Say something newSat, 11th Nov '06, 6:40 pm::
On an average day, I read about 10-12 personal blogs of people I know and read news, articles, and journals on anywhere from 50 to 200 websites I find linked online. While there is much to be said about online news media outlets and commercial blogs, my gripe is with personal blogs. Regardless of how easy it is to start a free online journal and how many people sign up for new ones everyday, the problem lies not with the technology or the low barrier to entry, but rather with the utter lack of fresh content.
While this would be a good opportunity for me to make a list of the "Top 10 things I don't want to read on your blog," I'd rather spend the time elaborating on what I DO want to read. Admittedly, I'm not above my own criticism either as I've written many a word in the last five years that nobody including me wants to read anymore. However, with time, I've learnt what people do want to read and what they usually skip over.
All I want you to do is to say something new. Tell me something that I didn't know about - you, your life, your friends, your job, your love, your passion, your dirty secrets, and most importantly, your thoughts. I've already read everything newsworthy on all the meta news sites. So you don't have to tell me that some new movie is in the theaters now. What you do have to tell me is that you have started playing the violin or are practicing public speaking. Tell me why you think people should be married before age 23 or how one should go about organizing their personal schedules. I don't care if you're right or wrong, convincing or contriving, I just want to read something I couldn't have on any other website except yours. Be fresh!
You don't necessarily have to write about your personal life a la "What-I-had-for-lunch-today." In fact, writing about your personal life without being severely sleep-inducing is one of the most difficult things. While I started with writing about my cool programming scripts, I've slowly moved away from day-to-day activity logs (that I'm sure my family still cares more about) to more persistent topics that might be somewhat interesting four years after the weather has changed. Event descriptions are momentary, ideas are timeless.
Creating new content requires time and effort, thankfully rarely any money. It is very easy to say "Movie X sucked" or "OMG! Check out this site!" It is not so easy to spend an hour putting your ideas in words and telling the world how you think you can make something better, faster, smaller, bigger, easier, cheaper, funnier. You don't have to be a fantastic writer but it helps. And once you stop saying "I hate event X, object Y, and person Z" and instead write about how the little children that you talk to everyday finally have come to terms with the truth about Santa Claus, you'll notice your writing skills improve. Tell me something I don't know.
I'm pretty neutral about personal blogs that consist solely of links to other interesting sites. To me, that says nothing really about you. So you found a cool link that you want to share with anyone that might end up on your blog. Big deal. Sometimes the links are interesting and sometimes they're crap. Thanks but I want more.
Tell me about the new project you're working on or your retirement plans. What are you going to do next month? How can first-time homeowners get equity loans? Why do you think people should drop out of college and start your own companies? I don't care if what you're thinking of is smart or stupid, spill the beans already.
I hope next time you click 'New Entry', you'll say something I couldn't find on CNN.com, Google News, or Fark.com.