The first post on this blog appeared on 27 August 2007. This isn’t the last post, but a summary of things learned and maybe an answer to that “Do I need a blog?” question.
Blogging, like poetry, is a marathon not a sprint
If you gain a thousand readers overnight, search engines rightly assume you’ve bought your audience and demote your blog on their results pages. The aim is to build your audience organically, article by article. Just as you build your audience poem by poem, reading by reading. Keep going.
Blogging, like poetry, takes discipline
A regular posting schedule helps manage your audience’s expectations. If you post a dozen articles daily, decide that’s too much and try to revert to a monthly schedule, your audience will be disappointed and look elsewhere.
You can still write a dozen articles over 12 days, just ensure you schedule your posts to the posting schedule you know you can keep to.
You also need to reasonably confident to keep going. If you think you’re going to run out of ideas, you will need to widen the scope of your blog. Luckily creativity is a muscle, keep using it and it will keep working. Trust your ability to write the next article.
Blogging, like poetry, loves succinctness
Succinctness doesn’t mean trimming all your article ideas into identikit 500 word articles. One of the most popular articles on this blog is a 4000 word film review. It means keeping your language precise, your articles on topic and cutting the bloat.
Blog Readers, like poetry readers, like their efforts to be rewarded
A fourteen line poem isn’t necessarily a sonnet. It can take more effort to read a haiku than an epic ballad. If you try to condense your writing into snappy bullet points when the topic needs exploratory expansion, your article will be too opaque for your readers. If your articles don’t reward your audience, they stop reading.
Blogging, like poetry, means finding the right format
Densely packed prose and long paragraphs are hard to read. Like it or not, blog readers tend to skim-read so give them bullet-points, short paragraphs, and subheadings as navigational aids. Poems leave space on the page for a reason.
Blogging, like poetry, cannot become a chore
If you’re struggling for a topic, repeating something you’ve already written or are writing a blog article because you must have something to post, you’ll bore your readers.
Blogging, like poetry, needs promotion
You can’t build a blog and attract readers. You need to share on social media, mention your blog in your author biography, have a link in your email signature and mention you blog when you do readings. There are many writers’ blogs now: you’re entering a crowded market and need to draw readers in. Encouraging people who like your posts to share them helps.
Blogs need engagement
If your blog articles only broadcast, i.e. tell readers something, no one will bother to comment. If you ask questions, start a discussion and allow comments, readers will engage.
Comments need to be moderated
Blogs are about creating a community of readers who will hopefully look to your poems and books to complement their experience. Spam can disrupt a community. Hateful comments and trolls can kill it. Don’t moderate out those who are putting forward an opposing view, justified with quotes or statistics: debate is good. But don’t allow personal attacks or a hostile atmosphere to develop.
The only qualification for a writer is that they write
You don’t have to put your work in the public domain. You don’t have to create a blog. But If you want to be a published writer, you have to send your work out to readers either via an editor/ publisher or by self-publishing (books or blogs). Some people will like what you write. Others won’t. Some will send you polite, standard rejection slips. Others will publicity comment on your blog or leave a negative review. Some of those rejections or negative reviews will hurt. A good support network, e.g. writing friends or joining a writers’ group, can counter the negativity. Don’t start a blog because someone told you writers have to have one. Start a blog because you want to.