What’s missing with blogging?

“If you love writing or making music or blogging or any sort of performing art, then do it. Do it with everything you’ve got. Just don’t plan on using it as a shortcut to making a living.” — Seth Godin

How many posts have you read on blogging? Perhaps it’s me, but there seem more on the subject than proper blogs (if you get my drift).

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been blogging — a few months or many years — there’s more than a few things us bloggers could do improve the take-up and understanding of blogs:

1. We should come up with a pithy explanation for a blog: I usually describe it as a free publishing platform;
2. We should have one or two examples available where a blog has been picked up online and shared (I don’t like the term viral, but if that’s necessary then fine). The point is most people, even those with a website, still don’t understand: (a) how the blog will be found; and (b) why anyone would choose to read it — you have to meet those points head on;
3. Those people that build websites for a living need to do much more to expand the blogging paradigm. There’s no point just asking, “Do you need a blog?” and leaving it at that. They should, at the very least, explain a few SEO basics, so people can understand how they might ‘drive’ additional traffic to their site, beyond what’s already coming;
4. We, the consumer, need to get much more comfortable in consuming our content through platforms like Flipboard and Feedly. This is hard. For a start, and in my experience, even those people who have super-whizz smartphones still don’t know what they’re supposed to do with all that capability. Oh sure, they’re happy to instal the latest app or take some great photos, but as regards written, audio or visual content, they’re not comfortable with the idea of reading blogs etc. on their phone. The position is not much better on tablets. Of course, the $64,000 question is how you convert a whole swathe of people to blogs that have lost all interest in reading or, more likely, don’t have the time to read? You might, if you felt so inclined, go back to basics and use email or even snail mail or change your email footer to indicate that you, the blogger, might have something to say that’s worth reading. But I suspect, these days, you’re more apt to look to Twitter or LinkedIn to share your material. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you get the message out there, but you need to understand that despite all the talk about ‘you will get found’ — and I fundamentally believe you will — that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give this issue serious attention;
5. If you’re drawn to blog consistently, then hopefully you’ll see it as the springboard to other creative projects (at the very least you may want to write something longer than a blog post). If you plan correctly, you may find that you have enough material to put together a book — I can think of at least two well-known bloggers who have done that and I don’t remember any adverse reaction from their fans and followers. The thing is when you’ve been writing for a few months, you’ll quickly discover you’ve accumulated 15,000 words or more, which is more than enough for an ebook. Think about it. If you went back now and put together your top 10/20 posts, what might you do to bring those to your market? Even just putting together a pdf and saving to Google Drive or Dropbox and providing a link on Twitter might be enough;
6. There are too many one-size-fits-all blogs; namely everyone has gone for a beautifully designed Squarespace or WordPress platform with the same or similar drop down tabs. That’s fine, but what I’m really looking for in a blog is something that makes the think and consider my assumed knowledge or feel better about myself. I don’t want to think, “How many times have I read that online!” I recognise how hard it is to carve out a niche — and defaulting to multiple F-bombs doesn’t cut it with me — but you have to think very carefully about your creative output much more so than you do the look and feel. I’ll give you two examples: Derek Sivers and Paul Graham. Both write exceptional posts, but neither platform, particularly Paul’s, WOW me. But that’s not the point. I have both plugged into RSS via Feedly and make a point of always reading what they (Paul has 29,000 readers on Feedly when I last looked). I suppose what I’m saying is don’t get too hung up on spending lots of money on a killer-looking blog if you’ve no readership, you’re not sure why you even have a blog and you’re not prepared to put in the obligatory 10,000 hours;
7. Finally, I wish more bloggers would stop taking themselves so seriously — and I include myself in said cohort. I think sometimes we’re apt to forget that we’re writing for someone. In my case, I try to sprinkle a few personal posts in amongst the usual material, just to shine a light on the fact that like you I’m human.

As I’ve remarked before, I’m not expecting for there to be a mass rush of people asking “where to I sign up [to start blogging]” but whatever happens in social-media-land, maintaining a blog will be one the best investments you ever make.