2020-02-06

What Makes A Good Blog?

Prologue

Blogging is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Nobody reads blogs anymore, unless those blogs have been designed in such a way as to create the appearance of a major publication. No, I'm not naming names.

Still, a few of us still enjoy reading blogs. I know I do. When I encounter a blog I haven't seen before, I generally have one of two reactions. One reaction is that I become absolutely absorbed in the blog content and read as many posts in quick succession as I possibly can. The other reaction I tend to have is that, as I start to read one blog post, my eyes start to glaze over, I skim the rest of the post, quickly skim the other posts in search of content that doesn't make my eyes glaze over, fail to find it, and then move on to other things.

So, my reaction to blogs is that I either find them really interesting, or they just plain suck.

My own blog probably falls into the latter category. I can't imagine a single reason why someone who wasn't me or a Russian ad-bot would want to read my blog. That's perfectly fine; I only blog for myself, anyway. It's safe to say, then, that I have cultivated a terrific expertise in blogs that just plain suck.

What about the good ones? What makes them so great? Here's a list of attributes that I think make blogs good. This is my list of attributes; yours might be different. Feel free to provide your list in the comments (ha ha, nobody reads my blog).

  • Good blogs deal in interesting subject matter. Content really is king. I'll forgive a poorly designed, or even a poorly written, blog if I'm interested in the subject matter. I'l forgive a lot of things. But if the blog is just like... autobiographical yammering (hmm, kinda like mine...) then I won't spend much time reading it.
  • Good blog posts tend to be well-written. George Selgin recently wrote a blog post on the history of an obscure rule governing the Federal Reserve's board of governors. I'm as big an economics nerd as anyone, and even I think that's dull subject matter. But the thing of it is, Selgin is such a wonderful writer that he can make anything absolutely fascinating; and so he does with this post. Someone who writes that well can write on virtually any topic and keep the reader engaged. 
  • Good blog posts tend to be concise. There is a time and a place for long-form writing, and some of my favorite blog posts have been quite long. But when I discover a new blog for the first time, I tend to look for short posts whose quality can be easily assessed. It's easier to follow a blog when following it doesn't involve a major investment of time or reading effort.
  • Good blogs tend to have an active comments section. I don't know how to curate this sort of thing, but it can make even a dull blog a lot more fun.
Considering the above, I can think of one blogger who excels on all fronts: Bryan Caplan. I think he might be the best blogger in the virtual-reality-space-that-was-formerly-known-as-the-blogosphere. We bloggers should all aspire to be more like him.

Epilogue

I'm going to make a bit of a blog pivot again. I'm going to pivot away from strongly autobiographical material -- there isn't much going on in my life that would be interesting to readers, anyway -- and toward honing my writing skills. I'll take a two-pronged approach. 

The first prong will be developing more concise, reader-friendly blog posts like the ones I've just described. You know, be a better blogger

The second prong will be developing my own, unique writing voice. I have some book ideas I'd like to work on. I won't use the blog to publish those book ideas, but I will use it as a way to find my voice. Those blog posts will likely be a bit longer.

2 comments:

  1. Well, if you haven't seen it, here's one you might like: https://ludens.cl/

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    Replies
    1. What a lovely rabbit hole to fall down into. Thanks so much!

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