Blogging

Would you read your own blog?

A fair bit of blogging advice centers on attracting readers and keeping them. There is a lot of good advice out there as well.

However, along with that advice you also need a method to test whether you are on the right track with your blog or not.

A simple way to test whether your blog provides value to the community is to put yourself in the shoes of your readers and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this blog unique? Does this blog provide any information that I cannot find anywhere else?
  2. Is this blog original? Does it offer personal opinion instead of regurgitating or echoing views that other people share?
  3. Is this blog essential? If I unsubscribed to this blog today, what would I lose out on?

If you’re not providing information that is hard to find elsewhere, or providing original analysis, or providing something essential and useful that your target audience cannot do without, you’re wasting your time.

Take 10 posts at random from your blog (the 1st, the 11th, the 21st (and so on)) and read them again. Imagine that it was from another blog – if that was all that this blog offered, would you still be subscribed to it?

The hard reality is that 90% of the time, the answer is no. It’s no because there’s nothing new there. It’s no because there’s nothing useful there.

Would you read your own blog, or would you unsubscribe from it?

Ahmed Bilal is a business consultant – you can reach him through his blog.

Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Would you read your own blog?
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Screen Shot 2014 04 15 at 7.21.12 AM Would you read your own blog?

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39 thoughts on “Would you read your own blog?

  1. Ironically, pretty much the only place I see an overabundance of rehashed regurgitation would be on SEO blogs… it seems most of us have nothing original to say, and some of us even go back and re-start arguments or talk about marketing flaws that are (in Internet time) ancient history… about three or four weeks ago on a blog listed in the “blogs we read and suggest” column on this site, there was a post with a headline about a terrible flaw in Microsoft Ad Center. The article was about the bad user interface and lack of reporting, and referenced quotes and articles to support their argument that Ad Center was flawed. If you bothered to dig through the scant couple of URLs in the blog, they were linked to articles about an old iteration of Ad Center from THREE YEARS AGO. I understand that MS Ad Center was in the midst of a new ad campaign of their own for Feb and Mar so talking about them was timely, but blogging about a user interface that didn’t even exist anymore was just stupid.

    I wonder how many new search engine marketers read that article, saw the rant about how you can’t get metrics from MicroSoft Ad Center and then threw away their Ad Center discount voucher or changed their marketing plan and decided not to use the tool, thinking they were reading a review of the current state of the service.

  2. I’d say that this applies to blogging, web design, making money online, etc.

    In fact, you could even say that this applies to everything that’s talked about online.

    Focusing on SEOs for doing something that everyone else is doing (regurgitation incorrect, outdated information) is a bit unfair :)

  3. MMoore, you bring up an interesting point in the roll of the blogroll. As we, as bloggers, suggest our favorite blogs or niche targeted industry blogs, is doing so recommendng all posts on these blogs? No, not really.

    The ability to bookmark industry blog posts whoch we deem as resourceful would be a nice addition, across the blogosphere. Delicio.us plugins are available for doing so.

    Ahmed brings up a good point that post regurgiation is not limited to only Search Industry blogs (SEJ is not an ‘SEO blog’), similar trends are found in other tech verticals. Search blogs and Techcrunch style blogs are however, much read and easily scrutinized.

  4. I think I see it in on tech blogs, too – the ones that write about posts from biggies like Techcrunch without adding anything. I know, I’m guilty of it too. And it happens on blogs about blogging. But then, the sites that don’t regurgitate, or at least add some new spin, are the ones that rise in readership, no?

  5. i find reading the old posts on my personal blog quite interesting. it shows me how i have changed in the recent years. how different i write today. how much pro-blogging has messed up my personal blogging.

  6. Sushub- I sometimes re-read my own blog posts too, and since some are trips I’ve taken they are good reminders of the fun or not so much fun I had ;)

  7. Most of the “A-list” political bloggers don’t follow those lines, though. In fact, it seems like your advice is turned on its head by the political blogosphere, where the more unique the content is, often the less read it is. Only a few exceptions like Gates of Vienna break the rule there, and those are very exceptional, focused on content that is more of a niche than anything else.

    The truth is, by applying your advice, there is no reason to read my blogs, regardless of their popularity. Popularity in the blogosphere seems to be based primarily on image, not substance.

  8. Mike,

    That’s the point – it’s a waste of time to read so many blogs that don’t provide any value to you.

    Of course, if I had said that, people would have jumped all over me and defended their feed reading habits.

  9. Very good advice! I wonder if the reason people rehash articles is because they are too lazy to post anything original and are feeling pressured to just blog for blogging sake? Keep the content fresh on their site even if it is rehashed from someplace else?

  10. I have read some posts of my blog and are not too bad… :)
    Agree with you, the most of the people (me as well) used to “re-write” other posts, but then the readers have more sources to choose between! No-one reads my blog anyway!

  11. Unique and original are not essential and in fact are quite rare in the world. The majority of the contents of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post are not unique, original nor essential.

    Well presented, well organized, well targeted, thorough, balanced, accurate and credible are attributes that can stand in some combination on their own to make a blog worthwhile to read for me.

    Keep writing bloggers!!!

  12. Heh. In many respects I agree with you. The majority of blogs that are in my RSS reader are those who read my blog, and who I like their style for whatever reason. Things haven’t changed in that if you want a stream of real news, you still have to look at a real news site from time to time.

  13. I complained about SEO blogs a year ago and was met with snarls and fangs.

    I say you should write what occurs to you to write. If you’ve never written about it before, or you are elaborating on something already said, go for it. Keep in mind, though, that the more rudimentary your subject, the more turnover you will experience. If you’re writing is cyclical, I’m going to get bored and leave. You may get new visitors, but you won’t retain old ones.

    I have one personal blog that covers enough random topics that it’s always fresh, but I also only get long tail search visitors.

    I also have a professional blog with how-to’s and advice which will face the danger of repetition. I plan to combat that in much the same way that SEO blogs are beginning to do – broadening the scope of topics covered as the original topics are thoroughly discussed.

  14. Not every blog is there for the sole purpose of providing information. And with the amount of blogs on the internet these days it’s nearly impossible not to echo someone else’s sentiment. i absolutely see where you’re going with this, but as blogging has evolved over the last 5 years or so, it’s hard for some to remember that not all blogs are there for the entertainment and critique of the masses.

    Some people just have a blog and they share their thoughts (original or otherwise, though original is almost always better) and if you want to read them, great, if not there are plenty of others to choose from. :)

  15. Definitely a good question to ask yourself. Since just asking myself that it seems that I need put some more time/thought/effort into mine.

    :)

  16. I think you start out presenting a good point, but go a bit overboard. The question you ask if valid… if you wouldn’t read your own blog, why would you expect anyone else to? But then you go a bit overboard.

    “Is it information that cannot be found elsewhere?” As somebody correctly notes, if that is a valid test, well then other than Associated Press, NY Times, Washington Post, and maybe a small handful of others, should every other print source go out of business? And the answer is of course not. What you aggregate and how you aggregate it, can be every bit as important as whether or not it is PURELY unique and unable to be found elsewhere.

    Using my own blogs as an example, I blog on some items that are political. Can the information be found elsewhere? Of course it can. But the majority of stuff in my blog is from a PARENTS perspective, and the readers I have, are generally reading about parenting issues, and hence while the information I have is not necessarily unique, the perspective is, and since the reader is somebody that reads parenting material, they may not run across the “other” places that my non-unique information has, because it is the type of information I am putting together that makes it relevant to those circumstances.

    Like I said, I think you have a valid point, but your justification was just a bit off the mark.

  17. Have asked myself that question many times. It is unique and original, but is it needed? I mean, how many people want to read the trials and tribulations of a homeless granny?

    I think most people would say “yes” I would read my own blog.

  18. Most blogs seem to be spam now. I’d certainly pick my blog over that. I have a hell of a time finding anything I’m interested in (decent personal blogs) among all the spam blogs.

  19. Well, I have 3 blogs. One that’s personal, and really just for my family on the other side of the pond to keep up with what’s going on. One that’s an internal resource for my company, and my SEM blog.

    Is it worthwhile? Well, I think I’ve written some good posts, and some not so good. I try not to rehash the same news that everyone else blogs on, and I try to put my voice into it.

    Has it worked? Well, each month the traffic has steadily climbed, not meteorically, but steadily. And, I do have to say that it’s a good feeling to see people that you don’t know put your blog in their blogroll, and even better, I’ve had one guy set my blog as his home page, so I must be doing something right.

  20. Realy cool Article. As I see it, most of the bloggers out there are just copying everything from each other.

    “over at site A they worte this.. Bla bla, and I totally agree…” and so on and so forth. Today I wrote an article in Norwegian about how the bloggers are fading away, and with your post it’s a perfect match.

  21. If I can’t find whatever opinion I’m…opining about through google or a google news or blog search, I figure it’s worth including in my blog. If I am interested in seeing someone else’s opinion on a recent subject but nobody’s taken the time to talk about it, that’s something I will cover myself in my blog.

  22. Yes, I do read my own posts. I didn’t write on a spur of emotion. I wrote when the thinking is ripe. And I edit my past posts all the time.

    My own blog is unique and I’m proud of it.

  23. I read my own post, as I am writing them. Usually I know what I write about even after I post it, so then all I do is read comment back if there are any. “Thats just me though, nothing wrong with re-reading your own works time to time.

  24. Ahmed, the 3 points you mentioned represent an excellent test for any blog. It is quite a tough test also, I am not even sure if my blog would pass it :).

    Thanks for the mention by the way.

    Search Engine Journal is lacking an “Authors” page. I would like to be able to read more about the authors and where I can find more material from them.

  25. I took your advice and re-read some of my own random posts. I found most of it a little boring, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it was the 5th or 6th time the content of the post had gone through my head.

    For each of my posts, I had to think it, then write it, then change it (a few times), then proofread it before I posted it in the first place. Okay, maybe I didn’t actually proofread. By the time it is posted, it should be boring to me.

    I don’t think coming up with an original thought should be the focus. The focus should be on delivering that thought, original or not, in your writing style.

    I’m fairly new to blogging, and can already tell that my style has changed from post #1 to the latest post. Interestingly enough, I sound more and more like ‘me’ with each one. This probably explains why my readership is decreasing. :)

  26. I would read my own blog because I write what interests me. This seems like a no brainer to me; if I wouldn’t read it, why would I write it?
    I blog for the same reasons millions of others do. I like to write. If someone finds what I have to say interesting, that’s great. If not, they have the obvious option of moving on.

    Hal

  27. Run blog and organic searches on a topic you’re writing about before you hit publish. Chances are someone already said something you wanted to say more eloquently or said something you never thought of.

    Dig deeper than deep, don’t jump to conclusions, be biased but promote biases that stand on more than one leg, write timeless posts, consider all sides to an issue not just your own, and you’ll be adding value to your blog.