I’m wrapping up my second month on this blog (boy, do I wish there was another word for this thing; “blog” just sounds so…indiscreet), and I thought it proper to do a little retrospective on the process.
First, a big thank you to all those who have visited, read, and decided to follow this “scream of consciousness.” It’s always humbling (and not a little surprising) when complete strangers from around the world take an interest in what I write. Your attention is noted and greatly appreciated because, after all, writing is only half the process; readers are key.
In addition to posting here, I’ve spent some time these past two months browsing other blogs, and this has been very instructive. They do run the gamut, and each one teaches a lesson. I have no ambition to acquire thousands of followers—if it happens, great, but I can do the math. There are a zillion blogging venues out there and a bazillion bloggers on each one. To stretch a metaphor, I’m just one star in one arm of one galaxy, and my signal can only reach so far.
As to lessons learned, there are a couple basic ones. They aren’t surprising, but they make a big difference.
- Use proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Nothing says nØØb to me more than not knowing the difference between they’re/their/there or sprinkling apostrophes in amongst your plural nouns. As for grammar: know the rule, then break it as necessary.
- Stay on target. So many bloggers just ramble along, nattering from one topic to the next like that guy at the bus stop who smells like mold. The essay format isn’t essential, but it doesn’t hurt. A thesis is essential. If you blather, you’ve lost me.
- Draw the reader in. If you start with a preamble that recapitulates the history of the Holy Roman Empire, my eyes will glaze over by the time you get to Charlemagne. Remember that you’re just one mouse-click away from being forgotten, so you have to give me a reason to stay on your page.
- Be consistent. If you only post once a month, do that. If you’re a daily poster, do that. If you post five times in a week and then disappear until harvest-time, I know you’re not a reliable source of reading material.
- It’s not all about you. That sounds weird, but it’s true; your blog had a writer (you) and a reader (me). It isn’t a diary; it’s a mode of communication. I don’t care about what you had for breakfast or that your car’s in the shop, unless there’s a point or a story attached to it. For crying out loud, you’re not Samuel Pepys.
- Keep it clean. I don’t mean language; go as blue as you want in that regard (though there are consequences to that). I mean that the format of the blog, the visual layout, should be clean and readable. Fuss around with eye-staggering fonts, put a paisley background under your words, or plunk in a dozen photos the size of Vermont, and you make it hard to read what you’ve written. And if it’s hard to read, I won’t. Period.
- Be grateful. Take note when people visit, comment, and follow your blog. After all, isn’t that the point?
And so, with these lessons under my belt, I shall continue onward. Thanks for tagging along.