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What Makes a Blog Successful?

Asterisk wrote about what makes a successful blog summing it up quite nicely.

A successful blog (or blogger) is…Well written…Frequently updated…Consistent…Open…Responsive…Well designed…Aware of its audience…Varied in topic…Personal…Thick skinned…Honest…Accountable…Funny

The comments from readers are even more exciting, helping to fill in the blanks of what makes a successful blog. Here are a few highlights I really liked:

Succesful professionals make better authors…People tend to visit because of link or because of your name/reputation. They’ll stay for the content…It comes down to content more than reputation I think, but I may be wrong…to be able to almost live outside my own life while reading about someone elses’…

I’d replace “Frequently updated” with “Frequently updated whenever you have something worth saying”. There’s nothing more likely to get me to unsubscribe from a feed than a lot of posts which are basically the author thinking out loud — and not thinking very hard at that…

…What you define as worth saying depends entirely on the scope of the blog, which brings us onto “Varied in topic? I agree that a curve ball now and then can be fun, but, as a rule, I prefer a blog to stick to a well-defined (possibly broad) scope and to concentrate on something they’re uniquely/unusually knowledgable about within that scope…

…A couple of notes that I try to stick to as best I can: Add visual elements to your post. In addition to trying to engage your readers with intelligent content, it helps to throw in an image every once in a while to draw them in…

…Interesting blogs are written by people who write about things that interest them, does so eloquently, thoughtfully, with humor and insight.

…A successful blog needs to have substance. It doesn’t have to be about Important Stuff, but there should be some actual depth to the writing, even if it’s just personal anecdotes. I don’t care about the mundanities of most people’s lives, so the blogs I return to are the ones that write about more than whoever someone is dating or whatever club they went to last night. If you’re going to publish a diary to the world, make it worth reading.

…I think far too often we, or at least I, judge the success of my blog by analyzing the stats. I had to get out of the mindset that I was going to write the next big, groundbreaking article and get back to stuff I enjoy. I have found lately that writing about subjects I am passionate about benefits me more than anyone, and if others like it, that’s gravy baby…

…Quality matters a lot more than frequency.

…most importantly for me, my writings are challenged by my readers. This encourages me to think, to redirect my thoughts and consider possibilities that I would otherwise have missed. I find the process extremely rewarding.

…Varied in topic, but consistent in subject matter? I am so disappointed when I receive notice that one of my regularly read blogs has new content only to find that it is an entry completely off subject matter. A blog should read like a magazine in my opinion. If it deals with Web design and/or development, just cover those aspects.

…The blogs I like are the ones filled with personality and insight. Some blogs are full of great information, but very bland. You could read that person for 6 months and they’d still be like a stranger. They want their blog to be Professional, whereas I’d like to see something more personal, something to connect to.

…This very post is a great example of what I think makes a great blog: it offers a unique personal opinion on something that’s fairly universally interesting, it’s useful, well-thought-through and well written. My favorite blogs all do this consistently…

…Hmmm, you forgot 1 thing. A blog that meets all these criteria can still fail to attract a large audience, and that is the secret ingedient. Getting people to spread the word, link to you, pingback you, and leave comments. Problem is, no one likes a self promoting blogger. I’m still looking for a solution to this one.

…I think that originality is also a large factor in a successful blog. If blog B has the same links as blog A then there is no compulsion to stay with blog B.

…I agree with everything you said and I would like to add one, although I guess you could say this goes under good design. Make sure your site loads quickly. More than half of us are still on dial-up. I generally will not wait longer than a minute.

…First and foremost, content rules. Then, we all might also go back the design basics we struggled with when putting up our first HTML sites: Eschew goofy backgrounds and the distracting clutter of rasping colors, blinking text, bells, whistles and obnoxious music loops. Carefully choose a font that is pleasant and readable, and that conveys a sense of the mood your site is trying to achieve while suggesting a measure of classiness and believability.

Profanity or obscenity are never a substitute for cleverness.


…I always look for a unique voice or style that expresses ideas and emotions. I can tolerate some simple grammatical mistakes if they are honest and not due to laziness…

…The two things that will make me move on are lack of posting and lack of feedback. In the first instance I lose interest in the site. The second issue makes me wonder why comments or guestbooks are active. Once I feel ignored I lose interest in the site…

So this is what they are saying, but what about you? What are the elements that make a blog successful? How do you measure that success? Is it a feeling? Blog stats and traffic? Ad clicks? Income? And what are the elements that make a blog better than another one? What keeps you coming back to your favorite blogs?

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, the author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted June 4, 2008 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    A blog that meets all these criteria can still fail to attract a large audience, and that is the secret ingedient. <<< Ingredient is spelled wrong. Just thought you would like to know.

  2. Posted June 4, 2008 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    @ Nikki Rose Ty:

    Indeed it is misspelled, as are some other words in the comments I quoted, which makes the quoted admonishment for proper spelling and grammar rather interesting, don’t you think?

    When quoting others, I let their words, spelled right or not, typically stand. It’s their words. I like them to speak for themselves.

  3. onthegosoft
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I think that what you referred to are the right ingredients for KEEPING people on your blog – once they got there. People come to hear your side of the news on a niche, so giving them fresh and interesting story would help.

    To get new visitors, it’s quite the same as any other website:
    – Search engine traffic (SEO and link popularity)
    – Word of mouth – giving a reason for people to tell their friends
    – Advertisement

    Why should blogs be all that different than other websites?

  4. Anonymous
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    I love what you are saying i can understand how blogging should have substance.

  5. Elke
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    It does not matter to me if some words may be mispelled. Nor does it matter if one does not put a comma in where should go. I read blogs that interest me. I read the words. I communicate myself with alot of my readers and have to say we became very good friends. Thankyou for allow me to comment. Have a great Day.

  6. cara blog
    Posted May 9, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    great article,thanks,…i will try to make it

  7. Georgia Marie
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I found that information very useful and true. I also couldn’t care less if the words are spelt incorrectly – its the meaning behind the words that count. I tend to only read keywords and visual imagery.

    • Posted October 22, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      You are right that spelling and basic grammar really don’t matter if the passion behind the story is there shining through. Unfortunately, with people visually oriented like yourself, without the pictures and by skimming over the text, it’s often hard to find the passion in the words. When I go back to read the greatest written works of the past 500 or more years, I struggle so hard to get through the slog of words – too many words and too long to get to the point – and yet I know that without all those words, the point would not have the impact it had all those years ago to make these books a classic.

      We live in a skimming age, ADHD diagnosis everywhere without true cause or recognition of the fact that we grew up watching flicker television screens and computer monitors and movies on big screens that move so fast, they skim the story before our eyes. We’re used to fast. I hope some day we learn to slow down and appreciate, which is probably why there is such growth in the Tai Chi and Yoga industry – we want to slow down and absorb so we have to learn how.

      • Georgia Marie
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        I understand what you are saying about society today and I could not agree more! Although I am a visually orientated person does not mean I don’t appreciate beautifully written texts and books written hundreds of years ago. In fact I read a lot of books based on ancient philosophy. For the sake of bloggers who write irrelevent information, I find it helpful when there are interesting pictures associated the written text.

        I appreciate your reply 😉

  8. Gayle
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Many blogs out there are glorified rants. I think that it helps to have something meaningful to say along with your opinion. That seems to keep readers on your blog longer and encourages them to leave interesting comments.

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