Last July I started Barnestormin in an effort to get my stories out to a wider audience. I have gained the attention of some of that audience, but more importantly, I’ve learned a few things about blogging and the blogosphere. I have slacked off in the past few months and have not blogged frequently, as was my habit, so I’ve had some time to think about what I’ve learned about blogging since I started Barnestormin.
I am much more optimistic about the blogosphere subculture’s present and future affect on the larger culture than I was when I began Barnestormin. I also have picked up a few blogging pointers that I want to pass on. Here are five tips on blogging:
1) Allow people their pseudonyms – I got into trouble with this one. Many folks out there want to post under a handle or tag, and such pseudonyms are part of the blogosphere. Some folks will abuse the privilege of using a tag, harshly and unfairly criticizing others who post under their true names, but those abusive types are the exception. Most folks who use a tag have a good reason to do so, and ought not to be criticized simply for using a pseudonym.
2) Assume that people are reading your web log – People may be reading your blog when you least expect it. If you post enough and write about things that are of interest, even quiet types will speak up with a comment from time to time. It’s easy to forget this fact, particularly if relatively few people are posting comments on your blog. But just like in the newspaper, where a few letters to the editor can be representative of the views of thousands, a few comments from a handful of people posting on your blog might be representative of a much larger audience.
3) Recognize that the press will notice your blog – I was pleasantly surprised to see Barnestormin mentioned in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in the Allentown Morning Call, in the Pittsburgh City Paper, and by New York Daily News writer Derek Rose on his weblog. I solicited some of these mentions by letting folks know about Barnestormin, but I was gratified to see that some mainstream news people were willing to give my little blog a chance.
4) Don’t let the marketers get you down – If your blog is funny or well written, readers might come out of the advertising netherworld to make contact with you. They may offer you lucrative freelance writing work and flatter you by saying: “Our writing styles are exactly the same.” Consider such comments at their egomaniacal essence, and you’ll realize that, in fact, you are by far the better writer. Avoid working with such people.
5) Be humble – The minute you start to get on your high horse on your blog, some reader out there will come along and knock you to the ground. Try to be humble, and remember that blogging is as much about conversation as it is about writing and current events. Get the conversation started with a post, and encourage the comments as they come. Allow folks to take other sides of the issue, and allow them to be brutally honest. With such an approach, and some insightful readers, you are bound to learn a few things.