Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

What Makes a Great Blog?

January 28th, 2010 by Debbie's World of Books


Since I have not had as much time as I would like to put into blogging and book reviewing lately I started wondering what is really important to blog readers in the first place.  I know everyone will of course say content but what sort of content draws you in?  A big draw for me and something I always envy are reviews that are well written and an added plus are ones that offer some greater insight that I never thought of for a book I already read.  This is something I wish I was better at but I will openly admit I’ve never been good at analyzing books for deeper meaning.

A minor turn off for me are partial feeds.  I pretty much use Google reader to go through the 200+ blogs I follow and if a blog only has partial feeds I find that bothersome and more often than not end up unsubscribing to those blogs.  This makes me feel guilty since I know at some point I really enjoyed their posts since I added it to my reader but having partial feeds just makes it more difficult to get through a blog and pick out the posts that I want to read and comment on.

Here are a couple questions that have been floating in my head.  Do these things make you more likely to be a loyal follower of a blog?

  • Having reviews of books that are not out yet or just came out
  • Giveaways of the latest books or ARCs of books not available yet
  • Are you less likely to read reviews of older books (i.e. books that have been out for years or decades?)
  • Non-book review posts.  Which types are the biggest draw for you? (i.e. author interviews, weekly memes, random bookish posts?)

Is there anything else that you really look for in a blog that makes it a top pick for you to read and follow?  What turns you off of a blog?

Posted in Books

34 Responses

  1. Jenn

    I for one like book reviews of books that have been out for a while, lots of times I read them and sorta get “reintroduced” or “introduced” to a book that did not catch my eye the first time – so I enjoy all book reviews, from new books, books not out yet as well as older well loved titles that 100,000 people probably reviewed! :)

    I agree with you though, partial feeds stink – I had mine set up that way for a SHORT time, but after reading some I was like EAK so I stoped having mine like that! :)

  2. Helen Murdoch

    I agree: partial feeds are icky. I enjoy reading blog entries in my Google Reader as well and go over to the blog to comment

    The features that I like on a blog: not too many memes; book reviews of any kind; author interviews; give-aways (but I also read blogs that have no contests); but most importantly, book reviews of the genres I am interested in regardless if the book is old or new.

  3. Elie (Ellz Readz)

    How do you tell if you are putting out partial feeds?

  4. Indigo

    Partial feeds drive me nuts. I have so little time to spend on reading blogs. So when I have to go in search of the blog to finish reading – more than likely I won’t. Which is a shame as you said, some of those blogs are well written. But when it comes to time…I just don’t have it.

    I know a lot of blogs do daily entries. That’s fine by me. When my Reader starts to get clogged up with multiple entries in a single day, I’m probably going to drop them if it continues. Once again great content – it’s the time I don’t have. (Hugs)Indigo

  5. NotNessie

    I almost NEVER click through to a partial feed.

    The #1 most important feature I look for is reviews of books that interest me, regardless of whether the books are new releases or not. So some blogs are just never going to interest me, because our tastes in reading are totally different. I actually really appreciate those blogs that review older titles that I might not hear of otherwise. I don’t need one more review of the same book 20 blogs already reviewed today =o)

    I know that the blogs I come back to again and again to comment are the ones where the blogger makes a point of interacting with their readers… something I’m working on being better at!

    Giveaways are always fun, though I actually prefer giveaways of finished copies to ARCs.

    I don’t like blogs that do millions of memes every week. A few are ok, but not every day! I also like reading posts that show the personality of the blog owner, something that’s totally different from what I’ll read anywhere else.

    That is my long-winded 2 cents.

  6. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    1. Book reviews have to be for books that interest me!

    2. Feeds have to be full.

    3. Comment boxes on blogger cannot be embedded because I read mostly at work (SHHH) and security doesn’t allow me to comment in those for some reason.

    4. Memes that deal with books or introduce new topics…like mailbox or library loot posts and those library thing memes about the new features or features you don’t know about.

    5. Personality. if the reviews are blah, there must be something of the owner’s personality on the site, in the reviews, or elsewhere to draw me in.

  7. NotNessie

    I second the comment boxes opinion! Embedded comment forms require me to click 3 times, reloading the page each time. Boo! That’s only in Blogger, though.

  8. The Kool-Aid Mom

    yeah… on the Blogger comment thing. It’s being aggravating lately, I don’t know what’s up with that, but I’m starting to not click on Blogger blogs because of it. It has to be something brain-splittingly important for me to want to take a chance on “will Blogger let me use my Open ID today?” Techincally, I have a Blogger blog as well as my WP one, but the Blogger “In the Shadow of Mt. TBR” just tells you the WP one is my main blog and gives you a link to click. But who wants to do all that? Kinda like the “click 3 times and put in the capta” things.

  9. Isalys Blackwell

    1) I think variety in the books we review is a plus. Some bloggers out there are dedicated to a particular genre which works b/c they stick to one thing and that becomes their theme. Bloggers like us that are not openly dedicated to any one genre should mix it up from time to time b/c our followers may not want to read reviews on the same type of books over & over again.

    Also, I like to read reviews that are well written & thorough. Don’t just tell me about the story, but give me your opinion. Sometimes you’ll find that a reviewer may have a different view of a story than you do and it makes for a great discussion :)

    2) I use my Dashboard to go through the blogs I follow so I really focus on the title of the post to see what grabs my attention.

    3) As a fellow blogger, we always try to come up with fresh new ideas to keep our followers interested. We try to stick to the book thing, but we have our one weekly post where we recipe swap or we’ll do an occasional spotlight on a movie. Again, I’m all into variety being the spice of blogging :) lol

    4) Challenges are always fun. There are a ton of challenges out there, but if you come up w/ something original – go for it!

    5) Giveaways of course b/c people love freebies!! If you have a giveaway on an ARC or new release, even better!

    And finally, I completely agree with my previous commenter about putting your personality into your blog. It’s not just about books but a reflection of you as well. I say just have fun with it and don’t get too stuffy :)

    Well, that was a long response…haha!
    Have a great day!

  10. Linda

    I agree. I dislike partial feeds. I rarely click over to read the full post.
    I like blogs that have a mix of everything and show the writer’s personality. You can have a lot to say but if your writing leaves me flat then forget it.

  11. dsuzuki

    Jenn-that’s good to hear about older books. I’m making my way through my huge TBR pile so I’ll probably be having a bunch of older book reviews coming up this year. I’ve also cut down on the amount of review books I’m accepting so there will be a decrease in those reviews.

    Helen-yes, blogs in my areas of interest are a key factor but even then there are too many to follow. LOL.

    Elie-I actually followed my own blog in Google Reader. For a short time I had partial feeds not knowing what they were & asked someone why my blog was showing up as a partial feed in reader. Luckily I found the setting to turn that off. BTW, I follow your blog and it’s not a partial feed :)

    Indigo-that’s great to know about the number of posts. I used to think more was better when I first started blogging until I realized how hard it was for me to keep up with other blogs. I’m trying to limit my posts to 1 a day unless something really interesting comes up after I’ve already posted for the day. i.e. The unsung YA book post which was too much fun to pass up.

    NotNessie-I agree about the interaction. I’ve been trying to be good about replying to comments and about also doing some posts that ask for reader feedback like this! I love hearing what everyone has to say. In regards to giveaway, interesting and nice to know some people prefer non-ARC giveaways. I like to mix it up since I need a way to get rid of the already ARCs I have but I also have some favorite books that are not ARCs that I love to drum up interest for.

    Serena-lol. Luckily my work doesn’t block those embedded comment boxes but that’s good to know. Another pet peeve is the posts that require a verification but when it reloads it pops you to the top of the post. So sometimes I leave a post not realizing my comment didn’t post because I skipped the verification step.

    Isalys-those are great comments! I also debate about the who sticking to one genre or not. I think you can grab more of the niche readers that way but I can never do it because I have some random tastes :) I’ve been seeing those weekend cooking posts lately and that’s actually a nice change up.

    Linda-the writer’s personality seems to be one of the top rated aspects of a blog that draws people in. I guess I should work on that :) I often tend to write stream of consciousness and then have to go clean up my messy thoughts. So not sure how much personality ends up coming through other than people can probably tell I’m not the most organized type of person.

  12. Aarti

    I also HATE the partial feeds. Ugh.

    I actually am slightly embarrassed to admit I always skip author interviews. I was surprised to learn that so many people like them because I almost always just mark those as read without reading them, unless it’s an author I have already read or that I am familiar with. If it’s an author I haven’t… then I don’t read them.

    I also like reviews that add a thoughtful note to the books- I think that’s why I appreciate longer reviews though I know many people like shorter ones. I like people to reflect on the book’s impact.

    I also don’t mind reviews of new or old books. I like them both. Sometimes I prefer the older books because there always seems to be a BLITZ of reviews for books when they come out and then I get bored of them. I am also starting a whole series on my blog about old somewhat forgotten books, though, so I could be biased :-)

  13. dsuzuki

    Aarti-I am so glad to finally see at least one other person who isn’t into author interviews. I also tend to just skip over those posts especially when they are part of a tour so I tend to see the same author interviewed on like 5 or more blogs in a row. I’ll be interested to see your forgotten books series.

  14. April

    I strongly dislike partial feeds as well.

    I also really dislike short reviews. They are so hard for me to comment on, because I hardly find anything to connect with. I mean, tell me why you loved the book, why you hated the book. I’ve been cutting down on the quantity of blogs I follow in search of quality (I still follow you, of course, I’m commenting on this post!)

    I dislike a blog with too many memes. I understand memes are great and all, and there are a few I really enjoy such as Waiting on Wednesday, Sunday Salon (I’ve never posted one but enjoy reading them) and my favorite In My Mailbox. I always mark the Tuesday Teaser, Friday 56, Wordless Wednesdays, Blue Mondays, what have you as read. If the Booking Through Thursday question is interesting, I’ll typically read those posts.

    I love when on a blog you can see a person’s personality shine through. I feel I see more personality on longer posts than shorter posts, because you become more intimate with a person’s thought process. Also, I enjoy issues posts, i.e. when people noticed the cover of Magic Under Glass and spoke out about it. I felt I really learned something. Or I guess, rather, you could say opinion posts, i.e. someone’s opinion on YA should be taken seriously, or why reading dystopian books is awesome. Also, I’d love to see more vlogs more gushing over books. Let’s see, what else. Oh, I tend to skip reviews of romance novels. I enjoy reading people’s thoughts of classics as well as of books I haven’t read but are in my TBR. There’s a few bloggers where it seems after every review they write, I add the book to my TBR pile. Oh, I also enjoy how-to posts. I.e. how to be a great blogger, etc.

    Also, I tend to skip past author interviews. They always ask the same questions. Where do you come up with your ideas? How does your writing process work? Boring. I do enjoy reading guest posts by authors though, where there’s no questions, just the author ruminating on a subject.

  15. dsuzuki

    April-I’m glad my blog made the cut! We are definitely on the same page on memes. You listed my favorites. The only other one I check occasionally now besides the 3 you mentioned are Musing Mondays if it has a good question. I’m mixed on vlogs as often times my connection is too slow and the video ends up being really choppy.

    Funny you mention the how tos. Last night just as I was falling asleep I was thinking I wanted to write a post with some how tos or questions to other bloggers hoping for help on some things I see on other blogs but don’t know/remember how to do myself. Someone asked me how do I get the email subscription to my blog to work and I forget that there are some who might be new and not know that. Or I’m always looking for tips on great plugins for WordPress. We’ll see what I do with that idea. I wanted to research more the Book Blogs ning group that also deals with questions like that and see if it’s too much duplication.

  16. J. Kaye

    Honestly? The only blogs that I mostly read nowadays are regulars who comment on mine. I was really hoping to kick back more this year, but it’s not happening. I have two goals for 2010. The first is the 365 and the second, to read 200 books in 2010. Since I am a slow reader, both are taking all my free time. Two things I do that serve no purpose in helping me in those goals are movie night and twitter. Even with Twitter, I am selective about the tweets I read. There’s too much negative and that’s something I can’t afford this year.

  17. Laurel Ann

    Agree. Partial feeds as frusterating. I like book reviews on the classics and worthy older books that I shold have read but missed. You reviews are lovely by-the-way!

  18. Christy

    Cool post idea and I love reading the comments. I started a blog in November, so I’m still getting accustomed to writing one and being a part of the book blogging community. Totally with the other commenters and yourself on the partial feed problem. I also almost always skip the author interview posts. I participate in the Teaser Tuesday and Library Loot posts and like reading those in other blogs. I tend to like blogs that have a variety of books that they read, because I like reading a little bit of this and that as well. What I’d like to work on is letting more of my personality shine through in my reviews, and having my own style. I feel like I come off a little too serious at times.

  19. Emily Ellsworth

    Another agreement on the partial post thing. I usually just skim right on past them.

    I read blogs that comment on mine or are written by people I know. I generally only read book blogs by people who have the same taste in books as I do. I mean, I don’t need to read reviews for books I’m never going to read, right?

  20. dsuzuki

    That’s true, I notice a lot of the blogs that tend to become favorites are ones in which I really keep in touch with those bloggers on Twitter. Maybe it comes down to the personality aspect. I know those people and feel like we click so I am more drawn to their posts.

  21. Wrighty

    What a great topic! I agree with so many things mentioned here and I like all of the topics you mentioned. I really appreciate the blogger’s personality coming through and love a great sense of humor. Some have an amazing gift for interacting well with their readers and hold some interesting discussions. I have a dial-up connection at home (I’m the last person on earth) so pages that are loaded with tons of extra stuff take forever for me to load. It doesn’t mean they aren’t worth it or it isn’t a nice blog it’s just a long process for me.

    How do you know if you have a partial feed? I’m not familiar with that and wold like to know if I need to change my settings.

  22. dsuzuki

    There is a setting somewhere in the Deshboard for WordPress sites but I always forget where. I think the easiest way is just to follow your own blog in a reader and check there. I do follow your blog and you don’t have partial feeds :)

  23. Allie

    I personally have a blog that is only appealing to a small number of people (I’m only reading the classics). It seems to be turning off some readers, but it is what my goal is right now. For me, I have a hard time sorting through a lot of blogs that cover the same content. I see that many book bloggers concentrate solely on new releases. While that is great, I like to read reviews of older books as well. I also have to wonder how people have time to read other great works if all they are reading is new releases?

    Another turn off is short reviews. I write lengthy reviews because I really want to dig into what I just read. I find it hard to connect with a book if a writer only put down a few sentences about what they just read. That tells me nothing about their experience with the book and why I should add it to a list of books I am hoping to read in the future.

  24. Zee

    For me what makes me read a blog is reviews of books that interest me and random bookish posts.

    Book giveaways don’t do anything for me at all since they are usually not open to me (not in the US or Canada). To be honest when a post says ‘giveaway’ I usually scroll down to the bottom to see if it is open to me or not.

    Like Aarti I usually mark the author interviews as read. I’m not big on knowing about the person who wrote the book since knowing more about the author as actually made me like books less in the past (sorry authors but they do).

    I don’t like partial feeds either since I too mostly read blogs in my reader.

  25. Zee

    Oh and I like a mixture of old and new books. When 20 reviews of the same book shows up in my reader within a few days I loose the will to read all the reviews and tend to just mark them as read.

  26. Erica

    I love all reviews. I think a nice mix of released and nnew releases is great. I love hearing about books that are already out, and I somehow missed.

    I cannot stand partial feeds – it aggrivates me. Half the time I never go to the site and read the rest of a post.

  27. The Kool-Aid Mom

    I’ve never noticed that about the partial feeds, I only have 2 or 3 that I subscribe to that do that, but now that you mention it, I think I don’t click on them as much as full fed posts.

    I click on post in the reader that interest me enough to make a comment. And book covers are essential for me. I’m a bit ADD, so I like shorter paragraphs, more pictures and bullets. I noticed you had bullets and a big smiley face and clicked on it to comment. See, it worked! lol

    I like posts where the person expresses themselves, and aren’t just offering a tepid review. But I myself have always stayed away from anything controversial. I stated exactly how I felt with The Blue Notebook, and it has really started something in the comments. I think I really like that, and I feel free with the review.

    OH, I love giveaways, too. And posts that ask my opinion and thoughts, like you did. Like most people, I always have something to say, just let me know what topic and I’ll oblige ;-)

  28. RAnn

    I too despise partial feeds. I like Mailbox Monday and try to visit the participating blogs even if I don’t subscribe. Get what I consider a good mailbox and I’ll probably subscribe to you to read the reviews. I also like Sunday Salon (though I don’t post) and Booking Thru Thursday–again I don’t usually post, but I sometimes like the question and seek out answers. I like posts like this that ask for feedback. I don’t care if a book is new or old, I like reading reviews. I don’t run author interviews because I don’t like to read them. I do like giveaways.

  29. Jennifer

    I subscribe to partial feeds, but I don’t usually click through. I click through to comment on posts, but an opening paragraph isn’t usually enough for me to have anything to say. With the amount of blogs I read, I just don’t have the time to click through to every partial feed post. Which defeats the purpose of a partial feed, since I would imagine the goal would be to make people click through so that you record the hits. I can’t imagine another purpose.

    I review a lot of back list titles. My blog is dictated by my what I want to read, and right now my focus is on the titles I’ve missed in the past. Most of the posts I comment on are back list titles too. I really enjoy reading other peoples thoughts on books I’ve already read. I usually avoid reading reviews of new release books I plan on reading soon since I fear spoilers.

    I visit a lot of giveaway posts, but only enter for those that are on my wishlist already. I read interviews by authors I already read. I like some memes, but not blogs that post only memes. I like original content too, but I’d prefer it to be book related in some way.

    I follow a lot of blogs and the list is constantly changing. There are probably 100 blogs I will always follow and the rest change often.

  30. Kay

    There are three things that really turn me off a blog, and partial feeds are one of them. The other things are Music on the blog, since I often listen to music of my own and the off switch is also often well hidden, and also an abundance of memes. I like them now and them, but blogs that are 90% memes turn me off, too.

    I like blogs that feature a mix of new and older books. It makes it more varied, and also makes me discover books that are older and don’t get as much attention now.

  31. Emma Newman

    I like to see reviews of older books too. Sometimes I see a book, think “Oh that looks interesting” and then fail to obtain a copy. But if I see a review of it years ormonths later, that little circuit lights up in my brain again and I actually go and get the book! It’s also nice to see reviews after the dust has settled, so to speak, so I can add the reviewer’s opinion to the other things I have absorbed about the book through osmosis.

    No music, no flashing things and no pop-up boxes all help a blog to be a nice place to hang out in my book! I also prefer sites that make it easy to comment (like this one!) but Blogger sites drive me batty. I can’t stand it if there is no “name / url” option to force me to sign in to a non-existent account. Urgh!

    Hmmm… I’m ranting. Sorry. I’ll get my coat ;) Keep up the good work here though, yours is one of the few review sites I subscribe to by e-mail so you must be doing something right for me :)

  32. dsuzuki

    Allie-I love your blog. I always mean to get back and read some classics.
    Kool Aid Mom-I love bullet points too. I started just writing but the post looked too long to me and I thought longer posts are harder to keep people’s attention and get through.

    For those that mentioned music I can see that being a total turn off. I have my sound off on my laptop since it’s the one I use at work. At home my connection is slower so I dislike blogs with too many bells and whistle that make it take longer to load. Wrighty’s Read-I especially remember when I was on vacation and using dial up again. It was painful!

    I love that so many people like seeing older books being reviewed. Thanks for all the opinions! This was great to read.

  33. Michelle

    Book reviews and posts related to future releases are the number one reason I visit book blogs. Having said that, I really enjoy special features (I like the one you do that revolves around the “who you prefer” scenario). I tend to shy away from blogs that get a bit too preachy and overly opinionated in the way that it makes people who don’t feel the same way tend to feel smaller or beneath others for not thinking or feeling the same way.

    I think you have a great combination of original content, thoughful posts about interesting subjects and bookish stuff. It’s one of my favorites to visit.

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