Must you keep blogging Mr. Blogger?

How do you stand out in the blogosphere?

Do you want to?

It’s important to ask that second question first because it’s tough work. Blogging.

Because the work never gets done. And just when you think you’re done, say, when you realize you’ve reached a certain number of regular readers or a certain number of strays who click on your page for some mysterious reason, you realize how sensitive those readers are to quality.

Those with short attention spans want good introductory hooks or great visuals. The deep ones want, well, depth. The busy ones want good timing. The “fans” want something every few days and the strays will come only if there’s excellence every time. Some will even start at the bottom of the post and read upwards. So the ending has to have a kick to it.

It does not matter who they are or how they like to glance through your page but they know when you’ve become complacent and are slacking off.

Warm-up sketch

It’s not always easy to keep going under that kind of routine pressure.
So evaluate whether maintaining the blog is really worth it for you before trying to stand out.

The benefits you gain from blogging don’t have to be necessarily concrete, about money or creating a social platform. It can be about self-discipline, writing practice or a personal challenge.

But once you’ve decided to stay, it’s worth it to do a job well.

So how do you stand out?

By creating and maintaining an excellent blog, of course.

Except that in the world of blogging though, excellence seems to be a whole lot about tenacity, about hanging in there for days and weeks producing writing from a seemingly endless source of inspiration.

It’s about posting something at regular intervals knowing that it’s not humanly possible to maintain quality in each and every post but trying to anyway. It’s about realizing that no blogger is indispensable and that readers’ memories are really short and so it’s important to show up once in a while.

There’s no place like the blogosphere to realize the importance of the adage out of sight, out of mind.

Blogging is also about knowing that an excellent post will emerge only once in a while if you keep at it and those are worth those other days of frustration. But those posts will also have a very short shelf life, just like the other fluff of your own that will bury it soon.

So ultimately it’s about keeping those larger plans in mind.

Why am I blogging? Where do I want to go with this?

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35 thoughts on “Must you keep blogging Mr. Blogger?”

  1. Consistency seems to be the target word. If I go on vacation or have a bad health week, I see my readership cascade downward quickly. But, for me, it’s about the writing not so much about the readers who don’t always read everything ,then, pop a like or comment in a way that makes me think …. huh…!!!!
    Very enjoyable and insightful post … thanks.
    Isadora

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  2. A lot of food for thought here! 🙂 Great post.
    This sentence particularly struck a chord with me: “It’s about posting something at regular intervals knowing that it’s not humanly possible to maintain quality in each and every post but trying to anyway”
    I’m going to try to remember that throughout my journey with blogging.

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  3. You always ask great questions. I’ve asked myself these questions lately as I contemplate whether or not to continue my blog. I totally resonate with this: “It’s about posting something at regular intervals knowing that it’s not humanly possible to maintain quality in each and every post but trying to anyway.” I need to read that today.

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  4. I just blog for the love of it. If people like it, that’s fine, if not…well, that’s cool too. I’m selfish when it comes to writing; I do it for myself and no one else.

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  5. I love what you do with your blog, and I get the impression from your posts that you do too. Do you? To me that is essential to maintaining a blog, but then I haven’t been at it as long as you. I’ve deleted blogs in the past which I started but didn’t feel right about. The ones I have now, well they’re growing as I grow, who knows where it will all end up. I think there is an energy which you feel from a blogger and their blog, and that is what makes you follow their work or not. That energy ebbs and flows as they experience their life on the internet and off of it. I’ve definitely learned a lot from having blogs… from followign the blogs of others… things which I needed to learn, which have helped me in life. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Bottledworder: a blogger who blogs about blogging for the benefit of other blogging bloggers. For who else bothers to browse blogs besides bloggers? It’s the best way to burnish the badges of blogging bragadoccio. 🙂

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  7. A writer friend told me when I started my blog, “You don’t know what it’s going to be yet.” So I have tried to develop good content, work on my skills as a writer and be open to opportunities the blog might bring. I have found in almost a year of blogging that the connections to others and the way my content has reached both local friends and readers I’ve never met inspires me to write more. And in the end, you are right that “successful” blogging takes tenacity and dedication. It’s a long game. Great post!

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  8. A relative of mine once compared blogging to be similar to having international pen pals.. I find that the social aspect of blogging — having people write comments and responding to them — is so much fun.

    And I like reading what other people have posted. I follow a number of blogs and all of them have taught me in one way or another — better writing, better cooking, how to take better photos or glimpses of parts of the world I may never see for myself.

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  9. When I started, my goal of blogging was to write. Fiction, poetry, life- whatever inspires words is what gets written. I do some writing challenges because they make me think creatively to come up with stories I probably wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and the community of writers makes the experience even more fun. I don’t know if I’ll run out of topics, but after over three years, I have to trust that I’ll continue to find inspiration.

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  10. Good points. I think tenacity plays a big part, to be sure, but I think the golden rule is to be yourself. We’re always told as writers to write ‘what we know’, right?

    Write about what interests you, what you feel passionate about. Don’t try to manipulate the results by being ingenuine and shoehorning this certain topic in because it’s trending on Twitter. That’s not to say you can’t tap into a trend, or be inspired to write about something that a lot of people are talking about, but make sure it’s something that fits well and isn’t just the equivalent of a billboard slapped up along a busy highway with the directions to your place of business, if you catch my drift.

    Don’t come across as the persona you think people want you to be, be yourself as you are IRL — on occasion, warts and all. Make me feel like I’m showing up to hang out at your place, and it’s a mess, and it doesn’t matter because we’re having fun, rather than inviting me to a formally cultivated dinner party where the place has been carefully scrubbed down and it seems staged. If I want a carefully cultivated character, I’ll read fiction.

    My personal pet peeve, one that will have me immediately scrambling to block a blogger from my reader feeds and unfollow them if I’m following them, is participating in the so-called ‘challenges’, because that’s you not really having anything too meaningful to say but you feel obligated to say something — if you don’t have something compelling to write about, simply don’t post.

    The *worst* is those A-to-Z ones, because all you’ve shown me is that a) you’ve mastered alphabetization skills at a third grade level, and b) now I can look forward to twenty-six items from a themed list every day for the next month, which are inevitably going to be up-sized tweets, because to keep up with the pace you won’t be able to spend too much time on any one of them in any detail.

    If you want to write, by all means write, and share it with the class. But an alphabetized list is like going to a writers group where the idea is to inspire each other and show off your work to your peers, and you chose to read your grocery list because you’ve just given your muse a four-week paid leave of absence.

    Blogging is excellent practice — it’s the equivalent of keeping the old-school journal but with the idea that you might gain some recruits to your cult of personality and have yourself a ready-made fanbase when you’re trying something bigger. But it’s also a responsibility not to waste the reader’s time with too much fluff, so pass out the Kool-Aid wisely.

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  11. This post kind of depressed me.

    Just kidding. But not really. It’s very true, but in the long run, I think I know why I’m doing it. When I’m not, I’m more sad.

    But this was a great post to make me think it over. No wonder you have 100,000 hits 😉

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  12. Thanks for the post. Yes, you need to be disciplined. I aim for one blog a week and, to be honest, I don’t always stick to my quote. However, I have found that blogging really pays off. It has hugely increased the traffic to my site and, in turn, the number of sales inquiries. I have also found that blogs are a great way of demonstrating my expertise.

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  13. The benefits you list are the basis for my continuing to write my blog. I feel that I have something to say, I don’t know the best way to say it, but saying it the best way I know how seems to make me feel better. I’m not sure where I hope this will go, but for now, the fact that some people seem to appreciate some of the stuff I write is icing on the cake of the personal benefits. I do plan to stay around. Thanks to helping.

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  14. Over the last six months, I’ve written the first draft of a novel. I blogged about this endeavour weekly, with some posts on progress and others on the art of writing. Now that I’m giving the first draft a rest, I thought I’d try writing an interactive blog story, where the readers choose how to continue the story and I write the next bit. A writer-reader interactive story is not a novel idea, but a fun one. At least so I had hoped. No-one has left a comment yet – and I wonder if this new idea was a step too far? Instead, I’ll try posting up a simple poll, so readers can choose the story continuation but without leaving a comment. I read plenty of blogs and don’t always comment on posts – so I guess that might be happening on my blog – readers enjoy a post but won’t necessarily comment?

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    1. It takes some time before people start to engage, beyond a simple ‘nice job’ sort of thing. What worked for me and started the engagement was when I started to do reviews — people seemed to be far more willing to speak on a fan-to-fan level about something, whether they agreed with my observation or disagreed. And then that started carrying over into other types of posts.

      What I would suggest is that you take some time, maybe a month, and post more than you normally do, kind of put your focus on getting more offerings on the table, even if you don’t plan to keep that pace indefinitely. Someone may ignore the post you put up on Monday but really dig the one on Wednesday, even though they may be very closely related, because Wednesday was less hectic for them and they had time to actually read it. If you’re just posting once a week then you’re getting buried down in the feeds, so unless they happen to check right when you posted, in a day or two you’ve been pushed off the radar screen by the overachievers. Let people get to know you a little better before you try to get them involved with your actual non-blog writing, because they may have books by ‘name’ authors they don’t have time to get to, let alone give someone they don’t know a shot. If it’s more, hey, I like this guy, he seems pretty cool, then that’s different.

      And I’d definitely limit the ‘self-promotion’ stuff to a ratio of at least one post about your project to two or three more general interest things. It’s like being at a party and there’s that one person who always makes the group conversation about them — whatever happens the topic always seems to wind back around to a personal anecdote showing how clever or interesting they are. Pushing your material too much can be a turn off — I’ve stopped reading blogs that I enjoyed because there was too much of a ‘hard sell’, which was followed by posts whining about the lack of interest, and no one wants to see that sort of anxiety attack (or awkward attempt at putting a guilt trip on readers) in public.

      Remember that you’re going to have slightly different audience ‘demographics’: someone who started following your blog because, say, you had a really great observation about the creative process, or editing your own work, might have really liked that, but then you’re pushing your writing and it’s a genre they normally don’t care to read — they may read it out of courtesy, but if it’s not their cup of tea, it’s sort of a moot point. If you keep rotating different types of posts, then at least you’re not constantly throwing that thing they’re not all into in their face and they can just be, well, I’ll skip those posts, but they’ll still pop in for the other things. In time you might win them over out of loyalty.

      Good luck!

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  15. This analysis is very on target. These are questions I ask myself, too. I’ve gotten many things out of blogging over the past year (with 3 different blogs), but money and fame are not two of them LOL. The social aspect has been a real treat–and unexpected. The most important thing it’s gotten me though is invaluable writing practice.

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