Nothing smells as sweet as a flower in the desert.
The phrase above might as well end with “…even if it smells like shit.” If you are the only flower in the desert of course you smell good, if only because you are surrounded by decrepitude and death. Unfortunately, we do not blog in a desert, or a bubble, or a box. We blog on an internationally connected network of computers. So yours better not stink.
So how do you tell if your blog stinks? I’m sure that you don’t think it sucks the big crapoosky, but what if everyone you know is just being too nice? (BTW, If you do think your own blog sucks and are still writing it the same way, we need to have another discussion.)
Here are some things to consider to see if your blog passes “The Stink Test”:
1) Would You Read It?
Who are you writing for? If you are trying to fit into some arbitrary style that you think people want so you can get a guest post on Chris Brogan‘s blog, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. I’m not saying that writing to the best of your ability and being asked to guest post for Mr. Brogan wouldn’t be exemplary, but don’t be someone who’s not you. If you wouldn’t read your post, why should I? Believe it or not, people can actually tell if you care about what you write.
2) Yeah, But What’s Your Answer
Okay, we know there are lots of issues out there: What’s the best SEO technique? How can you get people to read and comment on your blog? Why don’t I have followers on Twitter? I don’t give two shakes of a zedonk‘s tail about your blog if you only list what I already know. Even if they aren’t not perfect, give your solutions. People want answers, not more problems.
3) Top [Insert Number Here] Lists Are Stupid
…except for this one and any others I might have posted.
4) Too Much Dick and Jane, Not Enough Tale of Two Cities
We all like pictures. They are neat and can really get your point across. Eventually it’s time to grow up and actually put down some content that is useful to the people that you are reaching out to. I can use “tips to improve my online marketing strategy”, your video of a kitten riding a turtle….not so much.
The same is true of ads on your blog. I LOVE making money, but when there are more ads on your page than copy something needs to change.
5) Spellcheck, MotherF*&#$r
Srue, its tru we all can figur out waht you maent to say, butt tak the tyme too cehck for grmamtical mitsakes.
We’d all appreciate it. I’m not saying be perfect, but it eventually becomes evident and your trustworthiness wanes.
6) No Blog Is An Island
There’s this wonderful thing called the “Internet.” It’s been around for a little while, you might have heard of it. Connect to it. Your ideas came from somewhere, so give credit where credit is due. If you talk about someone or something on your blog, link to them.
Also, don’t filch content: 1) because people will figure it out and 2) because it’s a douchey thing to do.
Another component of this is self-promotion. If you spend time and energy writing this blog and then do nothing to promote it, you have no one to blame for poor readership but yourself. If you’re serious, get out there; if you’re not serious, get out of my way.
Okay, there’s your Stink Test. I’d suggest running one every few months to see how you are doing. If you notice, I didn’t mention anything about reader numbers and RT’s because building a readership takes time and effort and it’s easy to get distracted when numbers are your main focus.
You may never be a Chris Brogan or Seth Godin, but you can be you; and that’s all we can ask of you.
What would you add to the Stink Test? What would you take off? Why? Let me hear your thoughts.
I’m all ears.
P.S. I found the video of the kitten riding the turtle AFTER I wrote this post and just typed in the most ridiculously cute thing I could think of. Finding it was a fluke. I love the Internet.