As part of my recent New Year Resolutions I mentioned blogging – and more specifically, how I’d like to blog more.
Here are a few of my thoughts about the process.
But I wonder – what stops you from blogging more often?
What I like about blogging is the fact you don’t need to spend hours slaving over an article, creating a story arc or creating a masterpiece – you just need to get the information out there, whether that takes 3/4 paragraphs or a photograph with comment.
However, that’s one of the hardest things to teach someone else, whether it’s a student or a client who wants to develop their own blog.
Students or clients will always produce a “print style” for their first few blog posts.
Also, I’m not saying that you should NOT write long form posts, just don’t wait weeks to post, if you have a nice thought buzzing around your head.
The problem is, unless you are an experienced writer, with hours to spend, this long-form writing style is VERY time consuming.
I don’t know the number of blog posts I currently have in DRAFT mode, because
- I ran out of time
- I ran out of ideas
- The idea was never “finished”
In fact, if I’d simply posted the bare bones of the idea I may have received some interesting feedback or ideas to move the post forward.
So why are new bloggers so reluctant to post short unstructured updates?
- personal satisfaction
- keeping client work under wraps
- keeping work-in-progress under wraps
- writing is your “thing”
By the time young people reach university they have (more than likely) just finished 4 years of exams. If they are coming across me at Uni, there’s a good chance they’ve been studying humanities – traditionally the more essay-based subjects.
For them, producing a piece of work is about the introduction, content, summary and conclusion.
Similarly, clients I work with are still locked into the idea of long-form reports, and even hark back to the days of university or school essays.
PLUS, people are still tied to this “newspaper/magazine” article idea – even the younger generations – as they’re as exposed to long-form structured articles via sites like BBC News and newspaper sites as the rest of us. Every piece that appears online is a long form essay, or article.
There is something fulfilling about writing a well structured article. It’s the closest thing many of us will get to being “published” – and it’s a rush.
We all know that a paragraph featuring some disorganized ideas or random ramblings would not end up in The Guardian, so why should it end up on your blog?
However, if you get around to writing one brilliantly-structured article, then what are you proving? Not much.
You can show off your ideas, your creativity and your writing talent just as well with short, more frequent posts.
It does require a level of bravery to just “put it out there” – you’re opening your self up to criticism and potential ridicule.
What if people think I’m biased or an idiot?
You know the answer?- be honest, tell the world that you are just “putting it out there”
Start your blog post by explaining what you are about to say – ie “I’ve been thinking about XXX. I know there’s a big debate there – here are some of my early thoughts but I’d love to know what you think”
Immediately the reader is not expecting a well-formulated article, but a jumping-off point – a debate that then can get involved in.
Keeping Client Work under wraps
It makes sense that, if you are working on a confidential client project that you would not want to blog about it in small bites.
You don’t want to breach a confidence – and that’s commendable. However, you may attract more work if you show you are actually doing something.
Talk to your client – you never know they may be happy for you to write about your experiences and work in progress.
I tend to blog about my client design work on a Tumblr site but I keep it very theoretical, never revealing the final art work (until the client has) but I simply muse about the process and any hitches.
Talk to your client – you never know, they may be glad for the extra exposure.
Keeping your BIG PROJECT under wraps
Say you’re working on a big TV documentary, launching a start-up or writing a book.
Why on earth would you put all that online for everyone to see, when someone could easily steal your idea?
Writers sending pitches to large media organisations are always encouraged to mail a copy of the manuscript to themselves as well, a trick that can be useful for future copyright claims.
Think about this: if you blog about this – you’re automatically taking ownership. You’re telling the world that this is YOUR idea, and that you are already working on it.
In addition – by showing you’re working-out (like you were encouraged to in maths and science exams) you’re showing you are genuine, knowledgeable and open.
And who wouldn’t be interested in that?
Writing is your “thing”
I know writers. For them, putting anything out into the world that is not completed, polished and a masterpiece would be a crime. For them, writing is their thing, and everything they put online is their portfolio.
Maybe the answer here is multiple blog sites?
Despite all my musings on “short blog posts”, most of the ones on this site are structured ideas (albeit written in one sitting)
However I tend to use my several Tumblr sites for less structured brain dumping.
If writing is your craft, and you want to keep your portfolio site pure – why not branch out and use a separate site for more informal musings? Link to it, don’t link to it – that’s up to you – but it does give you an outlet to relax a little
So come on then – what about you? How do you blog?