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October 18, 2007

Stop Sucking and Become a Top Blogger Today

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Everyone’s talking about this blogging thing. The latest State of the Live Web told us that there are more than 70 million or so blogs currently in existence. That’s a lot. But a lot of them aren’t very good. What do you need to know in order to be one of the top bloggers and avoid being the kind of blogger who sucks? Let’s dissect a top blog and find out.

Contemplating which blog I would dissect, I immediately decided upon Dooce, the personal blog of Heather B. Armstrong. Why? Well for a couple of reasons. It is my most favorite blog on the Web, it’s well positioned up there in Technorati’s Top 100 so some of you guys probably like it too, and lastly it allows me to avoid inflating any of the egos in our industry. :)

So based on my scientific analysis, what are the three qualities all top bloggers seem to possess?

  • Attractiveness
  • Uniqueness
  • Sex Appeal

Attractiveness: Face it, we’re shallow creatures. Unless we already have some sort of emotional connection, we’re not going to buy a CD with an ugly cover, we’re not going to talk to an ugly person (whatever, you know I’m right), nor are we going to interact with someone who doesn’t "feel" like us. I’m also not going to invest my energy reading a blog that looks like an online word document.

The top bloggers out there know this, that’s why they’re all rocking blog designs that resemble who they are and who their audience is. It helps your readers immediately feel at home when they land on your blog. According to the great Lorelle VanFossen, it’s also in your best interest to make sure your blog doesn’t actually look like a blog as this tends to turn people off. Your blog should look like you so that readers know what they’re getting from the very first point of contact. My personal blog looks like "the crazy", because that’s what people are getting when they visit – all of my crazy.

This is what Dooce looks like.


Or at least that’s what it looks like this month. Each month Heather changes the header and color scheme to help readers start a new month with a clean slate. Some would probably argue that this takes away from "branding" or that it may "confuse" readers, but those people don’t get Heather or her readers. Heather writes to a pretty savvy crowd and she knows they can take it. Though, I’m pretty sure if Heather thought her audience couldn’t handle it, she wouldn’t care. Heather is kind of kickass that way. It’s one of the many reasons why I like her.

Uniqueness: Top bloggers offer something unique to their readers. They’re not out there trying to game TechMeme; instead, they’re trying to share something important with you. Maybe they’re writing about the hottest tech gadget, maybe they’re finding you the best homes in your area, or maybe they’re just trying to invite you into their lives. Either way, they’re giving you something that you can’t get anywhere else. And that makes them valuable.

On the outside, the content of Dooce isn’t all that earth shattering or exciting. Most of Heather’s entries are dedicated to the dog (Chuck), the kid (Leta) and the husband (Jon). However, every day, even if there isn’t an actual post, Heather offers her readers something fresh and new. Each day we get a new photo of Chuck, a second original photograph and a daily collection of cool links to check out. Best of all, each month on the anniversary of Leta’s birth, she writes her daughter a heartfelt letter recounting the past 30 days of Leta’s life. These letters typically evoke tears and make you want to run home to call your mother to tell her how much you love her. Heather always leaves readers with something to encourage them to keep coming back to the site.


Sex Appeal: You don’t have to be a full on sex goddess to be sexy, you just have to show a little leg and a whole lot of personality. You have to be brave enough to show people who you really are.

We hear all the time that "content is king" and that you have to give readers "compelling and unique" content in order to draw them into your site and get them to engage. This is all very, very true. In order to be a good blogger you must offer something unique and exciting to your audience. What they never tell you, however, is the "ideas" and "insights" and "opinions" will never make you a great or top blogger. In order to reach that status, you need to be able to tell a story in a way that will touch your readers on an emotional level. You need to have sexy storytelling skills.


Heather is an amazing storyteller. Regardless of what the day’s blog entry is about, Heather has the ability to capture your attention and take you somewhere else. She can complain about her dog and make you laugh or she can write about her recent miscarriage and bring you tears. That’s what makes her great. Whether you’re trying to produce a laugh, tears or just generate excitement, you have to use language to form a connection.

There you have it. The top three qualities I think all top bloggers possess. Now stop sucking.

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3 responses to “Stop Sucking and Become a Top Blogger Today”

  1. cleantypeface writes:

    This seems like kind of a rehash of the standard top ten things to do to drive blog traffic-
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2006/06/how_to_get_traf.html

    Lets assume you have a nice looking site, good content, and update frequently. Now what?

  2. Ravi Vora writes:

    Basically, sex sells. Advertising and blogging are one.

  3. Michael writes:

    Excellent post, Lisa.

    Another quality that I believe should be considered is the blogger’s motivation for blogging. The vast majority of the now 108 million blogs Technorati tracks exist purely to generate revenue; ‘monetize eyeballs’. And it’s so obvious to see after a cursory glance at almost any blog.

    My motivation is for a son I don’t yet have. I want to leave a record of my journey for when he’s old enough to read it. Let me say this: writing for a family member (as Heather does) certainly focuses one on what’s important and worthwhile writing about.



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