Why are A-list bloggers boring?

(And I’m not being facetious here.)

Here is a list of some A-list bloggers I read and enjoy: Smart Mobs (because of flashmob and mobile stuff), Dave Winer (yeah yeah, laugh it up), Seth Godin (marketing, branding, etc.), and Scobleizer (no idea why, really – but at least he admits it). There are others I can’t think of right now, but the point remains the same whomever we’re talking about: Why are some bloggers ‘allowed’ to be boring?

The question could more precisely be phrased as follows, though: Why are A-list bloggers allowed to break all the rules that regular bloggers would get chastized for? Consider the following ‘rules’:

Choose a topic or niche (link)

High traffic blogs have the liberty of talking about whatever, while regular bloggers have to narrow themselves to a niche in order to attract traffic. Regular bloggers can do nothing but narrow their focus more and more to attract traffic. Lord knows what effect this has on their work on pride in it.

Write snappy headlines (link)

Many A-list blogs write the vaguest headlines imaginable, or no headlines at all, yet the traffic continues and the devotees increas in fervour.

Be respectful of your readers’ time

I have found that some of the highest traffic bloggers post the most often possible, occasionally with one-sentence posts. Some of these may be good, but others could be strikingly banal.


Some could argue that ‘regular’ bloggers don’t have the audience, so they need to strategize more and find niches where they can gain some interest. They may say that the time for vague blogs is done. Bloggers that have somehow caught the attention of large audiences already have those readers, don’t need to struggle to attain more, so they have a lot more liberties than we have.

But let’s try phrasing this otherwise: In order to be successful, they’re saying that you should blog unnaturally, using only a few dimensions of your interests and personality, so that when you get up to the top you’ve either forgotten you wanted to have a wide-ranging blog in the first place (like A-list bloggers appear to be allowed to have), or are too afraid of breaking out of your niche for fear that you’ll lose the audience you built as precariously as a house of cards.

My manifesto is this:

I will talk about whatever I want, whenever I want, attempting to amuse my readership (and podcast listnership) as I amuse myself, without constraints. Never mind niches, and never mind rules – I want to be part of a trend of bloggers that are uninterested in strategies and constraints, in niches or blogging as if it was a 12-step program.

Traffic be damned; social media, blogging, podcasting – all of these are about people, and people are who I want to get to know. Niches? No thanks. I intend to retain my right to be boring. I suggest you do the same.

If you have any other rules you hate, or want to break, leave a comment.



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7 responses to “Why are A-list bloggers boring?”

  1. mhp Avatar

    exactly my approach. i’m not trying to get readers, i write about my interests from software engineering to current events to life. if we share interests and my satire, you’ll come back for more… you like the crap i have to say then enjoy, comment on, link to… if not, there is plenty of other crap on the net you can enjoy, comment on, link to.

  2. Patrick Avatar

    They are boring because they can be since people keep reading them just because of their status. Case in point; you find them boring but you’re still subscribed.

  3. anji bee Avatar

    god i’m still adjusting to being considered a “podcaster” after years of being considered an “independent musician” or whatever else people label me. i don’t have time to worry about being a “blogger” too. if i don’t make it as a cool blogger, f’ it!

    ps you need more photos of you in your blog, sucka.

  4. Julien Avatar

    I’m getting a camera! Chill! 🙂

  5. aaron Avatar

    I’ve got a new rule for bloggers: Don’t be a Dick. I’m going to call it the “Don’t-be-the-next-Jason- Calacanis” Rule. (admitedly it doesn’t role off the tounge)

    I’m really tired of A-list blogger bitching about other peoples business models and how it often gets pretty personal. You don’t see the head of FOX calling the head of NBC an idiot even if they have different marketing plans. Calacanis has done this on a number of occasions.

    JCs tirates on the whole payperpost stuff really pisses me off too.

    “The A-listers got to where they are in terms of traffic and advertising because they had HIGH ethics and DIDN’T sell out.”- Calacanis

    This kind of comes off like the Sultan of Zutan saying it’s tough to be poor but that it builds character. It’s just another form of advertising. Think of it as product placement.

    sorry a little off topic.

  6. Matt Forsythe Avatar

    Excellent article, Julien!

    There was a study a while back that showed that early adoption was one of the main keys to success in social media like blogging and podcasting. Because of the ‘linked’ nature of these ecologies, your readership inevitably snowballs as the technology propogates itself. So Kottke can continue to do posts about his new doormat if he likes, he has enough links in the blogosphere that there’s almost nothing he can do to destroy his readership.

    I have a healthy readership – but I blog primarily to entertain myself and I reserve the right to be boring – otherwise what the hell’s the point? The Google Ads hardly pay me enought to blog about anything that doesn’t interest me.

  7. […] Recnetly I was over at his page and I saw this post.  (And for those of you who don’t click the link I’ll quote it a bit…) […]

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