Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Art of Blogging by Struggling to Be Stylish

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 ingenuous Struggler 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 here but if you add just one tool to your blog, make it Link Within, [] 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.


North of 25A said...

Great post - I am sure I will enjoy her blog since I enjoyed how she writes about writing a blog. Thanks!

carissa @ lowercase letters said...

fantastic tips!!! i enjoyed them. thanks for sharing.

Raina Cox said...

Such smart advice - thanks for sharing this with us, Catherine!

Ann said...

Thank you, Catherine.


Marija said...

This is all such good advice. My favorite snippets: better to create a small masterpiece than an epic work of mediocrity; give credit where credit is due; allow some of your personality and quirks to shine through. It's always so obvious to me when people are trying to emulate another's style. So much better to embrace your own style and find your voice!

You're both awesome!


Struggler said...

Catherine, thank you for the very gracious hospitality at your lovely blog and your extremely kind words!

Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

Great post struggler and thanks for introducing me to a new blog!

Couture Millinery Atelier. said...

Such an insightful post! I do agree with everything entirely! Blogging gave me such a freedom to express so many aspects that involve hat design: from inspirations to little silly things. :-)
Thank you so very much for your kind and supportive comment under my "Worst Monday" post.A week later, I am still recovering from it: do not know what I am upset more about - a stitched lip or my broken Prada shoe. Things like thi do not happen to me often, not to mention all at once!It was a rough week all together. I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day filled with love and joy.:-)

Housewife Bliss said...

This was fab, I popped ove the Struggler on Sunday and just loved her post...really pleased to have met her through you.

The Zhush said...

This was a lot fun, perfect for a Monday morning! Having recently discovered Struggling's blog, I am already a fan, but had no idea about all the great blogging tips contained within! Could always use some tips, and these look great! Thanks so much!

Averill said...

All very good tips. In the last 18 months of having my own blog, I've found the two most important tips are: try to incorporate as much original content as possible and post better content, less frequently (most visitors only read your blog a few times a week anyway).

Paris Pastry said...

Enlightning post indeed! I managed to log on longer than 96 seconds ;)
I got some great tips reading this, so thanks for the guest post Struggler!

shari @ little blue deer said...

I loved this! And I so agree with all of it. As a fairly new blogger, my rule of thumb is 1. Keep it simple, a rule I try to incorporate into my daily life, and 2. do on my blog what I like on other people's blogs. Eg. I don't like too many photos, it's overwhelming, so I post 3 at max. I don't always have time to read a long post, so I keep mine short. I don't like to search around for followers list, so I put mine somewhere people can easily see it. Etc., I think that's the "golden rule," isn't it, do unto others as you would have them to do you, or something like that! Great post, I loved it!

The Buzz said...

What a great post and so much to learn, especially as a newbie like myself. Thanks for sharing the Struggler with us and my daily reading time has just increased by another 96 seconds!

Mary Ann said...

hi catherine, i would use all the advice i could get..thanks for sharing this post! have a great week! verbena cottage

Semi Expat said...

Great post from the wonderful Struggler (who I have to say rarely struggles in my opinion!) - love her blog and all her great and generous advice too. x

pontmarie said...

I love the Struggler's posts - bravo once again!

carissa @ lowercase letters said...

thanks for linking! : )

burlap+blue said...

this is a well-written and well-timed post--and so true! Thanks for sharing!

Struggler said...

Thanks for all the very kind comments: it was great to 'meet' some new friends through this post.
In reality there are many writers out there who are far more expert than me about blogging. If you are hungry for more, Pro Blogger is highly regarded, and Penelope Trunk has great tips too.

Torie Jayne said...

Great post and thanks for the introduction, Have a sweet day!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

You have a new fan! Some of my thoughts...exactly. I am constantly amazed by what is put out there under the premise of good content and even more amazed at the commenters who perpetuate it!

Great idea you had here...we will better bloggers for having stopped by!

Karena said...

Very inspiring Catherine! So true and poignant! Thank you!

Art by Karena

Herself said...

Thanks, C! A fantastic guest! I'm popping over to her place pronto!

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

P.S. That blogging dog is too funny!

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

So true! Great advice on blogging. I agree that everyone needs to use Link Within. I get so many hits on older posts that way.

I also loved Struggler's post about Things That Turn Me Off Your Blog.

Cristin said...

Great blogging advice!!!


myletterstoemily said...

as i am hopelessly frumpish, this has
helped me immensely. thank you.

your blog is just gorgeous, and i love
the pebbles.


Millie said...

Perfect post - agree totally with keeping God & politics out of any post, unless of course you need to credit Her as being the Interior Designer on your new room!
Millie ^_^


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