A bit late with today's post because yesterday I stepped on the scale and I'm still reeling. Going out for my walk after this. For now we'll not talk about weight, dieting and exercise. Instead let's talk about what we think makes a good blog and who some of your favorite bloggers are.
If you read here, you know I spend a lot of time blogging and reading blogs. There are key elements I look for in a blog and these elements contribute to my overall enjoyment I experience when I read them. I'm not going to address quality writing because without that there is little reason to visit. Let's talk about everything else. I'm drawn to blogs with:
1) Good aesthetics. Now some of you think how a blog looks makes little difference. Not for me. Colors, font size, overall layout affects how often and how much time I spend at a blog. Why? Very dark or very busy layouts cause eye strain and fatigue. The writing could be fantastic but if the colors hurt my eyes, I bail. Additionally, if there are too many bells and whistles, I feel overwhelmed and I bail. Light colors are easiest on the eyes, but not white backgrounds (the glare, light behind the screen, like dark backgrounds, leads to eye fatigue). White works if balanced with proportionate images that minimize glare. If a blog is very streamlined and has limited amount of text, a dark background can work because the writer is directing your attention to specific information and the writer doesn't expect you to hang out. The idea is to read the day's entry and move on. Single poetry postings and micro fiction posts work with dark backgrounds.
2) Layout. I look for multiple paths to same information. Why, because often a visitor is new or doesn't remember where desired information is. Multiple access points makes it easier for the reader to find what interests her. But be careful, too many options are also confusing. I like updates clearly visible, and while I like permanent reference links, I don't care for long lists. I prefer drop down menus for these. Long lists provide loads of information, but I think for many readers, these references become part of the background. Better to have the option to access a list when wanted; knowing where to look and scrolling only when needed. Easy loading: some blogs have beautiful, elaborate backgrounds and images. These often take forever to load. Be sure you're using the smallest file possible. Pretty isn't pretty if I'm waiting for it to load. I also prefer to have more content than visuals. I don't want a page full of images and two lines of text.
3) Content- regular features, variety and frequency. There are blogs I visit daily or based on their established schedules without fail. Now the scatterbrain I am, I can be all over the place. I've made a concerted effort to publish regular features on a consistent basis and to update my blog daily because the number of features and memes I participate dictate this kind of frequency. When I improved consistency, my readership improved, too.
Other blogs are focused on specific interest and very narrow in focus. For these, the narrower the focus, the more I'm looking for consistency in updating. I read a wide variety of blogs, and my expectations differ based on the kind of blog. For poetry and short story, I expect less updating and don't expect a variety of features. Book review blogs are different. Here, I've quickly learned, I want more than reviews. There are a gazillion blogs reviewing books so I need another draw, and assuming quality is there, I'm drawn to bloggers who participate in other activities or regularly write other book related articles.
4) Tone. Identity- Lastly, I like blogs that have a distinct tone or personality. There are so many blogs covering the same kind of material. For me, the bloggers I read most are writers who communicate with their readers, their personalities enhance my reading experience and there is something about the blogger I do not find elsewhere. I'm a social animal. I'm drawn to people even if we're connecting through technology. If I simply wanted to read a review, I could read a professional review. I'm interested in the individual. I'm drawn to their individual perspective. For a while I was unsure how much of me I should present here. Everyone is different. In the end, I decided to behave here like I would if we were having a gathering in my home or sitting in a coffeehouse.
I hope you enjoy coming here because I love having you here.
What about you? What do you look for in a blog? If you think about it, where do you spend most of your blog reading time?