Jamison Koehler has a post up on his blog offering tips for new bloggers. Although he wrote it specifically for legal bloggers, and some of the examples might not make sense if you don’t know the personalities, it’s good advice for anyone considering a new blog. If you’re thinking you might like to join the conversation, you should check it out.
Naturally, I have a few thoughts on the subject…
Sometimes I write for other bloggers. At the beginning especially, I was intrigued by the back-and-forth among other bloggers I read and sought to participate in the discussion. The problem with this, I have found, is that these entries don’t hold up very well over time. I’ll look back at a blog entry I did one or two years ago and wonder what we were ever talking about. Reading such a blog entry can be like listening in on one side of a telephone conversation.
I say you shouldn’t worry about how well your posts will hold up over time. Just because a topic is short-lived doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time to think about and write about. However, if you want readers from the distant future to understand what you’re saying, make sure to link to other parts of the conversation and quote relevant parts, in case the linked pages go away. It may help to recap a bit. I usually try to do all this in one obvious paragraph, so people already familiar with the context can skip it.
Regarding tip #3, “Find Your Voice,” if your writing skills do not extend to consciously creating a style for yourself (as mine do not), or if you’re just not sure what your style should be, the best way to find a style is to just keep writing. Eventually, you will adopt certain habits — certain turns of phrase, certain narrative structures — and your style will emerge.
There’s also some important tension between rule #5, “Do Your Own Thing,” and rule #8, “Lurk Before Joining the Conversation,” because of the implication that you are lurking so you learn the rules. It’s important to keep in mind that while it’s helpful to know the rules, you don’t have to obey them.
Also, once you start blogging, for God’s sake, make sure you really do join the conversation. Link to other bloggers, and talk about the things they talk about. It’s really the heart of what makes the blogosphere different from other media.