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Friday, February 01, 2008

Blogosphere Paradox-No Country for Tired Men

Blogging gets like this. Writer's Block. No ideas. But you gotta persevere, kind of re-invent yourself.

Already one blogger who was a keen reader of my blog has chosen to enjoy their life in Greece--privately. I loved the public aspect of that life; it was so refreshing. So very-unlike-other-bloggers. That it was shared by two interesting people made it all the more worth visiting. Now, both bloggers have jumped overboard from the virtual back into the real one. I will miss them. Soap and Steph--I hope you come across this post one day, and know that you are fondly remembered.

A then-favourite (2005-2006) sex blogger, Joey Madison posted their last post on 21 January, and the previous was in...October 2007!

Like I said, blogging gets like this: the necessity of reconciling the private versus the public can be headache-inducing and not-so-inspiring.

But it can work.

Here's one way--by going full circle as it were, with a few tips:

20 Tips for Good Blogging

1. Starting a blog is easy. There are many free blog services. is very user-friendly and will lead you through a pain-free set-up process. If you want to keep a specific domain (without “blogger” in the URL), you’ll need to set up your own domain and import it into another blog service, such as

2. Decide what you want your blog to be. Who are your target readers? It’s important to decide from the beginning whether you’re blogging for professional or personal reasons. If you want to blog strictly as a diary or a way to get the creative juices flowing, password protect it. Think hard about who your potential readers are and what sort of image you want to portray. Announce your full vision for your blog in your first post.

3. Post one time a week at the absolute minimum. This is important, because once you develop a regular readership, you don’t want to lose it. Every day is ideal, although there’s a high burnout rate for bloggers who post this frequently. Aiming for three to five posts per week is a good goal.

4. If you write on your blog that you’re going to do something—do it. A lot of this has to do with building a solid level of trust with your readers. If you write that you’re going to post every day, or that you’re going to post something specific, be sure you can and will deliver.

5. You don’t have to be perfect, but still try. Yes, grammar and spelling expectations are somewhat more relaxed with a blog, but don’t get lazy with your posts. Respect your reader: at least run a quick grammar/spelling check before your post.

6. Remember that blogs are forever. I also like to call this tip “friends don’t let friends post drunk.” Like a tattoo, a piercing, or those expensive shoes you bought that kill your feet, a blog post may be around for a long, long time, so use due consideration before posting something inflammatory, overly critical or anything that could get you fired/expelled/sued/grounded.

7. If you know you’re the sort of person who will ignore tip #6, make sure your blog is password-protected, so only your friends will know you posted drunk.

8. Be a good neighbor. One of the very best ways to establish a readership is to reach out to other bloggers, by visiting their blogs and leaving comments. Link to specific posts you find on their blogs and comment in a positive way. Also include blogs you like and recommend on your blogroll.

9. Try to be positive. Don’t use your blog to lash out at your boss/spouse/probation officer/the world in general. You probably won’t develop much of a readership that way as it gets tiresome very quickly, not to mention, it could land you in trouble (see tip #6). There’s a kind of karma to blogging. If what you’re putting out is negative, what you get back is negative.

10. Keep your posts short. No one wants to read a Master’s thesis on your blog. Keep your posts concise. 300 words a post is a good target. You can occasionally go longer if you’ve got really good stuff—run it by an honest friend first to find out if it really is good stuff. The art of blogging is more about clarity and brevity. Note: Yes, I violated my 300- words tip with this very post. My managing editors, Brian and Kara told me it was good stuff.

11. Realize that blogging is an endurance sport. Anyone can start a blog, but very few people can keep a good blog up, week after week, month after month, year after year. Yes, it gets exhausting, but like training for a marathon, it can also be exhilarating. If you know you’re more a sprinter than a marathoner, maybe a blog isn’t the right format for you.

12. Can you land a book deal with your blog? Maybe. It happens, but don’t let that be your primary motivation, because it’s unlikely. You might think of blogging as a sort-of farm league for publishing. But it’s all about establishing a readership. If you have a devoted audience base, you can bet it won’t be difficult to score a publisher.

13. Encourage your readers to comment. Create clear, well thought out opinion pieces. Don’t be afraid to pose provocative questions to capture your reader’s attention. Get them emotionally/mentally involved in your blog. If you want to develop a rapport with your readers (if you don’t, then you shouldn’t be blogging), encourage their comments, and don’t deride them when their point of view is different from yours.

14. Remember that readers want information. It’s certainly not difficult to find information on the Web. But it is difficult to find it from a trusted, reliable source. Try to provide them with information they want, whether it’s from your own work, or linking to the work of others.

15. Develop your own style. What keeps readers coming back is you—your voice, your style, your point of view and your clear, polished writing. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.

16. Have occasional guests. Yes, if you develop a readership, you’re the primary draw back to your blog. But it’s good and healthy to mix it up every now and then with fresh perspectives from trusted guest bloggers. In fact, it may give you a much-needed mental break away from the relentless demands of keeping up a good blog.

17. Visual aids can be good. But don’t overdo it. Blogging is primarily a written medium. If you’re a writer and trying to develop an audience for your writing, then write. Don’t over-rely on cheesy photos and other digital eye candy.

18. Let your blog evolve. A blog is a lot like a magazine, in that it’s a constant evolution. Be generous and flexible about letting your blog develop over time, as you do.

19. Don’t be overly promotional. Yes, a blog can be a good promotional tool, but if you’re only trying to sell something, it becomes obvious very quickly. If you’re promoting something, be a soft sell. And only do it occasionally, as it will turn readers away.

20. Keep it fun. Don’t take it too seriously. If you’re having a good time with your blog—and if you’re not then ask yourself why you’re doing it—people are going to have fun reading it and will keep coming back for more.

Feel free to comment: add to, agree or disagree with anything I wrote here. It is a blog after all, comments are always welcome. That’s part of the fun.


Throughout the year, I will come back to some of these brilliant suggestions made by Writer's Digest. One of those that have great resonance for me is about keeping it up--as it were.

If you take your mind out of the gutter for a tad (;-)), I am talking about being a marathon sprinter as far as blogging is concerned: it needs persistence, patience and consistency--to a small extent.

But I must contemporraneously add that I am offering no lectures here--except to say that the number of good bloggers that have exited the blogosphere leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It might seem to augur badly for my blogging capabilities. But it won't.

This blog is not the widely-read blog that I would like it--and sometimes that's a good thing--to have only a coterie of people readinig it, but I would like people to read it at all!.

My best friend came across a post some weeks ago before the year went out--and traced back an entry in which she read that I found her sexy. Let's just say it's a great thing she has a great sense of humour! That's where I 'm ending it.

Suffice-to-say, I'm a writer at heart--and I ain't stopping! So blogging is definitely not just here to stay, but I am going to weather this storm in the country that is just-so-bad for tired bloggers.

Have a good weekend!

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At Monday, February 04, 2008 8:13:00 am , Blogger soap said...

Ah, Mr. Bensah, I'm still a keen reader of your blog! The dissolution of the blog you mention, or rather the partnership behind it, wasn't really a question of public vs private. I just realized that in my writing (obsessing, agonizing, fruitlessly analyzing) I was walling myself deeper and deeper into the monument I thought I was building. In the end, there I was, and almost wasn't, amidst the rubble.

Which is not to say that I don't miss it.

As for you, I hope you will keep writing. You've done especially well with rule 15!

At Tuesday, February 12, 2008 11:19:00 am , Blogger Emmanuel.K.Bensah II said...

soap!!!--great to know u still read this blog (mucho apreciado!)

You m ight have been doing all those things, but surely it was cathartic--even if you might have ended up in the rubble?

If you miss it, why not take a break, and get back to re-strategising how you can blog differently?

Thanks for the encouragement!


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