What makes a blog valuable?

If you like your hobbies inexpensive and not too challenging (and you can type or tap keys on phone’s keypad), I highly recommend blogging. Plenty of people have started blogs because it’s easy to do, and the blogs end up abandoned not long after an oh-so-promising beginning. While I really dislike abandoned blogs, it’s better in my mind to stop blogging rather than regularly update a blog that’s not valuable—your readers can always tell when you’re putting out crap.

Ah, value! Like beauty it’s definitely in the eye of the beholder: you may consider a blog showing you how to apply makeup a waste of time, but to someone whose attempts to wear eyeliner result in her looking like a raccoon, such a blog would be invaluable! The blogs I find least valuable are those that copy content from more popular sites—if you want to share about something like that, you don’t have to copy and paste the entire original post: you can instead link to it and share your opinion—to the opinion of someone I’ve grown to trust (from reading their blog) is valuable, something that I as a reader could not get elsewhere.

After blogging for a while it’s easy to blog on autopilot without really thinking about how each blog post relates to the overall goal of the blog or what readers may be expecting (and it’s silly to claim to you’re “writing for yourself” while maintaining a publicly accessible blog—if you wanted to write for yourself alone your blog would be password protected so it couldn’t be discovered by anyone). Not all blogs start out with a goal but after a while you find your groove with regard to topic or purpose and once you know what works with your audience and what you like to write about, that’s a good place to stay (and of course you can move from this).

How do you know if your blog is valuable to others

(This is for people who have been blogging consistently (1-2 times a week) for several months at the very least)

  1. It gets visitors who linger
    This is simple enough: if you can see from your stats that people are finding your blog and staying a while, that means something—we’ve all landed on pages that we bounced from as soon as we got there.
  2. People leave comments

    This is pretty much the highest compliment a reader can bestow on a blogger.

  3. People leave meaningful comments or send an email response
    I lied—this is the highest compliment a reader can give a blogger: a reader who reads the blog post, digests it, and makes the time to come up with one or more thoughtful replies is showing the blogger through their time investment that they value the blog.
  4. People send you money because they feel they should pay for the amazing content you’re providing
    Um, if this happens to you please share your secrets!

In the early days of your blog it can feel like you’re writing for your biggest fan (you) because no one has discovered your blog. Get over that by reaching out to bloggers you like and commenting meaningfully on their blog posts—this can draw the blogger (or his or her readers) back to your site, based on your comment!

If you’re thinking about your blog and wondering if it’s valuable, here are some questions to consider:

  • What do you like to talk about?
    If you’re blogging about something that you don’t really feel connected to or have interest in, it’ll show in lackluster posts that don’t get anyone interested enough to read, talk less reply with a comment.
  • Which of your existing posts were the most popular?
    It’s normal to go through periods where you may not have inspiration for blog topics; by looking over previous posts that were popular, you can see if it’s time to provide an update on a post or share a similar post (from a different angle, on a related topic, or using a similar writing style). The goal is to do more of what has worked.
  • Who do you want to connect with through your blog?
    So earlier I mentioned that having a public blog means you want people to find your blog and connect with it. While you can’t control who finds your site, by figuring out the types of people you want to reach and writing posts that would speak to them, you can’t help but attract such people over time—in fact what can happen is if your blog is well-targeted, someone who reads your blog and isn’t your target could recommend it to someone who is a better fit for your writing, just because you’ve made it clear who you were writing to.

If you’re a blogger, do you regularly check to make sure your blog is delivering what you want it to deliver or what your readers are expecting?

If you’re a blog reader, how do you determine whether a blog is worth your time?

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17 thoughts on “What makes a blog valuable?

  1. Social Media Personality. Relatable posts. Believe me, Jummy, I had this same conversation with a friend who gave suggestions on how to make a blog popular.

    Granted, my consistency is nothing to write home about, we disagreed on few things one of which is: sex sells.

    The painful part was that he’s right. The more painful part was realizing that I ain’t gonna strip into a bikini for stats! Watch your stats fly through the roof the moment you bare your skin on a more consistent basis.

    I digress, lol. Bloggers who have garnered an audience often switch gears/mix things up: selfies, weekend recaps plus meaty posts once in a while. I follow bloggers enough to know that the quality of their posts went down as soon as more followers came knocking. Or as soon as sponsored posts came knocking.

    Anyway, what keeps me going back to these blogs??? Their down-to-earth personalities.

    Sorry my comment feels all over the place. Typed this on a smartphone. Good post! :)

    • Lol funny Maggie! But you’re on to something here: sensationalism definitely sells, and if that means showing more skin or sharing scandalous life details, it seems like a surefire way to become a household name online. Like you I’m not ready to go that route. However I believe that we can still be valuable and maybe even become big, doing our thing.

      You’re right that structure and consistency seems to play a big role in the best blogs so that’s my focus. Some people have blog post ideas planned months ahead of time–imagine! I know my blog would be much better and flow better if I did that.

      I love photography but I don’t have any natural talent, so I’d love to use my blog to share some of that.

      Gee I’m feeling very agreeable today: like you, genuine personalities attract me to blogs.

      • Maggie is right!
        Sex and Gossip sells!
        This is a bitter truth some don’t want to accept.
        Like you said, the stats would show if readers finds one’s blog valuable regardless of little or no comments.
        And each blogger knows what pulls traffic to their blog.
        Personally, I write passionately about any topic I choose and when the inspiration comes. Sometimes, I write once or twice a week, sometimes nothing for a week.

  2. Just yesterday we were tweeting about content. We think the few people who like our blog do so because of the content. it’s not fancy or anything, but we keep it real and I think people appreciate that. Finding the time for a regular schedule is hard though given the nature of our blog’s topic. It’s very personal, so we have to find the right balance and carefully read over what we write….i admire people who can blog every day, but it seems to me that content suffers as a result of too hectic a pace. right?

    • RIGHT! This is a good point too and that’s why I really don’t think it’s realistic for one person to churn out EXCELLENT content 5-7 days a week…you need a team or you need to be a full-time blogger for that.

      I know what you mean about your blog’s content taking time to produce, and I like that your blog is a collaborative project. What you may want to consider is alternating short and long posts—if you and your hubby prefer the long posts but you have shorter snippets of your life (maybe things you end up sharing on Twitter), perhaps you could string together a few of that type of content and have the conversation on your blog. With Twitter there’s the instant gratification of publishing a “post”, but at the end of the day (hehe, my friend loves to use this phrase) the platform isn’t yours and because of the rapid pace of tweets, most people don’t see the full discussion on Twitter and people might not be able to resurrect the conversation as easily as they could if it were on your blog. This is often what happens to me: I get on Twitter, see a tweet, and I can tell that it’s part of a series of tweets but I don’t go back to their Twitter page to get the gist of it.

      I definitely agree with you that one should not sacrifice quality just so they can say they post x times a week. The Nigerian blogs that post daily (or multiple times per day) are usually re-posting existing content without adding anything of value (in my opinion)—so aggravating!

  3. thanks jummy! we have a shorter series called “things naijahusband says” and “things naijawife says” etc that we alternate with. But maybe hubs is a perfectionist because we have to take our time over those as well :-)

    • Oh that’s true! And yes, NH sounds like a perfectionist because those shorter posts should be coming out, like once or twice a month, to tide people over as they wait for your meaty post every 4-6 weeks. Abeg talk to hubby o!

  4. People who know my site know that I pretty much write about fashion/beauty and food. Lately, I’ve been posting recipes and restaurant reviews more frequently. I’m mostly Toronto-focused, but will write about restaurants in other cities – if I can get to them or if I can find people who will write about them. I don’t get a lot of comments, probably because I don’t post outfit pictures of myself too often (sorry, not a lot of time to take pictures of me in outfits. Besides, that kind of blogging is much to saturated anyway). I write about more controversial topics at times, but I wonder if my perspective is a bit too “different” for people to respond to without trying to start a flame war (I think my post on specialty size terms should have seen some comments, but for some reason, did not. Post is here: http://www.delectablychic.com/2014/02/specialty-sizing-terms/ . What’s interesting is that the post I wrote regarding my problem(s) with body image campaigns/activists DID get a number of comments: http://www.delectablychic.com/2014/01/body-image-activists/).

    As for whether I check to see if I’m “delivering” what my readers want: I probably should do it more often! The last reader survey I did was a few years ago! I probably should do another soon. Right now, I still see my readers as professional, well-educated, city-living females between 25-40. I know that I kind of have trouble fitting in with most blog categories – I feel a bit out of place with most fashion bloggers (because I don’t do the “me” pics often enough – and don’t really want to) and I’m definitely not a food or Mommy blogger!)

    • Getting comments is harder and harder nowadays but if you notice that your traffic is increasing then you know you’re doing something right, even if it’s not reflected in the number of comments.

      I agree that blogs with images do better, and given that fashion is a part of what you cover, I can imagine your fans would want to see pictures of your outfits on your website. But if it’s something that you really don’t enjoy doing then you have to balance what your readers might want with what you want too—it won’t work if you hate producing content for your blog.

      I still sometimes use the “everyone’s doing it” excuse to keep me from doing something that I want to do but we have to remember that NO ONE can do anything exactly like you would or I would. So if there’s something you want to do and a bunch of others are doing it—who cares! Do it anyway!

      Yes—do you a reader survey or ask people informally on Twitter or Facebook what they like or dislike about your website—it can be enlightening. You can also look at the search terms that bring people to your site and see if they’re in line with what you want your site to be about.

      • So true. comments are getting harder everyday because there are other media outlets and some prefer reading than taking the time to type words esp with their phones. But like you said, QUALITY comment is more valuable, because it shows the reader understood and digested the message passed.

  5. Hmmmmmmm, I really like this topic and all the comments so far! Different strokes for different folks I guess but I think a lot depends on what you’re ‘selling’. I primarily blog about parenting because its easy for me to stay true to topic – its the day to day life of my family and all. Do I do it every day? Heck no! Where’s the time! If I do it once a week sef I’m happy! lol…

    Personally, I think what sells is honesty, being down to earth (like Naijamum said) and being a little open. It’s a personal blog, so be a little personal, people like to think they have access to your ‘private’ party, especially when you ask their opinion on stuff it makes them feel like part of something – I find that’s what has worked for me. I also believe personal pictures go a LONG way! I’m reading about your life story and all, I don’t want to see nice pretty stock photos, that’s not you! I think it takes away from the blog when people do that… sure humor photos are nice and all, but mix it up with personal ones too, especially when you’re not an anonymous blogger..

    That is something which has keep me coming back to your blog! Your honestly and willingness to talk about personal stuff which relate to you in a down to earth and open manner! It’s not easy to do but when you do, I think you’ve nailed half of the job! :)

    • I agree with you that honesty is important. In the fashion/beauty world, there’s a lot of positivity – bloggers wanting to please companies/designers, so they are always giving products/collections glowing reviews. Sometimes, I feel that they’re not being too honest (there are posts I’ve read that are so positive sounding that it reeks of fakeness). When I write about a collection, I often discuss fit – and whether it might work off-runway on non-tall/skinny women (because just being thin isn’t always good enough. The Olsen Twins are thin, but they’re also very petite in height. Size 0 looks very different on them than on the runway). I don’t think I see that too often in other fashion blogs! I know that some people would suggest not discussing/blogging about a collection at all if you don’t think you can give it a glowing review. However, as a company, they need to be realistic and realize that it isn’t always about being positive. They need to be criticized (constructively) and perhaps take those tips into consideration for future collections (though they have the freedom NOT to).

  6. I enjoyed reading this post very much. Well-done!

    Quality comments outweighs quantity, so I have learnt over the years of blogging. Like you said, the stats would tell you if visitors finds ones blog valuable.

    I like blogs that addresses any issue they want to discuss with all honesty rather than being evasive or sugar-coating it.

  7. I honestly don’t know whether to classify my blog as a humour blog, a personal blog or a relationship blog. When I first began a few months back, I used to churn out a fresh post everyday. A couple of weeks and I reduced it to 3 posts per week. Average number of comments were 50. This is not the case anymore. I noticed what works for my blog is humour and consistency. Humour always sells but the disadvantages are there too. Whenever I don’t write a post that gets people rolling with laughter, the number of commenters drop. Some go as far as sending an email to tell me. ‘Funny, but you can do better than that.’This has left me with realisation that if my posts are no longer humorous, my blog is basically useless.

  8. I am mostly a blog reader and I love blogs that are personal and honest. Hence my favorite blogs range from yours to like a mommy blog even though i am not a mom. Sometimes I read blogs on my cell phone and as such it is hard to leave a comment right at that moment (i guess I am old schoolish and prefer typing on a key board). Like you, I do not like blogs that just seem to be a regurgitation of another blog, and unfortunately one of my favorie bloggers seems to have gone down this path where whenever I click on her page I mostly see stories that I have already seen on Linda Ikeji. As for my own blog, it is so sad….I am most inspired to blog at inopportune moments like walking in the grocery store or at work etc..and so it gets postponed and when I am comfy on my couch, my inspiration leaves. As such, i don’t think my blog is valuable and I don’t count or track if comments are increasing or decreasing. My blog is more like a space for me to sound off sometimes and if I get a reader, it is cool, but if not it’s understandable too.

  9. I love this post topic! I’ve noticed too that blogs with personal photos tend to do well and I rarely ever put up photos because I don’t feel my blog themes (God, happiness, and fulfillment) call for it. I’d prefer to keep it that way but I know visual images always give posts an extra personal touch.

    I definitely love blogs that make me feel like I’m part of the bloggers “inner circle”. I hope that my recent posts have been better at that:)

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