Many people have emailed me asking for advice on keeping up a blog. I dutifully answer as best I can and help them out, if possible. It’s not easy. I’ve been blogging for three years now as well as coming up with ideas for the “Memo” column and features in BIRD TALK while working on my book, which, as I have previously explained, is taking longer than the Viet Nam War. Of course, it doesn’t help when your laptop decides to leave the relationship for a few weeks either. But I do my best. I can only write from experience, not expertise. However, I have managed to keep my blog going for a while and I’ve learned a lot in that time.
Due to my inquisitive nature and my always wondering what normal bloggers write about, I take peeks at other blogs. I even look at blogs about blogging. “Ask and Ye Shall Receive” (AAYSR) is one of them. And if you take a look at it, get a gander at the URL!
It’s really a very funny blog and some of the best writing are the comments. From what I’ve been able to figure out, it’s a written by a pool of very talented bloggers; anonymous writers who critique blogs that have been submitted by other bloggers.
I have seen some fallout due to it. I’ve noticed that a number of blogs that got their keesters chewed up, quit blogging altogether and I’m not so sure it wasn’t a direct result of the spanking they got. Maybe they couldn’t take the heat. However, I have to hand it to those that submitted; they had guts.
Sarcastic, loaded with swear words, really well-written and ruthless for the most part, Ask and Ye Shall Receive certainly isn’t all sweetness, light and positive reinforcement, but it’s funny all the same. This is a nice way of saying that if the submission is an entire rear loader full of manure, they will tear you apart. But it has taught me a lot about conveying information in an efficient and entertaining manner.
They have 7 rules about blogging that are very helpful and through the snark and sarcasm, some very good advice shines through. In most instances, you will more likely find out what not to do, rather than the reverse. One of their big “Nopes” is “automatic play music.” They simply hate that and actually, so do I.
Another rule is, don’t “blog about blogging.” I guess I’m going to hell.
But then again, aren’t they a bunch of bloggers who are blogging about blogs on another blog? I guess they are accompanying me to the aforementioned hell.
Most of the blogs AAYSR reviews seem to be “personal blogs.” This blog is personal in a way, but it’s also about birds, parrots, the business of aviculture and all of the details that goes along with it. It’s not necessarily educational all of the time; at least I deliberately try not to be educational all of the time. And it’s definitely not a “Mommy Blog.” If you’ve ever seen one of the bad Mommy blogs, you will understand why I simply loathe the entire genre. And if this blog even remotely begins to resemble one of those, I am going to load up a sippy cup with cement and beat myself with it.
Photo courtesy of Robert Smith- The Chart Group
I like to think that “Parrot Nation” is more a reflection of my point of view in the world of aviculture and animals in general. It’s more about the process of life with birds and all that goes with it. So I’m not sure I’d ever want to submit my blog for review; I don’t know that I could take the keester whipping I’d probably end up getting.
These are some vicious and wickedly good writers and they don’t put up with a lot of drivel. And they seem to be very picky about the appearance of a blog. They don’t like a lot of crap on the side columns. They don’t seem to like busy looking blogs with a lot of applications and junk on the page; the cleaner and simpler, the better.
I can say this about blogging:
1.) First of all, you need to write. Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar; all are a given. This isn’t easy…
2.) You need to write often. Neither is this…
3.) All of your posts don’t have to be as long as War and Peace. Harder than it sounds…
4.) Having a point of view or opinion is not only helpful, it’s crucial. Even if you’re posting a link to someone else’s stuff, have an opinion and write about it.
5.) Some of your bests posts might be a thought you had while you were taking the clothes out of the dryer.
6.) Sometimes when you sit down and write, you end up with more than one idea on the page. Divide it up into addressing one idea per post and if you do the math, that’s more posts that can be published and you won’t run into the War and Peace issue. So stick with one concept per post.
8.) Get the word about your blog out there through Twitter, Facebook and the myriad of forums.
9.) If what you’re writing about is controversial, don’t name names. Being positive and informative is good. Being bitchy is not. But don’t be bland. One of my most popular pieces was And the Band Played On and I didn’t tone it down at all. But I didn’t name names and point fingers either.
10.) Carrying your camera around with you or using your camera on your phone will give you bunches of ideas. People seem to like photos.
11.) If you decide to stop blogging, stop. But announce that you’re stopping and say why. Don’t just quit. End the damned thing. Or announce that you’re going to take a break for a while and state for how long you will be away.
I can tell you one thing about writing a blog; you will certainly become a better writer.