I’m hardly an expert, but a friend asked me the other day, after reading my one year anniversary post, what my thoughts were, at this point, on blogging. Heck, having a blog is all about spouting one’s opinion, right? So here you go…
—They say to have a single topic blog, and I get that. It makes sense. But it’s my blog and I’m not a single topic kind of gal. I do make use of categories and tags to help people who are only interested in part of what I write about, to find that part. See over there, in the sidebar? I’m helpful like that.
—The tone and style of blogs are personal and friendly. Make it funny, easy to read, and clear. I don’t mean that the content has to be lite. I just mean that the blog form isn’t the same as, say, a press release. Or a business memo. Beware of being too serious. It gets boring fast, and boring doesn’t get read unless one HAS to read it. And no one has to read your blog. So make them want to.
—Write what you want, what you’re interested in. Be into it or don’t write about it. If a post is boring to you, it’ll be boring to read.
—Pictures are good. Pictures are fun. Use lots of pictures. And make it easy for yourself to capture pictures. (But don’t post pics of people who don’t want to be on the internet. Obviously.)
—Yeah, I know, they say you should post every day, and no doubt, the blogs that come up with something new every day get more hits. But again, it’s my blog, and I only want to blog when it’s fun. So I post when I have something to say, and I don’t bang out a post because I think I should. Quality over quantity. And sometimes I do have something interesting to say every day. Hey, it happens!
—Be kind. There is a ton of snark out there, and snark can be funny, yes, and yes, rants can be interesting, therapeutic, and amusing. But still, try to add to the kindness in the universe every chance you get. If there’s a choice between snark and joy, pick joy.
—Cory Doctorow, I can’t remember where (probably his blog, haha), gave a really useful piece of advice on blogging: make your headlines google friendly, that is, plain and descriptive of what the post is about. Save the funny, the voice, for your content. I totally find this to be true. My boring titles get more hits. And thank god because I suck at catchy titles. Now don’t go looking at my titles to test me on this, okay? I’m doing the best I can, for heaven’s sake.
—The voice, content, photo, and layout of your blog is a persona. Even if it is very true to who you are, ALL of you is not on the blog, so what IS on the blog, by process of elimination, is not a whole person. Duh, right? But here’s the thing: don’t let your persona fall to chance. Cultivate the persona that you want. Now, I’m NOT saying to be fake. I’m just being realistic—all of you isn’t on the blog, the editing is unavoidable, therefore, edit the persona you present in such a way as to capture the bit of you that best serves the goals of your blog. I write funny, interesting, self-effacing stuff (or, I try to, anyway) and that is fairly authentic to me on my good days. But as my bio says, sometimes I’m a boring ninny. And I try not to post on those days.
—There are certainly cool blogs out there that are paying their hosting fees with ads, or even making some nice money with ads, and that’s fine, to each his/her own. But I just don’t like looking at ads. I studiously ignore them wherever I go, and am especially annoyed if they flash or wiggle, trying to get the attention that I don’t want to give them. So I don’t put ads here. If my blog is my internet home, I don’t want flashy, wiggling ads in my living room.
Obviously, I’m not trying to make money at this
—Don’t publish anything you wouldn’t want posted on a billboard. Never forget that a blog is not an intimate setting. This is the world wide web. If there is anyone on the planet you wouldn’t want to read X, don’t publish X, or if you must, do it under a pseudonym.
—A lot of people say that blogging takes away from their writing time, and I can see that would be true in a lot of circumstances. But in mine, that is totally not the case. Here’s why: I can work on a blog post off and on, basically all day, or for days, being interrupted a million times—as is inevitable with my full time job as Mommy. But I really can’t write my fiction in that way. I have to go to a deeper place in my head to do fiction. Interruptions produce a snarling “What?!” which is not how I want to be with my kids. Blogging, on the other hand, I can do with my kids. Heck, they often help me with my posts, taking pictures or providing content. But fiction—I do that on my own, either when I have childcare for them, or they are asleep. Blogging and writing novels do not compete for my time.
—Finally, keep a corner of your brain always on the look out for a good post. I find myself composing them in the bath, or in the car. My thoughts are trundling along and then, poof, I realize I have something to say. A blog post is born. I use ecto, which lets me have several posts going on at once. Sometimes I realize one has been sitting in the queue for a while and I’ve lost interest. That’s fine. Delete. But a little bit of me is always keeping an eye out for an interesting thought or image that I might like to polish a little and publish. That’s a big part of the blogging fun for me.
–Oh wait, here’s one more. My friend also asked me if I worry about running out of things to say. But I really don’t. I figure, I’m always thinking about interesting stuff, so I have an infinity of interesting stuff to write. I mean, the stuff I think about is interesting to me, anyway. If that stops being true—if I’m NOT thinking about interesting things—the problem would not be my blog. The problem would be my life
There you have it. Blogging 101 by Me. These are my rules. I make them up. There will be no advance warning when they change.