Advice for New Bloggers
So, according to my Google Reader, there is a new blogger initiative going around like a bad case of the clap. I am not much of the “get involved” type, even for easy publicity purposes, but I do happen to have three pieces of advice I wished I had received when I started ~15 months ago. Or most likely, three pieces of advice I had actually believed.
1. Don’t “save” your best stuff.
I had big ideas. I was on a mission. All the other people I was reading had it all wrong, and the simple, elegant truth of my arguments would be clear for all to see. But I’d be damned if I wasted those articles on my newly minted blog that got approximately 7 hits yesterday… oh wait, those came from me refreshing the page. So, well, zero hits yesterday.
It will feel like a Catch-22 just starting out, but in all honesty, it’s not. Whatever articles/posts you have bouncing around in your head, write them, post them, get them out of your way. If you still feel like writing things after they’re posted, congratulations! You’re a blogger. If not, at least now you know. Besides, odds are good that the expertly laid-out posts you have planned to rock your (hypothetical) readers’ worlds… will fall flat. Meanwhile, that paragraph you zipped off at 3am will get 50+ comments.
Either way, your best posts are yet to come, so use every scrap of material you have right now and get some post histories going. And if your early work truly is a literary masterpiece, you can always dust it off and revisit it later.
2. They’re not kidding about the community thing.
If you want readers, be a reader. If you want comments, write some comments.
I’m not exactly an expert in generating traffic, but I guarantee if you post a funny/interesting comment and I read it, I’m clicking on your name to see if I can find more where that came from. If it links back to your blog and said blog is also full of that sort of quality material, it gets put in my Google Reader and in the Blog Roll, no solicitation required.
3. Find a shtick and shtick with it.
Blogging is both harder and easier than it looks. Every minute spent writing is a minute not spent on the fun thing you are writing about. Ergo, it is important to have fun writing about what you are writing about. Otherwise you are not going to be doing it for long.
Although “shtick” means gimmick, I am really referring to your personality, your recurring theme, your voice. Basically the thing you like doing.
After a while, I got tired of just talking about the WoW AH; at the same time, I really enjoyed talking about WoW’s design direction, making 2000-word arguments, and so on. So… I did. When I found myself taking screenshots and screwing around in Photoshop for hours, I started posting them. At first I worried said pictures would be cheesy – what other blogger does this sort of thing? – but I did it anyway. And people apparently enjoy them. Which is great, because I enjoy making them. It’s win-win.
So that is my advice to you, hypothetical new blogger. Post all the good stuff you got, engage other commenters/bloggers, and do what’s fun – even if that’s sometimes playing games instead of writing about them.
Speaking of that, I’m going to get back to my Deus Ex DLC.