The trick is to read posts that are doubly-useful.
Let’s look at a few examples:
I’m a big fan of JD Roth’s Get Rich Slowly, a finance-tips-for-the-layman sort of blog. While I do appreciate the best practices and money hacks (I feel they help me develop and maintain good financial habits), I could get those anywhere. A huge part of why I read GRS is because JD is a fan-freaking-tastic blogger. He writes diverse content on a near-daily basis, his posts always come off as sincere and never condescending, and the totally-committed community he has built up around GRS is nothing short of incredible. When I read posts at GRS, I’m not just learning about personal finance, I’m learning about how to write for and manage an extremely successful blog. Two things.
Another blogger I really like is Lisa Barone over at Outspoken Media. She writes mostly about search engine optimization and branding, which is often useful information for small-time bloggers like myself, but it’s not what she says that I’m paying the most attention to — it’s how she says it. Lisa has voice. Her writing is playful but clear, concise but with flair. I’m confident that if someone gave me ten posts about SEO and told me that one of them was written by Lisa, I could find it hands down. She’s identifiable and unique in an industry that is crowded and largely bland. Her content is useful, but it’s her style that I learn the most from. Again, two things.
And doubly-useful content doesn’t always have to be about honing pairs of skills; it works just as well for entertainment. Take, for example, Penny Arcade. There are at least two things I find entertaining on this website. The obvious one is the content they produce; their comics, podcasts, and PATV episodes are inspired and wildly popular, but I’m also a huge fan of Tycho’s writing! There have been days when I’ve loaded up PA to see the latest comic, and after reading Tycho’s post, completely forgotten that they even do comics and moved on to something else. Tycho’s posts are so captivating on their own that I would visit the site even if they didn’t make hilarious content. You guessed it: two things.
This doesn’t just apply to blogging either. I’ve tried several times to find a few francophones to follow on Twitter, because in addition to enjoying their opinions (I like to cover a wide variety of demographics on Twitter) it will also help me practice my french. It’s surprising where phenomenons like this can crop up.
So next time you’re about to drop half an hour on FAIL Blog or that popular social-media site that you only follow because everyone else does, consider spending that time on something with more depth. Something you can gain two insights from instead of one. Something doubly-useful.