Neat Things I wish I knew when I started blogging

I’ve been writing here for a few years now, and though my posts have been characterized by months of obsessive daily updates or total silence as I withered away in school, I do think I’ve learned something about how to be decent at blogging. My blog isn’t the most popular, or the prettiest, or the funniest, but it’s what I want it to be, and I think that gives me a decent position to write from.  However, it took a minute–or a few years, who can tell–for me to really start liking what I write here. It also took a long time for me to start liking “here” as much as I do; here, in this case, refers to the greater community of bloggers and internet folk. This post looks at what I wish someone would have told me about blogging, or even what I wish they would have screamed at me while slapping me with a gardening trowel. 

Any of these’ll do; just make sure to really lay into me with it

Other bloggers can be cool
The first version of my blog was an academic website devoted to writing silly essays about different genre of humor. I wrote that sort of stuff for about a year, and exactly one person liked a post. I also never looked at other blogs, commented on posts, or even liked anything. I was just writing into the void and hoping someone would take notice. Almost nobody did. Then I took a break for a while before coming back, totally remaking everything, and began writing different silly things. After a while doing that, I noticed people were commenting on posts, and I also noticed it was kind of awesome they were doing that. So I responded, and it was great. I started commenting on other blogs, and that was fun too. Then, more people noticed mine because I wasn’t writing into the air and hoping someone would be along to hear it. I was taking part in a cool community, and that made people actually start to notice my stuff.

Much like blogging, the cat watches as another gets the attention they crave for validation; she will strike at midnight to ensure this does not happen again

Other bloggers can be assholes
I read a post about half an hour ago that made me want to start a forest fire just because this person mentioned they like hiking. No matter who you are, what your ideology is, what you write, or what you look like, there’s someone out there who fucking hates you. For a lot of people, I’m that person, and a lot of people are that person for me. I know there’s a specific group of people I consider garbage who hate me just on merit of my existence. And those dumpster fire people can also comment on your stuff. I should have anticipated how many shitty people there are out there, but the massive amount of good ones I see here made it easy to forget.

You can’t tell from looking at them, but both of these people think I’m an insane communist degenerate when, in actuality, only two of those things are true

You’re probably not very good at what you want to do here
Looking back at my early writing here, I can say with some confidence I enjoy about 5 of my own posts. I think the rest are pretty bad. However, the early ones, that first round of posts I did during my first summer writing here, were truly garbage. I don’t know what I thought I was doing, who I thought I was writing to, or what kind of person I wanted people to know me as. I was just writing because I wanted to be funny and because it was the internet and it seemed easy. I teach writing, so I am well-acquainted with the philosophy that there are no bad writers, only bad drafts, but there’s a lot more to being bad at blogging than having a shitty draft. I remember wondering why nobody was finding my posts through the tags, but I can also look back and see I was using about 20 tags for each post which apparently made my stuff seem like spam to some robot that decides that sort of thing. I also remember being really bad at using pictures in my posts, and my captions were just abysmal. Blogging is social, and that means everything you use to communicate is constantly evaluated based on how well the audience actually gets your message, and odds are you’re often the only one your writing gets through to.

You’re not different (Yet)
In a community populated by millions of like-minded people, you are impossible to find without some work. Imagine you are at a concert for whatever pop star is relevant right now; you are but one overwhelmed teenager in the greater throng of similar youths, all roaring for the attention of the synthetic individual masterfully lip singing on the stage. What do you do to make sure you stand out when there are thousands just like you, shoulder to shoulder, screeching for attention too?

You raise your hand and wait your turn because you are not a goddam animal

 I remember thinking I was special because I had an English degree. That sentence alone should provide plenty of insight into just how self-involved I was when I first started writing here. I thought my degree would set me apart, but I failed to note that most of the writing I had done for that degree were short stories and analytical discussions of old literature. I don’t really write much fiction anymore, and I’ve surprisingly not written any new analyses of French Romantic literature for my blog. Every other blogger I encountered had been doing it longer than me, and they were a lot better at it. Very few had a degree even tangentially related to writing. I wasn’t different because of what I came in with. There were probably a few thousand recently-graduated English majors online who were thinking they’d pave their way as the voice of the internet because they have a piece of paper that says they know how words work. I wasn’t different. I still don’t think my blog really stands out, but I do think I’ve gotten better at writing how I want to write, and that’s something that just comes with practice and work and fucking up and finding out where you can fit in. 

Other things I wish I’d known

  • Edit your posts. I know I still have a gross number of typos, but it’s not as bad as it once was
  • Make your menu short so people don’t have to sift through it and then sift through more posts
  • Be nice, nobody has to read your blog
  • Use pictures; text walls are exhausting
  • Nobody cares about your opinions until you show them they’re worth caring about
  • If you use colorful fonts, make it worth it for the people you’re inflicting them on
  • Write about a boring thing in a fun way or a familiar thing in a new way
  • Write about things people relate to
  • Write something and then post it and then forget about it and write something else
  • Don’t go for that “mysterious writer” angle; it’s fine not to broadcast your name because social media can get annoying, but making a big deal of it is just exhausting.
  • If you write political things, someone will hate you for it, so it’s important to very kindly engage with these people while vehemently disagreeing with everything they say; stick to your beliefs, but don’t be an ass about it.
    • But if they start ass-ing up the place, be the best ass you can be.
      • Out-ass the hell out of them
        • Then publicize your ass-ery so other people can see it
          • Then grab a burrito because all that ass-ing is hungry work
Yeah, I deserve this

9 Replies to “Neat Things I wish I knew when I started blogging”

      1. Like the noble hamster, I also have a little spot in my cheek where I can keep things, generally my tongue, which keeps me either clever or just looking like I’ve had an allergic reaction

        Like

  1. Oh dear, I tick most of the above boxes! I struggle with the ‘connecting’ side of all this. Not enough, am I aloof? Too much, am I annoying? But I realised I had to reach out otherwise this whole exercise was no different to writing stuff down then hiding it under the bed, at the same time accepting I may be the only person that enjoys what I write and that alone is enough validation to keep doing it. I enjoy all your posts, whatever the topic/style, they’re always fun so keep doing what ya doing 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of this post was based on my own writing habits, even now. I feel like we’re all the best at seeing the worst in our own writing, but I genuinely enjoy yours.

      I’m glad you enjoy my writing because in a few months, I’ll be writing another list and the things I’m writing now will be yet another example of writing I’ve done that makes me shudder 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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