Blogging rules and how to break them

IMG_2036It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are rules about blogging. It is less universally acknowledged what they actually are. Whenever I read rules of how to blog, I realise that I don’t follow them. So here, to celebrate my 301st blog post, is my take on How to Blog.

1. Be focussed. They all tell you this. Focus on doing one thing really well. This blog is very focussed….on….erm….well, there’s the Christian bits, and the being a priest bits, and the devotional bits, and the walking bits, and the sewing and the knitting and the bramblesย gardening and the pondering and the rants and the …… as blogs go, this one is focussed on the world of Rev’d Claire. Does that count?

2. Build your follower numbers. Get them hooked, keep them coming back regularly. The ones who wrote this rule don’t realise that anyone sticking with this blog is far too intelligent to be hooked by a gimmick, whether that takes the form of flattery or special offers. It does make me wonder what special offers I could make – join me for a walk, puddle jumping, bramble hacking? Read one post, read another one? The mind boggles.

3. Post regularly, schedule your posts. ย I tried this once. Didn’t like it. ย I write my blog posts as they occur to me. I might occasionally leave one for a few hours, but mostly I write, check spelling and grammar, publish, then correct the remaining mistakes. If I know I won’t blog for ages I try to say so. But when I publish a blog, it gets tweeted and put on Facebook – what more do you want? You, lovely reader, enjoy a bit of spontaneity now and again. And if you don’t, you visit here according to your own schedule, not my random one, or that of the perfect blogger.

4. Link to other people’s blogs, so that they’ll link to yours. No way. I link to stuff that I enjoy, is useful, challenges me, teaches me something, or that I might want to refer to again. Same for my blog roll – it’s blogs I enjoy reading. If people want to link to me, that’s great, and I can think of a couple of “blog conversations” that have been both pleasurable and productive. But I’m not going to scratch your back so you’ll scratch mine.

5. Interact with those who comment. Ah, yes, here’s one I approve of. I often don’t do it on the blog, it happens regularly via twitter and Facebook, more seldom by phone and face to face. But I don’t interact because I want you to keep reading, I interact because you are human and have been kind enough to acknowledge that I am too.

6. Circulate links. Yes, I do that (although I’m trying not to tweet too many Janathon links because that’s a more specialist thing, and most of you aren’t that interested that I’ve walked about a mile in about 20 minutes, knowing that the only variable is the number of puddles I’ve fallen in by mistake). But these days, it’s no more than 2 shouts. Unless I really really think it’s worth reading, in which case I’ll do a third the next day. Maybe.

So instead, how about Rev’d Claire’s Rule of Blogging

1. Write about what you want, whatever interests you.
2. Write when the mood takes you. Conversely, if you can’t think of anything to post about, don’t post.
3. Please yourself, not other people. This isn’t a book you are trying to sell, it’s a corner of the internet.
4. Feel free to tweet a link to what you have written.
5. Enjoy it – if you don’t, no-one else will!

And finally don’t try to write “Thank you” posts to coincide with those special numbers unless you always remember birthdays. Thank you very much for dropping by, it’s a pleasure to blog with you.

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15 responses to “Blogging rules and how to break them

  1. to take your first points in order –
    1. Yes that counts… love it!
    2. ooh… love puddle-jumping. And bramble-hacking. And going for a walk… any time, Claire! Come and walk with me by the Solent in bracing winds… ๐Ÿ˜€
    3. best way – go with the flow!
    4. err… really must learn how to link to other blogs… (hangs head in shame… give me a tutorial sometime, Rev Claire…)
    5. ๐Ÿ™‚ yes, I think I was human last time I looked… and love the way your blog shows that you are too…
    6. see response to No. 3…

    And as for your own rules… very like the ones I follow myself. Or would do if I’d thought of them… ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. 1. Blog when you have something to say and when you feel like it.
    2. Don’t worry about the topic, it’ll present itself to you, perhaps sparked by a blog post by the likes of @Clairemaxim. ๐Ÿ™‚
    3. Respond to blog posts by others, which is also blogging in it’s own right, particularly if you actually have something sensible to say.
    4. Don’t worry if you don’t blog for months – something will come along and reignite your interest in blogging in your own right.

  3. I concur. We can each only do what works for us – otherwise it doesn’t work at all ๐Ÿ™‚ Your blogs are very you – and that is all that is required (though they also happen to be brilliant :))

  4. As a very non-prolific blogger, but a reader of and commenter on blogs, I would add ‘Don’t take any notice of people who make lists of best bloggers, favourite blogs etc’. I have seen so much upset caused by these and really – to use your phrase – they just exist on a ‘corner of the internet’ and have no effect on the people who like your blog at all!

  5. I might add a rule in there that if you mention someone specific who is alive, particularly if you are disagreeing with them or reviewing their work, then it is courteous to let them know. As I write a lot of book reviews, I let the authors know in order to give them a right of reply. Just last week, I was having a discussion with a cosmology professor who I have never met. If the review is critical, then it is interesting to see their response.

    So if I come up with my own set of rules disagreeing with you (or altering them), then I would link back to let you know. Or if I can’t be bothered to write a whole post, then I might just leave a comment. Like this one.

  6. I’m with you on breaking rule #2. I may not have a huge following, but I believe those who follow are doing so because they connect to / find value in what I write. That’s why I want them to follow, not because of some a gimmick or offer to get inflated numbers (although the little kid in me would join you in puddle jumping and bramble hacking!). Enjoyed the post ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I enjoy your blog but have only recently discovered the joy of rss feeds! I’ve tried signing up for email and social media notifications and even just trying to remember to check your blog every now and then! Using a dedicated rss reader makes it SO much easier to follow blogs.

    The great variety of your regular posts adds to the appeal of your blog. It’s one of those I enjoy reading the most, probably because you have the confidence to share such a wide range of reflections with others. After years of procrastination, I am finally battling with the intricacies of WordPress trying to write my own posts. Best described as a mixture of frustration and elation that it actually worked! Your example and tenacity has encouraged me to have a go. I’ve seen so many others give up…

    Many thanks from a kindred spirit.

    P.S My fledgling blog is slowly emerging at http://logosblogger.wordpress.com/

  8. Thanks so much for responses everyone – couldn’t agree more with Viv about Granny Weatherwax’s advice;
    Sipech is quite right about altering others if they are mentioned, and maybe even giving them a preview if you think it’s a good idea
    Pam Smith is wise when she says ‘ignore lists’ (I’ve never been on one so if I comment it looks like sour grapes…but I really don’t find them helpful in terms of identifying blogs that I’ll appreciate)
    And everyone who added rules is right too – writing your own rules is best of all!

  9. It’s taken me four days to find/make time to read this, and as I am Granny Weatherwax according (to my family), and my blog has become increasingly sparse of recent months because there’s been a lot of stuff I just can’t talk about, it’s encouraging to find that I have good company in all the rules I’ve been quite diligent in breaking.

    My key learning point from your broken rules is that when I post, or when I comment, I need to be better at engaging with others – even if that means ticking the ‘notify me of follow-up comments’ box on other people’s blogs. I know it in theory, but time is an issue when you’re a slow thinker.

    One of the things I like about your blog is that you don’t often blog on the issue of the moment, unless you feel some direct or passionate engagement in it. That may or may not be a concious decision, I don’t know.

    It will be interesting to see how the changes we anticipate in 2014 affect your blogging habits, as well as mine, but even if there are appropriate pauses I hope your blog doesn’t stop.

    • I don’t often post on issues of the day because other people tend to do it far better than I can. I’m very aware that most “issues” have a side that isn’t being reported, and there are facts I cannot (and perhaps should not) know. Me wading in with my size 8’s offering an opinion that isn’t based on reality, that no-one has asked for, and that doesn’t add anything to the situation other than a dose of petrol, really does seem like a waste of my time and of yours. That said, I have just been through my drafts and deleted two “of the moment’ rants from 2013 – I’m glad I didn’t publish them, and that leaves my draft folder empty as usual!

      I’m looking forward to seeing how our blogs go in 2014 too.

  10. Yes, yes, yes! Love your rules much more than the received wisdom. I write my blog to let my sister know that I’m alive. Every other reader is a bonus.

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