Tuesday, July 31, 2012

General Blogging Notes

I've been doing this blogging thing pretty consistently for the past eight months, and it's been a lot of fun.  That said, I'd like to share a few insights I have...or at least as many insights as someone with eight months of experience can have:

1.  Be careful how much consistency you promise.
I continue to believe that one of the keys to a good blog is consistently providing new information.  In my own experience clicking through blogs, the ones I return to the most are the ones with the most predictable schedule.  If I know there will be a new post each Monday, then I'll show up each Monday and faithfully read it.  It provides some semblance of comfort in an otherwise chaotic world.

That said, I think all bloggers should be careful with what they think they can do.  If you can only afford to post once a week, then stick with that.  If you can do it everyday, please do so(you'll get a lot more traffic if you're part of someone's morning routine).  But don't post every day for three weeks, then slack off to twice a week for two weeks, then back to three times a week, then go down to one post a week.  This will annoy readers who are used to getting fresh content each day and suddenly discover you're not there as often.  You can always increase posting frequency, but downshifting, especially without notice, can be a very bad thing.

Honestly, this is one of the main reasons I haven't tried to go to daily posting.  I have an exhausting schedule at times(which may get more exhausting in a couple of months...stay tuned).  When I get off of work, I have only a few hours to play with my dogs, spend time with my wife and daughter, do my daily chores(I'm the dishes and trash guy), etc.  I usually post later in the evening once my wife and little girl have gone upstairs.  On more than one occasion, I've said, "Would they really miss me if I didn't post just this once?"  While I know that I could do this once, maybe twice a year without giving notice, that kind of erratic posting would annoy people.

Doing a daily post borders on sheer insanity.  Those who can do it, like Sarah Hoyt, are superstars, in my opinion.  And although I could do it for a while, I don't have enough faith in my schedule or general work ethic to think I'd do it every day.  Three times a week is plenty for me.

2.  You won't blog as well as you can write.
Blogging is a very free flowing form of writing.  Most people that do it consistently shoot from the hip.  That's not to say we don't think about what we're going to write, but rather that we don't outline and plot out where we're going.  Also, due to the rapid fire nature of getting out a post, we don't always edit with the care we do with other stuff.

When I write a book, I edit meticulously.  I go over the manuscript at least three times myself before showing it to someone else for their input.  Plus, I put time between each point at which I edit.  This provides eyes that are more fresh and allows me to really dig deep.  However, you can't do this when blogging.  By their very nature, blog posts must be current.  Leaving a post for a month from now increases the odds that it'll be out of date when other folks see it.

This decreases the quality of writing.  That's not to say the writing in blogs is bad; I've seen a lot of great blogs that are very well written, but I think that just gives me a snapshot of what the person's edited work will be like.  I meander far more in a blog post than I do in my novels, and a great deal more adjectives and adverbs sneak in.  I don't have the time to strike them all out or condense them into more efficient words(ie - turn the words "ran quickly" into "sprinted").  I generally check a post for grammar and spelling, and perhaps I'll re-write a small portion, but it's nothing compared to the time I spend on a novel.

3.  Interact.
I have a strict policy that I will try to respond to every single comment I get.  I value interaction with the readers, and if they took time to comment, the least I can do is respond.  Some of the bigger blogs can't do this with every comment, or that's all they'd do, but those guys have enough people commenting to get a discussion generated without having to always inject themselves.

I might take a little bit to reply, but rest assured that I will do so once I become aware of a comment.  I get behind at times, but I check both this blog and my gmail at least once a day(assuming I have access).  When someone comments, I go there and reply, even if it's just to say "thanks for stopping by."  It's very frustrating to leave a comment somewhere and not know if the writer ever saw or cared about what you wrote.

Sarah Hoyt and JA Konrath are pretty good about responding and mixing it up with readers, even if they can't reply to every comment due to sheer volume.  Others, like Christine Rice, Karen Woodward, Kevin Hanrahan, and Ollin Morales are all usually pretty good about responding to most comments(if I didn't list your blog here, don't get offended - I can't list every single one), which drives me more to their blogs.

Lastly, speaking of comments, if you like anything you read on here, or even if you hate it, leave me a response.  Comments to a blogger are like crack to a hooker - it's one of the main reasons we do what we do.  So belly up to the bar and let 'er rip.
(Won't you leave a comment?  Pretty please?)

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