Warning: May contain smug, patronising nonsense.
I had a lovely, happy walk to work, listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on repeat on the iPod and planning a splendid blog post containing amateurish and unsolicited advice about How To Write Blog Posts.
This plan was instantly derailed when I got to work to discover that my Dad, who started blogging all of three days ago, has already got in with all the cool, funny people. (You go, Dad!)
This led me in turn to Vicus Scurra, whereupon I was seized by a) fits of apoplectic laughter, closely followed by b) one of those terrible fits of blog envy that have you sloping off to the Blogger Dashboard to hang sulkily around the "Delete This Blog" button.
It's by no means the first fit of blog envy I've had - previous catalysts have included Wyndham, Latigo Flint and Betty - and I'm learning to live with the knowledge that there are hundreds of people out there who are cleverer and funnier than I'll ever be. You clever, funny bastards. I hate you, and yet I love you beyond measure.
So, with that in mind, on with the original show, eh? On my regular cruises around the blogosphere I sometimes come across sad*, self-doubting people who are given to fits of anguish over the fact that their stats are up or down, or that fewer people commented today than yesterday.
Although it might not seem like it, I'm a professional writer in the "real" world. So perhaps I can lend a hand with some amateurish and unsolicited advice - in the form of a handy list, of course.
So without waiting for so much as a friendly "fuck off, you - we're just fine as we are, thanks", I present you with my Amateurish, Unsolicited Advice on How To Write Blog Posts!
1. Template. The popularity of your blog has less to do with your writing than you might think. It's mainly about your template. Fact: white on black is hard to read. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you've got one of those black templates, people won't read it unless they really love you.
Warning: if you're going to change your template, copy and paste your template code into a text editor like Notepad (NOT Word, which will trash it) and then paste it back in when you're done. Also, get some better advice than this about changing your template. I haven't done it for a while, and I hate to think I might ruin someone's blog with my slapdash advice. Will post a good link if I find one.
2. Paragraphs. People, no one will read a huge, unbroken chunk of text unless they really, really love you. Split it into paragraphs, for the love of god. And the shorter, the better. White space is really, really important.
3. Opening sentence. Someone coming to your blog for the first time will make a split-second decision to keep reading based almost entirely on the first sentence they read. Make it a good one.
4. Lists. Why are glossy magazines full of lists? Because they're easy to read, especially on a screen. Lists are good. Make lists. Not *all* the time, mind.
5. Personality. Your blog is all about you, however much you might pretend it isn't. Your content doesn't really matter, as long it reflects your personality (which may not be your "real" life personality, but that doesn't matter either).
6. Comments. This is where all the best stuff happens, so have fun with your commenters. Not *that* sort of fun. Although, on second thoughts, why not? Blogworld is as much a giant virtual singles bar as it is anything else it's purported to be.
7. Spelling and grammar. More important than you might think, but at the same time, less important than you might think. But spellchecking is always a good idea.
8. Content. Doesn't matter. Honestly. Stop worrying about what you "should" or "shouldn't" be writing about. Just write stuff. As long as you remember to break it into paragraphs and make lists occasionally, it's all fine.
No time for more. Apparently I have a real job to do. Gahh.
PS Please feel free to disagree heartily with anything I've said, criticise me for not following my own advice, slap me for being patronising, add your own tips, and so on.
UPDATE: I know nothing. Mr Robert Swipe of Rothergavenny has the definitive guide to achieving untold blogworld popularity. Go to it!
* As in "unhappy".
tags: writing | blogging
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