I think I’ve figured out this whole blogging thing

Last week, a woman named Amanda that I follow on Twitter took a moment to ask all the bloggers out there how to get better at posting frequently. Now, I’m no expert, but I’ve learned a few tricks in my time, and I figured I’d share some.

Specifically, I suggested creating categories, imposing schedules, and keeping posts brief. And now that I don’t have a hundred and forty character limit to worry about, I’d like to tell you why.

Creating categories or tags for the various things you want to write about has a funny way of making your work on those subjects more real and valid. It also makes it easier for your visitors – many of whom will have found your blog through a search engine and won’t necessarily know you from Adam – to find similar posts on your site. I’m not very formal about this – most of my posts are currently uncategorized – but I’ve definitely found it helpful to create categories for subjects I write about frequently.

When I was writing about the gun registry in the weeks leading up to the vote on Bill C-391, posting various updates and opinions under a single heading created the feel of an ongoing campaign. It also made it easier for people who joined the conversation after it had already started to read previous posts and get caught up.

And here’s the thing: it put a little pressure on me to keep writing. Whenever I happened to notice that my most recent post on the subject was a couple of days old, I’d get an itch to post about whatever might have happened since.

Imposing a schedule goes hand in hand with creating categories, and it’s another great way to keep yourself writing regularly. Even if nobody out there knows about your schedule, much less cares about it, it’s good to impose a little discipline on yourself. If you don’t commit to writing certain things at certain times, you’ll find it’s so much easier to put them off. Indeed, without a schedule, you run a much greater risk of never posting at all.

I post a Link of the Day every day at 8:45 AM. I write about a record I’m currently enjoying every Tuesday at 3:00 PM. Every Friday morning I post a music video, and every Saturday afternoon I write about democracy. And all of that’s just a portion of what appears on this site.

I don’t always keep these commitments, and I’ve never once been called out for not doing so. But having them ensures that I write a lot more, and a lot more consistently, than I otherwise would.

Keeping posts brief is also good strategy, and one that I should try to follow a lot more often than I do. When you’re writing for the web, you need to get in, make your point, and get out. Not only do longer posts take more time to write, but they’re also far less likely to be read by visitors who are eager to get on to the next thing. In fact, if you’ve read this far, then thanks!

If you’ve got a point to make, then sure, make it in as many words as it takes. But speaking for myself, I find I’m much less likely to write about something if I think it’s going to take an hour or two to do it. If you’re like me, and it’s often a question between keeping it brief and not doing it at all, then there’s your argument for keeping it brief.

That said, if you can make your point in a sentence or two, then you should probably take it to Twitter or Facebook instead of posting it on your blog. The best thing Twitter ever did for the world of blogging was to give people a way to say things like “I just had a pretty good sandwich” without cluttering up their own sites.

There’s more to be said on the subject, but I’ve rambled on long enough. Perhaps I’ll follow up in future posts. I mentioned yesterday that I’m planning to give this site an overhaul, and as long as I’m thinking about design, I might as well think about content and communication. And if I’m doing that, then why not share the wealth?

In fact, you know what? Let’s created a new category called “blogging,” and tag this post as the first in a series. What a great way to trick myself into following through on this!

Posted in Blogging

One Response to “I think I’ve figured out this whole blogging thing”

  1. Amanda says:

    These are all great tips. I think I drag my feet on posting to my blog because I see it as time-consuming, plus sometimes I have no idea what to write about. But if I had categories that went up on certain days and decided ahead of time that I wouldn’t ramble on like I usually do, I think I would be able to produce more than my usual four posts a month.