Don’t make us think. Well, not all the time…

In a recent blog post, Paul Bradshaw pointed out how high profile bloggers became toned down and tamer in their opinions as more people started to read them more. I’m not sure myself I’ve become tamer but this blog has changed over the years as more people read it. While it’s still a space for me to extract thoughts from my head, I seem to use it less to figure things out as I type or even after I’ve published. i know I put up fewer very rough pieces that turn into something better in a later blog post.

Art show, amateur division
Photo owned by Benimoto (cc)

Ter recently chatted to me and expressed surprise that I wasn’t allowed to have a non-PC opinion about Spanish students, the noisy fuckheads, and I suppose a few years ago I could happily give out about them and anything else without people coming back to defend them or give out to me for generalising. That’s fair enough I suppose.

Now a lot more thought goes into the blog posts (no really), however personally I still need to share my amateurism with others and I do so over on Twitter these days. I think it’s important to have an outlet for being stupid, rough, rude and wrong but for me this here blog is no longer the place for all of that. Apart from when I talk about Chocolate and Crisps or Asparagus and wee. (Funnily enough I got the biggest reactions to those two silly and amateurish wonderings.)

We got talking about quality posts at the training event on Saturday and Sabrina talks more about it on her post here. It does seem that blog readers in fact can’t handle an over-abundance of “quality” and in-depth pieces.

This is what Sabrina has to say:

More importantly, however, people take in a massive amount of information from scores of blogs each day. I suspect your average reader can manage maybe one or two “heavy” posts from across all of their sources in a given day. If your blog is always the blog with the big ask for time and attention, you will actually lose rather than win readers with your dense but awesome content.

So if you do produce fantastic guides about various things, should you throttle back on them? Perhaps mix them up with fun and maybe “amateur” pieces? I feel this is right. I’m not saying dumb it down, rather don’t push the high-brow stuff too much. Make your readers think but perhaps don’t make your readers think TOO much? Like 3 times a day. 5 days a week too much. I think there are some out there who can belt out quality piece after quality piece and never dilute the value of the content but for anyone that reads them on a regular basis, these pieces actually will start to hurt.

At the same time it’s probably good for your creativity and brain power to screw around with things. To have uncoordinated, unplanned fun. Or stupidity.

Say something stupid today, your blog audience needs it.

"People is the plural form of stupid"
Photo owned by cote (cc)

14 Responses to “Don’t make us think. Well, not all the time…”

  1. emordino says:

    I think by their nature blogs cater to a fickle audience. In-depth posts tend to reflect the blogger’s particular interests and so they’re always niche to an extent*, and even different posts by the same author will appeal to different people. Short and snappy is the way to keep a steady readership.

    As regards making people think… when you blog something you’re really just throwing it out into the void, and if it strikes a chord then well and good but that shouldn’t be your main aim. There are bloggers who treat their (usually imaginary) readership as a flock to be led rather than as individuals who are doing the blogger a favour by stopping by, and they’re insufferable.

    *This doesn’t include posts that are “in-depth” in the sense of having reams of irrelevant detail. That’s a trap that amateur writers in any medium fall into.

  2. Grandad says:

    Say something stupid today, your blog audience needs it.

    *sigh* That’s me off the hook then?

  3. Branedy says:

    I finally have something to cheer about, I can now be a more cruft than you, as no one reads, Me! 😉

  4. Branedy says:

    Except the wife 😉

  5. emordino says:

    Just read this, which is fairly relevant.

  6. Neil Ward : says:

    […] makes a fair point today, that blog readers don’t really want to be reading heavy, wordy stuff too often.  […]

  7. […] Mulley’s suggestion, I’m going to tell you something […]

  8. Well it’s like anything really; when more people are listening, you’ll be less willing to go out on a limb.

    I also find that you can feel compelled to stick to one style of post that seems to gain more interest from your readership or whatever, I try to force myself away from it but the lure is definitely there.

    When it goes to long, I just separate it into parts… I done a post a few months back about the Leaving Cert that I absolutely loved, but it must’ve been about 2000 words long so i wound up turning it into a 2 parter, I thought it was weaker as a result but it would’ve definitely damaged my readership a lot by posting the full thing.

  9. You have to be silly as well as serious, but too much of either is boring. It’s like any conversation.

  10. Sabrina Dent says:

    See, I think what you’re calling “amateur” is what I called “personal” in the post you linked to. Asparagus pee, chocolate and crisps may be silly, frivolous content but it engages people.

    As much as I love you, I could never stick 5 days a week of FOI requests and broadband posts. That said, when you do post things like that, I pay attention because as the exception rather than the rule, I weight them with more significance.

  11. Sinéad says:

    Ha, you’ve just said what I’ve been suspecting! I’ve got to start reigning myself in and posting below 500 words!

  12. MJ says:

    Blogs echo real conversations. Sometimes they’re serious and last for 50 mins at peak time mobile to mobile, and sometimes they are seriously fun, last 2 mins at 3am on a Saturday night and have a more lasting impact 🙂

  13. […] has another thought-provoking post about blogging.  Am wondering how to incorporate some of his advice here in such a niche […]

  14. Hi Damien,

    Just came across this today. Bit of a delay.. I’m surprised that it was seen that I was saying you weren’t allowed to have a non PC opinion. It was an emotional opinion and one that evoked an offended emotion in me. Reason being, I live with a Spanish person and I’ve seen the stereotypes being a little hurtful. That’s all. I was defending my own..

    Fact is, I think there is much more pressure in the other direction which disallows a negative reply. It was against my better judgement to say what I said. Putting my name to a negative (non flaming) comment on your own site, one with a huge readership and respect, made me think that it was going to be quite risky for my own name (online anyway). In hindsight, I think that turned out to be true. Especially with, the ip hider “Fergal/Conall” who posted as me and pretty much makes me look like a flamer. Hope no future employers see it that way..

    As for non PC blogs, I read loads of them and enjoy them without being offended. But if they did one day poke me the wrong way, I certainly won’t be telling them in their comments. It’s just not worth it.