BBAW: The Why of Blogging

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Over at My Friend Amy’s place, Wednesday’s assignment for Book Blogger Appreciation Week asks people to answer the following questions:

What is one thing you wish you knew about blogging when you started or what advice would you give a newbie blogger?

What is your best blogging tip?

The blogging tip is easy. Much like professional writing, if you want to build a blog that people read, you need to work at it. Religiously. Indeed, you really shouldn’t be in it for the audience, you should be in it because you love writing. There is so much noise to signal out there in the blogosphere, that it’s going to take a while to build your audience, no matter what you do.

I got into blogging because I wanted to write, and the best advice professional writers give to those starting out is: if you want to write, write. Keep a journal. Put something in it every day. That constant exercise gets your mind into shape, so that the novels and articles come easier. I’ve never been one to keep a paper diary, and I’ve always been something of a tech geek, so I decided to build a blog to use as my writing journal, and it stuck.

And the audience is a wonderful extra. The fact that anybody is reading this regularly gives me incentive to keep on going. Try doing that with your paper diary.

Mind you, you are not going to please everybody. A few weeks ago, I signed this blog to be reviewed by the folks at this site. Their review is now up. These guys are renown for their snark, so I was pleasantly surprised that they did say nice things about me and offered up some constructive criticism. The navigation bar just below the panel is the result, and I’m looking at other ways to make getting through this blog easier.

Going through this blog can be hard slogging. I blog about an eclectic mix of subjects, from politics, to public transit and municipal issues, to book and television reviews, to the writing process, and I’ve found that each member of my regular audience finds something different that they like and some things that frankly bore them. The mix may not be an easy one for casual readers, so I’m greatly appreciative to those individuals who stick it out. It’s interesting that the reviewers were not interested in my political stuff, but much preferred my posts discussing my writing process. But strangely enough, it’s my political stuff that generates the most comments.

I’m not sure if this shows how much of an echo chamber the Canadian political blogosphere is, or the size or activity of those readers with an interest in my professional writing, so I’ll leave it at that. In the end, your blog is a reflection of you and your interests, and everybody else is free to come along for a ride. Or not. But constructive criticism is always appreciated here.

There is one other piece of advice that I’d give, and that’s this: never say anything on your blog that you wouldn’t be comfortable saying at normal volume inside a crowded restaurant — a restaurant festooned with microphones capturing every word, committing to tape forevermore. Too many bloggers have been burnt because their family or their bosses or co-workers have seen what the blogger has written, and taken offence, and prospective employers are Googling names of applicants more and more these days.

And that’s it. On to the rest of Book Bloggers Appreciation Week.

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