Mar 23, 2009

So I've been reading a lot of blogs lately...

I've been working hard on making this blog a little more professional, a little more serious than my other blogging ventures, and so to make my blog better, I've been reading a lot of blogs, trying to figure out what makes a blog successful and how I can make my blog successful, too. Mostly I've been reading a lot of blogs by other 20-somethings, but I've also been reading a lot of blogs by people targeting 20-somethings, and boy are there ever a lot of them. From all the blogs out there directed at our generation telling us how to get a job, how to get out of debt, how to be in the perfect relationship, how to live the perfect life, you'd think we were The Completely Effing Clueless Generation.

The thing that I've noticed is that while a lot of these blogs are super popular, most of them are incredibly boring. To tell the truth? I can't figure out why anyone is reading them at all. Maybe half the problem of why I can't get a blog off the ground is because I just don't find what 99% of the population finds to be interesting/relevant either interesting or particularly relevant, but. The thing is reading these, I not only find the same content and advice reworked and rehashed and redone repeatedly, but also I find the same overused formats and formulas for every single blog. It gets old and fast.

These are the things I'm tired of seeing:
  • Numbered lists. Five ways to land your next job. Seven ways to impress your boss. Ten ways to a happier you. The numbers are supposed to make it seem "easy." Just follow these simple steps and your problems will be solved. I'll just ignore the fact that while the numbers occasionally change, the advice doesn't from blog to blog (or even within the same blog as the case often is.

  • I know THE SECRET. The secret to personal branding. The secret to wowing clients. The secret to finding the perfect career. The secret to finding your One. True. Love. And all you have to do is read my blog to find out what "the secret" is. Again, it's all a ploy to make you think something is simple when more often than not, it isn't. The secret they give you is probably something you've already heard, it's probably not as simple as it sounds, and it's probably not as effective as the author makes it seem.

  • Questions. That is to say, every post opening with an open-ended, "please read and comment on this" question. Do we rely too much on the internet? Is twitter really the best way to advertise yourself? Is our generation really that self-absorbed? I know why they're asking. I ask, too. But for the most part, you are running a blog. Very few blogs really allow much back-and-forth dialogue. This is an "I talk, you comment," medium. And really, if it's a good question, by all means, ask it, but for the most part, the questions just aren't that interesting. It's just trying very hard to inspire reader feedback, because that's what all the blogs about running a good blog tell you to do. I'm as guilty of this as anyone, doesn't make for good blogging.

  • Buzz words. Oh my god, could it be any more obvious you're trolling for search engine hits? I know it's effective, but lord, does it make a blog unreadable fast.

  • "Experts." In general, the thing that bothers me most is all the people who claim to be experts on any number of topics. Everyone is an expert on something, everyone has some advice to dole out, and more importantly, everyone knows exactly how you can solve all your problems. When I see unemployed people giving advice on how to land a great job, I can't help but think, "Are you really the expert I'm looking for?" And while the unemployed "become employed" blogger is only one example I can think of immediately, generally speaking, I feel this way about a lot of the "expert" blogs I read: you're not actually an expert. Most of the advice, how to's and proclamations of "I know how to solve your problems" are in fact the stuff that most of us learned how to write when we were undergrads and had to do papers on topics we cared nothing about: bullshit.

  • The same old thing. When I could find the exact same advice on 100 other blogs or when I've read the exact same information on your blog three or four times in a matter of pages, I cease to be impressed. Especially when people who advise you to "think outside the box" are themselves experiencing a shortage of fresh ideas. I just have to wonder, why do you keep a blog at all if you have nothing new to say?

So knowing that these are the things that I hate about other blogs and that turn me off from reading, where should I go from here? The first thing I'm going to do is tell everyone, from the start, that I'm not an expert on anything. I can't tell you how to solve all your problems. I can't tell you how to make your life better. And really, you have no reason to believe I'm an expert on anything. I'm just another kid who works in a cube, struggles to make relationships work, and fights tooth and nail to stay on top of my bills and debt. I can tell you what I do in my life, but I don't know how to make your life perfect. And in fact, that's not why I'm writing. I'm not here to tell you what you should do.

The second thing is, I'm going to focus on what I find interesting: the problems that come with being 20. Whether it's obnoxious Boomers who write newspaper articles about how much they hate Millennials or talking about how people our age suffer from the highest rates of unemployment, lack of insurance, and debt...I want to focus on the areas that need most attention. And then I want to talk about how I've experienced them or how I struggle to keep from experiencing them.

The third thing is, I want to be myself. I'm going to stop reading all of the "how to be a great blogger" blogs and the "how to market yourself" blogs and the "how to be perfect" blogs. I don't like reading that crap. It doesn't make me feel better about myself or about my blog. And most importantly, it doesn't make me a better blogger. I'll write about what I like, how I like, and I can only hope that people find that interesting. Because if people don't find my personal perspective interesting, they're definitely not going to find my rehash of 20 other people's blogs interesting, either.


  1. I'm still extremely skeptical of all those things and more. When I started my blog, I did the same thing you're doing to figure out what makes a successful blog, but then I remembered why I started a blog: mostly for myself. I do things more traditionally at TalentEgg because we have to make money and attract visitors somehow, but my blog is my space to do whatever with.

  2. I would argue though that while the TalentEgg definitely does a lot of these things, it actually has good content. For the most part, these techniques are masks for bad or boring content.