f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: Discussion Post - #3: Blog Content
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Discussion Post - #3: Blog Content

Blog Content I (and We) Like (and Dislike)

{ | } This week I thought I'd do something a bit different with my discussion post.  I think what I'm going to do is alternate between literary discussion posts and blog-themed discussion posts.  This is in conjunction with my next "If I Could Write a Letter To Me" which is going to deal with followers; this post, however, is all about what draws - and repels me - to my favorite blogs.  

As always we ALL get to have our say.  I'll point out a few things, then let's discuss in the comments!  These posts are ALL about us talking and getting inside each other's heads (in an academic, non-creepy way, yo').  I respond to ALL comments, so be sure to check back here so we can keep the discussion going!

What Draws Me To a Blog
  • Consistent posting.  If someone starts out great, then slacks off on their posting for a week, that's understandable - life does get in the way!  But if they completely stop updating their blog with no reason as to why, I will eventually lose interest. So, bloggers, post, post post!  It doesn't have to be a new post every day, but often enough that other bloggers know you're serious about your blog!
  • Well-written, professional reviews.  And yes, I believe that you can be entirely jazzed and fangirl-ish about what you've read without being immature.  I think you can squee while being professional.  And when it comes time to write that negative review, I believe you can be professional and intelligent about why you didn't like the book without tearing it apart.  
  • Be respectful and BE YOU.  The blogs I love the most are the ones who aren't afraid to be a little geeky or giddy, and who, at the end of the day, have good, original ideas for features, discussions, etc.  
  • Similar reading tastes.  We don't have to LIKE everything the other likes, but if I'm going to keep visiting a blog, it's nice if the blogger and I read a few of the same authors or genres, so that at some point, we'll be on the same wavelength.  But with that said, I actually love seeing a blogger's take on books I have read, or am reading or am looking forward to reading.  It's fascinating, seeing different opinions on the same book!
  • A nice, concise, spiffy layout.  If I want to get to your "About Me" page, and it's easy to find - thumbs up.  Same with links to your Goodreads - maybe I want to stalk you there, eh?  Make your links and your pages easy-peasy to find and I will love you forever.
  • Friendly bloggers.  I am NOT the world's best at commenting on all the blogs I follow, and I don't follow as many blogs as I wish I could.  That said, the bloggers who notice me commenting and return it with a visit to my blog, even if it's just every once in awhile - totally make my day!  And if they go out of their way to follow me on Twitter, email me, or whatnot, they become one of my blogging BFF's - yes, I'm looking at you Rhi, Mimi, Michelle, Anna, Michelle, Suz, Megan, and Marie!

What Turns Me Away From a Blog
  • Sloppy posts.  One of my pet peeves is seeing a review posted where the blogger doesn't split it into paragraphs.  It boggles my mind to try to read that.  It just looks like one long, run-on blob to me.  Also, colored font.  It's cool to highlight, bold, etc a word or words sporadically, but when the whole review is written in  neon green?  No thank you!
  • Widgets that play music and/or weird background noises, aka a guaranteed way to get me to immediately click AWAY from your blog.  
  • Spell and grammar check your posts before you hit "publish."  Take time to make notes before you write your review, or write it then read it over to make sure you've said everything you wanted to say.  
  • CAPTCHA.  TURN.  IT.  OFF.  Seriously, Blogger is pretty great at catching what it thinks is spam, and there is really no need for CAPTCHA.  Go into your settings and look, because it MAY be enabled on your blog without you even knowing it, but please, please, get rid of it.  If you have it on your blog and I'm still visiting, it's because I REALLY like you.
  • Blogs that take FOREVER to load.  If your blog takes 5 minutes to load, that's time I could be spending commenting on someone else's review.  Maybe you have a half dozen widgets, or just way too much going on in your sidebar.  Re-evaluate your sidebar every once in awhile - do you really need ALL those things? 
  • Memes.  They're a bit of a double-edged sword (WoW is a GREAT way for me to discover new books I want to read) and a wonderful tool for new bloggers, but if you always post mainly memes with very few reviews, discussion posts, etc...then I'm probably not going to come back to your blog.  

{  | } And now...YOUR turn.  What draws you back to a blog?  What makes you decide NOT to revisit one?  


Ems said...

CAPTCHA is a definite turnoff. I wish Blogger didn't make it the default, because I'm sure most people haven't a clue that it's there until they're told.

Also, music. HATE. I'm not visiting a blog for someone's playlist. I'm visiting for their content.

What I love: thought-provoking discussions (I need to do more discussion posts-I used to, but they never got much traffic, so I quit.), well-thought out reviews, and consistency. I also lose interest if there's nothing new going on and no explanation as to why.

I also like it when some of the stuff that you'd normally find in a sidebar is moved onto a page of its own, or done away with. Easy to find, easy to keep track of, and not cluttering.

I also love it when bloggers respond to comments, something that I'm trying way harder to do better at. It makes me feel like my thought was important enough to read and not get lost in the crossfire somewhere. I also love it when old friends and new visit me and comment.

Awesome post!

Cassandra Martino said...

I love this post!! I started following blogs quite a while ago and just recently started a blog and this is exactly what I needed to read. I've been struggling trying to figure out what readers want to see! I know what I like (reviews, upcoming books, author interviews, discussion posts) but I don't know what others want to see! Being new at book blogging, I'm going to be a little slow to get content but my goal is to do at least 2 reviews a week, a couple of memes (I've had some decent interaction so far), some giveaways, and I just want a fun environment!

As far as layouts go, I hate that I have a default one. As soon as I have the cash, I am going to get someone to do a custom design for me.. I feel like my blog is "blah" with the plain one I have.

Great post!!!!! :D

Cassandra Martino said...

I totally agree with bloggers responding to comments. I'm lucky enough that I don't have a TON of followers so it's easy right now. I figure if I get in the habit of responding, I can continue it if/when my blog becomes more popular.

And I haven't come across blogs with music yet, that would annoy me.

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

I agree with you on everything you said. At one point CAPTCHA was enabled on my blog and I freaked out when I realized it. I think you're right - I think a lot of bloggers just don't know it's there but it still annoys the heck out of me!

I'm so happy I started doing discussion posts. I did a follower survey awhile back and a lot of people said that they thought discussion posts were an awesome way of interacting with my followers, so, voila! Plus I love the challenge of thinking up what we should talk about!

And yes, with the sidebar thing. I'm thinking of going through and trying to simplify mine. Eventually I want a new, two column layout so I may end up pulling a few things off the sidebar and onto a page like the one you mentioned!

Great points, Ems!

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

That's a great plan, Cassandra! (BTW I am glad I could give you a bit of insight!) I would say start out by getting comfortable with what YOU want to post, then just be consistent. If you have a week where you don't post a review, make sure you do one or two the very next week/etc. And memes are a really fun way for new bloggers to meet other bloggers and sometimes, even gain followers.

I feel you on the layout issue. I want more than anything to have a total revamp...a bit more snappy layout, still with some girly touches. I'm saving up for that. :D

With you being a new blogger, if you'd like, I'd love to feature you in my series, Once Upon a Blogger if you're at all interested. It's a monthly feature where I spotlight and interview a fellow book blogger. :)

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

*nods* I've ALWAYS tried to respond to comments, even when people don't come back here to see that I have. And now Blogger has made it easier by doing the threaded comments so hopefully that will help out both of us.

The music/sounds thing kills me. It absolutely makes it impossible for me to concentrate on the blog post I'm trying to read.

Megan @ Between the Lines said...

Aw! Thank you for mentioning me! You're one of my blogging BFFs too! And fellow Vampire Diaries lover. :D

I agree with a lot of your points. My main pet peeve is font style. I don't understand why some people want to have cursive or very had to read font. I also love twitter for connecting with other bloggers! It's tough starting out as a book blogger since it seems like there are hundreds of active blogs, so it's nice that you, and others, are friendly to newbies like myself.

Memes are tough. For me, I'm a slow reader, sometimes only posting one review a week. However, over the past few weeks I've noticed a few of the memes I do rarely get any comments/views at all so I think I will do away with them. I want to post daily, but I need to remember it should be quality over quantity. =)

Cassandra Martino said...

I do a lot of post scheduling for certain things and I'm trying to fit in some reading time while working full time (although I blog at work..haha) I doubt I will have a long period of time that I don't post.

Your layout is great, it's simple yet professional and cute! I love it.

I would absolutely LOVE to take part in that. I was just on your features page reading about it.. just let me know when!! :D

Cassandra Martino said...

I love how blogger emails me about comments on MY blog but they don't send them when I get a "reply" on someone else's. I have to look in my settings and see if that can change. If not, I am going to contact them about it. I follow a LOT of blogs so it's hard to keep up. While at work (like now) I just keep the page open and refresh.

Beth Fred said...

We have a lot of the same pet peeves. I get tired of memes, especially the ones were there is no real post. And I used to delete blogs that weren't updating, but after being sick for 7 months, I'm now more patient with that.
However, I'm totally okay with all the cuff reviews that may be more of an emotional response than well thought out. And I have to admit my posts aren't as edited as they should be. I typically just post and go. Blogging takes a lot of time. I'm more concerned about content than where a comma goes (even when I'm visiting someone else's blog).

P E said...

LOL, this post made me follow your blog. I just look around to see how often they post, if the posts are actual reviews or bookish ramblings about my taste in books, not just Follow Fridays, and if they look semi-professional. I suck at the commenting thing too, but every once in a while I decide to venture out of my bubble and into the book blogging universe.

I like seeing decent grammar (you don't have to be perfect... I'm certainly not!) and like you said, proper paragraphs for reviews.

I hate when you go to a blog, and like you said, music starts popping up. My computer screen is broken and I'm connecting to the very loud tv to read posts, so I end up scaring myself everytime I visit one of those blogs.

Strangely, CAPTCHA doesn't bother met too much. I'm pretty sure I don't have it, since I find it way simpler just to delete spam, but I have a kind of rule. If it takes me more than 10 seconds to post my comment (you know how hard to read those things are), I'm gone.

Great post btw. :)

Rebecca (Kindle Fever) said...

Your spot on on my likes and dislikes for blogs as well! Especially the dislikes. I really don't get those messed up posts, if it's not because of a platform move or something that caused it. It doesn't have to be perfectly formated, but adding spaces feels kinda natural for me!

And I know I sometimes fail on the grammar part myself, but I do spell and grammar check at least three times before posting. Some things just slip through! Then again, English is my second language, so I do forgive myself for some things. It does surprise me a lot though when I see plenty of mistakes in native speakers posts.

And I lovelovelove when you can really feel a bloggers personality from reading their blog and that kinda adds in the layout too! I don't like it to be too much, but nice to look at and making it easy to read. And it's super fun finding those who have the same type of taste in reading! Definitely not all of it, but some. :D

Finally; loading time, music and captcha... *shudders* I won't wait all day for your blog to load either, especially if I'm jumping around many. And music is awful! It may be good, but when it just attacks you, it's no fun! And then you have to find the widget; perhaps even the blog if you have many tabs up... it's a nightmare. Just as captcha, which makes commenting take twice as long. And that's if it decides to be nice and NOT go all buggy. o.o

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

A lot of blogs have an option to "subscribe to comments" or "notify me of follow up comments." The latter SHOULD send an email your way when someone replies to your comment on their blog! : )

Rebecca (Kindle Fever) said...

I know that I'm one of those who barley post a review below 3, since I just can't finish them and it does make it harder to get those "negative reviews" out there. While my 3's aren't bad, they're definitely not awesome either. This year has been extra special with me finding awesomeness too... I do feel bad about it, but at the same time, I can't lie about liking books, so it's hard! Although this is explained in my rating page and I do have reviews spread out overall through the ratings...

Interesting enough though, I've noticed I start distrusting reviews from those who never posts extremely positive reviews either. If I never see you posting anything you love or above a 3, I start to wonder if you even like anything... So I think it can be hard to find a good balance sometimes. But you can't be more than honest.

Caitlin Lomas said...

OMG perfect post. Pretty much summed up my thoughts exactly =] Totally agree about CAPTCHA BANE.OF.MY.EXISTENCE. urgh. and music, please. hate it. I agree about Memes too. I think, if you're posting everyday, 3 memes are acceptable. But when it's a week of memes I get totally turned off.

I also agree about reviews...I hate it when a review is sloppily written, clearly hasnt been proofread and basically says nothing more than "I liked this". I do find that irritating.

I do like having similar reading tastes to the bloggers I follow...at least the same genres. wont follow people who review only adult books for example, because I don't read that many. But I do enjoy reading reviews of books I wouldn't consider reading, because doing so has definitely broadened my tastes

Great post Molli, you picked out great things.

Caitlin Lomas said...

COMPLETELY agree with you on the second to last post. Not every book can be a 5* book, it's sad but true. I don't trust bloggers who rarely post below a 4, let alone a 5.

Asher_Knight said...

OH, YOU NAILED THIS. Really. I think you touched off on everything I would've said had I thought up this discussion post (we're just stealing each other's thoughts these days *LOL*), but my biggest pet peeves are the reviews that could really use the help of a red pen/marker. I don't like to reviews that have tons of spelling/grammar issues. I love eloquent, genuine reviews that deliver me the blogger's feelings in a beautiful package.


Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

Thanks, Asher! I was kind of at a loss as to what this post should be about until I came up with this idea. It's something that's been nagging at me, especially with my blog anniversary coming up - I've been trying to think more of what I like to see at blogs, and to work on narrowing my focus down to what I know my followers will respond to well.

And yeah, reviewers don't have to be an English major, but put your thoughts together in a somewhat polished manner. I can always tell when a blogger has spent a bit of time on a review, or when they've just thrown it together. I'm with you - I love the well-said reviews that are professional, yet excited over the book!

(LOL we're totally sharing a headspace.)

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

Thanks, Cait! We seem to have a lot of similar thoughts, huh? I DESPISE CAPTCHA (I guess this post made that clear.) I think it's going to be in my next "If I Could Write a Letter To Me", how to go in and make sure it's turned off, along with a few other "housecleaning" type tips and tricks for beginners.

I'm the same! If a reviewer is constantly negative or always writes only gushing reviews, I'm going to give them the side-eye and re-evaluate how serious they are about reviewing - because let's be honest, you don't love EVERY book you read, and you also can't go through every book hating it. That's just not plausible.

And yes! I've read several books I wouldn't normally have were it not for other bloggers recommending them - including various genres. I've found a few new PNR authors, and several new and amazing YA authors of sub-genres I hadn't previously thought about much!

Jade said...

I think you pretty much nailed it. Lately I've been more and more disenchanted with the captcha. So many times fooling with it totally deleted my comment and most times I don't have the energy or fortitude to retype and try it again. TURN OFF THR CAPTCHA for the love of GOD! It should not be that hard to comment on a post.

I also love consistent bloggers and well written reviews. As I said your whole post is on point and there isn't one point I disagree with.

Sarah said...

Awesome, awesome post Molly. I agree with you on everything. Seriously, spot on.

Definitely got to be consistent with blogging and also I admire the people who come up with different kinds of feature posts. I'm always trying to think of those, but I can never do anything really that cool. lol

But Captcha. Don't get me started. I freaking hate that. I get it. I do. It takes time to go through comments. But like you said, Blogger and Wordpress (Akismet) are fairly good at doing the dirty work. So why force your readers to do more work to comment? It's stupid.

I also 100% agree with professional reviews. You can be professional-sounding AND excited, without sounding 6.

The thing I envy is the people who manage to create short, concise reviews that are informative and get the point across in a shorter amount of words. I can't do that. I tend to have WAY too high a word count even for me. But I try to cut it down, it's just so hard! lol

As far as the memes. I agree that your blog shouldn't be overrun by them. But yes, they are also good for meeting new people. I think a good alternative is to maybe follow the memes and comment on people who participate, but not necessarily post as well. This way you're getting out there and meeting new kids on the block, but also not overflowing your blog with memes. I want to do this, just haven't had the time! :-P

♥ Sarah @ I'm Loving Books

jessasank said...

I agree! You hit a lot of good points. I have to say I have trouble keeping up with every blog I have and trying to comment as much as possible. But, I love it when I get to know people and get a friendship started. :) Captcha has been irritating me too! Ugh. And the memes, just too many memes.

Kate said...

Background music - AHHHHH! Excellent point, I immediately leave sites that do this. And I am completely with you on grammatical errors. The occasional mistake is understandable, but it doesn't take THAT much effort to get it right. I also agree with the things you like about blogs – easy-to-read, interesting content is the way to go!

Basically, great post! I think you hit the bulls-eye here.

P.S. You're so right about not knowing captcha is on, too. I thought I didn't have it because I never had to enter any words, but then I realized it was on! Happily, that's fixed now. :)

Alison said...

I agree with every one of your points. Thanks for this excellent point. I think simplicity is crucial. My idea of simple is not necessarily short posts (mind certainly aren't), but not being contrived. It's more simple to just "be you," as well as having few graphics and little loading time.

Bookbrunette said...

OMG! I HATE music on blogs.... I HATE it! Seriously, if I want to listen to something- then I've got my own thing going on!

CAPTCHA is going to kill me. I NEVER get it right the first FOUR times I try!

Marie Landry said...

I'm such a nerd, I always get excited about your shout-outs lol.

I HATE background music and talking/musical ads! The other day I had my speakers turned up loud and was rocking out to music, and I visited a blog that had one of those ads for Hunger Games where the sound blasts out...I nearly rocketed out of my damn chair. I clicked out right away and didn't even bother reading the blog because I didn't want to turn of MY music!

I hate white font on a black background. My eyes go all screwy really quickly and I start seeing spots. HATE it. I find that worse than coloured font, but I do hate coloured font especially when it's too pale or too bright and you can't even read it. What's the point? Also, font that's too fancy and hard to read. Pick a normal font! I realize people want their blogs to look pretty, but if I can't even read your posts, I'm not gonna stick around.

I also hate super busy blogs. Headers that are too bright or have too much crammed in, sidebars that are messy with way too much stuff, pictures and banners that are drastically different in size, too much animation, etc. Right now I feel like I'm bordering on having too much in my sidebars, but I'm struggling with what to trim down.

Things I love are basically what you mentioned - thoughtful, well-written posts and reviews, not too many memes, easy to navigate and find things, and I also appreciate blogs that make it easy to follow. If I REALLY like a blogger, I want to follow them everywhere (for instance, I follow you on Twitter, I'm a fan of your FB fan page, have you on GoodReads, have your email address, have you on G+, and subscribe to your RSS emails...it's rare I stalk people to that degree lol).

Jeeze, I may as well have written my own blog post since I practically just wrote one in your comments! lol

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