I may well revisit this and expand it greatly one day. But I've had some thoughts rattling around my brainium, particularly as I again and again see the need for someone to say this and be linkable.
This blog started almost seven full years ago — which, whoa! — with this post. I had a readership of, what, twelve? Seriously, I don't remember. It was little. And it should have been. I had no platform, I was a fulltime IT support guy who'd been a pastor but wasn't, and that was about it.
I think I got started because Hugh Hewitt (was flogging a book and thus) kept going on and on about blogging. I think a friend kept sending me to posts at this place called Pyromaniac, too. More on that later.
So I started writing about what interested me. That's what blogging is, it's a weblog. I named the site after my web page, so that part was easy. And I've always loved to write, and have thoughts about a lot of things; so that part was easy, too.
And really all of that leads to all of this:
What to do
- Have something worth saying out loud in public. If your honest response is, "But I don't," then we're done here. Really. You don't need to blog. You do something important that others don't. Glorify God with that, and it's really, truly all-good. But if you do...
- Write regularly. If you want a faithful readership, you've got to post. Daily would be great. Every few months won't do it. Now, if you don't care to have many readers and are just doing it for a few friends and family, and you just don't like to write, please, seriously, do what you're good at. Fix cars, cook dinner, whatever. Those are terrific things. Not everyone likes to write, and those don't, needn't.
- Write briefly. This is a frequent failing, in my opinion. Someone has to have "standing," frankly, before I'll read a long post. If it's a few paragraphs on an interesting topic, I'm there. If I don't know the bro/sis, and I look over at the scroll button on the right, and it's a little-bitty square... forget it. So you have a kazillion things to say about marriage, the Gospel, election, the election, whatever? Terrif. Sounds like you've got fodder for a few weeks of daily posts. Do that. Not one big long overwhelming opus. If your first name isn't "Ligon" or your last name isn't "Piper" or something, you probably haven't earned the right to that extended attention.
- Write memorably. That is, write as well as you can, learn to write better, learn from the best. The first clause is obvious; the second would be aided if you were to read good writers. Phil Johnson and Frank Turk are both great writers, and very individual. So are Denny Burk, Kevin DeYoung, and Jim Hamilton. Doug Wilson is a wonderful writer, even when you don't agree with him. Don't try to imitate their style, but do learn what makes them good, qualities such as vividness, punchy prose, varied sentence-length, and the like. All good writers read good writers.
- Write really great comments on really great blogs. Let me stress this. When I started, I was nobody. What am I now? On my very best day, still nobody, but blessed to know some somebodies and sit on their shoulders. How did that happen? Comments on Phil's really terrific posts. That was the start. Years earlier, I'd emailed Phil trying to get him to look at my web site and put it on his bookmark page. Yeah, didn't happen. Don't blame him at all. But bite-sized feeds were the start, via comments.
What NEVER to do
- "Great blog; come see mine." You might as well say, "I'm kind of a jerk, but I'm lonesome and desperate." (Sorry, just being bluntly honest here with ya, pal.) Nobody is going to be attracted by that. It's like going to someone else's store and pasting a poster for your store on his display window. That's just rude. Really? What (s)he wrote just totally isn't even worth a comment, but you will use the fact that Comments are enabled to advertise your blog? Tell you what: do what Costco does. Give out samples. If people like, they'll buy the package. How do you "give samples," in this context? Interact genuinely, relevantly, contentfully, memorably, and well, with the posts on that blog. Make sure your profile points to your blog, and don't do that in the comment. If you're interesting, folks will click on your profile, and then click through to your blog.
- Only sparingly and after doing #1, link to related posts you've written. Do not say, "I wrote about that here." Say, "Great point. Here are another fifty related, contentful words. I develop that a bit more here."