Home > cultural commentary, humor, learning, Process and technique > Blogging and not blogging

Blogging and not blogging

When I first got into the blogging thing, I found some places that gave advice on the whole business of ‘successful’ blogging. The tips included:

  • write several pillar articles – tutorials that offer useful advice or reference material.
  • write a blog post every day (and keyword/tag them well).
  • comment on other people’s posts.
  • link/trackback to other posts/websites when you refer to them.
  • encourage comments.

There was more, about getting onto blog carnivals, getting listed on blog listings, sending posts out to be used as ezine articles and such, but that was the top and bottom of it.

And, of course, I follow all this advice fitfully – there are probably four of five ‘pillar’ articles on here, mostly concerned with e-learning, written over a period of close to a year. And I certainly don’t post every day.

Mostly I post when: I have something to brag about; one of my friends has done something I want to publicise (which reminds me, Psy-tek has just composed and recorded two tracks if anyone wants to license their use); something interesting or humorous happened; or something has caught my eye, often an obscure or offbeat thing on a news report.

Mostly, though, I don’t post when nothing much has happened, or when I’m busy. I have a life. It may not be much of a life, but at any one point I probably have some distance learning material to write or update, some student work to assess, half a dozen stories in various states of completion that I may or may not want to submit anywhere straightaway because I have some longer-range plans, and ‘just normal everyday stuff’ that always seems to take a lot longer to accomplish than I think it’s going to. Plus, of course, there are occasional points when I’m actually away for a few days.

So basically, if there’s nothing new on my blog it probably means (a) I have a deadline to finish distance learning materials or mark student work, or (b) I’m on a roll with the writing and managing 1500+ words a day. That may not be a lot by some people’s lights – quite a few of the writers I know on here easily do double that, but it seems to be about my limit. All I can say is spending a couple of hours hung up on how to phrase a particular sentence does seem to mean I don’t need to spend ages rewriting and editing at a later stage!

For the last week or so the answer has been (b). In addition to the stuff I’ve been writing, late last night I came across a wonderfully surreal passage in a Thomas Pynchon novel that set me on a line of thought and by this morning it had become the solution to a plot problem in a piece I started writing in late 2009 but that hung fire for about a year because I didn’t have a way to develop the story. And now I do.

However, it will have to wait because right now the answer is (a): after a long lull, my email has suddenly filled up with student papers for assessment. So I’ll stop now…

Apparently you’re supposed to end with a question to encourage comments. Here’s two for the price of one. What, if anything, stops you from blogging? What do you see as a mark of ‘success’ in a blog?

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  1. March 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Oh well, I do something right – I do asks questions at the end of many posts, but that’s because I like the discussion that can ensue.
    I think a blog is a success if the author of that blog gets what he/she wants from it.
    I began blogging because an agent told me to, I had not never considered it before. I thought it was a time sucker, and couldn’t see any benefit. But I did it. From that, I developed some relationships that are great and have learned and grown as a writer from them. So, as far as I’m concerned my blog is great!
    That said, I have very low traffic and followers, so to someone else my blog would be anything but a success.
    Wonderful your writing is rolling!!

    • March 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks for your comment – I do think traffic isn’t the whole story in terms of success. If I was a well-known writer wanting to drive people to buy my books I might think differently, but almost everything I publish goes for small one-off fees to magazines. Modest numbers of readers and gradually building online links is the best I can hope for. And obviously the advice is based on the idea your entire being is focused on blogging, which may mean the advice is sensible but most of us can’t follow it 100% anyway.

  2. March 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I began blogging after reading an article that encouraged all writers to have a platform: blog, twitter and Facebook.

    But as you say, I have a life. It’s hard enough to find time to write without blogging, but I must enjoy it. I have made a few friends, of like mind, and some interesting people, such as yourself. However, I can’t turn blogging into a JOB.

    As far as blogging everyday, um, no. I don’t have something to say everyday, and I wouldn’t want to subscribe to a blog where someone was just rattling on about nothing.

    It would seem to me that the easiest thing to do would be to have 4 or 5 writers with one blog. But that’s a pipe dream.

    • March 16, 2011 at 3:28 am

      I do know a few writers who have a collective blog and share it out. Someone does Mondays, someone else Tuesdays and so on. That works best, though, if you have a group of people who write similar stuff, maybe have their own small press or e-imprint, and some kind of group identity under which their work is published. It’s probably an effective marketing tool if used in that way.

  3. March 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t see why they have to write similar stuff. Wouldn’t they attract more hits if one wrote sci-fi, one horror, or etc?

    • March 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm

      I dunno. Maybe they don’t. I’m just thinking that if all the writers had a similar readership it would work better. But there’s a lot of crossover between SF, horror, fantasy etc. and genre labels aren’t always good descriptors of actual pieces of fiction anyway. My instinct is that it would work best with a bunch of writers where if you like one story from one of them, you’d be likely to enjoy stuff by the others as well, so you start building a ‘tribe’ of interested readers. But your mileage may vary on that.

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