5 Rules This Blog Breaks

Prison Cell
Prison Cell

Traveler’s Library breaks some blogging rules. What I would like to know is, what works for YOU.

  • What kind of posts do you like?
  • What are you looking for when you come here?
  • If you just Stumbled in–did you find what you were looking for?
  • What countries, regions, authors, movies, do you want to see covered?


This is the 220th post of A Traveler’s Library. Which is about 219 more than 80% of starting bloggers post, according to what I’ve heard in the blogosphere. Even if the one-post-and-I’m-bored scenario is an exaggeration, the fact is that few people stick with it for very long and fewer blog five days a week, which is what I have been doing.

Like most bloggers that stick with it, I’m interested in what makes a blog tick–and keep ticking.  The gurus have some rules:

  1. Keep the blog posts short–200-300 words.
  2. Keep the language simple–middle school is pushing the limits.
  3. Mix it up–have some super short posts; some that are only pictures, or one picture; some that are mainly lists of links to interesting things you have seen on the web.
  4. Talk about things that are in the headlines–preferably celebrities or Twitter trending topics.
  5. The Internet is crawling with geeks, so talk about geeky stuff.

Okay, let’s look at A Traveler’s Library:

  1. The length of posts tends to be around 500-600 words. When it is very short, readership plummets.
  2. The vocabulary here is college level.
  3. When I have short posts, link posts, photo posts, readers go elsewhere. When I have extended discussions, they stay to read.
  4. Obviously I am not oriented to breaking news, and do not even talk about new books all the time, although newly minted books do  draw more attention than older books.
  5. The closest I have come to geeky talk was talking about audio books and Kindle.

One place that A Traveler’s Library agrees with the gurus–content is king.  I work to bring you varied and interesting subjects with intelligent discussion.  But it is important to know What do YOU want to discuss here?

Reading a blog post a while I ago, I saw comments referred to as another form of microblogging.  What a great description! So, hey, I’m setting you free –blog away!

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

17 thoughts on “5 Rules This Blog Breaks

  1. The best rule, I think, about length of a post is the one long given to public speakers: say what you have to say and sit down. A short thought can be as good as a long one, and may be much better thought-out and expressed. While my posts have averaged 600 words, some perfectly good ones have been short and to the point, such as this 108-word pensée on good writing:

    Good travel writing

    What does good travel writing look like? I think it looks very much like this:

    “I come suddenly into a foreign city, just as the lamps take light along the water, with some notes in my head . . . I try out the language with the taxi driver, to see if it’s still there; and later, I walk to a restaurant which is lurking around a corner in my memory. Nothing, of course, has changed; but cities flow on like water, and, like water, they close behind any departure.”
    ˛ — Alastair Reid, Passwords (1964)

    Reid is a poet and I think the best writing is poetic prose.

    That was what I had to say, so I said it and sat down.

  2. I’ve just discovered your site. I’d much rather read well written posts with well developed opinions and ideas than short poorly written articles. I think the college level rating is a blessing. Out of interest I tested my blog on the same judge and also got a college level – but I’m not goign to change how I write.
    .-= Mark H´s last blog ..Rocks and Rhinos (Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe) =-.

  3. Who makes these rules? I like number 3, but the others do not seem a recipe for success. 200-300 words is too short in my opinion. I think 400 to 500 words makes an ideal post. You need voice, which you have. You need to stick to a topic, which you do. You need to write well, ditto. You should blog every day so readers look forward to their daily fix, and you do that, as well. I write an unusual blog because it’s about a place, Wellfleet and living green on Cape Cod as an innkeeper. So, getting people who do not know Wellfleet to visit is a challenge. I use the same persona I created on the radio 25 years ago when I had a talk show in Paris, France. So, I think you need to have a persona or make yourself an expert on something, which you do. I would be interested to know what people think about offering prizes. That really turns me off, but I may be an exception. I cannot believe people will read blogs because they may win a prize. I prefer not to have those readers. I also am not crazy about the formatting suggestion that a blogger should lead with a paragraph and then hope the reader clicks on READ MORE. Glad you started this discussion. It is fascinating! I agree with Alisa. You are doing something right because we all love your blog!

    1. Much as I appreciate all these glowing comments about A Traveler’s Library, I want to state that I did not pose these questions to elicit a love fest. I sincerely am always looking for ways to improve my blog and to offer what the reader wants.
      Susan Johnson is right, these 5 points are not rules–they are tips. But, heck, breaking the tips doesn’t sound very dramatic, now does it?
      I’m glad to hear that there is a market for longer posts. Now, you all have subscribed, haven’t you?

  4. I break all the rules too, perhaps in an even worse way. My posts are usually 1000-1500 words. I, too, have found that people seem to like the longer posts. I think it has to do with what types of readers you attract—how old they are and what they are into. Also, experiential writing lends itself to longer posts, whereas more how-to writing can be shorter.

    Anyway, I think you are right on the money.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..How to Be Rich and Happy, take 2 =-.

  5. These aren’t so much rules as “tips that might help you succeed in the blogosphere if you aren’t sure how to blog.” But I think it’s more important that you find a niche and stick to it (which you’ve done, Vera) and write in an interesting, compelling voice (ditto). There’s a place on the blogosphere for short, newsy posts and longer, more reflective posts, too.
    .-= Susan Johnton´s last blog ..Why I’ve Lost Faith in Creative Staffing Agencies =-.

  6. I write an under-300 post maybe once every two weeks, and that’s not a conscious decision–it’s when I have a quick announcement to make. Otherwise my posts are much longer than that, even without the recipes. Seems to me that the under-300 thing mostly refers to gossipy, newsy blogs with constant updates, the ones looking for people to refresh several times a day. Can’t see how that would work for a personal blog, kwim? I’ve got too much to do to write multiple posts each day!
    .-= debbie´s last blog ..Parents Need To Eat, Too: Cooking Classes for New Parents, Starting Soon! =-.

  7. I don’t like blogs that simply regurgitate info that is found elsewhere or provides roundups of links to other sites. I like your blog because it’s your material and your voice and your interests.

  8. Congratulations on your continued posting. I also like blogs to be a bit longer, although only when necessary.

  9. I’m with Frugal Kiwi, I like a little more depth in a blog, unless I’m looking for coupons for Grease Monkey, then I just want the coupon, no commentary. I also like that you break the language rule–meaning you challenge readers instead of keeping things entirely pedestrian. Kudos.

  10. Blogs with 200-300 word posts don’t generally interest me. Then again I rarely read short fiction either. Give me a big thick book and I’m a happy girl.

    My own blog runs quite a lot longer than the 200-300 words suggested 99% of the time. As luck would have it, today is the exception.
    .-= Frugal Kiwi´s last blog ..Togs or Undies? =-.

  11. My posts tend to be longer too. I enjoy sites where the lengths vary and I think you do a good job of that here. I enjoy and look forward to your posts as they come along so keep breaking those rules!

  12. i come to your site bc i love to learn more about travel books, and books that share a sense of place. people that LOVE books will obviously read more than people that don’t – we’re just that much more interested!

    congrats on your 220th post! YAY YOU! and thanks for sharing such wonderful books with us.
    .-= jessiev´s last blog ..Hidden Treasures: Sunlight and Tea in Turkey =-.

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