- Don't put a counter on your page or monitor page views or access from unique IP addresses. Once you start thinking about who and how many people are reading, you will start to feel sorry for yourself if your audience isn't big enough or pressured to write even when you don't feel like it to maintain your audience.
- Don't write everyday because you feel you have to have a steady track record of writing continuously. If you don't feel like you have anything to say, don't coerce yourself. If you pressure yourself to write, it'll feel like a job. Conversely, don't slack off entirely because you aren't on a daily schedule. When you have the thought, "that would be interesting to blog about," or think you've had an experience you'd like to remember, make sure you act on the impulse to blog about it.
- Moderate your comments and don't post rude or offensive ones. It's fine if people disagree with you in a civilized way, but a great deal of disagreement on the Internet tends to be expressed with hostility and at times includes ad hominem attacks. If you are sensitive and find comments upsetting you or spoiling your blogging experience, disallow comments. If you really want comments and are sensitive to anonymous people writing you abusive messages, have someone you trust moderate them for you to shield you from them. Note that, in blogger, you can selectively allow or disallow comments to individual posts so you can decide not to accept feedback on certain types of posts.
- Never belittle your subject matter or your thoughts. Don't write about something in your life and tell your readers that it's boring or mock yourself about how "exciting" your life is. If you want to talk about something and enjoy doing so, then that is all that matters.
- Try to research the topics you write about which seem to reach a dead end or feel somehow incomplete. You'll find that learning more about a subject will help you flesh out your ideas and assist in building a more gratifying post.
- Seek balance in your rants and learn more before carrying on about an issue. If you focus excessively on the negative, you will be dwelling on how angry or unhappy you are as your write. Seeking mainly to justify that anger as you write rather than trying to get past it may be cathartic, but it won't serve you well emotionally in the long run. It'll also invite people to disagree with you because it's much easier to take issue with a heavily-slanted viewpoint than a balanced one. If you try to take the time to research and consider the flip-side of an issue, you may find your anger dissipating and your understanding growing. You'll also write a better post.
- If a topic interests you but you can't seem to get the ball rolling on talking about it, save it and go back to it later. If it feels flat when you look back on it 3 months later, abandon it. There's a good chance though that the impulse that inspired you to start writing about it initially will re-visit you and you'll get your momentum back.
- Don't check search engines to see if you are showing up in them as a means of determining if readers can find you. Since you have no control over what shows up in search results, it will only make you feel disheartened, ignored, and powerless if your posts are on the 3rd page or later when searches are conducted.
- The most positive way to increase your readership is to read other sites and post interesting or insightful comments and to link to your blog. A lot of my readers have found me through my comments on other sites. You not only bring readers who are already interested in what you specifically have to say, but you also make someone else happy by commenting to them.
- Never use (full) real names for yourself or others. If your blog is a business one or meant to generate money, it may be useful to use your full name, but using real names can introduce the threat of "discovery" by people who know you (and open you up to stalking). The chances that you'll feel anxiety related to blogging (or possibly even decide to delete the blog or posts in fear later) increase if you use real names. Remaining anonymous will allow you to talk about relationships that interest or trouble you as part of your blog should you like to do so.
- If you don't have a digital camera, consider buying one so you can add pictures to your blog. Your posts will feel more interesting (even to you) and you'll have a visual record of the things in your life which were occupying your attention when you track your personal history through your posts. However, don't put up personal photos (same reason as the previous tip). If you want to put up a site or gallery to share with distant family members, make it a separate one from your serious blogging site so your writing can be free of the fear of "discovery".
- When considering topic fodder for a blog, don't dwell only on "news" or experiences. You'll find writing about thoughts and opinions more fulfilling then simply being a news anchor to your life's events. Most people's inner lives are much richer than their outer ones. Using your posts as a means of exploring your internal processes can be very fulfilling and more enjoyable. It'll also reduce the chances that you'll find yourself having to follow tip #4.
- Don't be competitive with other bloggers or think about how your writing, content, or readership stacks up to theirs. Focus on self-fulfillment and how your writing helps you grow personally and explore life.
- Try not to be self-conscious and judgmental about speaking about your feelings. If you keep things anonymous, you can express any idea on any topic you want including what makes you incredibly happy or sad. While my blog is not "hidden" from family and friends, I'm probably about as uninhibited as a person can be about telling those around me who know me in real life about the things that make me happy or trouble me. Most people aren't that comfortable putting themselves out there in front of people who know them. If you wall off writing about your life in this personal way, you have to write around your life in an awkward and somewhat stifling way. This forces you to contort your content or gut it of its essential elements to sanitize if for the consumption of those who know you. This can feel like wearing a straight jacket and undermine your enjoyment of blogging.
- Don't let your blog consume your life or define you in any way. It's an outlet for creativity, logging your personal experiences and developing ideas, not your real life.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Tips for Becoming a Happier Blogger
Before I started blogging, I carefully considered a lot of aspects of the experience and purposefully set out to avoid certain behaviors which I felt would undermine my enjoyment. Keep in mind that I'm not looking to be a "successful" blogger, but a happy one. If you're blogging for personal fulfillment rather than financial success, you may find this list of tips helpful: