Remedial Blog School: So, You Started a Blog!
(You may want to refresh yourself with the introductory post, which consists of my referring you to excellent bloggers that discuss the techniques of blogging and other useful tips.)
So, you started a blog--Congratulations.
You have lots of ideas of what you'll write about, a Swiss bank account where you will deposit all your earnings and the smug expression that you will reserve for those who said that you could never do it all practiced in front of the mirror! You're on your way!
What else could you possibly need, you wonder?
What is your blog URL?
You know that http:// thingamigiggy.com at the top of your blog that directs people to your home page. If you're like I was a year ago (i.e. moron) it's something that has absolutely no relationship to the name of your blog.
For example, my blog name is Motherhood in NYC. My URL was http://NYCMomAndMore.blogspot.com The hell? What's the "more"? Why didn't I just go with MotherhoodInNYC.com to start with? All excellent questions. The answer? Because I was young and inexperienced and no one loved me enough to tell me.
Lesson 1: Avoid confusion and pick a URL that is as close as possible to the name of your blog.
Then comes the big question: Should you use your real name or be anonymous?
There are pros and cons for each. I asked my bloggy friends for wisdom and here's what they told me:
Anna Lefler uses her real name because her blog is a way to build a readership for future books and attract the attention of a literary agent.
Kate pointed out that with the exception of Gossip Girl, there are no well known bloggers who are anonymous. (Could this possibly be true?)
Britt wisely warned that the biggest problem with blogging anonymously is that you start believing that you are truly anonymous and the problem with not being anonymous is that is that your dad knows that you have a vagina.
(is it me or is my writing style in attributing the thoughts to the bloggers straight out of junior high school newspaper writer?)
So, it's your call. Just remember that even if you don't share your real name, if you provide enough details about your life, with photographs, people will be able to fill in the blanks. Unless those people are me, of course. We all leave huge gigantic internet footprints, so don't be lulled into thinking that you are truly anonymous.
If you do choose to remain anonymous, think of names that you will call the people that you blog about. Believe it or not, I am still grappling with this and I am not happy about it.
I mean, I am Marinka (duh), which is a nickname that my friend (John) gave me. My husband is Husbandrinka, for obvious reasons. My daughter is "my daughter" and my son is "Young Ladrinka". Some people have commented on the lack of an "inka" for my daughter, but it just doesn't seem right to me.
I know people who've used their children's real names, their middle names, others who used the first initial and who blog-named their children after fictional characters . All of these can work, just make sure to live with your choice for a while before committing to it. Of course you can change it later, but, you know.
Lesson 2: Decide whether you want to be anonymous or not. (Hint: Anonymity is a lot like virginity--it's easier to drop it later than reclaim in. This may be the only way in which anonymity is like virginity, by the way, so when I said that it was "a lot" like virginity, I was using a literary device called "exaggeration". That is part of our the advanced blogging course. You are not ready for it yet). If you decide to become anonymous, pick names for your cast of characters. Consider Marinka2 and Marinka III.
Unless you're writing your blog as a totally personal outlet and everything you put down is top secret, you will want people to read what you write. Anyone who says that they don't care if anyone reads what they write is a huge liar. Because people who don't want to be read, don't put their writing on the internet. They put it on their hard drive or floppy disc or in a notebook or on the walls of their cell.
Believe me, I know how tempting it is to tell everyone you know about your blog, because voila, instant readers! Which leads me to
Lesson 3: Do not tell anyone about your blog.
The big downside to telling people about your blog is that they will read it and then you can never blog about them. Well, you can never blog about them in THAT way.
The other big downside to telling people about your blog is that some of them will not read it and you'll spend a lot of time having thoughts like "what the fuck? Does she think she's too good for my blog? I'm pouring out my heart and she can't be bothered? Great!"
It's a relationship killer and a blog fodder killer. Otherwise, it's fantastic!
I encourage you not to tell people about your blog at first. Blog a bit, get to writing, discover the blogging community and then see if you want your parents, inlaws, co-workers and sex therapists reading your thoughts. Maybe you'll be totally fine with it, but if not, you can't unring that bell.
For me, Husbandrinka knows about the blog, but he's never read it. Just totally uninterested. John knows about the blog, but only reads it occasionally to see what material I've stolen from him and a few friends know about it. I am lucky because my friends have been very supportive of my blogging, but it does make me pause sometimes. There are things that I won't blog about because I know that they are reading. I don't think that my blog has suffered as a result, but who knows what masterpieces I've self-censored?
And it's so much easier to tell them later than to untell them:
Happy Hour Sue: It definitely stifles my language and content. It's so tempting to tell them when you start because you have no readers...but my advice to new bloggers is BE PATIENT - your audience will come.
If you've already told people about your blog and wish that you hadn't, you have two choices: start a different blog, or wait for their computers to crash. Because if they're like my friends, they won't remember your URL and when they ask you for a link again, just send them to me.
Lesson 4: Find blogs that you love. Read them, comment on them, follow the comments that you enjoy on those blogs back to their own blogs and read and comment on those.
There are tons of ways to increase your readership, but the only way that I know how to do it is to find a community of blogs that you enjoy and join it. Leave hypnotic comments and
lure people back to your blog. Be patient. And write fantastic posts.
Oh, the whole fantastic posts thing? That's next week's lesson.
Recommended reading: Before I started blogging, I bought two books, Blogging for Dummies and No one Cares What You Had For Lunch. I read the first book cover to cover and took copious notes (I really hope that "copious" means "few"). The second book, I immediately misplaced, but I believe that I got the gist from the title. So I really recommend the Dummies book for a general overview and how-to.
Labels: Remedial Blog School