Sunday, December 25, 2016

5th Blogiversary

I started this little blog in December of 2011, and it has now been five full years of putting down random thoughts on a page.  I've been gratified by those who've chosen to read it, and I've learned a few things along the way:

1.  Blogging takes time and work.  As noted by recent changes to this blog, blogging can take a great deal of time.  Posts take, on average, 30-ish minutes to write, and when added to a full time job, writing more novels, and a family, it can be exhausting.  Figuring out a schedule takes thought.  I can't just be willy-nilly with my blogging schedule, for it will either consume me or I'll put out crappy stuff.  As an addendum, it's work.  Sure, it can be fun, and Lord knows I use it to stay sane sometimes, but it isn't just something that's "meh."  Don't go into blogging if you have an aversion to work.

2.  Ideas are hard.  When I first started blogging, I had all kinds of topics to talk about.  After all, I had a lot to say!  I also had lots of time to do so.  However, ideas began becoming more and more scarce over time.  How does a person stay on top of a blog without becoming repetitive?  Aside from time constraints, this was the biggest reason for the blog's shrinkage recently - I simply didn't have enough to fill a blog three days a week without becoming that Charlie Brown teacher that no one understands because her words become nothing but noise.

3.  Always be safe with permissions.  This is a big one when it comes to the financial health of bloggers.  Some bloggers use the work of others to enhance their sites.  I used to be one of them...until I discovered the risks involved.  Remember, when you use someone else's work - pictures, song lyrics, etc. - you usually owe them something monetarily, and they will be able to enforce that in court.  I decided not to risk it.  At the same time, it makes pictures on the site challenging since it takes effort to take pictures, and rarely do we find something super-hilarious.

4.  Always engage with commenters.  Always.  People like to feel they are friends with people they read.  It's a basic human need.  It can also be annoying when a blogger seems to think that he or she is above the audience.  None of us are.  We're all people, and we need others to both be interested and buy our work.  Besides, you can have some really great conversations, so don't snub your audience.

5.  Don't get political.  We just came off of a very divisive election.  People have ended relationships over folks being on the wrong side of political conversations.  Don't alienate half of your audience by being snide about what you believe.  In fact, don't bring it up unless it's absolutely necessary.  Let people believe you think exactly what they think.  Practiced apathy can be bonding, but opposition can piss people off.  Unless you're writing a political book intended for a specific group, don't risk it.

The first five years have been fun.  I've met some awesome readers and writers, and I've learned a lot.  I hope I'll continue to learn.  As for what I'll do next, that'll come in next week's post.

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