After my last post, in which I claimed I wanted to do a better job updating my blog, I of course took a three month break from writing. The irony, right? In my defense, it has been an extremely busy three months, but still. For a blog to be valuable – for its writer and its readers – it requires content, a pretty obvious conclusion.
Taking this break has helped me realize a few things about blogging – at least for me.
1) First and foremost, it needs to be a habit for it to work. When I first started blogging, I tried posting something every day. That, I quickly realized, was not feasible: the posts often lacked real analysis or content, and I was burning myself out. After that, I tried about a weekly schedule and that seemed to work better. As things got busy in the spring, though, I gradually fell away from that habit and before I knew it, three months were gone and nothing had been posted, despite having plenty of ideas.
2) Having a schedule, of course, does not mean you are unable to break free. When an idea comes up, you should sit down and write about it immediately. I’ve made notes to myself about ideas for a blog, but if I don’t write them down in a very detailed way, the posts just never happen. One of my best blog posts came after my husband’s conversation with a friend about the Wisconsin protests made me so angry that I wanted to get my side out. New blogging plan: when inspiration strikes, sit down and write it out!
3) Of course, points #1 and #2 seem to directly conflict: how can one have a schedule yet write when inspiration strikes? This is a balance I’m still trying to work out. Hopefully, by following #2, I’ll write more and make #1 less important. But by making blogging a priority and a habit, I also found that I was finding more things to write about when I knew I planned to write a post every week. Some weeks will probably be less passionate than others, but that’s also inherent in blogging.
4) The previous points do not reduce the importance of editing – in fact, it makes it more important! A lot of people express regrets about their online activities – so it always is important to make sure you think before you press “publish” (or “send” or “share,” whatever the case is). For a blog post, try to write it and come back to it a few hours later (or the next morning is even better!) before publishing to avoid regrets.
5) Don’t write for the comments. When I first started blogging, a few friends would read and comment frequently, but as everyone got busier, comments dropped of. One of the reasons I started enjoying Twitter so much is its frequency of interaction – people retweet your content and conversations are started frequently about topics. A blog can be a great place for that, but expecting frequent and varied comments on a small personal blog will often leave you disappointed.
These probably aren’t the only lessons I’ve learned, but they’re a start. They’re also focused on the blogger side of things, rather than the reader side. Trying to figure out what makes a blog better for your readers is essential – but if blogging isn’t working for you, it’s not going to work for anyone else!