Quality is a key element in good blogging. If the material isn’t interesting, it isn’t going to be read. Of course, there are different standards of what is interesting. Some people find the day-to-day tweets of a celebrity interesting, while others can’t get worked up about anything other than a discussion over literature that more closely resembles a bare-knuckle brawl than academic discourse.
The celebrity effect can be discounted; it isn’t necessarily that Lady Gaga or Stephen Fry’s tweets are composed in a particular way. It’s the careers these stars have had and the interest in what such a career celebrity is saying that draws the people. Since most writers (and in particular most bloggers) are not cult celebrities, the focus on quality content is a safe focus to assume.
But what is it that makes content quality? How does one get those good ideas and, more importantly, convey them week after week with a steady updating schedule?
Worth Arguing Over
A good idea is one people can take sides on. Talk radio is based on this premise, as is the modern media system. Controversy sells brands like nothing else in this world. Rockstar Games doesn’t mind that parenting organizations despise its popular Grand Theft Auto series; the controversy generated by people arguing over the merits of the game is free advertising, release after release.
So pick ideas that people can have an argument, or at least a spirited discussion, over. This involves including concrete details whenever possible. Don’t argue over “Obama’s healthcare plan;” rather, pick a specific portion of the plan and state why you are for or against it, with supporting reasoning. Then, encourage the discussion. Respond to those who disagree with you. Promote and highlight arguments over key points. Cater to peoples’ innate need to share their views.
Watch Videos, Share Videos
Embedding videos from assorted hosting sites is absolutely no work at all. Most video places include blog-embedding code so people can do this very thing, and there’s no reason at all not to do so.
Providing a good video is a mental shortcut that can help foster high quality content. If someone makes an insightful video on a topic, including it can provide good discussion and your actual blog entry can be an overview of the thoughts the video brings up. Alternatively, this is a good way to find someone with faulty ideas and provide a correction to their premises, again point by point. Entire blogs and video blogs have been made on the concept of lampooning or correcting the fallacies in other videos, so by no means should you ignore this potential feeding ground.
Participate in Other Blogs
Your blog should have a list of other blogs you visit, and you should be an active commenter on those blogs under your own name. This is free advertising, particularly if you include a link to your blog in your username. This is a common practice, and isn’t spam. However, mentioning your blog and shoehorning it into every little conversation even if the topic under discussion is not on your blog at all IS spam, and will be received poorly.
And other blogs are great places to find ideas, particularly if these blogs are full of great discussion and content. Someone might share a good idea that you can bring over to your blog and write your thoughts about (of course including a link back to the original blog). A writer might say something you particularly agree with or vehemently oppose, but either way, if it gets you thinking, you now have something to blog about.
Resist the Urge to Navel Gaze
Some blogs take a turn for the surreal and super insightful. Sometimes this works, but often it does not. In his posthumously-published autobiography, comedian George Carlin discussed how his career went from performing at high-class clubs with playful character comedy to a bizarre retro-hippy style in which he discussed topics as banal as belly button lint. He described the latter period as one of the worst in his career, where people had essentially designated him as a historical curiosity to be forgotten.
This isn’t to say a blog should ignore topics of interest to the blogger. If you aren’t interested in your work, it will show and the content will suffer. However, it is an admonition to pay attention to your audience. Think about where the idea came from. If the idea is genuinely your own, then do feel free to test it out. However, don’t ignore the reaction; if the interest is not there, chalk it up as an experiment and move on. If the audience does latch on, feel free to run with it.
Ideas that come from outside sources often are more interesting to work with. Your own material is important, but connect it to thoughts and concepts others are sharing. In short, build that bridge between your thoughts and theirs, rather than trying to bury them in your own disconnected speculations.