Gill the Painter said that more people look for “How to” posts than anything else. Well I haven’t got a “How to” up my sleeve right at this moment, so here’s an essay instead on the noble art of blogging.
One useful analogy, for me at least, is that it resembles a game of tennis. You lob your ball over the net and in the general direction of the person standing on the other side.
If you hit it so perfectly that it bounces on the line and hits the back wall, the person on the other side of the net can’t return it and while they might just stand there and say
Wow, what a shot!
that is it, the conversation is over.
Hit the same ball again and again straight to their racquet and they will tap it back, but eventually their mind will wander and they will start looking at the flower beds or watching a little puffy cloud in the sky, you’ve lost them there too.
So vary your shots, make some direct, some asking for a little hop, skip and a jump of imagination, some slow and some fast, smile in between games, wave at the crowds and if you lose a game, well, you know what, when all is said and done, it’s only a game.
I’ve read some stuff which says you should stick to one subject on your blog, otherwise you will lose readers, but I credit people with a bit more intelligence than that. If you want to write about something different from usual, something which lets the readers find out a bit about you that you are comfortable sharing, then why not?
Do you recognise that moment when you think you’ve written a brilliant post, pressed publish and then no one comments for days. You look sadly at the post, thinking,
Why?” What did I do wrong?
The thing is, by definition, no one is going to tell you. Most commenters are incredibly polite too and, if they like you, are unlikely to say,
That last post my friend – you know, the one about the racehorses, that was rubbish mate.
Why would they? Chances are they’re bloggers too, and bloggers who live in glass houses never throw stones. It could be that you just wrote a perfect post, and there was nothing to say, you aced it. That’s great if that’s what you want. Or it could have been the one about the racehorses that no one wanted to read that day. You will never know for sure. Best advice, write something different next time, that is if it matters to you.
Some simple suggestions to get going with.
- Choose something you like doing, something you know how to do quite well and something you are interested in finding out more about. If you are passionate about it, even better, but even something you are simply curious to find out more about is a good starting point.
- Choose something you like looking at and take a photo or two of it and explain why you like looking at it. You could do the same for any of the senses, touch, sound, smell, etc
- Choose something special about your environment, it could be an unusual shop, a statue, a river, a park, a museum, just something that you think makes your world a better and more interesting place and write about it.
If you are unsure about the tone to take, ask yourself who you are writing for and just write it as if you are writing for one person, you don’t have to say who it is of course!
So many people say
I’m writing for myself
and then wonder why no one comments. It’s kind of self explanatory to me, no one talks to you either if you mutter in your mother tongue looking into your handbag.
I write as if I am writing for friends, for people who live too far away for me to meet up with on a regular basis, but who I want to stay in touch with and share the interesting stuff that’s going on in my life.
In the same way as the RSPB built a landscape to encourage the bittern to nest and breed down on the Somerset Levels, you can build a landscape on your blog which will encourage the people you want to read it to feel cared for and safe when they write comments.
A word of caution
Not everything interesting is necessarily happy stuff and you can share worries and concerns if that helps you. Just remember that it is quite easy to misunderstand someone’s intentions when your only cues are the words on the screen so re-read what you write at least a couple of times before you press the Publish button.
Ideally leave any post a day before posting it. That way you get a bit of distance from what you have written and can edit it almost as if someone else has written it.
Read sentences out loud or at least under your breath and check it all makes sense.
Check that you haven’t repeated a word over and over, that’s my worst habit that I am aware of. I use the same adjective three times in one paragraph, or I write ‘and so on’ (and so on).
Anyway that’s all, a lot of thoughts in one blog post. Keep it short and to the point. I am not sure I did. It’s like when you know you should have yoghurt and fruit for breakfast and someone puts this in front of you.
So here I am batting the ball towards you once again….
It’s been a long day here, a happy day, with barking dogs, lots of walking and talking, a little eating and lots of thinking and now it’s time to rest. I’ve read this one through three times and made it shorter, hard to believe I know… but I’m going to press Publish!!!!
How was your day?