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Have You Lost the Human Element in Your Blog?

As I catch up with all the backlog of my life and work after a solid month on the road, I’m still stoked by my amazing time spent with Alan Dean Foster.

While preparing for my meeting, I found a fascinating quote by Alan Dean Foster in an interview with Science Fiction and Fantasy News. He was being asked about the challenges of writing books from movie scripts:

I always tell people that no matter how good the special effects are, you will not have a successful film without the human element. People go to see Star Wars and they say the cities and battles are great, but they really want to see what happens to Luke and Vader and Leia. All the other stuff is window dressing. And I feel that way about books as well. You can write big ships, and space travel, and big battles, but if there’s not that human interest, whether it’s a human being or an alien or whatever, but if there’s not an emotion at the center, you have no story.

I feel that way about blogs.

Have You Lost the Human Element in Your Blog?

The key to writing a good blog post is to share your experience. I’m thrilled that the new iPhone whatever has been released, but your blog isn’t a newspaper. How about sharing how this new gizmo will impact your life and work. How do you use it? How will my life be better with it?

While there is a place for citizen journalism, most of us aren’t in that league. We are offering our tips, training, experiences, drawing from our own experiences and expertise. However, we often get caught up in the message, not the intent, and we tend to leave our voice out of the words.

People return to your blog because of YOU. Sure, they like the content you deliver, but it is how you deliver the message, it’s your words, your thoughts, your ideas that keeps them coming back for more. The rest is window dressing.

Think of your favorite television shows, podcasts, columnists, cartoonists, even your favorite authors, book series, or movies. You don’t keep coming back to them to see what they are wearing, what they are talking about, or their latest hairstyle. You keep coming back because you are vested in their personalities, their characters. What would a Harry Potter novel be without a Harry Potter to keep you interested? Would you really read a Scarpetta book by Patrica Cornwell with no Scarpetta?

What are your readers coming back for?

Step Outside of Yourself to Find the Human Element

We’ve been at this blogging gig stuff for a while now. We need to put more of ourselves back into our blogs, but we also have to step away from ourselves to find the magic in the world around us worth sharing with our readers.

In the same interview, Foster talks about his love of travel and how he gets some of his best ideas from his adventures. Discussing his book, “Sagramanda: A Novel of Near-future India,”and how he found his opening line from a taxi driver in Calcutta.

I had an Indian driver from New Delhi whose English was very poor, just as bad as my Hindi; but we managed. His family comes from a little village in the Himalayas. As I found him in New Delhi, I asked him why he was living here rather than in his village.

He gave me two reasons:
1. There was no work in the village for money.
2. A leopard ate his dog.

That kind of line you just can’t invent, and that’s how I started the book. “Sanji Gosch came to Sagramanda when a leopard ate his dog.” It’s like southern California where coyotes eat poodles. Since we don’t have leopards, we think it’s exotic. Travel teaches you things that you simply don’t expect. Had I not been to India, I’d never have known these cities, met these people, and written a book.

Over the past two years, I’ve been slowly working on changing this blog so it reflects more of your voice and your needs on blogging and WordPress. Next year, you will see things move in that direction. I stepped outside of my world and saw that the WordPress Community has a lot to say about how they blog and use WordPress, and I’m eager to share it with you.

I expect you to step outside of your world to find new thoughts and ideas as well. Here’s to courage and risk!


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

22 Comments

  1. Posted December 2, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I have only recently started blogging here at WordPress and simply love the expierence.As of yet I haven’t gotten what I would consider a lot of views or comments so I’m not sure what this wider world of blogging thinks of my work. It is with great pride that I say my blogging most assurdely reflects my self and regaurdless of what the world thinks or does not think of my work I shall continue to pour my heart and soul out theough my magical keyboard onto the great white page.Wonderful blog and after reading I feel I’m on the right path with my own.

  2. Posted December 2, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Good evening Lorelle: I am fairly new to blogging and have started to figure out that what you are saying is very true and will have a big effect on a blog. If you notice this comment I personally address the recipient, am polite, say thank you when necessary and close with little personal message. I have found that this method of commenting does a lot more towards building relationships with other bloggers and followers. Interested in your thoughts on this.

    Have a good evening,
    John

  3. Posted December 3, 2009 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    I even started “worrying” that my blog presentation, masthead, etc., was not enough to attract readers. Then I realized that’s not what (my) blogging is really about. I think you nailed it with this post.

  4. Posted December 6, 2009 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. I try to write interesting posts with information, but I can’t be one of those blogs that’s strictly informative, even if I do stick to a couple topics. I also prefer reading blogs with that personal element.

  5. Posted December 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Well now there is someone out there with my opinion. And you write so much better than I do. It is definely the story behind the information that make it a good read. So many lose their personality when they write and it turns into a gobaldy-gook of blah-blah information. Good Job!

  6. Posted January 9, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    I am also new to blogging and have found wordpress a huge aid in this regard.

    Thanks for the helpful point, I’ll consider them when I write next time :)

  7. Posted January 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    I always wanted to write a blog. And I just started learning about wordpress. For someone like me who wants to write a blog for the first time, this is one good read.Human element in a blog? Hmmm , I will remember that. Thanks a lot for the tips.

  8. Posted January 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle,

    Your blogs always inspire me to go further, try hardener and become a better writer. I often find that one of the reasons i don’t write more is that I’m afraid “the human element” will be missing. My goal for 2010 is to write more and so far I’m doing well. Thanks for the reminder to not write “fluff” write what I’m passionate about and what inspires me.

  9. Chotleshwar
    Posted March 10, 2010 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    i m not a new blogger… but the article helped me a lot…. thanks for the guiding

  10. kitty
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I seem to be stuck between 40-50 readers a day for the most part and can’t get it to climb consistantly. Every now and then it will get to 70 or 80. The weird thing is my blog is attached to Twitter and Facebook and I have more followers there but alot don’t go to the blog because then my numbers would be up. So I try to make shorter versions of my blog to Twitter and so on. is this a good idea?

    • Posted March 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

      Twitter and Facebook are distractions. Focus on building your content and community ON YOUR SITE FIRST and then work on bringing in people to stay. Give them a reason to stay and a reason to come back and bring their friends.

  11. Posted March 29, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I often find that one of the reasons i don’t write more is that I’m afraid “the human element” will be missing. My goal for 2010 is to write more and so far I’m doing well. thanks

  12. Posted March 29, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I am fairly new to blogging and have started to figure out that what you are saying is very true and will have a big effect on a blog. If you notice this comment I personally address the recipient, am polite, say thank you when necessary and close with little personal message. thanks

  13. Posted April 3, 2010 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Salut untuk semua posting2 yang menarik. visit back 08:52

  14. Posted April 5, 2010 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    The human element…

    You are not wrong in that the human element is highly beneficial for writing a popular and easily digestable blog (or, m.m., book/movie); however, we all have to ask ourselves “Why do I write? For whom do I write? What do I want to achieve?”.

    Speaking for myself, I would write even if I was never read by anyone—writing has immediate benefits for me on other planes than just gaining readers. To me, a good blog entry is a blog entry that makes me think and gain insight (be it through writing it or through reading it on someone elses blog). Besides, let us face it, if I wanted to maximize the number of visitors, I would be running a porn site :-)

    Looking at others, they may have very particular interests, write for a niche-market, or otherwise have reasons to write in a different manner. Britney Spears is more popular than Andrew Eldritch (by a show of hands: How many of you have ever heard of him?), but I doubt that he would wish to become a superstar if it involved emulating her music—and we should all be thankful that he does not emulate her wardrobe.

  15. Wajid
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    I think the best thing about blogging is that every one with a little computer knowledge can write his daily blogs and experiences.

  16. Posted May 18, 2010 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Personal voice is really important for blogs. Sometimes we get into writing things that do no bother about the human element behind our very writings. I agree that we have to take a closer look into humans and forget the rest for a while.

  17. Harry
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Daily traffic to my blog only 50 visitors. Very difficult to get high traffic. I want to try using blackhat, but I guess it’s not the best way to increase the popularity of blogs. Except if I had a business purpose for contextual ads. Do you agree?

  18. Posted June 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    @Harry

    Unless you have an unusual definition of “blackhat” (which cannot be ruled out with a term of that kind), you do not have a valid case to use it—and neither does anyone of those who do use it. Blackhatting is walking the path of the Dark Side or dabbling with black magic. Do not do it. End of story.

    (Also note that it is of dubious effectiveness and can cause grave damage to your rankings if Google finds out.)

    On another topic: Are you sure that you have 50 visitors? On a normal day, the majority of the alleged hits on my blog are junk and link spam, with referrers like “digg.com/online-paralegal-school-info…” or “who-will-win-fifa-worldcup-2010.com/”. You should review your statistics with this problem in mind. (And, yes, here you are the victim of blackhatting…)

  19. shower
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    With CGI and the advancement of technology, it’s only a matter of time before we all become robots.

    To me, it seems like the kids today tend to care less about the emotional aspect of movies.

    However, I agree wholeheartedly that you have to add the human element with emotions to balance out a movie, or book…

    …but it just seems like the growing age of our times think so differently than when i was a kid.

  20. Marocup
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    ben ik het helemaal eens met Lorelle. Zoals ze zegt in Have You Lost the Human Element in Your Blog? ben jij het die een blog uniek maakt. Veel van de informatie is al op het web gezet en jij bent

  21. brecktest
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    It means sending thank you cards in your own hand writing even if your writing looks like a 5 year old’s (guilty)

    It means dropping your business to talk to a client about a life issue that they may have and caring, not just because they’re a client, but because they’re a human being.

    It means stepping outside of your role as a businessman/businesswoman (as we all are on here), and extending yourself as a person.

    There’s going to be some obstacles out there when you graduate Business School, there will be times where a client has a human need, but it may interfere with the principle of win/win, where the client wins, you lose, that part of “human element” is probably the biggest challenge you’ll face.

    It’s not a stupid question as the gentlemen below suggests, it’s actually the best question a graduate student in Business could ask.


5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] ben ik het helemaal eens met Lorelle. Zoals ze zegt in Have You Lost the Human Element in Your Blog? ben jij het die een blog uniek maakt. Veel van de informatie is al op het web gezet en jij bent [...]

  2. [...] for my PDGE students next week about the construction of e-portfolio, I read a post from Lorelle.  It is about the human elements of one’s own blog. I always too devoted to find a [...]

  3. [...] of the best posts I’ve read in the last few months is – Have You Lost the Human Element in Your Blog? I always feel like this. Paid blogging is not the same as when I was blogging for fun and I often [...]

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  5. [...] for my PDGE students next week about the construction of e-portfolio, I read a post from Lorelle.  It is about the human elements of one’s own blog.  I always too devoted to find a [...]

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