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Things You Should Avoid Blogging About

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December 17th, 2006
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Blogging Essays, General

This is the eleventh entrant in The Blogging Essay Contest from WeblogToolsCollection.com If you would like to participate, please email me your entry at mark at wltc dot net. Please rate this article using the star system below. The competition will be judged primarily on the input from readers like you. Thank you.

This is written by Ronald Huereca

When writing for a blog, there are what seems an endless amount of topics to choose from. Bloggers write about design, cars, blogging, technology, gadgets, and more. However, there comes a time when bloggers are running on empty and can’t decide what to write about. During those lull-in-blogging moments, certain bloggers may be tempted to write about topics as useless as making a grilled-cheese sandwich. Throughout my limited exposure in the blogging world, I have come across topics that seem as taboo as yelling “bomb” in a movie theater. Within this essay, I will discuss the topics that bloggers should avoid writing about at all costs. These topics consist of cats, lack of blogging, commenting, future in-laws, and a day-to-day micro-view of life.

Nobody Cares About My Stupid Cat

If you’ve been reading blogs for a while, one of the topics that repeatedly gets on people’s nerves is that of cats. In fact, it’s a running joke among some bloggers. Don’t get me wrong. There are some good uses of cat topics. For example, why not talk about how when the cat decided to lick the 9-volt battery you left around? Alternatively, why not discuss how to make that favorite Chinese cuisine? For the PETA folks, I’m not suggesting that someone write about being cruel to a cat. I’m only suggesting that those topics would be the only way to make a cat post entertaining. Just for the record, I own a black cat. She’s so cute. Every morning when I wake up, she’s right there lying next to me and it’s so — err, nevermind.

I’m Too Busy To Blog. So What?

Imagine calling someone and going straight to voicemail. Now imagine this voicemail saying, “I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone. In fact, I’m too busy right now to even call anybody. If you leave a voicemail, I might get back to you if I’m not busy enough. I’ll try to keep this to a minimum. Thanks! Bye.” By the time you’ve reached the end of the voicemail, you’re probably thinking, “Why not just say, ‘Leave a message’?” There’s no real point to those “I can’t blog ’cause I’m too busy” posts other than giving a cop-out for not keeping up with your blog. People come to your blog to read your content, not your excuses for not producing your content. There are millions of other blogs out there. If yours goes straight to voicemail, the reader will just call someone else. If you’re too busy to blog, do something about it. ProBlogger has some great advise on what to do if you foresee yourself being too busy.

Nobody Is Commenting! Poor Me.

Imagine calling that same person’s phone and hearing, “Thank you for calling. Don’t hang up! Please leave a voicemail. Please? If you don’t leave a voicemail, I’ll never know why you called. C’mon, please leave that voicemail.” Does the above voicemail scream of desperation? I certainly think so. Blogging about people not commenting — or begging people to comment — is nothing short of saying to your readers that you need attention. I understand the need for comments. Comments reinforce the writing and add to the content. Comments motivate the blogger to post more. However, complaining about having no comments is not going to persuade people to comment. If a reader wants to comment on a post, then that reader will leave a comment. Forcing or persuading someone to comment will rarely help the situation. Once again, ProBlogger offers some great tips on how to get readers to comment more. Suspiciously absent from the tips is the one about complaining about lack of comments. Maybe the guys at ProBlogger know something I don’t know?

I Hate My Future In-Laws

There are some things people forget when writing blog posts: people might actually read them. Airing your dirty laundry is good in some situations, and disastrous in others. When writing that negative topic about those closest to you, think about the potential ramifications if that person (or a friend of that person) reads the post. If you happen to blog about hating your future in-laws and they read it, think about how quickly your fiancé (or fiancée) will call off the wedding. Chances are, if you write about those dear to you, then there’s people you know personally that read your blog. People love to gossip, and there will be nothing to stop them from passing along some “useful” information to those you’ve written about. I’ve seen it happen a lot of times, especially on those infamous MySpace blogs. When airing your dirty laundry, do the newspaper test. If your blog entry showed up on the front page of every newspaper, would you be okay with it?

My Hourly Diary

There are some blogs out there that can be potential cures for insomniacs. In fact, some blogs should have a warning that says, “Do not operate heavy machinery after reading some of my blog posts.” The blogs I speak of are the diary-type blogs where the blogger goes into near microscopic detail of the person’s life. You’ve seen them. Hopefully you abandoned the blog before any long-term damage took place. These diary-type blogs are okay, but sometimes there is simply too much detail. Imagine reading a daily post such as this:

“I woke up this morning. My cat wouldn’t stop meowing. I put on some pants and went to the restroom. Felt better. I brushed my teeth. I need new toothpaste. Have to go to work. Nobody’s commenting on my blog. I wonder why? Will write more later. Bye.”

I can imagine this comment on a post like that, “I woke up too! Sweet! We have something in common.” I hope that you’ve gathered that there is a point when you give your readers too much information.

Conclusion

Blogging is a great way to get your thoughts out. Blogging is also great for providing information, critiquing, and starting online friendships. However, there are some topics that should be avoided at all costs. For one, nobody really cares about your cat. People could care less about you being too busy, or the lack of comments on your blog. Also, airing dirty laundry about those closest to you is rarely a good thing. The last thing mentioned was giving readers too much information regarding your personal life. Please choose carefully what you blog about. The sanity of your readers is at stake.

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63
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Comments

  1. Rirath (14 comments.) says:

    ‘Tis true. People need to realize their cats are only cute and interesting to them, and them alone.

  2. Al (1 comments.) says:

    You forgot the dogs! (smile)

  3. Fish (4 comments.) says:

    “I’m pregnant, this is my belly after 35 weeks” is another one.

    Best entry yet.

  4. Card-Table Gypsy (2 comments.) says:

    You forgot posts about “things I wish people wouldn’t blog about.” Heh.

  5. Jorgeq (1 comments.) says:

    Thank you so much for the exquisite entry. I thought I was the only one noticing this ongoing pattern. It’s great to get personal with you blog everyone now and then but not to a point where you’re blogging about inconsequential subjects.

  6. John (1 comments.) says:

    I blog about whatever I like. If I want to blog about my cats, so be it. You’re assuming that everyone blogs to entertain others. I often blog to entertain myself.

  7. Frank says:

    I strongly recommend NOT blogging about a) ‘Ten sure fire topics for your blog’, b) ‘Things you should avoid blogging about’, and c) ‘How to blog in general’, because a) there are entirely too many such blog posts already and b) who are you to tell people what to write about or not. The main thing is you enjoy yourself blogging, if not, don’t blog and find something that you do enjoy.

  8. seanrox (7 comments.) says:

    Funny you mention to not post about grilled cheese sandwiches because I actually did a post titled Toasted Cheese Sandwich on September 25, 2006 and got a lot of good traffic and comments from it.

    I do agree people shouldn’t post certain things, but anything to do with food is OK in my book.

  9. Doug Karr (5 comments.) says:

    The greatest thing about having a blog is that you don’t have to constrain yourself or your content. If folks don’t like it, they’ll go elsewhere. There is no common things to avoid when blogging, it’s up to the blogger and the expectations of his/her readers. I’m sure if you look, there’s a blog about every single item you complain about. In fact, you’ll find plenty of blogs about cats: http://www.technorati.com/search/cats%20AND%20cat

    The great thing about a blog is it’s a conversation between you and your reader. If Cheese Sandwiches come up in the conversation, who cares?

    Respectfully,
    Doug

  10. BobW (1 comments.) says:

    I find it interesting that on the last bastion of freedom of expression, people are trying to establish some kind of requisite standards. What happened to the Internet being about freedom from the contemporary restrictions of the press? If I wanted an editor and content standards, I would write for a magazine.

  11. Britgirl (5 comments.) says:

    Last time I looked a blog was for the blog owner to write about anything they wanted to. Their cats, their dogs, their cheese sandwiches or lack thereof. As has been said by a couple of bloggers… if people don’t care for your content, they’ll go elsewhere.

    What we definitely do not need are bloggers telling other bloggers “what not to blog about…” or “XX things to avoid blogging about…”

  12. kevin (6 comments.) says:

    I catch myself when I start to slip into things that are not interesting, usually because I start falling asleep while writing them. Typically if I do something that I had to hunt down on google for pointers on how to accomplish, or if something stupid happens I’ll place it in a blog. Talking about my personal life is uncomfortable, and I’m too ADHD to pay attention to every detail of everyday to blog about that either.

  13. hawgdaddy (1 comments.) says:

    Good article, Ronald. I think the point was more to give advice rather than demand compliance with any particular standard. He isn’t necessarily saying “thou shalt not blog about cats” but rather “it might be best if you didn’t blog about cats if you’re interested in maintaining as large an audience as possible.” I think this is good advice. But, if it makes you happy to blog about your cat or your morning personal hygiene routine, then by all means blog away about it.
    Take care,
    hawgdaddy

  14. Coll (2 comments.) says:

    I suppose that if the main focus of your blog is to have a zillion readers.. then maybe you should not post about your cat.. but if your blog is, as my blog is, a personal reflection of myself and my life.. then yes.. you may find the occasional post on my cat (or my dog for that matter). You would be amazed at just how many ‘cat’ people read and respond. I am not out there to enlighten or save the world. I am out there to have fun and mingle in the blogosphere. So I guess it all depends on your focus. But.. never say never. :-)

  15. Ozh (88 comments.) says:

    Winning entry so far :)

  16. CommSie (1 comments.) says:

    Things You Should Avoid Blogging About… should be: illegal things one is doing + evidence (pictures whatever). Then again one should do it and get arrested D: There is nothing to avoid and one cannot please everyone…

  17. Ronald Huereca (2 comments.) says:

    Thank you all for all your feedback on my essay, whether it is positive or negative. My essay is but one opinion in a sea of opinions. And just as I have layed mine out, you have layed yours out as well. That is the beauty of blogging. If everyone agreed, a crucial element of blogging would be lost.

    Once again, thanks for all of the feedback.

  18. Kurt says:

    I get more comments about bacon than everything else combined. Either I’m really boring or my few readers love bacon.

    So I’d say…if you want comments…blog about bacon. Mmmmmm. Bacon.

  19. swollenpickles (2 comments.) says:

    Thrush is another topic you shouldn’t really blog about.

  20. Jules (1 comments.) says:

    Don’t blog about S p a m recipes or you will tax your installation of Akismet

  21. NoneYa says:

    This is seriously a bogus article. Blog about whatever you wish. That is what a blog is for. My blog may go into detail about a daily life situation. That would be my intent. I personaly know my readers and that is why they go to my blog. How about rather than telling what not to blog about give some ideas on what to blog about. No one likes negetivity. Enough said.

  22. Cute Overload (1 comments.) says:

    OOPS! LOL

  23. Karen M. Lynch (1 comments.) says:

    This cracks me up. Going to subscribe, going to link to this post. Love the ‘comments’ too. I’m just tickled by the whole thing!

  24. bhebie (1 comments.) says:

    I love this post! Thank god I don’t do any of them. well I think I blog like “Sorry guys I was busy the past days..” but that doesn’t count right? I don’t do that often! I only do blog like that when ever I missed 3 days without blogging.

  25. Ajay (39 comments.) says:

    It’s strange that your essay talks about the exact opposite of what blogging actually is.

    Most blogs as of today are still personal blogs. And personal blogs will feature that ‘cat’!
    I’ve had a few of my users actually grumbling at me for not mentioning things in detail.

    Regarding “begging for comments”, the Problogger article you pointed to mentions in point 1 that you should “invite readers to comment”.

    However, I do agree with you about not airing your dirty laundry out in public. The recent fiasco about this is with Techcrunch UK.

  26. Sam Jackson (1 comments.) says:

    I’m guilty of that begging for comments sometimes–though not so obviously. I try to be a little subtle about it. Sometimes a bit more than “I welcome all comments!” but very encouraging, not whining. Great post!

  27. Bes Zain (4 comments.) says:

    Very good points here. I think in the near future personal blogging with the above categories and themes of topics will become interesting niches on the web, since blogs that have been around for a while are beginning to realize how irrelevant posts add almost no value to a blog.

    Many non-personal blogs do try to be diverse or simply try to post about topics like the ones you mentioned simply because they have nothing better to post. I guess they think that if they post about something, users will consider their blogs full of new content all the time. Later on they start viewing their site as a personal blog, as a personal blog still allows you to venture into any topic of your choice, and thus has the most flexibility of all the topics out there.

  28. Jose (2 comments.) says:

    Mark, this is an excellent article. Ronald is to be commended. I didn’t make it past the “Nobody Cares About My Stupid Cat” paragraph without laughing uncontrollably. Thanks for the great read!

    jose

  29. OldCat (1 comments.) says:

    Without cats, personal life, or random thoughts, what is the meaning of life… Nobody cares? So what? I care. Blogging is a way to express yourself, not to please people.

  30. centuri0n (1 comments.) says:

    Yeah, I blogged that about 18 months ago, but with more art:

    http://centuri0n.blogspot.com/.....dvice.html

  31. Blog Tricks (1 comments.) says:

    I think most of the bloggers who starts their blog are unaware of the fact of how important their blog could be. They treat it as their journal/personal diary, that’s great, but it’s not going to be private, it’s going to be public.

  32. Kevin Love (9 comments.) says:

    Just woke up, read your post, now commenting, k thx bye!



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  8. live juicy says:

    Blogging about nothing…

    I don’t really every blog about anything other than sharing family fun, mostly pics as you know. I thought this blog on things you should never blog about was very entertaining…….

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  11. kevh.net says:

    Things not to blog about…

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  15. [...] Apparently I am breaking all the cardinal rules regarding blogging. Eh, whatever. [...]

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  25. [...] that I think Ronald took most of the time when many people got upset over his post titled “Things You Should Avoid Blogging About.” Instead of attacking people personally the way he was attacked by many people due to that [...]

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