Photo by A is for Angie: http://www.flickr.com/photos/71719923@N00
What kind of blog posts do you find the most compelling? A decade ago someone pointed out to me that the surest path to get on a best-seller list is to have “Ten Easy Ways to…” in your title. The Blog-o-sphere bears out this line of attack – list posts (ie “Merlin’s top 5 super-obvious, “no-duh” ways to immediately improve your life“) get all kinds of instant traffic. List posts, or “Tens,” are easy to write and very easy to read. I fall prey to them all the time because there’s usually one halfway useful idea in any collection of ten things. And a Tenner usually doesn’t go on and on ad nauseum. Each item is a quick wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am story.
Nugget posts are another thing. These are quick, well-contained posts on a variety of subjects. Boing Boing and kottke are the masters of this kind of posting. Bite size chunks of interesting info ranging from vintage Nintendo to steampunk chimpanzees. This type of posting satisfies the mind’s built-in need to acquire information through browsing.
Finally you have arcs. These are genuine stories with a beginning, a middle, and perhaps someday an end…spread out over the scope of a blog. These aren’t your “I found a cute new bistro” or “what I did on my summer vacation” posts. There is some real drama and real conflict attached. It’s a tough act to pull off when you live an ordinary life and have just a few minutes a day to craft a decent post. The best of the breed without a doubt is Fat Cyclist.
This blog tells the story of Elden Nelson, a cycling enthusiast who hit middle age and realized that he’d let the one passion in his life slip through his fingers. Out-of-shape and 30 pounds overweight, could he get it back? As a devoted father and husband could he carve out the time and purpose to get back on the bike and ride?
This alone is enough to carry a good story arc, at least for a blog. But then Elden has to face a real life plot complication – his wife Susan is diagnosed with breast cancer. Can Elden keep sight of his goal and at the same time care for his wife and children?
These are not rhetorical questions here. I’m genuinely interested in what YOU think makes the best blog strategy. I’m struggling to find a vision for this blog and I’m starting to think it might be a mix of arcs and nuggets. I don’t think my story is as big as Elden’s…certainly not focussed enough to sustain a readable blog. But I’m likely to get bored with posting nothing but nuggets. I feel a need to live out a larger purpose.
So you tell me, what’ll it be, arcs, nuggets or tens?