If you are a blogger, you need to read this. If you do not blog, you might still enjoy learning a little bit about what goes on in the background of every post. The ingenuousStruggler from Struggling to Be Stylish is one of the few "lifestyle bloggers" I have run into who has shared her collected knowledge on the subject. Whatever "success" I may have achieved in this blog, it was a direct result of the information attained through her writings. So you can only imagine how thrilled I am to have her here as a guest blogger today. As you will gather from the post she has so generously submitted, we have a brilliant writer in our midst, who uses humour and self deprecation as a means to convey her message. On Friday I started a mini series on the ARTS. Today the Struggler will guide us through the art of blogging. Enjoy.
I love this topic which Catherine suggested to me because blogging is, of course, an art, not a science. Nobody can tell you there is a right or wrong way to blog and you are the final judge of what you feel is aesthetically pleasing. However, some art will only ever have a niche appeal while other pieces appeal to a much wider audience. So, if you feel you would like to attract and retain readers beyond your immediate friends and family, I invite you to read on.
It's better to create a small masterpiece than an epic work of mediocrity. Short, sweet posts, with a few well-chosen photos are likely to gain you more followers than a long ramble with 27 similar pictures. With (informal) research showing that your average reader sticks around for just 96 seconds, you'd better keep it punchy.
Be critical of your work, but not so critical you never publish. No cutting off your ear, please, but I suggest you owe it to yourself and your readers to review your work a couple of times before it goes public. You'll find you catch silly typos and even repetitive use of words which can make your posting dull to read.
It's OK to be inspired by others, but give credit where it is due. At a minimum, you should mention where you found your images and the originator of any project you copy. In addition, I always try to link the image back to the source, particularly if a product is for sale. If you feature a smaller seller (via Etsy, for example), it is helpful to let them know. Many small sellers welcome the mention and will link back to you in their Facebook or Twitter updates.
A more subtle inspiration comes from the look and functionality of other blogs. Most of the gadgets I employ are there because I spotted them on someone else's page. You can read about some that I like herebut if you add just one tool to your blog, make it Link Within, [http://www.linkwithin.com/learn] which is my favorite navigation aid.
Talking of inspiration, even great artists hit patches where they cannot create, or the "muse" will not come. To help reduce the impact of that on your blog, you might find it useful to keep a running list of topics to write about. Anything from a pretty notebook to your iPhone will do the job. If you go through a lean posting patch, simply pick up where you left off: apologies for not blogging due to busy-ness rarely make riveting reading.
Just like many famous classical artists who died in poverty, don't expect to make a fortune from your blog. Some of those who started blogging early and do it well are undoubtedly making some kind of living from this work. For the rest of us, there had better be some love for your art, or you will fizzle very quickly. And I suggest you will enjoy the experience more if you allow some of your personality and quirks to shine through. I like to pepper my writing with British slang (usually with a translation link) and so far I believe I've avoided any major diplomatic misunderstandings.
Don't shy away from controversy. The finest works of art are not always greeted by high public acclaim on their first airing. And while most of the blogosphere is an incredibly friendly, supportive place, it's OK if your opinions differ sometimes. The art is to make your case logically and respectfully and to welcome the resulting discussion. You may find that posts where you are being a little edgy attract the highest number of comments. This was certainly the case when I stuck my neck out to share the things that can turn me off your blog the fastest. Even if you're not being controversial, you'll likely find that ending your post with a question will encourage more reader participation.
...Which leads me to ask, what have you discovered about the art of blogging?
Thank you so much Struggler for submitting such an enlightning post. If you are like me and can't get enough of this talented writer, please go visit her over at Struggling to Be Stylish. I promise you at least one laugh per article, and she always manages to teach you something while you are at it.