I was thinking of writing an entry explaining two things: (1) my motivation for writing and posting as much as I do and (2) the apparent arrogance and self-importance that tends to come across in this blog. First, I write because I am as compelled to write as I am to breathe. And second, that WOULD be arrogance did sin number seven not apply. I am mindful of that, and my explanation — not directed at ANYONE at all but me, really — evolved into the following:
Do you have a blog? Thinking of starting one? Seven years, multiple blogs, thousands of entries, and encyclopedic quantities of text later, I have the following advice… of how you can completely screw up. Those seven sins of blogging are:
Is not what you think. And unless you are writing a sex-advice column, literally detailing your lust is a very sketchy idea for any blog (as you never know when your mother-in-law is reading.) However, if we take a similar approach as Dante, defining lust as the “excessive love of others,” you may be lustful if you are peppering your readers with (a) too many links, (b) opinions that are not your own, or worse (c) more quotes than content, and you should not expect your sad little blog to amount to much of anything. Your own opinion may be completely wrong and suck, but at least it’s yours — so don’t lust after someone else’s ideas: it’s just uninspired and lame.
In blogging, gluttony is measured in units of your reader’s time. Your sad little blog commits gluttony if it eats too much of that irreplaceable resource: the pages may take too long to download, your spelling and grammar might suck thus consuming our time with abandon as readers try to decipher your thoughts, it may drone on — and on and on and on and on — about nothing of significance and thus consume our time looking for the point of your ramblings, or it might simply be horridly designed and force the consumption of our time purging the pain of viewing it from ours eyes and brains with hot pokers. As attributed to Kurt Vonnegut: “Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted” — or you suck.
If your readers can’t find your content for the barrage of advertisements on your sad little blog, guess what: you’re a greedy ass. Do we think you have something valuable to say, or are you simple a shill for Google? Don’t tell us it generates revenue. Don’t tell us it pays your hosting fees. If you expect anyone to believe that is how you earn your grocery money — or that ads are the only way you can afford to pay for something that costs less than a pint of beer — do you really expect readers to believe anything else you write? One or two ads: cool. More, get over yourself.
Commitment. Do you have it? If you are going to write, pull up to a keyboard and go. The alternative is finding the delete button. Many would argue, but blogs are media. And most of us recycle our old newspapers and delete anything older than a few weeks past from our PVRs. If your sad little blog is stagnating because the gap between entries is measured in months, you have committed sloth and you need to make a decision. Chances are if two months have gone by without an update (the unofficial statute of limitations on this particular time line) no one will even notice if “whatilikeaboutcheese.randomfreeblogs.ru” suddenly disappears from their feed.
Blog spam sucks. Scrapers suck. Flamers suck. But if you are going to run a blog, dealing with any and all of these is like dealing with commuters on your drive to work; It’s just part of the traffic. In that particular analogy, wrath would be represented by driving to work in a Hummer: sure, being involved in a collision equals multiple fatalities and you get to drive away, but your gas mileage sucks, and every other commuter thinks you’re an arrogant ass. The same goes for your sad little blog. Wrath comes in the form of cumbersome or restrictive tools to automatically prevent spam, scrapping, or unwelcome comments. Sure, easy for you to manage on the back end, but grow a pair and don’t make your readers suffer for your fear and anger.
Green shades are so unbecoming on a blog. We all know that envy is defined as wanting something that someone else has and you currently do not. Envy is not stealing. Envy is not pilfering content. Envy is not filling your blog with snippets of content from other sites prefixed by the words “Check this out!” Your sad little blog has committed the sin of envy if you are writing your blog to “keep up with the Joneses” as it were. Don’t blog to fill space and seek to mimic the apparent notoriety of someone else’s efforts, or your blog will truly suck. Blogging for the sake of blogging means you have absolutely nothing of consequence to say and thus you should not be allowed access to a keyboard. Blogging itself is not cool. Entertaining and informing people in a meaningful way via a blog might be. Might.
“What! Only five hundred hits this year?” And four hundred and ninety of them are likely your own clicks. No one cares what you have to say. No one cares, even if what you are writing is wise and insightful. No one cares what you thought of that movie. No one cares that you ate pizza for dinner in April 1997. No one cares: really. So if you are writing your sad little blog for an audience, forget it. Humble yourself and write for only you because in five years when you are paging through your archives (if they both still exist and you even care enough to do so) we can almost guarantee it won’t be for the purposes of submitting them to so great historical archive. You earn hits. And even those you earn are hits for which you are undeserving.
Like most anything else on this blog, feel free to copy this, just share the love and link back to this post so I know you enjoyed it.