The other day I carelessly volunteered for a guest post on Bloggers’ World and feeling that I ought to write something that might actually interests people there instead of boring them with my pet obsessions (such as Herodotus or the continuing Brexit wars), I hit upon the subject of blogging advice: How To Be A Successful Blogger. Between you and me (don’t whisper it outside these walls), I’m not qualified to give such advice; nevertheless, after a year of blogging I’m not entirely without expertise…
So here, my friends, I present you instead with the tried and tested method of:
How to Fail as a Blogger
In Five Easy Steps
Step 1: Start a blog.
This, I have to say, is rather unavoidable. You might skip the other steps (at your peril) but this one you will have to take.
Step 2: Believe that writing quality content regularly leads to blogging success.
Invest all your time, energy and passion into your blog. Do not compromise on your ideas or style… write from your soul. Write stuff that you love to read and then re-read it regularly. You will get much joy out of it which is just as well – as nobody else is reading it.
Because the sad truth is that nobody knows that you’re blogging!
Step 3: Believe that social media presence will result in readers.
Having realised why you’re failing to become the next big blogging sensation, follow blogging advice and create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Blogloving, whatever. Your blog has to have a presence on all these forums – everybody tells you so. They can’t all be wrong, right?
This advice comes from people who already had a huge presence on social media prior to blogging. A few (ten) thousand friends give or take. If you’re one of these people, you might as well give up on the idea of failing as a blogger: not even the relentless spamming of your family and friends on Facebook, your followers on Twitter and your colleagues on LinkedIn will save you from being successful. If, on the other hand, you’ve never been on social media until now, your job is much easier. Before you can get followers for your blog, you have to get social media followers. How? It’s easy: followers beget followers.
(Obscurity of course only begets obscurity: in certain educated circles this is known as a vicious circle. As this is a book blog, however, we will favour the phrase catch-22 instead.)
Repeat Step 3 again and again until you realise that…
…all this takes too much time and effort and it interferes with your ability to produce quality content on your blog. Or indeed any content whatsoever. At this point, you need to go back to Step 1!
When you have spent enough time running round chasing your tail, move on to Step 4.
Step 4: Join a blogging forum.
Interact with fellow bloggers. You’ll get a lot of support and you can give a lot of support too. Hell, you might make friends! Some of them might even like your blog – or you, theirs. A win-win situation all round?
At some point you’ll find you’re spending all your time talking to bloggers about blogging instead of… er… blogging. Don’t let the good work all go to waste: Go back to Step 1.
Step 5: Analyse your statistics and despair.
The ultimate step but can be taken at any time. It is the ultimate step because after this, you’ll shut your blog down.
How: Check your statistics every day and analyse every visit. What day of the week? What time of the day? Who was that referrer? Was yesterday a better day than today in terms of views? Or comments? Or likes? Why is this week not as good as last week? How many page views per visitor? What does it all mean?
And why does every other blog have so many more followers?!!!
“I Had My Own Blog For A While, But I Decided To Go Back To Just Pointless, Incessant Barking”
On the theme of Step 5, there’s a cartoon by Alex Gregory, originally published in the New Yorker which one of my few readers sent to me some months ago and which encapsulates the small blogger experience to perfection:
The look of bewilderment on the dog’s face is the look of bewilderment on the small blogger’s face whenever he looks at his statistics. Clearly we are the bloggers Gregory had in mind: is anybody actually reading this?
My blog is, de facto, the pointless, incessant barking of Gregory’s dog. The sensible thing of course would be to chuck it all in but… let’s say I like barking at the moon. I started to write because I had something to say; and rather to my surprise, some people started to read it. Now I’ve got over a hundred followers, ten percent of whom actually read what I write.
So I am going to go on writing because I’ve still got things to say. You don’t have to read it.
🙂 Happy barking at the moon!
For today's links, why not check out some cartoons? Matt in The Telegraph Cartoons in the New Yorker