Recently a blogger asked me to review their blog and requested some advice on how she could make it great. I am no expert, and I was flattered beyond belief that she would ask me. So, I took a crack at it. I gave her some technical advice, more along the lines of some of the things I had done. Nothing earth shattering but certainly helpful.However, the question of a great blog has been bouncing in my head since then. (There have been a few other very weird things bouncing in my head lately, so I’m a bit groggy at times). I’ve been asking myself what makes a blog great, brings visitors and results in business. After all, we’re all in this to make money (I’m the greedy mortgage broker Hillary is after).
In essence, what makes a blog great is a loaded question. Over the past two weeks I’ve been taking mental notes of why I visit some of the blogs I visit. I also went back to some of the blogs I don’t like to visit. During this time a theme has begun to emerge. And it’s not quite what I thought it would be and is quite contrary to the technical advice I gave the inquisitive blogger.
What has emerged is that for me it’s about the person behind the blog. For example, when I come across a new blog, I first browse through the content, then read about the person and then once I get a feel for whether or not it’s someone I want to “talk” to I subscribe or bookmark the blog. However, to make me want to come back on a regular basis I need to see a little bit of a fire in their belly. I like to know what makes them tick. Are they passionate about their work? Do they believe in what they are doing? Will they help me become more successful in what I”m doing? How will they reflect on me if my readers followed a link to their blog?
Things that easily turn me off and away from a blog is the issue of character. Character counts in my book and if I see disingenuous writing of any kind, I simply move on. Also as much as strong views count, strong logical construct with factual “real world” applications is equally important- because as history has shown, you can be passionately wrong about something (see Karl Marx and Mao Zedong).
That may seem like a lot to ask from a blog, but its exactly the kind of evaluation we make in any off-line situation. When we meet a stranger off-line we are instinctively seeking to like them, understand their thought process, their character, their business philosophy, how they treat others and their passion. So, I don’t think its unfair to extend that same thinking to the online world. Plus the blogs I visit on a regular basis have the right mix of the quality I mention above so I know it’s not an unattainable precept.
What’s my point you ask. What I’m saying is your personality and passion must shine through in your blog. When people see you for the kind of professional you are they will naturally either connect with you or never come back. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, but I don’t think its a coincidence that in the past three months I have received detailed “essays” from my readers. These multi-page “essays” are loaded with details of their financial and personal situation from top to bottom. It has everything from how much they make to why they divorced their spouses, and their kid’s day care experiences – way too much information in my opinion and certainly not needed for me to help them with their mortgage needs.
It’s mind boggling to me that someone would be so open with me in our very first meeting. I am an unknown blogger and really a complete stranger to them. But they feel connected to me and “know” me through my blog. So, it’s no coincidence that my online encounters are similar to my off-line ones. Plus if the steady rise in traffic means anything I should get used to reading these long, utterly honest and vulnerable e-mails asking for my professional services!