What makes a good blog post?

I’ve never been good at “Top 30 Lists”. My husband and his friends obsess about Top 30 Lists of the musical variety (a la High Fidelity) and e-mail them back and forth. Top 30 Beatles songs, Top 30 1980s bands etc, etc… One friend, in particular is the King of Top 30 Lists. My favourite of his Top 30 Lists is “Top 30 List of Things That Suck”. I want him to dig it out. As I recall, one of the items is “Personalised number plates on souped up cars”.

Why am I pursuing this line of thought? Well, I was trying to think of a list of my favourite blog posts, but I can’t even make a list of my favourite books and stick to it. So I ditched that idea. Instead, I’ve been thinking about what makes a good blog post. What do I like in a blog?

  • Logical analysis which makes me see an issue in a different light.
  • A blogger who’ll consider my opinion even if he or she disagrees.
  • A post which has links when it cites facts.
  • A blog post which is well-written (ie, a considered argument)
  • Legal blogs (like the “blawgs” on my blog roll).
  • Art blogs (I should do a separate art blog roll here, there’s some seriously talented people out there).
  • Blogs which raise crazy stuff from time to time.

What don’t I like in a blog?

  • Self-indulgent blog posts.
  • Cruel blog posts which take personal points.
  • Posts which are not well argued. I don’t care what the argument is, I will respect it as long as it is well-justified and not just the repetition of a particular brand of cant. I understand things can be argued either way: the important thing is how the argument is structured. (Yes, I’m a lawyer. To the core.)

There’s been a bit of controversy about blog competitions lately. How does one measure success as a blogger anyway? Does success in competitions matter? The blogosphere is such a cliquey place: worse than an all-girls high school. I don’t put much store in competitions when all’s said and done, although if someone gave me an award, I’d gratefully accept it (with much surprise).

In part, I suppose, success is measured by how many people access your site. My poor humble blog would not fare so well on that account, although it is slowly growing; I am proud to say that I have had almost 6000 visitors since June last year (although this seems a bit pathetic next to those blogs which have had tens of thousands, if not millions of visitors). Perhaps the title and the avatar both put people off, but the truth of the matter is that I am a lawyer, no use hiding it.

Can the success of blogs be measured by comments? Hmm, that’s probably not the only accurate indicator, either. Sometimes I read excellent posts, but I can’t think of a comment. This doesn’t detract from the post itself. And sometimes I look through reams of comments, and find that they drift off into personal conversations which have nothing to do with the post: should they count?

I suspect Tim Blair would not think much of this site, as it “employs the Dreaded I“, hallmark of an opinion piece. To my mind, however, that’s what my blog is about: I am writing opinion pieces about issues which interest me (as well as trying to bring salient legal issues to people’s attention from time to time). If I were writing a legal essay, a summary of a case or a newspaper article, I would not use “I”. My English teacher would come and haunt me if I did.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how many people read my blog or how many people comment, as long as it has made me and my audience think. So, I’ll just continue on my merry little way, reading blogs I like, and writing posts which interest me. And I hope you enjoy my efforts!

P.S. Any good Top 30 Lists out there? Feel free to suggest one.



Filed under blogging

2 responses to “What makes a good blog post?

  1. Iain Hall

    I agree with your parameters for a good post and as a blog writer it takes time to establish the right tone and dare I say it a rhythm for your blogging.

    Your 6000 hits is very good for a newish blog, Nothing to be ashamed of at all. I have been rather pleasantly suppressed by the traffic at my new blog (not having had a site meter at my old one) and even happier with the inbuilt tracking that tells me not only how many people are reading my blog but what they have read as well. So if a particular theme or idea “works” you will know about it, as you say comments are not always a good measuring stick.
    As you imply blogging is not just about becoming popular but it is about expressing an opinion. If you are considering making the Jump you can always do as I did and create a parallel blog and spend the time to get used to the platform an tweak the appearance before you “go public” with it.

  2. John Flood

    Your conclusion captures the essence of what you’re saying, “Has it made me and others think”. This is what saves blogging from being mere self-indulgence. But we would be much the poorer without it; instead we have many, many conversations filtering through the ether, connecting and disconnecting. We can respond instantly to things, we can blow off steam as we want, but I’m not sure I could come up with 30 good reasons for blogging.

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