It’s the start of a new year — the season for self-assessment and goal-setting. The season for lists proclaiming The Best of 2016: the best movies, the best books, the best headlines, the best Facebook Memes, the best tacos, etc.
Now that I am an experienced blogger — twenty posts in four months! (I am trying to be funny here) — I have an obligation to share what I’ve learned in an end-of-year list!
So here it is — the best advice on blogging that I didn’t quite follow!
#1 All writers must blog.
- Unpublished writers blog to build a platform to impress potential literary agents.
- Published authors blog to promote their books.
To be honest, Point #1 is not something I just learned last year. Point #1 is something that speakers at James River Writers Writers Workshops have been pounding into my head for uncounted sessions. Point #1 is advice I resisted because it seemed to me that if every writer is writing a blog there couldn’t possibly be enough readers to go around. I thought I didn’t know anybody who read blogs.
Actually, I myself read blogs.
My sister writes the lovely Stag Beetle Power for homeschoolers in Portland, Oregon. I live on the other side of the continent but she posts occasional photos of my nephew and lots of photos of gorgeous scenery and close-ups of wildflowers and critters. And it’s packed with news of interesting local exhibits and workshops and great parks.
I have a high school friend who has traveled Tibet by pony and Europe by bike and walked the Camino de Santiago. She blogs to share her travels with her many friends. There is a lively young family I know, with adorable curly-headed children, who appear in a blog about their life, overseas and stateside, and I look at that. Their photos make even Cleveland look good. They post mouth-watering images of the exotic foods they cook, too.
And writing blogs? There are some great ones. I’ve been reading those for years. my Miss Snark, Literary Agent is my favorite. (Alas! She no longer writes this blog. The archives, however, are an entertaining education.) And Evil Editor! Bless his heart! He’s always ready explain “why you don’t get published.”
And, predictably, there are lots of blogs about blogging — LOTS! (And much of the advice is contradictory, beginning with the basic premise above that authors must blog because their readers will look for them even though many writers, like myself, are unpublished and nobody is looking for us.)
And, like most everyone else, anytime I want to know how to do something — roast chicken, knit cables, make a snow globe — I Google it. And often I end up finding the information I need in someone’s blog. So I was reading blogs even though I thought they weren’t blogs. Maybe everyone with a computer is also following one or two blogs and thinks they aren’t.
Maybe there are enough readers to go around.
#2 Writers are wise to develop a public personality before they need one.
Obviously, I learned this too late to apply it to my blog.
Besides, I don’t have the energy to develop a personality. A personality requires upkeep and there’s a whole list of stuff I’m already not keeping up with!
Presenting a deliberate, alternative personality? I couldn’t do that with a script! Brain fog and bouts of exhaustion make me choosy about how I deplete my stamina.
It might be fun for a party, on a night I was up to it. Blue eye-liner and false eye-lashes and a wig. Maybe a hat with a sweeping ostrich plume and dangley earrings. I wouldn’t even have to say anything! I could just look mysterious. Maybe I wouldn’t even have to sit up straight. I could sort of drape myself across a piece of upholstered furniture.
That would be an easy public personality. Too bad it won’t work in a blog.
#3 Consistent subject matter is essential for a successful blog.
Okay. Just give me a D-. “Things I am Thinking About Today” is just NOT a consistent theme.
But, it’s early days yet. If I keep writing, maybe I’ll sight a Compelling Theme, like a drowning swimmer, bobbing up in this sea of words. And maybe I can throw out a life-buoy and pull it to shore and get a acquainted it. (Don’t hold your breath!)
In the meantime, this undeveloped personality will aim for consistency in the frequency of posts. It’s a modest goal. I might even pull it off.
But will anyone read it?