It feels so unoriginal starting a blog in 2011. Ten years ago maybe. Or even five. But now? It’s like moving to Tokyo and expecting to be noticed. And it’s made me think a lot about what draws me to blogs and bloggers. What keeps me coming back more than that one time. I mean, of course it’s the subject matter. You’ve got to have a focus and purpose and all that. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? So I've made a list of the top five things my bookmarked blogs have in common. Let me know if I’ve missed something.
1. Tips and advice I can use, like, right now. That means practical, solid and easily implementable. If you haven’t tried it, or talked to people who have, you probably shouldn't be telling me to do it.
2. Brevity. In journalism, one of the most common writing problems is the tendency to take four paragraphs to say what can be said in half a sentence. We writers really do love to hear ourselves write. Unfortunately, we readers are an impatient lot. Write short.
3. Funny Shit. It doesn’t matter what sort of blog you’re writing, I’m just more likely to return if you’ve got a sense of humor and know how to use it. But please don’t force it, either. Nothing makes me want to stab myself in the eye more than watching someone try too hard to make me LOL.
4. Regularity. Dude, I’m not a mind-reader. I can’t magically tell that you’ve updated your blog. If you stop writing for a few weeks, I might assume you’re dead. (And if you've failed at No. 3, I might not care.)
5. A limited amount of what I like to call The Me-Me-Me-MeMeMeMeMeMeMe! Phenomenon. Just because you figured out how to blog doesn’t mean you’re all that fascinating. On the other hand, if you’re too impersonal, I won’t care about you. And I get it: Sometimes it’s hard to see the line between the right amount of Me-Me-Me-MeMeMeMeMeMeMe and too much. I definitely don't expect perfection on this one. But do aim in the right direction, yeah? If you use the bathroom before me and piss everywhere but inside the toilet, I’m going to know you're not trying and make a quick exit. But if you’re the 8-year-old boy at the birthday party who does his best to hit the mark – then OK. I’ll wipe down the lid and go about my business. Heck, I might even spare you the stink eye when I see you in the bounce house later.
[Only time will tell whether I'm able to take my own advice. But I do hope you'll hold me to it — or at least try. It's the only way I stand a chance of making friends here in Tokyo.]