Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

How to write a successful blog

with 9 comments

Occasionally, I come across blog entries on how to be a successful blogger. These invariably seem to deal with questions like increasing the number of visitors, gaining “followers”, or similar. While this may seem reasonable, as a first impression (and may well be valid for a minority even on a thorough investigation), my take is very different—success is not automatically the same thing as having traffic, but will depend on what one actually wants to gain and achieve. Worse: Some even equate “popular” with “good”—by which token Henning Mankell would be a “better” author than Heinrich Böll…

Below I will elaborate by quoting (with minor modifications) two comments of mine:

The human element…

You are not wrong in that the human element is highly beneficial for writing a popular and easily digestible blog (or, m.m., book/movie); however, we all have to ask ourselves “Why do I write? For whom do I write? What do I want to achieve?”.

Speaking for myself, I would write even if I was never read by anyone—writing has immediate benefits for me on other planes than just gaining readers. To me, a good blog entry is a blog entry that makes me think and gain insight (be it through writing it or through reading it on someone elses blog). Besides, let us face it, if I wanted to maximize the number of visitors, I would be running a porn site :-)

Looking at others, they may have very particular interests, write for a niche-market, or otherwise have reasons to write in a different manner. Britney Spears is more popular than Andrew Eldritch (by a show of hands: How many of you have ever heard of him?), but I doubt that he would wish to become a superstar if it involved emulating her music—and we should all be thankful that he does not emulate her wardrobe.

(http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/have-you-lost-the-human-element-in-your-blog/#comment-928380e)

(Some more information on the benefits I gain from writing.)

For most bloggers, the audience should be a secondary priority.

Yes, for those who want to make money or fame out of blogging, the audience must be a priority. However, let us face it, very few actually have success in this area, irrespective of what they try.

Yes, those who want to spread their messages and ideas to others need to pay attention to the audience: Terry Pratchett has had a greater impact on the masses with his ideas than Kant for a good reason. However, while success here is easier to reach, the overall impact of most blogs is small—and often they just compete over an already-believing choir, on which preaching is wasted, while the heathens go elsewhere.

What then is left? Writing for ones own sake, to learn, to gain new insights (including into writing), polishing and developing existing opinions, exposing oneself to external critique, etc. While writing in a notebook is also a valuable exercise, writing for a blog is a better exercise. And here is the big advantage: These are gains that more-or-less any blogger can reach—unlike fame, fortune, and influence.

My advice to the typical blogger: Write primarily for your own sake, with the hope that others will be interested as pure bonus. Do pay attention to the audience, but do not consider maximizing the number of hits per day to be the main purpose.

(http://throughanewlens.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/why-your-audience-is-like-the-mogwai/#comment-232e)

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Written by michaeleriksson

August 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

9 Responses

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  1. Thank you for sharing this insight, Michael, so clearly and accessibly expressed. You have a most engaging writing style. I shall be back to read more :-)

    Naomi Estment

    August 4, 2010 at 3:44 pm

  2. The numbers can be fun, but there usually aren’t a lot of them. The writing is indeed more fun (and cathartic.)
    Thanks for the post.

    agentontheloose

    August 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm

  3. The one thing I think that you are down playing a little here Michael in the importance of writing regularly irrespective of you seeking readers or writing for your own amusement.
    Blogging is a craft like any other and the only way that anyone gets any good or develops a personal style is by writing everyday even when you think that you have nothing to say.

    Iain Hall

    August 4, 2010 at 9:51 pm

  4. If I wanted a blog, I would focus on attraction, enemies and allies to convers with.Just write something about gaza and you would have an horde on your blog.

    Lord Rahl

    August 7, 2010 at 2:26 am

  5. Interestingly, I have a post on Gaza, which has attracted only “medium” attention so far, while the post that you originally commented on has been the most highly visited to date (courtesy of Nordic Dervish’s greater traffic). The likely most commented post, however, deals with Hitler (another controversial, emotion-stirring, and attention-getting subject).

    michaeleriksson

    August 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm

  6. Thank you Michael for giving me some great ideas to add to the creation of my own blog! Your post is very informative to someone like me who is attempting to be a glowing resource for many that feel that they have no voice, and choose to say silent in abusive situations…I plan on re-visiting your blog as a personal resource for the success of my attempt to help others….Karen:)

    nevergiveup28

    August 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm

  7. some popular blogs also dont get personal comments. mostly their readers only quickread the post, not read it carefully, and add comment based on what have been “successfully” read on the short time. i choose to not have “popular” blog than to not have royal reader :)

    nadiafriza

    September 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm

  8. […] everyone feel welcome (or similar). This idea is flawed in several regards, most notably that maximizing followers should not be the goal for the typical blogger, but also that quality usually beats quantity and that those readers who actually contribute with […]


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