Collier calls for an amped-up style of blog writing, one that is full of lists and awesome photographs and cheerleading enthusiasm. That’s a good style to recognize, and you’ll see it in some of the most popular parts of the web – the Buzzfeed or Upworthy style, with headlines like “New Dads Learned One Weird Tip To Make Their Blogs POP!” These are interesting and amazing the way a slow-motion televised car chase is amazing. They are not, however, how I write my weblog – and not a style for you, unless you are in a weird job where counting pageviews drives your wages.
The net has enough of the hyperkinetic blog fodder to go around. What it doesn’t have, and needs, is bloggers who take an old-school approach to blog writing and who are careful and respectful of their audiences.
Blogging is about writing to pick up an audience, one that would read everything you had to say and comment on it. That means not only writing about what people might click on because their eye got caught by a headline, but also writing the day-in, day-out thematic and topical materials that someone who cares more than a little bit will follow along for detail.
Blogging is figuring out what sorts of regular obscure parts of the world that you cover and being a go-to resource for that issue when it comes up in the world. To illustrate, I bring you Dave Petley’s Landslide Blog. You won’t find awesome stock photography, but you will find a whole series of carefully selected photos that illustrate the stories he writes about landslides and their origin and effect. Or see the Backyard Arthropod Project, which is a lovingly illustrated guide to the bugs of Atlantic Mine, MI with great macrophotography of bugs, beetles, insects, spiders, slugs, and more. There are dozens more like this, people who toil away in relative obscurity writing carefully about their craft, and I love them. It’s a style that lends itself to slowly but surely being a recognized expert in your field.
I love weblogs that take a narrow view on some interesting part of the world and are thorough in how they document it. They don’t need weird tricks or compelling lists or catchy copy to make their mark on the world. Rather, they illustrate and tell a whole series of stories that might never have been told before, told by someone who is expert in their corner of the world. Even though they might only get a few followers compared to Buzzfeed, they add a lot more to our understanding of the world.
(This is the topic of the 8 December 2013 #blogchat chat, at 9pm Eastern time).