A few days ago I got an email from a former student of mine. She told me she’s about to graduate from college (to which I responded WHAT NO THAT CANNOT BE RIGHT I AM NOT THAT OLD, except that the math adds up, so, DANG IT YOU’RE RIGHT) and she’s writing an article on effective blogging. She had some questions for me about my own approach to blogging, as well as my perception of what makes a credible and effective blog.
And it got me thinking: Why do I blog the way I do? Do I have a specific way I blog? Why are there some blogs I check every day and others I hardly check at all?
Now, I don’t know why people read MY blog. My guess is that they stumbled upon it one day (maybe thinking it was a lolcat blog, because given how many lolcat pictures I use, I could totally understand that misconception), and before they could close the window, their computer froze with the arrow on the “refresh” button, and now all they can do on the internet is click “refresh” on my webpage, which means they are now forced to read my blog because the only other choice is NOT TO READ ANYTHING AT ALL.
(I’m not sure why all these people have not called the Geek Squad or whatever. I guess they’re just too busy.)
But I do know why I read the blogs I read. And so I give you:
Anne Riley’s Guidelines To Having A Great Blog And Also Generally Being Awesome On The Internet
1. Be funny.
This one sounds easy, but DO NOT BE FOOLED, GRASSHOPPERS. Being funny is an art. It requires practice.
I have read MANY a blog in which the author tried to be funny, but alas, they failed miserably. And when those bloggers discover that failure, it generally results in a lot of defensive complaining.
(Don’t worry, I’m probably not talking about you. Really. I can’t even think of a specific example right now. This is a massive generality. BREATHE, PEOPLE.)
2. Present yourself in a cheerful way.
OH, we all have bad days. Remember when I suddenly lost my agent mere hours before I planned to send her the full manuscript of PULL? That wasn’t fun, and I definitely talked about how un-fun it was, but mostly I try to keep things pretty upbeat around here because “upbeat” is what I look for when I read someone else’s blog.
I’ve never enjoyed a blog in which the author complains about writing, editing, peer review, sales, bad reviews, rejections, etc. on a CONSISTENT basis.
Pointing out something difficult that you’re dealing with every once in a while? Totally cool. Makes you seem more human, in fact. But constant comments about how terrible your life is as a writer and how you never have time to do anything and how no one is reading your book–well, it makes me think perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong profession.
But I’ll never know if you choose a new one because I’ll stop reading.
3. Keep (most) of your opinions to yourself.
This one goes back to the old “don’t talk politics or religion” idea. Now, I occasionally mention something about my faith, because it’s a huge part of my life. But I don’t talk about it much because most of my blog readers don’t share my beliefs, and I don’t want them to feel cyber-bullied because they don’t believe what I believe.
If you have very strong convictions about something–whether it’s self-pub vs. traditional pub, cats vs. dogs, Mohawks vs. buzz cuts, epidural vs. unmedicated, Democrat vs. Republican–I advise you to save your opinions for the times when you are around like-minded individuals, in real life, where nobody can screenshot your comments and plaster them all over Twitter.
Opinions are opinions, and lots of people might disagree with you.
4. Don’t be passive-aggressive.
Blogging about “a certain person” who “did that rude thing” and OH, you just CAN’T BELIEVE THEY DID IT, but you won’t say any more because you don’t want to give away who they are, but you’ll just include this ONE LITTLE DETAIL, and oh my goodness can you believe that they did THIS OTHER THING and oops! You just gave us enough information to figure out who you’re talking about! Well, how did THAT happen?
This kind of thing makes bloggers seem a bit petty and borderline obsessive, and it also gives me that feeling in my stomach where I start to think that MAYBE I’m going to throw up, but the urge isn’t quite strong enough to send me running for the toilet, so I keep sitting on the couch with a trash can nearby just in case, WAITING for the vomit to present itself . . . if it ever does.
That is to say: it makes me feel icky and I’ll stop reading.
5. Give me a glimpse of your personal life.
I’ll be honest, y’all: I’m worn out when it comes to industry blogs. I’ve been swamped with so much conflicting information, I hardly know which way is up in the publishing world anymore.
So I rarely, if ever, read something that claims to know what is happening in the book world and why I should write about sea creatures but NOT ZOMBIES OR VAMPIRES OR WEREWOLVES, because those are DONE, but maybe I should write about them after all because you never know when the new wave is coming, and did you know that you should ALWAYS tell agents you’re querying other agents, except for the ones who secretly DON’T want you to say that, but there’s no way to know which ones they are except with your Super Psychic Powers, and BY THE WAY, blog numbers are the only way you’ll ever get published, except that most editors don’t bother to look you up and even if they do, all they care about is your Klout score, but don’t worry about that because everyone knows Klout is meaningless.
Do you see what I’m saying?
I’d much rather hear a funny story about your kids or see that cool thing you did with the curtains in your kitchen. If I feel like I kind of know you, I’ll read everything you post.
What do y’all think? What keeps you coming back to a blog again and again?