t keep core readers coming back. I was wondering if the eclectic nature of GWGT is a good thing or a bad thing affecting the core readership in spite of the fact that readership is increasing quite noticeably. So I went searching for an answer to what makes a blog interesting or boring, or does it even matter if you have a consistent supply of readers? The secret is…
being boring is not a detriment to readership, even though arguably, it should be.
And truly, this is a secret because few are willing to talk openly about it. Bloggers keep plugging away in the sheer bliss of oblivion. Repeating over and over, rehashing the same information. Doing it with authority and conviction, day in and day out. Readers flock like misguided sheep, feeding from the trough of mediocrity. Why the sudden call to arms?
Because quality blogs are falling by the wayside. In the last few months, a couple of very well done blogs called it quits. They were original, creative and beautifully done. I swear, blogging and TV are like the only things in the natural world where there is not survival of the fittest. The ‘weak’ shall inherit the earth…just peruse reality TV if you don’t believe me.
So what may be a factor in the decline of good postings in lieu of posts that scream “I really have nothing new or different to say.” This is not to say boring blogs are not disappearing too, but it seems like over saturation and time play a part.
I always look at other blogs for their approach, what is it that draws readers in. Is it:
- The absolutely gorgeous photos? The ones you just drool over, so much you want to be there. I know I want to see some wickedly cool visual imagery, or kooky photos to delight me, anything but bore me.
- Do they write like they care if we return? Is the content compelling? Churning out quick-read dribble each week is not giving anyone reason to comment, let alone return.
- Does a blog make me want to take action, try what they posted? Reading blog posts that do nothing but tell me what I already know are quite a yawn.
- Does it offer pithy opinion and commentary? Add the writer’s personality and express the chutzpah to tell it like it is? Especially editorial types that present an option for contradiction and argument.
One blog that I read daily is Pioneer Woman. It is not a garden blog, but I guess you would call it a lifestyle blog, a bit of this and that. It is wildly popular and it has a few of the things I just listed above.
But most of all, it has personality and brand. You would know you are reading her work even if you did not see the blog header. It has eclectic content, yet a thread of her style weaves right through it whether she is out on the range, in her kitchen, or in her photography realm. Contrast this one to the boring one I note below.
Yes, I do the mundane, the rehash and boring on occasion. In fact, these images were hurriedly done for this post, not much thought went into them other than they had to be some shade of purple. I went outside yesterday and shot off a bunch of images. You will see why at the end of the post why I was careless.
My posts, A Design Request , Creating Curbside Charm, and the series, Process of Design, is searched numerous times daily. Digger Bees and Carpenter Ants gets loads of action too. These posts are all things I know from my job, and the insect posts, from being a Master Gardener.
The stats on these posts should be telling something significant about what interests people. But boredom is a two-way street. Combining work and pastime leads to boredom. It leads to stale and bland postings, even if others don’t view them as such. It becomes tedious to write such a post and curbs enthusiasm and inspiration. Inspiration leads to joy. So what then?
So I looked at other ways people blog and found that some do a daily diary, which has a tendency towards posting-self-indulgence. Nothing wrong with that, but how much different is each day from another?
The inspiration gets lost in the monotony. I used to read one like this, but it did not last long before all the posts started becoming similar, and it showed unquestionably in the writing and the images. Again, this one was not a garden blog, although it had quite a bit of gardening.
There are those ‘help posts’ out there giving numerically listed tips to turn your blog around, to give it the wow factor, usually posted by ‘those’ blogging experts. Experts telling you how to turn your blog into some kind of competitive event. The lists mean nothing if the content is repetitive and boring. Do they mention that?
Nothing can cure a boring blog but a little blog introspection. Even taking a commonly posted subject and giving it a different spin adds interest.
Then there are those offering advice and encouragement to new bloggers. Makes you wonder motive when they encourage and routinely promote mediocrity. When in good conscience they should encourage them to post on what they love, instill passion in their work.
I keep reading to “post what you know, write about your life and what happens each day.” If you lived it, do you think others want to know this day in and day out? Not every blogger out there has the life of a celebrity. Not that they are interesting, but the media seems to think we all think so.
When new bloggers start talking to the world and the world does not talk back, well, that leads to disappointment. Disappointment leads to resignation and worse yet, abandonment to being a reader as well. One of my blogging friends went this unfortunate route.
I Googled why blogging is boring and really found my answer. First in the search was The dullest blog in the world. No doubt, this blog is the most boring bit of nonsense I think anyone could ever write or read. I feel bad even getting anyone here to click the link.
His post Tidying some pencils got 391 comments, and all the entire post said, (no images of said pencils mind you), was “Some pencils were scattered around on my desk. I picked them up one by one. I placed the pencils in the drawer which I use to store pencils.”
One comment said, “Stop the World I want to get off. How fascinating can so uninteresting a topic be to 300 plus people? Help!!”, and that is what I thought too.
This blog was so boring, the guy himself stopped blogging. Probably bored himself to death. Maybe the pencils should have been hard-working and that would have sparked the creativity which was sorely lacking. Pencils languishing in a drawer, you draw the metaphor.
It is like watching the rain fall for hours and days on end. Not much happens but you do it anyway. You might change your view, but it still is the same rain falling.
Is our lives so mundane that we take the time to read this kind of dribble? Can it even be called entertainment? But honestly, this may be the extreme, but there are a lot of blogs out there with little or no personality. Blogs with little to say, and some, with absolutely nothing to say.
Then there are blogs giving tips that profess, “no topic on the internet is boring.” I am paraphrasing the rebuttal to what this guy wrote, “There are millions of topics swimming in the stream of the internet and most are boring to me! You call this a blogging tip?”
The blogger went on to defend that “no topic is boring.” His idea is that sure the subject is boring to some, but certainly not all. Other words, target the audience, no matter how small. The pencil tidying post is proof that boring subjects do indeed exist.
Yet, 391 people had something to say, so what does that tell you, this guy is right, or there are 390 incredibly boring individuals out there thinking a blog like this is worth the time to visit? Certainly a sociology study is in order on this one.
He was looking at the big picture, not the little picture, where insight develops. There is life behind all things if you look close enough, but that is the real point, look closely. I did agree with some of this blogger’s points, but I do think he missed the boat on turning boring into fabulous. Why settle, and why limit?
Let me post on my drought ridden, dried up, newly purchased phlox and it screams boring. Like who cares? Really? Want to pass on condolences for my recently departed phlox?
I know if I never see another Agave again I would not miss it. They are everywhere lately and up here, they only grow in my office. No disrespect to Agave, it is an architecturally fine-looking plant, but some plants get written about to death. Kinda like the rain, huh? Just a different window.
In a way it was a bit like my pumpkin plant, so common, but I learned something from letting it grow. I learned about squash bees. Maybe not to others knowing this, but I found that new and entertaining. The plant did not interest me, but the bees did.
So boring is about perspective and looking for what you don’t know in what you do. Making the ordinary a little extra ordinary. But does that make interesting reading for others if each element of a post has purpose, making sure to get you to the next sentence to read further? Not sure, but I know I prefer reading fresh and enlightening.
I have noticed even if a post is a compelling read, many readers are in too much of a hurry to get to the next blog post, that they barely read the current one at all. Some skip the text and just view the images. Then they leave their cursory mark and move on. Race to see how many blogs can be lured into reciprocity. Any wonder why quality blogs throw in the towel?
There are all these tips especially for beginning bloggers about commenting on posts, joining the ‘community’, blogging often and consistently, otherwise, working your little tail off to make sure readers keep coming back. Too much work since most don’t come back.
A blog really can stand on its own if it is written well and illustrated nicely, like Pioneer Woman’s blog that I noted above. I doubt that blogs such as this visit a few hundred blogs that visit their blogs. I did the week I was Freshly Pressed and it was taxing. Not something I can do and work too.
If a quality post is informative, humorous, creative, different, delightful, relevant, fascinating, has loads of personality or takes me where I have never been, then it is not boring. All those well-meaning tips aside, give me anything but boring.
The question of blogging dying was never the right question, it is not and will not die. The actual question should be, “Is your blog boring or does it offer up content interesting to readers?
Why do boring blogs live on and blogs of value slip by the wayside? I can venture a guess. It is time investment in what one is writing. But I surmise it is additionally much more than that. Do good bloggers leave because of competition from all the pointless postings and are turned off by the lack of meaningful comments? Is it posts being skimmed and not fully read? I can see how this could be frustrating. When you spend time writing, you hope others want to read it.
One of the blog writers that retired poured herself into her photography and took readers places they would never ever get to see in life. I miss her blog and wonderful photographs immensely. I hate to see the good blogs withdraw. This one left the entire blogging arena, so you lose a good read and a faithful reader.
I am saddened that some of the best written garden blogs out there have lost readership and I think I know partially why. They started when there was less competition. They do not participate in all these superficial ways to generate traffic that new bloggers think is the way to acceptance. They don’t spend time blog hopping to see who will pay them a cursory visit. The good blogs invest time in quality of content yet do not get as good a portion of the readers anymore. Not because they lost favor, but because time more than post quality is a factor for many readers.
The problem is time, or the lack thereof. Readers want something in return for their time, so they go to from where it is guaranteed to come. They want ‘friends’, which seems to translate to reciprocity.
What I find is that these quality blogs of which I am referring do give quite a bit, so readers are getting quality reading for their time. A much better deal I think for the time spent. Why waste time visiting a blog you know puts little effort into caring about you the reader? Go to ones that educate, entertain, enlighten your day, and generally make you feel good.
Put smile on your face. Is that not what blogging should be doing?
I believe one of my favorite blogs is losing readership and a bit on the fence about continuing. Their posts are loaded with places around the world to virtually visit, useful, knowledgeable gardening and photography tips, professional design advice, and all the things garden bloggers SHOULD be reading. But for how long until they rethink the loss of time and free professional advice if readership wanes? What happens to quality?
Well, quality quits.
Have you been wondering why I used all the purple garden images? I was going to do a post called Popping Out the Purple, since the late summer garden is bursting in all shades purple. Snappy title, but boring subject. I carelessly took photos and realized I really don’t care for a post of this nature. Would I want to read my post? Probably not. That means others would not as well.
Then I started thinking, is this not the umpteenth hundred post on purple plants and who the heck does not know they are freaking purple? I saved you from a post that would have just made you yawn. I hope I gave you a post to make you think instead.