Blogging is a cultural phenomenon, but it retains a consistent subculture across the World’s Web-connected communities. No matter where you go in the world, blog fans expect bloggers to deliver in a few basic ways that outsiders don’t understand. This is a simple truth about blogging: if you don’t deliver the basics, the blogosphere – and the general Web – will ignore you.
Blogging basics break down to four elements: utility, entertainment, writing talent and community. Depending on your audience, one of these elements may be more important than the other. An important professor’s blog may require an elite level of grammar and writing talent. On the other hand, a popular video game blog may focus more on entertainment value. But in any case, you should consider all of these factors to be critical elements.
Utility refers to how useful your blog is to your readers. You should aim for a high utility value, but offering exclusive utility is also important. If your readers can’t get the same information, advice or commentary anywhere else, they have no choice but to depend on you.
Entertainment value is all about how entertaining your content is to your readers. In some ways, this is similar to utility because entertainment can be useful, but entertainment goes well beyond utility. When you move a reader’s emotions – whether it’s with simple laughter or heart-breaking sadness – you and your blog have a much greater chance of being remembered, whether or not the reader hopes to remember you. Utility without emotion, on the other hand, is more easily forgettable.
The value of writing talent is self explanatory, but you might be surprised by the vast number of pro or semi-pro bloggers that assume that writing talent doesn’t matter.
Some hopeful bloggers are accustomed to reading posts by a few successful bloggers with terrible writing styles and horrible grammar habits, and they assume that they can imitate their success by imitating their writing style. The reality is that some bloggers can write poorly simply because they are famous, so their fans will read anything they write. Or they may have access to very exclusive information, so it’s irrelevant how they write. Alternatively, some blogs blew up during the infancy of the blogosphere, so as one of the first to reach the masses, they had few competitors. And today, they continue blogging on the momentum of their early success, celebrity fame or exclusive utility, so unless you’re a part of one of those three groups, writing talent is critical to your readers. Study the best writers and bloggers. Get a decent education, and learn some proper grammar. It makes a difference.
Finally, community is just as important – if not more important – than the other elements of your blog because a blog is useless without a community, not just a community of readers but also a community of bloggers that share, comment and develop larger conversations around your posts. Of course, your community has a direct effect on your pageviews and ad impressions, but it’s also a healthy place to learn. An online community can challenge and/or shape your beliefs and opinions. More importantly, other bloggers can teach you a lot about writing, marketing, SEO, tools, software and creative out-of-the-box strategies. Your community might even introduce you to other communities that can have a significant impact on your blog – and sometimes even your life.