Around this time last year, I was brand new to the blogging world. Though I was no stranger to bloatedly expressing my opinion to the world, rarely had I done it with any regularity or attempt to amass like-minded folk. Blogging was a concentrated means for me to express opinions and ideas and thoughts that otherwise might remain underneath the surface, bubbling and boiling, that may otherwise just been a long term case of indigestion. Since having actually started it, however, it has become more. Blogging is about community, and be that with your loyal readers or just other bloggers you meet, that’s a really important lesson to learn.
There are other lessons too, of course. I think instead of a long essay on the art of blogging from someone whose entire year of experience sparsely counts as anything you might call expertise, I’ll do something shorter and sweeter (and easier on your tired eyes).
Humor over Seriousness
This one is a bit of a misnomer given that I am almost always serious, but it’s a simple truth: make a man think and his head will probably hurt, but make his stomach hurt with laughter, and he’ll read your next blog post.
When I started off, I was entirely serious. The single topic I wanted to touch upon was ‘detailed Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game deconstruction and game theory’, though with a few sprinkles of nostalgia for good measure. Needless to say, that’s a dry topic for most, especially when you expect them to seek you out. People may do that sort of office chair game design from the comfort of game forums, but they don’t often venture out for long winded blog posts on the matter. But that sprinkle of nostalgia made me a few fans.
We’re all human and thusly all social beings. We have joyous memories and a need to remind ourselves and others that we were there at that special place and time. Nostalgia helped me connect, despite that game theory, to like minded individuals. Eventually, after my style had become a little less academic, those same individuals began commenting on the topic I had originally intended to focus on.
The lesson is ‘If you build it, they will comment.’
Don’t define yourself too narrowly, nor define yourself too broadly. You aren’t a pithy, famous writer yet, so writing about everything won’t earn you much of a following (unless you are a natural pithy, famous writer, then ignore this entire post). However, picking one topic (again for brevity, ‘detailed Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game deconstruction and game theory’) is going to be extremely difficult, unless you a) are an expert and b) write about it once a month.
Over time, I became more and more comfortable with writing about broader subjects. I began to incorporate more personal stories and how they related to my history as a gamer, I moved from one sort of criticism to a broader sort, etc. It helped a lot too broaden the pool of followers that I could count on to at least give my latest post a glance. And nothing feels more rewarding than getting two seemingly disparate followers into one, single discussion. Well, except for maybe a pentakill, max level in original EQ, 7x grandmaster, a killamanjaro, or lasting longer than a few minutes, but that won’t help you blog better.
Lesson? Wait, I am still doing that?
Failure is Your Best Option
Call me crazy, but I’ve been really into reading about fitness lately. More than the fact that I am a relative fat ass, the philosophy behind becoming fit is remarkably broad in application potential. If you want to be harder/better/faster/stronger at something, then you need to actively pursue being fit. That’s more than having to take a walk. It means walking until you are blue in the face. It means doing something until you fail at it, then doing it again after you’ve rested a little.
If you want to be a good blogger, you need to fail miserably at it. Slapping up a wall of text on the internet is easy. Go read one article on any major news site that covers politics and you’ll see that people can write large, meandering rants easier than they breathe.
If you are willing to fail, that means you are willing to take chances and experiment. If you do so, eventually you will find your niche and your community and your following.
The lesson here is simple: If you fall off a horse, get back to your gun cabinet, take revenge on that asshole horse, and then save up for a car. You may have to sell body parts, do weird sex acts, work meaningless jobs, or beg your parents, but eventually you will have a sweet car that doesn’t buck around. A good blog is like a sweet car: everyone wants to ride in it, but no one wants to pay for the gas.
Uniqueness, Mastery, and
Manning Personing Up
At a certain point, you are going to read someone else’s blog. In fact, I encourage it. There aren’t many easier ways to get hits, likes, or followers, than giving someone else a hit, like, or follower. But eventually you will find a blog that is bigger, better, bolder, brighter, and more beautiful than your’s. It should’ve happened when you got here, but maybe you don’t know enough about blogging yet to appreciate what is in front of you. That will come in time too.
Digressions aside, you have to embrace those blogs. They always offer great learning experiences on design and content. You can never be the best, but you can be the best you. Sure, that’s cliche and doesn’t help when someone can get a thousand views for re-posting a picture of a cat that you saw a year ago and you get three for that post you stayed up all night writing. That’s really a life lesson though.
In other words, the lesson is this: don’t be a Salieri. God doesn’t care about your incessant whining, you asshole. You are the Saint of Mediocrity, please embrace that before you are too old to successfully kill yourself. If you weren’t spending all of your time pining for more talent or to be more like Mozart or because you have this self-inflicted ego that says you should somehow be superior to a man whose music still kicks ass 300 years later, you might have at least gotten laid. Instead, all you ever got was a guilty conscience and a mouthful of cavities.
The real lesson? Watch Amadeus if you didn’t get anything I just said. Seriously, it’s my favorite movie of all time.
Have fun (and follow me on Twitter or here on WordPress if you have any other questions).