Have you ever scrolled through what seemed like a million blogs before you managed to come up with one that seemed worth reading? Have your various feeds been bombarded with numerous posts so that you have wondered if you needed to “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone while the whole time being aware of an uncomfortable feeling that you might be missing out on a few good posts by removing the blogger completely from your feed?
There are bloggers who post too much. We simply don’t feel like seeing them again. And there are bloggers who post too little. They get buried in the avalanche of the prolific post-ers.
It’s not the blogger’s fault. My limited experience with blogging has revealed an inherent contradiction embedded in the very genre of the blog .
The blogger’s dilemma:
The dilemma for us is this: A blogger needs to keep producing blog posts at periodic intervals while also maintaining quality.
- If the quality falls below a certain level, readers will inevitably lose interest. While they may not “unfollow” the blog itself, they will simply stop clicking on the titles, put off by the mere garrulity of the blogs, full of just words and nothing much to say.
- If the blogger decides to post infrequently aiming for high quality, s/he may soon realize that in the blogosphere, absence does not make the heart grow fonder although over-familiarity might breed contempt.
The challenges of the blog form:
Since blogging as a genre does not allow for much in-depth analysis simply because blogs need to remain fairly short, they need to be frequent enough to become a household voice to the reader. Blogs tend to tickle the thought process of the reader periodically, leaving the rest to the imagination, sometimes pointing to longer works by the author where there is more in-depth treatment.
Besides, the content in focus in a blog is not constant. Even the super-good post gets pushed down as new posts come up because of the chronological setup. Putting all your good ideas in a single blog might ensure that people forget about it in a week when new posts come up.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. They will simply not hatch in a blog.
At the same time, a blog post has to be complete, coherent and engaging in itself without depending on what came before or what will come after. Therefore, although it’s similar in some ways to serial publications, it cannot hope to succeed based on suspence value. It is a finished product unlike serialized work (unless you are specifically using the medium of the blog to serialize a longer work).
Yet, a blog is similar to serialized work in that the average quality of the posts matter more than the sporadic excellent one. Therefore maintaining consistent quality is important. Being a quirky genius does not help much.
It is possible to produce quality material at frequent intervals but unless you have an exceptional gift, this will mean that all your other writing activities will suffer if you channel all your creative energy into the blog. For while we writers can write an enormous number of grammatically coherent sentences if we’re made to, we all have a limit to how much quality work we can produce in a day or a week. If we have chosen to become full-time bloggers it might still be possible to keep producing good work several times a day but that kind of productivity will burn anyone out soon.
Dealing with the challenge:
So how can we deal with this issue of producing blogs at regular intervals while maintaining a minimum level of quality below which we swear, at the time of starting a blog, that we will not fall?
Weekly goals help.
Weekly goals are important not only because they ensure that a certain amount of writing is produced at intervals but also, for the blog addicts, they ensure that we’re not overdoing the posts so that it’s becoming a time-suck for us and putting off our readers with too many posts. It’s a temptation, to blog too much, because it provides instant gratification unlike other forms of writing but we can temper this desire if we’re careful.
However, just coming up with a number that we can handle (say two posts a week or 5 posts a week) is not enough.
Defining our goals:
We might need to ask ourselves the following questions to define our goals a bit more clearly:
- What kind of blogs will I publish each week? Two fun posts and one serious? One informational post and one memoir-style? This will depend on what my blog is about and who my audience is of course.
- How many words will I devote to the blog per week so that it doesn’t become a huge drain on my other activities and yet keep me writing?
- Will all my blogs be in-depth treatments of subject matter or will they remain short and sweet or will I combine these types producing a certain number of longer blogs a month out of the total so that I can continue to do both yet publish frequently?
- How much effort will I devote to my blogs per week in addition to writing them such as working on pictures and multimedia or even research? The answer would depend on what the blog means to me and what my end goal is.
- Am I blogging to become a full-time blogger? Am I blogging to create a platform ultimately for some longer creative work? Am I blogging as a supplement to some larger, ongoing, complex project? Am I blogging to instruct or using the blog just as a journal?
I know that some of us will respond to this last question and say, “Oh, but I thought my blog was the only space where I didn’t have to think about goals or audience. I just put my thoughts in here as they come.”
I’d agree completely with this use of the blog. But I’d also suppose that such blogs would be kept completely private to maximize private expression.
The blogger as writer:
The moment we make a blog public, we admit to the desire of it being read by someone other than ourselves and then we become aware of a context (and maybe a certain amount of responsibility towards the person who is taking out time to click on our title)!
So that we *have* to worry about quality.
I think practicing writing by blogging, a goal of many bloggers who write “as it comes,” also develops our sense of looking at our world with a more critical eye.
Being simultaneously aware of more than one objective (catering to an audience, being aware of a context and having some end goals in mind in addition to the free-flow of creative spirit ) can only help, not hinder our writing process.
So what is your big challenge while blogging and how do you deal with it?