Thoughts on Blogging Part 1
There wasn’t a Newbie Blogger Initiative this year and I was saddened by that. I’ll make no bones about the fact that I liked this yearly event and the way for a few months after it, you’d see a lot of interesting new blogs spring up, filled with optimism and passion. But, what’s done is done, and life goes on. It’s up to others to pick up that particular torch and run with it, if they wish to see the event to return. I also miss a lot of my colleagues and peers’ blogs and the comradery that stemmed from the associated community. Again, this is a natural and inevitable attrition process, caused by that thing known as “life”. So, to combat my current melancholic malaise, I thought I’d collate a few of my thoughts about writing online and set them down in a semi-regular post, the same way as I do about podcasting.
So, to begin with, Sarah (AKA AlternativeChat) made a throwaway comment a while ago on Twitter about “getting something noticed”. I took this to be a reference to her prodigious written output. I tweeted back that “I've written several pieces that I'm proud of. However, they never got the traffic I hoped for. That's the nature of the beast, I guess”. I then pointed out the post that has garnered the most traffic during my seven years of blogging was a review of Top Cat: The Movie. That was posted on an older version of this website and ironically isn’t even available anymore. Then fellow blogger Wilhelm Arcturus added that “There is an inverse relationship between investment/effort and popularity. My most popular posts are ones I knocked out on a whim”. A sentiment that I concur with. Fellow blogger Gevlon expressed similar sentiments
All of this got me thinking about statistics and traffic. I’ve written in the past how it is important for the budding blogger not to become obsessed with these things. However, they can also be a very useful tool. Wilhelm himself, regular breaks down the traffic to his site and writes about it. Not in a self-aggrandising way but just as a means to gauge what topics are popular and to track how his writing patterns have changed over time. I used to blog regularly about the MMO LOTRO, as it was for several years the focal point of my gaming. It is not now and thus it doesn’t occur as often as a point of discussion. It is not unusual for the long-term blogger (or Tom Jones) to broaden their writing horizons over time, to accommodate the ebb and flow of their interests and passions. I have done it several times.
Writing a blog is a personal choice and peoples motivation varies. Most like myself, often site an enjoyment of writing as a primary factor. It could therefore be argued that for a purist blogger, who is not in any way driven by matters of ego, shouldn’t care if their blog remains unread. However, many of us write as a means to communicate our passion for something. Therefore, an audience, comments and feedback are important. Our writing is an invitation to friendly interaction and an exchange of ideas, although such concepts are becoming increasingly alien in the current binary climate. This last point paradoxically offers another reason to write. I use my blog as a means to marshal my thoughts and to try and understand what is happening in the world. Articulating your concerns can have a therapeutic value. Also, meeting those who are equally perplexed by the status quo can be rewarding.
A fellow blogger who wrote a very popular MMO fansite, once told me that they considered their writing as a public service in a way. I do not think the remark was born out of vanity. It simply reflected their enjoyment of participating in a wider community. However, they also remarked that once you embark down such a road, especially if you are receiving a high level of traffic, it can turn your passion in to a chore. They also told of how when they finally reached a point when they wanted to end their writing commitment, that they received from some quarters a lot of criticism and even aggression. It’s curious how some fans go from enjoying free content, to expecting it and treating it as if it were a product that they paid for. Mercifully, I’ve not encountered such problems. I would not claim to have such a large audience, nor do I see my writing as a public service. But I do at times struggle to maintain a regular posting schedule. It’s something that’s common to all bloggers, most of whom would like to write more than they do.
Finally, I discovered that blogger Isey has a page called “Writers Resting in Paradise” over at their website IHasPC. It lists many blogs that have ceased regular posting and have gone quiet. I believe the criteria to get on this list is to not post for six months or more. However, it should be noted that you do find from time to time, that hibernating blogs suddenly revive as the author gets bitten by the blogging bug again. Stropp recently started posting again over at Stroppsworld, which is nice to see. Being a fan of the written word, I always prefer to read someone’s thoughts than watch a live stream or a video. Visual mediums have their place and can be fun and compelling. Yet the written word provides scope from greater analysis and expression, due to the subtleties of the English language. Reading others use of words and how they choose to communicate their thoughts is fascinating and an invaluable insight into that person.