Most of you know that speed is an issue for me and computing, so nothing drives me nuttier than wasting time following a link that turns out to have little or nothing to do with the proposition stated by the post. This is true of bloggers, but also people on Facebook and forums.
It leaves me in the end with one of two conclusions. Either the user is being intentionally deceptive, hoping I’ll be impressed with his back up but not checking it out, or she is not bright enough to see that the linked material doesn’t stand for the proposition announced. Either way, I’m not putting much confidence on the poster again.
It occurred me to this had to do with blogging rules 101, and that some of these basic rules of road are correct, and some not so much. Given that we who blog do so for a reason, it seemed worthwhile to state some conclusions about blogging I’ve come to.
The point about links is clear. Your links need to be relevant, and should reasonably say what you infer they mean. Nothing turns off people quicker I doubt or makes then question your smarts or integrity, than when links are not reasonably referable to the post. Links moreover should lead regularly to independent and helpful additional information.
It seems to be a rule that you should have lots of links. This shows that you have spent a fair amount of time researching and thus that your conclusions are sound? I guess it means that. But I’m not convinced, and furthermore, I think lots of folks don’t have the time to chase the links unless they offer some real interest independent of the post. So I’m not overly concerned with having a lot.
It seems reasonable that it’s still a good idea that your blog has a single subject. I violate that as you know. And no doubt I pay the price to a degree. But I think some have found that the very fact that I tackle two no-no’s in public discourse, politics and religion, is enticing to them. When I ask whether people prefer more of one than the other, I usually get the same answer: keep doing what I’m doing.
But as a general rule, you tap into your demographic much better if you limit your blog to fairly single subjects. This is true whether you are TPM or Betty’s Home Front. I tried the newspaper model, and while reasonable successful, I found it so very time consuming as to be prohibitive. I’m basically down to the double issue with a recipe or such thrown in, along with the “life in the meadow” humor pieces.
One of the greatest rewards of blogging for me has been the discovery of my voice. I have always understood that I was a good technical writer. Read that as being able to write a good text book, and pretty much anything nonfiction. I have no ability to write fiction in the law haul. What was a total shock to me was that I had a talent for humor.
Voice, learning what you can do, takes time. I’m just now getting comfortable with the wit and dry humor that I can conger up pretty easily. It’s a gift, and it’s my personal quirk. Randal, whom I mention often, can write circles around me. On a good day, I could emulate him, and no one would get confused as to who wrote what. I slowly have developed my own weird goofy prose that seems to strike the funny bone of a loyal following.
The advice is to take time, explore different modes of writing, and it will settle into something recognizable to you in time. Like fine wine, and a marinated steak, patience is required.
Much is made of the rule that your posts should be around 500 words 700 at max. Mine exceed that nearly every day. I’m nearly 1000 on most days. I can’t help it. No doubt some skim my posts some days, or perhaps do as I do, save a very few bloggers for full reading, and skim the rest. Do the best you can do to keep it succinct, but I doubt anyone will stop reading you if they like what you write. Tomes however are ill advised and should be broken into “parts.”
Be as honest as you dare. If you start out trying not to offend anyone, you will bore everyone. Even when people loudly disagree, stick to your principles, or change them if you are obviously wrong. If you don’t have the strength of your convictions, then you are nothing more than the pundit for hire. Passion, real passion that is, attracts. Sincerity is compelling. Fake tears are not.
Don’t be afraid to be edgy. Most of the mainstream isn’t and that’s why the fringe is read. People know the basics. They want to be challenged. They may agree or not, and you have no hold on the truth, but your pushing of the envelope is what engenders real thought, and rethinking. That is the point after all, that we don’t accept the world as fate dictated. We challenge, probe, pick at, the accepted norms and offer that to open minds. We all get changed or reinforced, but we cease being stuck in sameness.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. There are close to 6 billion people on the planet. Even a readership of 1000 a day, is hardly a mandate that you’re brilliant. Even the insanest person you know can find somebody who is equally insane, and usually more than one. You will in the end find yourself wrong on many things. This is fine. We are all learning, and we all make mistakes. Be careful that you don’t start being a guru. Do you really want that responsibility?
Mostly have fun, and recreate yourself as needed or as desired. Today’s “knitting blog” becomes tomorrow’s environmental call to action blog. We are all in process. Never feel compelled to write or not. Take breaks when you need to recharge. Read as much as you can to be informed. Don’t get bogged down with strange quirky people with oddball worldviews that want to argue with you. (My hard lesson to learn.) And did I say have fun?