Letters from Home

One Great Blog

From my “For Writers, By Writers” Series

I bow deeply to pro-bloggers who keep the art of blogging closest to its journaling roots.

My favorite pro-blogger is the erasible “Pioneer Woman,” Ree Drummond.

Here are the five reasons why “Pioneer Woman” swallows entire mornings.

1. Personal. It’s the way that blogs are intended. Ree slathers her life all over the pages, including her otherwise quiet husband, her son’s inability to say “juice bag,” (think letter ‘d’) and her basset, Charlie. Why should we care about this woman and her family?

We shouldn’t except that she’s…
Ree Drummond, Courtesy "The Pioneer Woman"
2. Funny. Remember “The Carol Burnett Show”? (No? If not, watch this sometime!)

Ree channels the smart humor that Carol brought to her own universe.

Nothing too rich, or too heavy.

Nothing rude (well, a belch here and there, ok?) Just the sort of ticklish joy that comes with everyday life.

It isn’t all chuckle-chuckle. Ree’s been known to douse readers in tears and share her heartbreaks too.

She lays it bare, showing the tippy balance of working life, one where Mom is teaching and taking a million photos and baking and posing for magazines and chasing dogs and keeping Dad happy and also just trying to be like “normal,” whatever that is.

3. Images. The best blog post I have read in a long time — anywhere — Ree showed how she put together her children’s book, featuring basset Charlie.

It got over 700 comments. Her average is in the 100+ comment range, FYI.

The key to this post was combining short burst of text with Ree’s images, both of Charlie, and of the book making process.

Her eye is sharp, and she does not skimp on the number of images in her posts. This kind of “writing” truly keys into the changing desires of her reading public.

4. “Organized”. When you hit Ree’s home page, your eyes dart from here to there. What to eat –er, read! — first?

Menu titles and features jump out at you, and when you follow, you find each rich in content, compelling with a single word.

This is done with fewer menus (seven only with straight-forward titles like “Confessions” and “Homeschooling” and “Cooking”) and lots-o submenus.

However, that’s not where the key organization comes in. Look at a recipe page and just look at the beautiful, organized clutter of this page! You immediately get a sense of what it must be like to live in Ree’s house and to search for cumin in her pantry.

I can’t find it, but who cares!  Let’s make brownies!

It is PACKED with color and choices: images and links and hooks to stories, to recent recipes at the top, an photo of her and link to about page, a box that links to ALL of the recipes.

As you scroll down the post, you are enticed by widgets featuring “16-Minute Meals,” “Cowboy Food,” “Cowgirl Food” and more.

“Pioneer Woman” is a vortex of compelling content.

5. Niche-plus. To launch themselves into the universe of “not just blogger,” bloggers hear all the time that we need to connect with a certain audience, using SEO optimization and keyword content.

All this is fancy way of saying: how do we use the blog to say the one or two things we are really good at saying?

I want to ask Ree sometime how she started… maybe with homeschooling and cooking?

Those do seem to be important niche areas that draw online audiences. But it’s clear to see she’s bounded into writing, photography, and style blogging too. Not to mention the meta-content of her blog that makes it so perfect: family.

But Ree’s blog is truly successful because it isn’t TOO niche. The blog seems to overflow with her creative life, and throb with all the things she has to share with the world.

Not the least of which are her son’s inability to say “juice bag”.

Who is your favorite blogger? I’d love to hear so I can check her or him out!


Want to follow Ree on Twitter? She’s super.

How ’bout her adorable book about Charlie? Click the picture over there!!


How does your audience read your blog? Wanna know? Check this out!

5 thoughts on “One Great Blog

  1. Love her site, too! I think she explains her decision to Home School way, way, way back in the archives and the cooking had to do with learning to make food that the cowboys would like. She was a strict vegetarian until she moved back to OK. I think that info’s way, way back. I discovered her blog not long after my dad died and while I was unemployed or only partially employed and had scads of time to read the backlog. I think you should take a pilgrimage to your closest retreat center and spend some time just reading her blog. And eating some Knock You Naked Brownies.

    1. mmmmm… I think that is just a great idea. However, everytime I read it, I just want to spend more time in my own blog! Can I bring my MacBook to said retreat center?

  2. I like that you not only mention a blog you enjoy but WHY you enjoy it. This is a great idea you have here.

    1. Mark, I should mention that I don’t think this is the “recipe” for everyone. I hope that come in the post? This blog works especially because it seems to be so “personal,” so representative of her. I do think there are things to learn from that, though!

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