People blog for a lot of reasons. I reached out to the local blogging community and received lots of great advice. The following is a jumble of those thoughts. I played 52 pickup with their sentences and my own.
The contributors include Billy Jones, Ed Cone, Lex Alexander, Jeff Martin, George Hartzman, and Roch Smith.
Why Do You Blog? What Advice Do You Have?
To understand the medium
First, to understand the medium itself in its early days.
Creating the new media/journalism landscape
Helping to create a new local journalism landscape was my primary focus for the longest time, and the thing with the most lasting value. Much remains left to do on that front.
Have something to say about a topic
That quickly led to a focus on areas that interested me, in which what we now call social media was having an impact: politics, journalism, and pop culture.
Write about what you know, and write about what you care about. Ideally these will be identical, but if they’re not, go with what you care about and use part of that caring to learn more about the subject as you go.
Write about things you know about and care about. Take some time, experiment and find what appeals to you is good advice. Add value, not volume. Get things right the first time.
Eventually the love affair ended and I was ready to quit. Then a subject came up that I was passionate about.
To build a record on a topic.
To pay attention. Writing in a way that builds a body of work on specific topics allows one to understand certain aspects of those topics better over time. The frequency, origin and consequences of events pertaining to those topics becomes clearer when observed over time— when one pays attention — giving a better understanding of their true nature. Over time, one starts to see patterns and connections that reveal more than the occasional observation.
To put it out there
Sometimes, blogging is a way for me to “put it out there,” — for the “record.” To say, “I’m watching.” “I see this.” “This is questionable.” “This is praise-worthy.” That may not influence public opinion en mass, but it contributes to the slow-drip and, often enough, is noticed by those who are involved with the topics of my commentary.
Some things need to be said. Some things need to be repeated. My fave are those things which probably should never be said at all. I enjoy the right and the ability to comment on injustice wherever I find it. As a result, I have many enemies and few friends.
Resource of information
Become a resource of information for other Internet users. A few of those readers would explore the rest of my site and become regular readers. Others read the free lists of not so widely known search engines. Any time I went looking for something and couldn’t find it all in one place or what I found came up short I published a list on one of the pages in the background of my site. Then I wrote a short blog post linking to it not so much to tell people about it but to direct the search engines to more easily find it. In other words, I made myself necessary.
Organize my thoughts
To practice organizing my thoughts; to research and think through topics; to test my assumptions and conclusions. Writing with some seriousness of purpose makes me a better thinker and, therefore, a better communicator elsewhere as well.
Tied into my day job
Along the way, I found blogging to be a natural and useful adjunct to my jobs as a writer and editor.
I started out blogging in an attempt to sell a product. (Not a good reason) That failed but for a short while before the economy crashed I managed to earn my living at it. Unfortunately my reader demographic was largely under $35,000 a year so they fell quickly and so did my blogging for a living. By that point I was in love with doing it and continued.
Make me think, expand my viewpoint.
I write because I can’t NOT write, and the blog is one convenient outlet among many. If anyone enjoys it, great, but I do it for me — not to market myself, but because doing it makes me feel good.
I think blogging made me a better writer, thinker, and listener. I hope it made me a better person. I’ve told my kids many times that when I look back at my life I almost never think, man, I wish I’d been more of a dick. Blogging reinforced that lesson for me.
I quit because I loved it and I had other stuff I wanted and needed to do.
I started again because once I’d broken the habit of being a multiple-times-a-day, constantly-engaged blogger (and be warned that it is a powerful habit) I felt I still had something to say about my community, and still wanted a place to write.
And try not to allow it to become an obsession.
Better way to communicate than FB, Twitter
And I found that with FB siphoning off the old flow of link-blogging and cat pics, the longer pieces I want to write were a natural fit for a blog.
But then you’ve experienced the failings of Facebook or you wouldn’t be starting a blog.
Driving online traffic is a multifaceted endeavor. But if you blog just for the sake of traffic, the blog won’t do well.
Don’t chase traffic, chase good ideas.
When you drive significant enough amounts of readers to the other website to get their attention. Some being stat whores like myself will simply look to see what others are saying about them but sometimes they will respond with links in-kind. Sadly, blogging etiquette isn’t as closely followed as it once was.
You’ll want to be selective in who you link to in blog posts. That said, outbound links can drive inbound traffic when your link sends traffic to other blogs.
Participate in discussions on other blogs.
Be transparent in your blog postings, by which I mean be clear on what each post is about, and write only about that, explaining, among other things, why you’re writing about it (i.e., why you care about it and think other people might, too).
Continuing on the transparency theme, if you’re writing about something that you care about and that you have a financial or personal interest in, say so — that honesty builds trust. But you’re not obliged to go into detail. If you want to blog about something in which you have a financial interest you don’t believe you can safely disclose at the time you want to blog about it, then find something else to blog about it.
Engage and treat others nicely but be careful
If you get commenters, engage with them, particularly the ones who ask questions. You can ignore trolls unless they threaten to drive off other, legitimate commenters, in which case just ban them.
Treat people online the way you would treat them in the physical world.
Your blog, your rules. And in close to 25 years of participating in online communities, I’ve never been in one that didn’t eventually require a moderator.
Also,be careful. You have something to lose, and there are folks out there who don’t, and relish the idea of taking a scalp — any scalp. Hope your skin is thick.
Why are you blogging?
Why are you blogging? Answer that and you’ll go a long way towards knowing what you should be doing. No one size fits all.
Complicated answer – part to learn a new technology/skill, a more comprehensive outlet than FB, creative writing outlet, alternative to friending people on FB, marketing my companies, learning what others think about issues – broadening my viewpoint, thinking aloud on certain issues and making the system more transparent, and blowing off steam.
Welcome to the party.