Monday, September 15, 2014
Ask JKM a Question: What Kind of Blog Posts do I Hate Writing?
A reader named Lindsey asks a question about writing:
“I am working up the courage to start blogging. What is it you love most about blogging, and what kind of blog posts do you hate writing and reading the most?
That is a great question, Lindsey, and I appreciate you asking it. I want to wish you good luck starting your blog.
In terms of blogging, I love that this particular format offers me the chance to write about subjects I love, and to do so at great length, at a time of my choosing, and with very little restrictions.
By contrast, when writing books you really have to make difficult choices about what you include. You must have a much more narrow focus, and more discipline regarding that focus.
In broad terms, I hate writing negative reviews. I would much rather focus on the positive. I always dread writing a negative review.
But there are three kinds of blog posts that I especially hate reading and that I hate writing.
Let me be clear: I have been guilty of writing all three of these types of posts, so I am pointing the finger at no one but myself.
These days I try to limit or avoid these type of blogs as much as I can. So -- please -- learn from my experience.
I really hate it when a blogger posts about how busy he or she has been lately and that he or she is sorry that they haven’t blogged more. It’s a space-filler, and a dumb one at that.
You’re basically taking up space saying that you have nothing to say as a replacement for providing new content.
With the time it takes to write up your excuse and apology, you could actually be assembling something else relatively easily…but something of far more interesting content, like a photo essay or a series of movie trailers with a common theme.
It took me a while to learn this one.
You don’t have to write a masterpiece every time you post. You just have to keep posts in the pipeline.
In my schedule, I post photographs Sunday night (Advert Art), and toy photos on Wednesday. So I alternate short posts with long ones. Working in this fashion gives me the flexibility to write longer pieces for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
And if I fall behind, I do occasionally post a “Deadline Looming” post, just so readers know that I haven’t died, that I haven’t stopped blogged, and that I’m returning to the saddle soon.
That is a good enough placeholder. I have found that it isn’t really necessary to explain all the things you’ve been doing in lieu of blogging, because you’re essentially making your own blog seem like a lark.
You’re getting to it after everything else on your plate, huh?
How good can your blog be if you don’t want to devote your energy to it, and you’re actually broadcasting to everyone that you don’t want to devote your energy to it?
Unless you are very lucky, blogging doesn’t pay for itself, and so it is a necessity to find some way to keep the cash flowing.
I understand these facts, but it is also really horrible and off-putting to read when good writers complain about how readers aren’t paying them to blog. It’s a sort of passive-aggressive attack on the readership, and I never want to do it.
Authors who write this post seem to be saying, essentially “it’s your fault that I keep feeding you, and I’m not making any money doing it!”
How dare you keep coming here expecting it to be free, even though it is has always been free before…
I have decided that instead of resorting to this kind of angry post -- and generating a kind of blogger-audience animosity which poisons the relationship -- I post Amazon Associates links, write and publicize my books here occasionally (and in the side-bar), and I also accept advertisements, and they have been featured here occasionally too.
I know that all that sounds horribly commercial -- and so I’m as guilty as anyone about rattling the donations can -- but it sucks royally to go to a blog and have the writer get mad at you because they are, unbidden, providing you free material.
Really, is it the reader’s fault for showing up, or the writer’s fault for choosing to work in that fashion?
We would live in a better world if writing was valued more, and paid better, to be sure, but I see the blog format more as a hub... one that provides content and leads readers to my other work. I hope you like what you read here and buy my books, but I don’t want to piss on you for coming to my blog and just enjoying it, either.
The-“I just had my biggest month ever-Post.
Again, I’ve been guilty of this one too.
But it’s basically a narcissistic thing, and again, it takes away precious time and energy from actually providing decent content.
It’s a competitive world out there, writers must toot their horns occasionally, and I think that’s fine.
When I have been linked to, or earned a positive review of one of my books, I absolutely tell you.
But I don’t trumpet my stats anymore. What’s the point? To show you that my analytics are bigger than yours?
It’s especially poor manners to do this if you’re not going to back up your “I just had my highest month!” post with actual reader figures. Not that you’re lying about your achievement, but it could be meaningless. Maybe you had 10,000 views last month and 10,002 views this month. Is it worth telling your readers that?
Nobody’s perfect, and I picked these three specific posts because I’ve been responsible for posting every single one on the list at least once in the nine years I’ve been blogging.
Blogging is a great process, and I love it, to answer your question, because you evolve over time as you do it, and your understanding of blogging evolves too.
In five years, hopefully I’ll have evolved some more and will come up with more blog posts to avoid writing...