“A handbook like this—full of advice from those who have already navigated the world of blogging—is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you develop and stay true to your core blogging goals and values.”
Blog, Inc., pg 8
There’s a reason why blogs were, and to a certain degree still are, known the Wild West of new media, a barren, uninhabited place ungoverned by rules and protocol. Unlike traditional print journalism, with its longstanding conventions, blogs and blogging seemed to explode out of nowhere, with the rules being made up as the medium grew. But over time an etiquette has emerged, and Oh Joy! blogger (and now author!) Joy Deangdeelert Cho has endeavoured to set it down in her new book, Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit and to Create Community. “I distinctly remember other design bloggers asking me what the ‘rules’ were and thinking, ‘Wow, I don’t know if there are any.’ Thankfully, the blogging community has grown by leaps and bounds since then, and we’ve started to pay more attention to how we can be a more responsible form of media as well as build successful blogs and relationships with each other.” This is the handbook that Grace Bonney, who wrote the forward, wishes she had when she wrote her first blog post, and the one you’ll be glad exists now—whether you’re just starting a blog, or looking to take it to the next level.
The 5 Variations
“Blogs can be just one kind or incorporate different types…”
Blog, Inc., pg. 11
There are five main types of blogs that you can create: Personal, Topical, Talent, Behind-the-Scenes News, and Community/Collaborative. Here’s a brief overview of the different variations:
Personal – “A personal blog can highlight whatever aspect of your life you choose to share with others.” A personal blog can chronicle your travels, or even document your pregnancy. If you’re weary about sharing intimate details of your personal life, the author reminds us that you can always password-protect your posts.
Topical – “A topical blog showcases your interests, passions, and hobbies.” You don’t have to limit yourself to just one topic. Some of the most interesting blogs feature two or more topics, such growing your own vegetables (gardening) and using them to create a gourmet meal (cooking)!
Talent – A talent blog can showcase your portfolio, whether you’re a web designer, an artist, a hairdresser, etc. “Keeping a blog that showcases your work not only helps you to connect with other talented folks in your field,” writes Deangdeelert Cho, “but also can be a great marketing tool to reach potential customers and clients.”
Behind-the-Scenes News – A behind-the-scenes news blog is great for a business to show their consumers what they’re up to. “For the same reasons that documentary TV shows or movies pull you in, consumers love having a sense of involvement or getting a behind-the-scenes picture of their favorite personalities and brands.”
Community/Collaborative – A community/collaborative blog is a joint effort between two or more bloggers who “share similar interests, hobbies, or skills”. This saves time, and can cover more ground if the two bloggers live in different cities.
Deangdeelert Cho says that you don’t have to pick just one, that your blog can indeed be a mixture of any of the different variations. Your blog will develop over time, and will tell you what it wants to be. The following two GEMs will offer some tips for once you’ve got going.
Consistency Is Key
“If you can’t commit to daily posts, consistency is key in keeping your readers interested and coming back for more.”
Blog, Inc., pg. 62
One of the most important things to consider when writing a blog is to keep the schedule of your posts consistent. Many full-time bloggers are able to churn out multiple posts each day, but for most people, especially those who are just starting to blog who have other commitments, this simply isn’t feasible. So post consistently. Consider how many times a week you can conceivably write a blog post, and on what days, and then try your best to stick to that. Perhaps it’s between your Tuesday and Thursday classes. Or maybe you can devote an entire day on the weekend to writing several blog posts, and then use the scheduling device to have them go live at specific times during the week.
When you post on a regular schedule, your readers will become familiar with it, and will know when (and how frequently) to check back. For instance, a blog I follow posts consistently every Monday. She used to post multiple times a week, but her blog lead to other projects in an already busy life, and she was forced to cut back. It may only be one blog post a week, but her readers can expect an insightful, thoughtful blog post at the same time every week. It shows tremendous respect for the reader, and in turn her readers have remained faithful.
Multiple Blogging Disorder
“…you’ll soon find yourself with more blogs than you can keep up with, as well as double or triple the amount of work!”
Blog, Inc., pg. 148
Multiple Blog Disorder is a various serious ailment. It “can strike us when we find ourselves starting a new blog because we don’t think our newest topic of interest fits the blog we’ve already established.” But when you give in to MBD, the workload only increases, and worse than that, it may hurt your readership. This is something that Deangdeelert Cho knows all too well from the experience of her short-lived spinoff blog, Oh Joy! Eats. “I wanted to dive deeper into my foodie experiences than I had on my blog previously, and figured that separating it out would be the best way to go. Boy, was I wrong. All the years I had spent building my readership were lost when I started a new site. I had to grow my traffic all over again from the beginning, and many readers didn’t even know that I had a separate food blog. I soon realized that I should have kept the two blogs combined in the first place, and once I merged them together, it not only simplified my blogging life, but also gave my readers a better sense of another one of my passions—food.”
If you’re passionate about a topic, chances are your readers will be, too. Unless the topic is worlds away from what you currently write about, think long and hard before you decide to create a new blog, because in the long run it could hinder you rather than help you.
Blogging is still a relatively new phenomenon, and as such there are few truly great print resources on the subject. I’m pleased to say that Joy Deangdeelert Cho’s Blog, Inc. appears to be the definitive book on the subject, and is easily recommended to those who want to start a blog or those who want to take an existing blog to the next level. Blogging isn’t easy, and if you’re in it to make a quick buck, you better think twice. But with some blood, sweat, and tears, you can create something truly special. “Always remember that the growth of a blog is organic and will be different for everyone,” writes the author. “With passion in your heart, patience in your blog’s development, and a lot of hard work, your content will grow and readers will come.”