I’ve never thought about what draws me into reading a post until recently. I read between ten and forty WordPress posts a day between all of the different authors I follow but I will admit that some are more cursory readings than others. Over the past week I’ve made a list of the posts that arrested my full attention and made me want to contribute to the discussion. I’ve collected some of the types of posts I’ve read recently and casually run through them below. If you find that you’re an author who frequently writes the kind of posts that I don’t particularly like, no offense! I’m just one reader and generally those sort of posts don’t even apply to me.
It’s not a secret that narrative is enticing. We’ve all surely read that opening your post with an anecdote or peppering personal happenstance throughout your page is the easiest way to make something more interesting. Posts which began to tell a story that alluded to a question that I wanted to know the answer to overwhelmingly drew me in. I’m not talking about obvious questions like “how to change a tire” but vague, unwritten questions like “I wonder how this author’s husband is doing now after this situation?”
Lists are tricky. In order for me to care about a list, I found that I had to already trust the author. People I’ve followed recently who I don’t have much of a history with, I might casually glance at their lists but don’t really care about their opinion yet. Lists are often very personal as they represent the author’s opinion. If I’m not familiar with the author’s personality and background, I’m not going to trust their opinion.
That said, I like lists from familiar authors. They’re concise, easy to peruse because if you don’t care about one of the items in the list you can just move to the next one, and they usually fall into a central theme so I know going into it how much I want to invest into reading it. My advice based on my notes would be that if you like writing lists, don’t only write lists. Give your audience some meat occasionally so that they can get to know you.
Blogs on Blogging
To be blunt, I don’t care about these posts in the slightest. Some of my followers (and some of the people I follow) primarily write in this area so once again please don’t take offense, I’m not trying to say your blog is worthless! In my experience, these posts are a penny a dozen and the vast majority of them are completely unoriginal and recycle content that has already been written a thousand times by other authors. It makes sense, too… how much advice can one truly give on writing a blog? There are some tried and true methods to success and while there’s some leeway in their implementation, for the most part the formula never changes.
However, if you have a unique voice and work in some of the first method (telling a story) you can still have an interesting blog. Look I get that some of us are here to make money or demonstrate our skills so that we can land a job in writing some day but the obviously SEO oriented post titles and formatting kill me. You might steer some Google traffic your way but human beings don’t enjoy reading something that was written for an algorithm. Be original, please.
When written well, I love inspirational stories. Some of them have genuinely changed the course of my day and week in the past. There’s a lot of negativity and toxicity on our dear Information Superhighway (this blog is the source of some of it, I will admit) and it’s always great to see someone doing the opposite. I have noticed that some of these blogs don’t get the attention of other blogs because people like reading about drama and crisis more than something nice, but I see you.
Even if I am a notorious shitposting troll.
For the most part, religious posts could fall under a couple of the above categories but there is one type that stands out above the others for me. When someone launches into an almost word-for-word copy of Bible passages and, let’s not mince words, schizophrenic interpretations of their meaning, I navigate away immediately. Religion doesn’t offend me and I’m not a torch bearing atheist who thinks that we should take Nietzsche’s advice regarding God. We have to all admit, though, that the supernatural nature of religion does draw an inordinate amount of paranoid schizophrenics. Combined with the reinforcing nature of the WordPress platform… there’s a pretty crazy corner of the web on here. You’re not doing them any favors by giving them praise in their comment sections or even by questioning them.
If your entire blog consists of posts that are simply one photograph without a caption or background story… you might do better on Instagram.