Fluff Is For Marshmallows—Not Blogs

We are twelve days into 2012. In the blogosphere, that means 2,987 posts have already been published on “Launching a New Blog in the New Year,” 3,491 bloggers have suggested steps to increase site visibility on search engines, and 9,523 articles have been written on how to get readers to be awesome and share posts. (All numbers approximate.)

Most of us have read or seen similar articles, written by bloggers who promise to propel your blog to thousands of readers in five magical steps. While I enjoy the ones that are useful, far too often the posts are filled with overly generic suggestions on blogging that don’t provide any unique insights. When that happens, the advice comes off as unoriginal and forced. This practice is what I like to call inserting fluff into blog posts—words that take up space, but don’t advance an argument or conversation. It needs to stop!

Fluff is not unique to blogs on social media or blogging, but it is notoriously bad on these “How To Succeed at [Insert Blog Topic Here]” posts. I came across the following suggestions while researching how to make the most of my blog launch. I’ve provided just a few “tips” that did little to provide me with what I needed to launch the blog with confidence.

Fluff Advice #1: “Offer value.”

From a nameless blog (to protect their identity):

“Really think about what you’re putting out there [on your blog] and give the people what they want.”

What’s unfortunate here is that for first time bloggers, an author may have a concept of what he or she wants to write about, but won’t necessarily know “what [the audience] wants” since… they don’t technically have an audience yet.

Fluff Advice #2: “Be consistent.”

This one’s popular. Often included in the classic “Improve Your Search Rank Now… Or Else” list, it slips onto other blogging lists as well. What exactly should we be consistent with—publishing schedule? Post format? Article topics? I wouldn’t mind this tip (or consider it fluff) if an author provided a definition and helped us all understand the reason for doing so.

Fluff Advice #3: “Don’t use offensive language when talking to your audience.”

Boy, am I glad I saw this piece of advice! Had I not read it on a “Things You Should Never Ever Do” list, language may have gotten crazy up in this blog. Self-explanatory tips in combination with overly generic ones make for one unhelpful blog post.

I rant because I care. A lot can be learned online from lists written by experts in a variety of fields. But when the posts are contrived, forced and full of fluff, they don’t do anyone good. If you are a blogger writing a “How To” list, make sure to provide commentary or insight on the topic, instead of just posting tips because you feel like you have to. For readers, next time you see overly generic advice sprinkled into these lists, ask for additional specification on those suggestions to make the blogger offer a real opinion, or visit a different blogger who does.

About Andrew Grojean

Andrew is a Social Media Manager at a digital marketing agency in KC, interested in all things social media, pop culture, sports, and technology.

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