Monday, July 21, 2008

How to blog

Distilled wisdom from yours truly and the interwebs.

What is a blog anyways?
What to blog about
Words or pictures?
What to do & not do
What the hell am I going to call it?
Why isn’t anyone looking at my blog?

What is a blog anyways?

This is a blog. This website, with its new lot of words and pictures I put on it two or three times a week, is a blog. The Clapham Ambulance and Izzlepfaff are blogs, with their new lot of words once or twice a month. Posts as chapters making a completed story or book that may never be updated ever is a blog. This dictionary is a blog, even though I don’t make new posts but instead just add to the existing ones. A Flickr account regularly updated with new photos is a phlog (photo blog). A blog that's mostly audiofiles or podcast is a plog (podcast blog). A YouTube account regularly updated is a vlog (video blog).

So a blog is what you want it to be. If you want to update it twice a week or once a month, it’s a blog. If you want to put up a dozen posts to make it complete then never touch it again, it’s a blog. If you want to write fiction and put one chapter in each post, it’s a blog. If you want to write non-fiction and put one experience in each post, it’s a blog. If you want to put up a photo each Friday and never any words, it's a blog.

What to blog about

Only professional comedians and columnists can regularly come up with something interesting to write about random stuff. If you fancy yourself as one of these or your mates reckon you can do it, go for it. If you fall on your face, hardly anyone will notice.

Have a focus. That is, pick a subject to blog about. The subject of this blog is my walkies in the Woy Woy area. Most bloggers who run out of steam have no focus. Most bloggers who keep blogging have a focus.

Focus examples:

Your hobby
Unless your hobby is watching paint dry, people will be interested in it. Trainspotters have proved this.

Train-spotters have blogs consisting of photographs of trains, a few words about where they were photographed, complaints about the lack of steam trains and accounts of train rides. They link their blogs to other train-spotters’ blogs. Train-spotters all over the world look at other train-spotters’ blogs and every day there’s a new train-spotter blog somewhere in the world because train-spotters are interested in spotted trains.

Yachties have yachting blogs consisting of pictures of yachts, words about yachts and yachting, maps of yachting routes, complaints about other harbour users and links to other yachting blogs.

Walkers have walking blogs consisting of pictures and words about things seen on walks, maps of where they’ve walked, complaints about shoes and links to other walkers’ blogs.

You get the picture. Whatever your hobby is, somewhere out there in the world are thousands of people doing the same hobby. Put up your pictures and words and link to others and be happy.

Your job
People want to know about other people’s jobs. The late Simon Lindsay, known to his blog readers as Doddery Old Fart, told us things like why massive road works are planned for just before the Christmas rush, how to get a 16-wheeler out of a ravine after it’s run off the road and about the subtle forms of revenge a team of road-workers can wreak on their tormentors. He was the world's only blogging road-worker and had a worldwide readership.

There are a lot of work blogs. There’s even a guy who studies work blogs as his work and lists them on his work blog about work blogs.

Think carefully before you start a work blog. Bloggers have been sacked for writing a work blog, even if when they haven’t named the company or slagged off the boss.

Your town
Armchair travel is the most popular form of travel in the world. People like to go somewhere else without leaving home.

This blog, which is about walks around a small town in Australia, gets readers from Canada, the UK, America, New Zealand, China, Japan, Indonesia, Russia, and more, as well as from all over Australia.

Other blogs about other towns get readers from all over the world and from their own town.

I heartily recommend your town as a focus for your blog. It is not hard to find something to blog about every week and you will find out more about your town than most people learn in a lifetime.

Words or pictures?


If you are a good writer, words. If you are an okay writer and a decent photographer, words and pictures. If you think you have nothing to say or no writing skills, pictures.

(If you think you are a crap photographer, there's nothing like taking more photos for learning photography.)

If you write stuff between the pictures and no-one reads it, that’s their loss not yours. Most people will read the bit about where or how the picture was taken.

You can’t go wrong with pictures. And you can start with pictures and slowly add a few more words each week.

How to take decent photos

What to do & not do

Put up pictures.
Turn on the comments.
Don’t feed the trolls. "Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it."
What, when, who, where, why and how.
Don’t try to please all the people all the time.
Swear your fucking head off.
Don't swear if you hope to be linked by your local newspaper.
Try not to whinge (whine) too much.
Name your town.
Use a fake name. Your future boss doesn’t need to know you like getting your bottom spanked.
Don’t name your mates, your workplace, your family.
Link, link and link again. Linking makes the web exist.
Write like you talk.
Use the fcuking spell-checker.
Write about something you know.
Make a regular time for blogging.
Have a spare post for when you're too busy to blog.
Don't worry if you obsess about your reader stats for a while.
Use black text on a white background, unless you’re a vampire.
Say what you think not what you think you should think.
Don’t try to be cool.
Back up your blog. When the internet has a fit, you still got your posts.
Don’t expect to make money from your blog.

What the hell am I going to call it?

Write some stuff for your blog, or put together a few dozen pictures, and a name will suggest itself. You can change it later. No-one will be terribly upset.

If your blog is about yachting on Pittwater, call it Yachting on Pittwater.

Why isn’t anyone looking at my blog?
They are. You just don’t know it yet. Get

Or maybe nobody knows about your blog yet. Send your mates your blog’s address. If your blog is secret and you’re using, you’ll get your first visitor after you show up on Google in a month.

Or your blog lacks focus. Make it about something. Random rants and raves are not focus. Pick a subject and write about that.

If you’ve been blogging for six months and you’ve only got two readers, you’re normal. Unless you’re posting photos of your naughty bits, it takes a year to get a dozen readers.

How to blog by Tony Pierce
Squirrel Some Blog Nuts Away To Use Later

How to take decent photos


Spike said...

That should read:

it takes a year to get a dozen regular readers.

Spike said...

More how-to-blog gold at: