Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Flog a blog?
Photo: Gaping Void
Blogs and networking sites have taken a strange hue of late. It's interesting to see certain online tangents and cliques that are being made while others stomp their feet over internet trolls who gleefully take a swipe at anything or anyone. Twitter is certainly leading the way in that regard but its micro-blogging service is also reducing the regularity and quality of normal blogs. It seems it's easier to tweet or hang out with your friends on Facebook rather than take the time to write a blog post.
Only this time last year, blogging was being touted as the way to go. But with so many blogs and online commentary available, it's all getting a bit fragmented. Still, I reckon maintaining a good blog is a worthwhile venture. So, an extract from a post I wrote last year, with my humble tips on blogging. For the full post and reaction, see the original post from 29th October, 2008.
Blogging - good blogging - is about regularity. Intelligence. Wit. Honesty. Triviality. Community. Sounds a bit highfalutin, but it’s true, all the best blogs give generously with their time and text, building their audience with their regular posts and useful comments. If you’re just starting out a blog and feel a bit daunted by the task, then here are a few tips to see you through:-
What’s your blog about? If you just want to share the highs and lows of your writing experiences, then great. Most scriboblogs take this approach. It gives us that sense of community and support but, if you want to be a bit different, think of a particular new tack or tone for your blog, and stick to that.
2. Getting to Know You
Nobody reading your blog? Well, they don’t know you’re out there yet. The most basic way of raising your profile is to make comments on the blogs that you read the most. Don’t just hit and run, either. Make an appreciative comment, or add something to the debate. And then do the same on a few other blogs. People will recognise your name, like/dislike your comments, check out your profile, which will lead them conveniently to your blog.
The best way to get noticed is to get a link or a mention on someone else’s blog but this is usually an unexpected bonus. It’s blog etiquette to return someone’s link if they have you on their blogroll (their list of links) but it’s not so cool if you specifically request a shout out just for a quick hit on your site.
3. Slow Build
Once they’ve seen you have a blog, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll come back. To ensure repeat hits, you have to blog. Which means you have to write new posts. Fairly regularly, especially at the beginning. The internet hoovers up content. You have to keep providing it. 3 posts per week would be a good place to start. More if you can manage it. Anything between 1-3 per week is fair game once you’re up and running. You’ll soon discover if blogging is for you; whether it’s an inconvenience and irritation to write something or if it’s a natural impulse to post an update on what’s happening in your little corner of the internet.
Anybody can whack up a YouTube video or share a joke, or the details of a course, and it counts as a post. This is all fair enough but if you really want a blog that stands out from the crowd, you’ve got to try to make each of your posts useful. Or witty. Or intelligent. Or different in some way. If you’re going to review a film or something you’ve seen on TV (another way to easily generate a post), don’t be lazy about it. You’re a writer. Have something insightful to say. Don’t just slag things off or be sloppy with your prose. Check out Dan’s Media Digest to see how it’s done.
It’s important to remember that your blog is on the internet, and can be read by anyone, anywhere at anytime. If you’re a writer, and you haven’t set up an anonymous blog (which have their merits but nameless rants can be wearisome), then it’s likely that an exec will Google you at some stage, and check out your blog. And if that coincides with your latest post where you have a flaky meltdown about the way your career is going, then that’s not going to be good, is it? (I heard that someone slagged off an exec they had met, and the exec read the post, heavily offended.)
The blog is your shop window. Your professional face to the world. While it’s great to be honest and truthful about what’s going on, there’s no need to show that it’s turning you into an emotional wreck. Everybody gets rejected and has frustrating experiences. Blog about it, absolutely, but don’t become a raving loon.
Will I get work from it? Possibly. It all depends on you, and what you write about, and how you present yourself. It’s all a knock-on effect, really. Having a positive web presence will help build your reputation, and could be the final clincher in someone thinking of you for a writing gig. Personally, I’ve got three paid gigs from having the blog. But it’s not a straightforward process of someone seeing your blog, liking it, and offering you a job. In my experience, they’ve read the blog, got in touch, kept in contact, and then thought of me when the time was right.