On Blogging and Bloggers – Breaking the Fourth Wall

 

Version 2

 

I don’t consider myself an expert blogger. I don’t have 10 handy tips to drive traffic to your blog, or make you better read. I didn’t start my blog either to make money or become famous, though I’m not averse to the possibility of either. I did it mainly to hold myself accountable – to push myself to write more, to find my ‘voice,’ and to become more disciplined as a writer. I also did it to connect, which is probably why all of us really use social media.

So I didn’t follow any of the blogging ‘rules’ – like focusing my blog on a particular theme, for example. As a fiercely independent soul with a wide range of interests and an abiding fear of commitment, I wanted to write about anything that took my fancy. I’ve also, I’m ashamed to say, failed to strike up many significant relationships within the blogging community. I’ve generally spent very little time in the blogosphere, if I’m honest, because the online world can be overwhelming enough as is and I’m trying to use any free time I have to write. (I also subscribe to Groucho Marx’s old adage that I’d rather not be a member of any club that would have me.)

But somehow, after a newfound determination to write more frequently last year – and a little help from the nice folk at WordPress – I’ve picked up an increasing number of readers, which has been lovely and very touching and also rather overwhelming. From all corners of the world and spanning all ages, lifestyles, political persuasions, etc. If you are one of them, thank you – I’m very touched.

With this modest success, I’ve discovered, comes certain responsibilities. I am increasingly asked to check out other people’s blogs, to follow them if possible, and to comment on their work – by new bloggers, especially. With that in mind – and the caveat that I still consider myself a novice – I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned on my journey, just in case it can help you in any way.

 

1. I’ve visited – and been visited by – an incredible range of blogs – from poetry to politics, sport, sex, food and fashion, and then some. You name it and there’s probably a blog for it. On the plus side, it means there’s room for everyone, which is what continues to make the blogosphere such an interesting, vibrant place. On the downside, it’s probably getting harder than ever to get your voice heard – to achieve ‘cut through,’ as the marketeers would call it.

 

2. People blog for a variety of reasons but I’d hazard a guess the majority of us want to be read – whether you’re anonymously chronicling your sexploits or diligently photographing your recipes – and probably beyond your friends and family and immediate circle. If that’s the case, I think there should be one primary goal: Quality over quantity, by which I mean striving for original and well-written content, rather than putting anything and everything out there. This may mean that you post less frequently than you set out to, but in the long run, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

This is very much a personal opinion and it also depends on why you’re blogging in the first place – if you’re doing it for catharsis or because it makes you happy, then post as much or as little as you like. Otherwise, I think it helps if posting is a judgment call. Not everything you write needs to be published.

 

3. As I’ve said already, I don’t believe your blog has to focus on one topic – though I may be the exception that proves the rule. Do write about the stuff that interests you and that you’re passionate about, which always helps. Unless you’re writing for yourself primarily though, it’s worth remembering that the majority of people aren’t going to be interested in the minutiae of your daily life – unless you have a talent for expressing it particularly well. Again, this all comes back to your reasons for blogging in the first place – if it makes you happy to share, do it.

 

4. A few writing tips mostly culled from my journalism and editing background that may help – do with these what you will.

  • Most journalists will tell you that your first two paragraphs are the most important, since they’re responsible for drawing your readers in – or not, as the case may be.
  • Pay attention to your headline – it doesn’t have to be one of those annoying clickbait ones but a catchy headline definitely helps.
  • Use spell check or get a friend to read over your work if you’re worried about the grammar/content (I always run everything past my sister or good friends first).
  • Use paragraphs! In today’s fast moving world, nothing is a greater turn-off than huge chunks of text without proper paragraphs or spacing. I’m not a fan of the overly simplistic blogging style of using a paragraph for every sentence, mind you – just advocating for a happy medium. Try and intersperse long sentences and short ones for maximum effect too.
  • Edit. There’s nearly always stuff that can be taken out to make your prose tighter and sharper – this is where a second opinion from someone you trust can help.

 

5. While good content is vital, do make sure your blog is easy to read and navigate too – which means the font isn’t too fussy or too small (spare a thought for us older readers) or on a dark background, which can make it difficult to read, and that different sections are clear and accessible. There’s a fine line between expressing your personal style – and blogs are definitely great for that – and putting off your potential readership with an overly fussy or incomprehensible design.

I think Medium showcases writing especially well, for example – all that clear white space is a writer’s dream. And don’t be afraid to change up the theme every now and then, which is easier than ever before with WordPress, I reckon – if I can do it, anyone can. My blog’s gone through several incarnations before this one – and may well change again sometime soon.

 

6. A personal bugbear – if there’s an About section, please do add a line about yourself and/or your concept for the blog, or get rid of it altogether. This may be just me but I always visit the About section of any blog I go to because I want to find out something about the person I’m visiting and their vision for their blog, which often helps me understand it better.

It’s a bit like going to a party and looking out for the host – I’m in your space and I want to stop by to say hello. An incomplete About section always looks a little careless to me. It doesn’t have to be an essay or particularly witty or erudite, and it can still be anonymous if you’d prefer that, but it helps if there’s something.

 

7. On blogging etiquette: Please don’t ask me to follow you or get offended if I don’t or don’t thank you for a follow. I tend, in life, to operate by the same principles I apply for myself and I don’t actively solicit followers, which feels a bit too much like political campaigning to me.

I’m also sorry to say I follow very few blogs now for the reasons I outlined earlier – my email folder is overflowing on the best of days, as is my daily reading list. I do try and visit every blog that visits me, however, and like and comment on posts I particularly enjoy. In the future, if I ever get organised enough, I’d like very much to highlight the blogs that stand out to me to draw wider attention to them if I can.

 

The last and most important point is that all rules are made to be broken – including these – and thankfully the blogosphere’s big enough and bad enough to accommodate all of us. What works for me may not – and probably will not – work for you, since I’m most likely blogging for different reasons, and I can be a nitpicking perfectionist, and different things make me happy.

To read a wonderfully warm, honest and different perspective from someone I consider a proper blogger, read this by the Holistic Wayfarer, who I think sums up the joys and pitfalls of blogging beautifully. Of everything she says, this point rings especially true for me:

Remember how small you are – in blogging and life.
There’s always someone with more readers, someone faster, smarter, more talented and savvy. You’re not all that. Neither am I. That’s why I try to keep it real. For all the rewriting I do here, I don’t want to end up editing my image when you’re coming to me with a certain level of trust in my honesty.

 

All best and happy blogging to you all.

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141 thoughts on “On Blogging and Bloggers – Breaking the Fourth Wall

  1. I too go to the “about” page and like knowing something about the writer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. That’s what the writing is about. I do feel and enjoy the connection I feel with the bloggers I follow and who read my attempts at sharing my thoughts in a hopefully entertaining way. Write on!

    • Thanks Nancy – perhaps we’re just old school re the About page : ) I do also enjoy the connections I make – I probably wasn’t blogging steadily enough in the past to fully appreciate them. All best and take care.

  2. Excellent post. Everything you’ve written here can genuinely help someone who’s looking for tips on starting a blog. Many blogs that I’ve looked at lately have a theme, but others do not, and that’s okay. A blog is what the author makes it. While many of us may need some help, we ultimately have to use our own judgment and instincts.

    And…

    Although the rules may be made to be broken, I think the information you placed under Point 4 is very important. That area concerns presentation and it’s constantly on my mind when I’m writing.

    P.S.: has everyone commenting run their text through Word before posting? I normally do that to check my spelling/grammar and to use some of the characters, like proper quotation marks.

    • Thank you! I don’t always edit my own comments enough when I post them but I think it’s the one area where we can let people off : ) Each to their own though – good luck with your blog.

  3. Pingback: On Blogging and Bloggers – Breaking the Fourth Wall | Black Coffee and Cigarettes – The GeoGee Experience

  4. I get a little overwhelmed by all the blogs out there. I used to dutifully read through all the blogs I followed in the morning, but would find my brain so overwhelmed by other people’s ideas and thoughts I couldn’t find my own. I started writing in the mornings and reading and commenting at night. I no longer try to keep up with every post on every blog I follow either.
    While some people publish every day, or in some cases multiple times a day (almost like twitter!) for myself, I generally don’t publish unless I’ve got something to say and feel I’ve said it well enough that my small audience is going to be able to connect with it. Sometimes it’s a long time between posts!
    I have found a few gems of daily minutiae – people who have the gift of presenting the everyday with a twist of humour or perspective.

    • This. I completely agree, Kiri, which is another reason I don’t follow too many people any more and I publish relatively irregularly. I want very much to visit everyone who visits me/likes or comments on a post but that can be overwhelming too – I’m learning to pace myself. And yay for the gems out there who make you laugh or make you think – it’s why we do this..

  5. wow.. nice writings Mam. On Feb 29, 2016 3:27 AM, “Black coffee and cigarettes” wrote:

    > sunnyrap posted: ” I don’t consider myself an expert blogger. I don’t have > 10 handy tips to drive traffic to your blog, or make you better read. I > didn’t start my blog either to make money or become famous, though I’m not > completely averse to the possibility of either. I d” >

  6. Pingback: On Blogging and Bloggers – Breaking the Fourth Wall | augusterblog

  7. i am just starting to blog for the first time (i was talking to a very close friend the other day, and she asked if i had a blog, and when i said no, she said something along the lines of “huh, i think you’d be good at it.”) so basically, my question is i am not yet sure for what, if anything, i am doing this for, but i know that it is with no theme in mind, and therefore was wondering if you’ve found blogging to help or satisfy you in any way?

    • I do think it would be a good idea to think about what you want from your blog and why you’re doing it. The point about a theme is that it can almost guarantee you a ready-made community online – whether for fashion or food or sport – which is much harder to achieve with a ‘random’ blog. I think personally that you have to be a particularly good writer, or especially insightful, to be successful without a theme – there are lots of people who manage it but it’s probably harder.

      In terms of whether it helps me, that’s an interesting question. I do this as a writer so it essentially allows me to self-publish my work, which I appreciate, and get feedback, which is also good – without having to pitch to publications or skew my voice for someone else. I also feel fulfilled when I write so in that sense it does satisfy me. But I don’t allow it to take over my life – or haven’t so far anyway – when it would become a different proposition. I suspect the process constantly evolves, as you and your blog evolve, so time will tell.. : )

  8. Thank you for this, I was finally able to allow myself to start blogging and I’ve read a few blogs on it, but this sounds a lot like what I’m aiming for. Thank you! I really enjoyed the reading and it was really helpful… Hope to read more from you!

  9. As I am new to blogging and creative writing, (the last time was in school many years ago) I have found this very useful. I have also been inspired to check my About page, as this was the first thing I wrote on my blog you have made me realise that this should evolve as my blog and my writing does. Thank you.

  10. thank you! I’ve been wanting to start blogging properly but i have always been confused about whether i should stick to a certain theme or just write about anything that touches me or is of my interest. This is very useful. Thank you once again!

  11. I’ve struggle with placing myself down long enough to connect with writing again. I finally achieved at least four hours in with WordPress, putting together a cute space to feel motivated enough to write. Then I told myself to check out what WordPress had recommended for me and your blog was the first on the list.

    Quite an interesting read and I can definitely relate. I don’t even know if what I am doing is even blogging. Most people say I should just get into the whole Youtube Vlogging experience thing but the idea of making a video, editing it, and then posting it just takes too much time and energy. I just want to have a space to express and connect with my thought.

    Rambling. HA!

    Overall, I meant to just come on here to say Hi! & Follow me puahaha I’m kidding. Happy Blogging.

    • Lol : ) One of the things i love most about blogging is that it’s inherently democratic – if you can afford a computer or internet access, at least – so anyone can – and does – do it. Which means there are a huge variety of blogs out there and you can really do whatever you want with your blog – I don’t think there’s a set criteria you have to follow. At the end of the day, I’d say do what makes you happy and change it up when you feel like changing it up, or if your life/goals evolve in another direction.
      And I’m with you re Vlogging – I don’t have the time or energy for it and it just isn’t my thing – I’m much more interested in writing than presenting. So I don’t follow any vloggers particularly either – though that may be a generational thing also 🙂
      Good luck with your blog either way – I hope you keep enjoying the process!

  12. Thank you for sharing.. i totally agree with content! content! content! NOT quantity! quantity! quantity!! I have so much to learn and so far to go, with much to say…. Making sure there is depth and polish with meaning that sticks to my WHY I am here! To help myself and to hopefully help others. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  13. Your views heartily resonate with my policy of erratic musings and beauty in chaos.
    I raise my hat off to you in respect, cheer and anticipation of your next post!
    – Nicola

  14. Pingback: On Blogging and Bloggers – Breaking the Fourth Wall | bayswhereabouts

  15. I found this very interesting, as I am a new blogger, and it is wonderful to hear that I am not alone in my feelings toward the blogosphere. Thank you for your insight.

  16. Thanks, this blogging thing is sort of complex…I started with no drive to advertise and pester folks to come and see my posts, and I’m staying with it. At the same time, having people read it is exciting…oh the duality of mankind.

  17. I really try to avoid venturing out there to read a lot of others’ blog posts because most of them bore me nearly to death. But yours really caught my attention. I read through the whole thing and am so glad that I did. This was super helpful. Thank you for giving me the reassurance I needed. I am happy to know that I’m not blogging for anyone else but myself. But even so, I’d like the writing to be interesting to me. lol I appreciate all the wonderful tips!

  18. I’m a new blogger as well – at least in the WordPress sphere – and I’d like to shamelessly advertise myself here. Your post reminded me of the difficulties we all encounter once we try to share our thoughts, regardless on what medium we try to do so. Beautifully written and inspiring post! If anyone has a minute, please check out my first text. There’s definitely more where that came from !

  19. As a total newbie to the “blogosphere” and blogging in general, I logged in to get familiar with everything and dip my toe in the water, so to speak, before commencing a blog of my own. Your blog was the very first I stumbled across on WordPress. I, too, found it encouraging – and it even eased the nerves a little bit! So thank you!

  20. As a person who’s new to blogging, I really enjoyed this post. It’s helpful to hear your message of the importance of not oversharing (an irritating trend I’m learning about as I explore more blogs) Thank you.

  21. Good view on blogging. I’ve just started. Been writing for years but finally posting! I’d love if you would look at my blog and give me some feed back 🙂

  22. I agree with the quality over quantity. Personal blogs are often handled as stream-of-consciousness accounts with a minute-by-minute update – this is the internet, why not stream-of-consciousness my entire inner-monologue? Those blogs usually have horrible writing, and usually have a ton of followers with comment sections that are internet orgies of compliments and praise. Comment quantity over quality, who cares what you’re saying, just get your name at the bottom of many posts as possible.

  23. Pingback: On Blogging and Bloggers – Breaking the Fourth Wall | Nation of Poetry (Read All About It - Extra Extra)

  24. Very well said! Loved your pointers. We’ve just commenced writing and as you said, we love to be read!
    I liked your posts and would love to know how to go about for engaging more readers. Please guide. Thanks.

  25. I’m very grateful to have found your blog, we have a very similar way of thinking I believe. Your thoughts on all of the above I tend to share and it’s good to know that there is a beacon of hope out there for absolute newbies like me! (Just navigating the website itself for me has been arduous!) Brilliant post, thanks for sharing.

  26. i have just started blogging… And this blog has really helped me to clear a lot of stuff… Great Job!!! Well i would like you to have a look at my blog. Suggestions are always welcomed!!!

  27. I just recently started a blog myself and this post resonates so much with me. I kept getting in my own way until I decided I was going to brand myself as “unbranded”. 😊 Restarted, wrote a few posts and then took a leap by sending some friends and family the link to my blog. Now THEY are holding me accountable and there is no looking back. Thanks for the advice and helping me to realize I’m not alone in my thoughts on this whole blooging process. 😊

  28. Thank you for this! I have also just recently started my blog and with every intention of having one topic and sticking to it. I think that is going to be hard though. As soon as I started writing, I realized that I wanted to say more about many different things. I guess I will just see where this takes me.

    • Good luck! You have a nice niche as a guy talking about dieting – tends to be such a woman-dominated arena. But def see you how get on – rules are meant to be broken after all : )

  29. Thank you so much for this very eloquently written post! I just started my blog today and luckily stumbled across this beauty. I think I am very much like you; my brain is personally too spread out across a variety of interests so I can’t stick to one topic. I am not a beauty guru or have an arsenal of recipes, but I do have a laptop, some life experience, and sarcasm. 🙂

    Looking forward to reading more of your work!

  30. Very well written. We have been blogging a few years and this post complete our post The Dark Side of Blogging which sums up why so many give up after a couple of years.

  31. this sounds just like “15 reasons I think you should blog” by J.B. I think this is a great post though. The 15 reasons plus yours are exactly why I started my unconventional blog for myself:) its nice to write about things to get over them

  32. Nicely said, and thank you for it. I switched to WordPress just recently so am still feeling my way around.

    I blog mainly for myself, so don’t really care about the number of visitors or comments I get. However, it is nice when I see that someone has read it and can commicerate, or add their own thoughts to it.

  33. I really love this post! I love how honest it is, I have never understood why people get confrontational about follow backs, if you are only following a blog to get a follow in return well then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

    I hate, hate, hate, when people don’t use paragraphs because it hurts my eyes to read huge paragraphs.

    Thank you for this!

  34. Pingback: A Helpful Resource | Random Points

  35. Thank you for a wonderful post. I am totally new to blogging – it has only taken me a year to realize that the voice in my head saying that I needed to perfect my writing before venturing into the blogosphere, and that I didn’t have the skills nor time to gain them, was only getting stronger.

    The other day I read a quote from Van Gogh “When you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

    So I just did it.

    Your words so clearly express why I have wanted to blog – so thank you again and happy writing in 2017.

    • Congratulations – I’m so pleased you did it and happy that this resonated with you. Good luck with it – all the best for 2017 – happy writing to us all 🙂

  36. It’s kinda funny that you said “Use paragraphs! In today’s fast moving world, nothing is a greater turn-off than huge chunks of text without proper paragraphs or spacing.”

    I’m new to wordpress (I had a blog for years on the old xanga) and I’m having huge problems with mine, getting it to actually space into paragraphs! Despite me TRYING to space it out, it just won’t. GRR. I’m a firm believer in having nicely spaced paragraphs, so it’s really bothering me.
    When I first type the entry, I hit ‘enter’ once for each paragraph… upon several previews, seeing it not spacing, I’d go back & hit enter more & more, so my draft looks like it’s got 5 lines between each paragraph, but not on the actual post when I try to preview it, it’s all squashed together. It’s driving me truly crazy today
    In fact, it’s bad enough that I wrote a specific entry today about it. I wonder if maybe other people on wordpress are having similar problems? If you or anyone here can tell me what the heck I’m doing wring I’d really appreciate it! Thank you!

    • I’m no expert and it might depend on the particular blog theme but when I get stuck, I go from Visual to HTML when I’m formatting a new blog post (they’re the buttons on the top right of the new blog post page). I take a quick look at the coding and I replicate that if I need to – sometimes these changes have to be made in the HTML code to stick. This is just something I figured out for myself when I was having similar issues -not sure if this makes any sense to you at all but if it does, give it a go. Good luck!

  37. Thankyou for this post, it was really very helpful for me. I have signed up here a week ago and was soo worried about the topic of my blog because i want to write about so many different things and all the posts I have read about blogging were emphasizing on sticking to one topic.

  38. I enjoyed reading this so much!

    I am new to the blogging world and I wanted to start a blog to get back into writing thoughtful posts about my life vs what the world is coming to with sharing on insta and facebook.

    I also wanted to start this blog because back in Dec I found out I was pregnant and realized I didn’t want to share my pregnancy or child on social media platforms for the world to have access to my child’s every move in life. I wanted to teach my child that a cell phone is a cell phone and not see me scroll on and use blogging as the platform for everyone to follow up on my life when I decide to sit down and write it out with love and detail!

    Unfortunately my pregnancy has resulted in an Ectopic Pregnancy but it has inspired me all around in life and here I am starting a blog!

  39. Truth be told really. Someone like me is just finding my feet in the sea of blogging and I find this article helpful. Thank you. I would love to get more tips on how to do more stuff to cause reading traffic to my site.

    • Many thanks – I can’t help you with driving traffic to your site though – if you google that, I’m sure there are a bunch of articles on that topic..

  40. I’m totally on the same page… I’m extremely new to this blogging world but am already having so much fun. It’s insane how many different opinions and personalities there are out there! I started my blog for my own self also.. just a place I could come to blab and share my thoughts.

    • lol! It happens to the best of us – you’ll get bored with it at some point, I reckon. there’s only so much mindfulness we can sometimes take 🙂

  41. Thought I would read then stop at some point, but I never did, the more I read the more I wanted to find out what you’ll say next. Beautiful beautiful beautiful! Piece! I learnt a great deal. Do stop by in my blog and I’ll sure do with your insightful suggestions n comments.

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