On Talking Blogging

James Bow pointed me in the direction of this, two questions that basically ask, “Why blog?” Let’s take a look at both, and see what sort of bloggery insights I may have in answering Amy’s questions…

What is one thing you wish you knew about blogging when you started or what advice would you give a newbie blogger?

Well, when I was blogging at your age, I had to walk uphill…

No, wait, that doesn’t make sense.

I began this website, back in 2002, without any real idea of why I wanted it. I had webspace through my ISP, but I wanted my own domain, and I decided there had to be some reason. Hence, bloggery.

The blogging world is massively different now. There are so many blogging solutions, it’s ridiculously easy to get a blog going, but the trick is to keep it going. I remember, several years back, in following the story of William Poole, a high school student in Winchester, Kentucky, that a guy posted comments on my blog (and James Bow’s, as I recall) and decided that he, too, needed a platform. He set up an account with Blogger, started up a blog, and then gave up on it in a matter of weeks. The reason? No traffic to his blog. And then, he vanished into the ether.

My advice, to someone starting out, is to have some patience. Traffic will come in time. It takes time to build an audience. And it takes effort to keep an audience, especially on a scattershot blog like mine, where I write variously about pop culture, writing, life, politics, and so forth. A blog devoted to a single purpose may find a larger readership than a more unfocused blog. Likewise, a blog about a single subject may find its audience faster.

Don’t expect overnight results. And don’t expect thousands of readers. Some surveys show that the average blog has a dozen readers. Have realistic expectations of your audience.

What is your best blogging tip?

Post often. If not daily, then at least four times a week. It keeps your blog fresh, it keeps the search bots indexing your site, and as content builds you have a better chance of hooking new readers.

I currently post daily. Sometimes, I write posts out ahead of time, and either leave them as drafts or schedule them for posting in the future. Sometimes I do a pass through news websites in the morning and see something to write about because it concerns me or because I have something snarky to offer. Sometimes, I check my RSS feeds. Sometimes, I write something random because I can’t think of anything else to write about.

If necessary, find a writing prompt. Or look at what friends are writing about. See if that jogs loose some thoughts on subjects various and sundry.

The thing you’ll discover is that the more you write, the easier the writing becomes. You’ll stop second-guessing yourself (a frequent problem I have — I’ll fiddle too much with the text), and you’ll start producing text on a regular basis.

“Writers write, always,” so said Throw Momma From The Train.

Almost as important as posting regularly, as often as possible, is the need for links. If you’re responding to someone else’s blog, link back to the original post. If you’re responding to a news article, link back to the newspaper or news service. Not only is it good netiquette, but if you’re linking to someone’s blog, your blogging software may send them a trackback, which can then send traffic back to you. In this way, dialogues are built.

That’s my advice. 🙂

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