ARA: Getting serious about blogging

I get this IM after I went to bed a few nights ago from a friend of mine: As I’m thinking of it… at some time I would like to get your thoughts about becoming serious with my blogging. I haven’t put much out there in terms of attracting a following and now it’s something I want to consider at the very least.

My stock answer is, “How the heck do *I* know?”

That said, the way to become serious about blogging is to actually do it. I don’t mean you have to write something every day – only a crazy person, or someone with far more time on his hands than you do, would consider THAT. Two or three times a week, regularly and consistently, though, would be nice.

Write about what you think, you feel. Let your voice come through. Most people can tell when you’re lying. And by this, I don’t mean you have to give up any semblance of privacy. Good fiction tells greater truths, sometimes, than non-fiction.

Say something. I read on some local social media maven’s Facebook page – you WOULD know the name: “Many of my favorite FB users seem to be the ones getting off the site/closing their accounts.” One of the responses was interesting: “I think FB has changed a lot over the past two years. You have too many people posting 30 times a day every little thing they’re doing. And others that never talk, but you know they’re stalking everyone’s posts. It’s just not the same.”

That response addresses two or three points I want to make. You CAN blog too often. My need to limit myself to once a day was for MY sake, but I imagine the readers appreciate it too.

You should comment on other people’s blogs. Find some bloggers who write about things you’re interested in, preferably ones with a few, or a couple dozen comments, rather than a several hundred. What you are aiming to do is create relationships.

Even before I started blogging, and I was reading my friend Fred Hembeck’s now all-but-defunct blog, I would go to his links of interesting comic book artists, writers, fans. And I would read their stuff. Some of it interested me, some didn’t. For the former, I would read the comments, and then occasionally say something myself. Then when someone was making great points on a regular basis, I might check out HIS/HER blog. This is how I got to “know” people in Buffalo and England and New Zealand who I’ve never met. If you want to be intentional about it – and I wasn’t – think of it as a form of networking.

When you comment and say pithy things, those folks are going to want to know, “Who IS this clever person?” Some of them will follow you back to your blog.

You can, of course, ask you blogging friends to plug your blog, but (see the early paragraphs), be sure you have a blog worth plugging. Fred Hembeck mentioned me at least a half dozen times in my first year of blogging, and I KNOW it generated traffic for me.

One other thing: you tend to write very lengthy pieces on Facebook, some of which are thoughts in process and therefore belong on FB. But when you’re ready to make a statement, put it in the blog. People are more likely to go back to the blog than FB. I got a comment this month about my late friend Raoul Vezina, based on a post I wrote in November 2008. A blog is better for your body of work.

Now you should PROMOTE your blog posts on Twitter and Facebook, writing enough, especially in the latter, that would compel them to read the whole thing. There are services that will let you post one place and it will show up in several other locales. Networked Blogs is one. TweetDeck USED to do that, but isn’t supporting FB anymore.

I dislike reading long stuff on FB. Maybe it’s my aging eyes, or ADHD, but if it goes on too long in that tiny font, I bail.

Of course, you can read some books, or join a group, and I’m not opposed to that. I’ve never read a book on blogging, and most the blogging groups, usually involving writing every day for a given month, I’d forget to actually report that I’d written.

If you want more info, you know where to find me.

4 thoughts on “ARA: Getting serious about blogging”

  1. All sound advice, Roger! I do (or have done) all of what you’ve said.

    I’ve found that as I use Facebook more, I sometimes start to write what I think will be a short post, and then I realise it should be longer, so I turn it into a blog post, instead.

    While I now tend to use FB more as a social tool, I also post things that are too short for a blog post (or that I’m too lazy to write about (like a link to an interesting article or a video). But here’s a little secret: Sometimes I post such things to FB, Google+ or Twitter so I have the link in case I have time to blog about it later. I don’t do that often, but it happens.

    The one point I’d like to add my own emphasis is that whatever frequency one chooses, stick to it. Whether it’s three times a week or three times a day, try and be consistent so readers get in the habit of checking back regularly. Some people carry this to the extreme of posting at the exact same time(s) each day they post, but that requires far too much organisation for me.

    The important thing is that content is king: Have new, fresh stuff for people to read, and they’ll keep coming back.

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  2. Excellent advice! It always amazes me the people who can post to their blog every day. I haven’t accomplished that skill yet. Commenting is very important if you every want to establish any kind of relationship with the other person. I’m happy I found yours through ABC Wednesday and hope we’re bloggy friends for a long time.

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  3. While there’s some overlap, my Twitter followers and Facebook friends are, to me anyway, totally separate audiences. I’ll promote the bloggy stuff on Twitter; on Facebook, everyone knows I have the blog, and is either already reading it or has made the conscious decision not to read it, so it’s pointless for me to try to drum up readership on FB.

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  4. A book on blogging? “How To Blog” written by a columnist for the NY Times? I’ll pass. But yeah, that’s the key, write something that people want to read. The easiest way to do that is to be honest with what you write, not confessional, but true to your observations. You do that pretty well Roger, so go ahead and write as much as you want.

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