Dust Off Your Old Blog
It’s an old and all too familiar story. At some point, you thought “I know, let’s start a blog. I can write about the things that I enjoy and share my passion for river widening with others”. So you promptly went and opened up a free WordPress or Google Blogger account and jumped in feet first, without any semblance of a plan because who needs a plan, right? Then you quickly discovered that the witty epistles you hoped to write regularly were harder to produce than rocking horse droppings and finding time to write was proving hard; what with all the football on TV and the weekly meetings of the glee club. Plus, it also became apparent that something had gone horribly wrong with the internet and the CIA was obviously blocking your site content, because the army of fans you so righteously deserved had failed to manifest themselves. So you decided to pack it all in and instead try your hand at live streaming, because blogging is as good as dead (because Tobold said so) and you look really good in front of a camera (just remember to move the clothes horse out of shot first).
Blaugust Reborn presents a perfect opportunity for lapsed bloggers to return to the fold and resume writing for the greater glory or humanity. Or at least for their own enjoyment and may be to be part of a wider community who have similar passions. As you are now older and wiser (because you are, aren’t you?) you realise that writing on a regular basis requires a degree of organisation and preparation. But the good news is that if you ensure that a few basic steps are in place, then you can embark of a blogging journey that should prove very enjoyable and rewarding. Now the following advice is mainly aimed at those who have previously blogged and have subsequently abandoned their respective sites. But the guidance here is also applicable to totally new bloggers. However, there is a lot more detailed information currently being collated over at the Blaugust Reborn Discord server that you may want to check out first if you are thinking of blogging, podcasting or creating content for the first time. I’m writing today to try and specifically coax those wayward ex-bloggers back online. Here are some ideas to consider.
Dust off your old blog. It is very tempting for returning bloggers to think to themselves “I don’t want to continue writing on my old site for [insert tortuous reason here]. I’d much rather start a new one”. The problem with this tactic is that you’ll then agonise over a witty, pithy blog name, what platform you should use and designing a slick logo. You’ll get bogged down with potentially unnecessary logistics, rather than applying yourself to writing. Joking aside, some people can sort all the above out really quickly, but for many budding writers (and I include myself in this group), if you provide us with any opportunity to procrastinate, then will take it and revel in it. For a large percentage of returning bloggers, it best not to invest too much time into the aesthetics and administrative aspects of your blog. Remember, you may ultimately not wish to or be able to sustain a writing schedule, so don’t waste time and money on new resources. Log into your old site, give it a bit of a spring clean and then get ready for the next stage.
Have some sort of plan. I like plans. So does Hannibal Smith. Having carried the can for major projects in the past that had substantial budgets, I’m a fully paid up exponent of the belt and braces school of thought. So I always tend to have a list of potential blog post ideas on the go. Some days I read what topics are doing the rounds on the various gaming websites. Other days I’ll just riff off something a fellow blogger has posted. Now everyone is different and not everyone likes or desires that level or organisation. That’s fine. Writing from the hip can be very effective when you’re fired up. But on those slow news days when the blogosphere is quietly turning over you may find your powder dry. So it doesn’t hurt to have a few ideas on standby. If you’re tackling a weightier subject or deciding to drop a major think piece than ensure you have done sufficient research. Some folk like to start with bullet points that they then flesh out into relevant paragraphs. There are lots of options and it’s down to you to find what’s right for you. Just bear in mind that it often helps to have thought about what your going to write before you do so.
Something is better than nothing. It’s your blog, so write as much or as little as you want. More to the point, write what you feel is enough. If you can make your point or collate your thoughts in one paragraph, then fair enough. Don’t feel obliged to bulk out your posts to some nebulous preconceived size. Filler stands out a mile and there’s nothing worse than “people who give vent to their loquacity by extraneous bombastic circumlocution” to quote Monty Python and highlight my point. Microblogging is a thing and it can work well. A quick post about how a boss fight went in an MMO last night can connect just as well with readers as a detailed analysis of the fight mechanics themselves. Don’t feel obliged to try and be Harper Lee, Suetonius or Roger Hargreaves. Your blog is about you and is your presence online. It therefore follows suite that it is done in a manner which pleases you. Readers who like 2,000-word, in-depth think pieces also like screenshots and posts about cosmetic items. It should also be noted that sometimes it is the most trivial and disposable posts that you make which prove to be the most popular. After a decade plus of writing online my most read post (which is no longer available) was a review of Top Cat: The Movie.
Write when you can and because you want to. In the past I have maintained a daily writing schedule and been happy to do so. However, my personal circumstances have changed over time and I’ve finally realised that not posting to my blog every day is not a personal failing or a crime against humanity. Therefore, do not impose an unrealistic writing regime upon yourself. Pick a time which is good for you and affords you the chance to think and martial your thoughts. Do not write because you feel obliged too. This will make you feel resentful about blogging and will often result in inferior work. Yes, there is an element of self-discipline when it comes to writing and there are times when you may have to shut the door and focus on the task in hand, but it should never be an insufferable burden. If you are in a suitably motivated state of mind, and writing in a comfortable environment conducive to writing, then you’re far more likely to produce material that you’re proud of and that will chime with readers. For those who choose to join the Blaugust Reborn Discord server, you’ll find an invaluable source of support and encouragement there to keep you motivated and thus writing.
I could add another half a dozen or so additional points to this list of advice for returning bloggers, but I believe the above are possibly the most essential. To summarise rekindle your old site, plan a few posts or jot down some ideas of where you want to go with your writing. Then write what you can and post whenever it is convenient. A happy and motivated blogger is in prime position to become an established and regular blogger. I should also point out that although the above advice references a gaming related blog, it is just as relevant to those writing about Etruscan pottery or the birds that gather on Mrs Coletart’s roof. The essential principles espoused here are also pertinent to podcasting, You Tubing (is that even a proper phrase? Answers on a postcard please) or any other form of online content creation really. Taking those initial steps back do not have to be as difficult and daunting as some would have you believe.