Going to blog? Do it for yourself, not for cash

John
John Gushue
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Several times over the last few months, I've received a few messages from friends or readers looking for a few tips about blogging. Two were wondering about launching a blog, while another was at that edgy area, where he's been wondering about packing it on.

Blogs may not have the novelty or trendy appeal that they did six or seven years ago, but they're more popular than ever. But it's hardly unusual to find a once-active blog has gone dormant, or a blogger is stepping back from the fray. Why? There are several reasons, but as with other hobbies, I imagine the fire just dwindles away.

Surf's up -

Several times over the last few months, I've received a few messages from friends or readers looking for a few tips about blogging. Two were wondering about launching a blog, while another was at that edgy area, where he's been wondering about packing it on.

Blogs may not have the novelty or trendy appeal that they did six or seven years ago, but they're more popular than ever. But it's hardly unusual to find a once-active blog has gone dormant, or a blogger is stepping back from the fray. Why? There are several reasons, but as with other hobbies, I imagine the fire just dwindles away.

This seems to be the case with one of my blogging friends. My advice was simple: take a breath, dial back your expectations, and park a note on the blog that you're on break for a little while. I happen to like his blog a lot, and completely out of self-interest I'd like to see him keep it going. My pitch was this: you don't need to post frequently, and that I'd rather read a good post once a week than nothing at all.

Many bloggers post far more often that once a week when they get started. It's only natural: you've got something to say, and you're clipping on the buzz of doing something new and exciting. But like a caffeine rush, it doesn't last. Quite often, those blogs collapse or tumble into a virtual graveyard. That may not be the most optimistic way to describe blogging culture, but it does bring a layer of reality to things. I've been publishing my own blog for six years, and I've enjoyed it because I make sure it doesn't feel like work. I make a small commitment of time through the week, and although it's an obligation to keep it updated, I never want to feel like it's a chore.

I wasn't surprised to read in the most recent Technorati survey of the blogosphere that the most important thing most bloggers gain from their sites is personal satisfaction. There are other reasons, of course, like networking, promotion, professional development and money. (On that last point, you may be curious to learn that very few corporations use blogs as a revenue generator, as opposed to 40 per cent of part-time bloggers, who obviously have excessively optimistic expectations of the traffic they're going to land.)

So, here are some tips I'd give to anyone thinking about a blog:

Pick a tone, and have something to say. In other words, what do you want your blog to look like? What do you want it to achieve?

Pace yourself. Don't knock yourself out, but don't let your blog be stagnant, either. (A blogging platform that lets you pre-program posts is a great idea.)

Don't worry about getting it right right out of the gate. Your blog's personality will evolve as you move along.

Get involved in a network. Find other blogs you like, and link to them. Joining the Newfoundland and Labrador Blogroll is smart.

Don't obsess over traffic, especially if your numbers fall or slip.

Learn how Facebook, Twitter, Feedburner and other applications can help you develop an audience. Send e-mails to friends to generate a base audience.

Have fun. If you're not enjoying it, and you're not being paid to do it, you're going to have a really hard time keeping a blog going.

Elsewhere this week

Huge URL


www.hugeurl.com/



Twitter and other social media apps have given rise to various apps that make it easy to contract a huge URL, or web address, into a tiny one. Huge URL is a great joke for our character-counting age. Try it and you'll see why!

Party Cat

nedroid.com/2009/05/party-cat-full-series/



If you've ever had a pet cat, and I've had a good few through the years, you know they keep their own schedules. More than that, they expect you to do the same. And more than that, you have to wonder about what they do when you're not around.

Those thoughts come to mind when I see this hilarious set of comics, about a puddy tat that knows how to get its party on.

John Gushue is an online editor with CBC News in St. John's. Twitter: @johngushue. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Blogroll, CBC News

Geographic location: St. John's

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