Thursday, June 25, 2009

What I learned in my first year of blogging

A year ago, I put up my first post, about Internet Security. Not my best effort, looking back on it.

Anniversaries are a time to reflect on where you've been, and how you've gotten here, and this one is no different. So here's what I've learned about how to be a better blogger.

1. Explain yourself. Don't assume that people know what you're talking about. Of course you know, and of course you care about the subject - that's why you're posting about it. Other people won't, but if you're clear (and interesting) you can make other people care, too. This was the mistake I made in that first post - it's terse to the point of irrelevance. A much better post about browser security came soon later - better because I explained things so that Mom would understand (and care).

2. Post a lot. As both of my long-time readers know, the problem isn't getting me to talk; it's getting me to shut up. Almost 1400 posts in 365 days counts as "a lot", but it does a couple of things:
a. Google notices, and starts to put you in their page rankings. Sometimes it puts you strangely high in their rankings, like I am for german country music. If you like traffic (and who doesn't?) this will ramp your traffic perhaps faster than anything.

b. People will start to find things they like, and link to you. Links are very nice indeed: not only do they drive traffic, but it's a great ego boost.

c. As people start to read you regularly, they will come back more often the more frequently you post. This is one of those duh statements when you think about it for a second: if someone likes what you post, then posting more will get them back for more of what they like.
3. A regular topic will help you hone your writing style. JayG offers up a weekly Friday Fun thread on cars. It's always interesting, and always fun. Me, I have Saturday Redneck, where I take a country music song and offer some background musing, a music video, and the lyrics. Now country music may not be your bag, baby, but regular writing in the same format is called "practice". I've clearly gotten better with time: compare and contrast an early post with the Johnny and June Carter post, which has attracted more traffic than anything I've written. It's clear that this practice pays off.

Climate change and the junk science you find there is another regular topic here, as is Internet Security. Who says you have to have just one?

4. Comments are the shizzle Flippity Floppity Floop. JayG does comments at his place better than any just about anyone I've seen - he answers commenters in the comments, and sometimes gets quite a discussion going. I try to do the same, and while he gets a lot more comments than I do, there have been some great discussions that never would have happened otherwise.

5. Write what you like. This worked for me, but maybe it's stupid for you. Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, do not remove tag under penalty of law. The smartest words ever said about blogging are I do this for me, not for you. If it's not fun, why would you bother doing it?

Reading back through the archives has been kind of fun, and it's interesting how rapidly I seem to have developed my style here. By the end of the first three months, the style of my posts was established, and it reads much like it does today. It will be interesting to see how things change over the next year.

8 comments:

doubletrouble said...

HBD BP!

Like I told you, yer one of the best new ones to hit the beach.

Keep on keepin' on.


wv: "cinesse"- why yes, you do have that certain cinesse...

Bob S. said...

Borepatch,

Great help for a newbie like me. I've only been doing this for two months, so I read this with intensity.

I like the idea of a regular topic to help improve my skills. I'll steal that if you don't mind. Now, just to find a regular topic.

The part about Jay G. answering commenters is something I've tried to do....and looking back it shows that I need to do more of it.

You definitely have a blog that I hit often.

Great work and it is a pleasure reading.

Borepatch said...

Doubletrouble, thanks.

Bob, steal whatever you'd like. You're a daily read for me.

Jay G said...

Thanks, Borepatch. It's humbling to hear such nice praise from you.

One thing I've noticed, though, is that as I get more comments, responding individually gets harder and harder.

I do like to respond, though, and will continue to try to answer any questions.

Don't forget the Friday Gun Pr0n! :)

Lissa said...

So . . . did you live up to "I will be good"? :)

Congrats!

Borepatch said...

Lissa, thanks!

I'd say "yes", but unfortunately I maintain archives here ... ;-)

I do think I did a decent job of living up to "dunce" though!

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Happy blogaversary Borepatch!

TOTWTYTR said...

Congratulations on the year of blogging. I try to read every day, but sometimes miss a day or two. You're always informative and I figure if your mom can understand you tech postings I can too. Maybe.

I look forward to more.