It is with a heavy heart that I bid goodbye to the Sisterhood, this blog and my anonymous audience. After two terrific years, the time has come to leave. Due to circumstances beyond my control, it will be impossible for me to continue contributing monthly posts. So, I must cease being a blogger, which by no means stops me from being an avid follower, reader and commentator.
Looking back with affection, I realize that belonging to the Writing Sisterhood has been an über experience, one that has taught me plenty and not only about writing and writers. It has taught me about blogging and what to expect from it. I am tired of hearing that the Blog Age is over, that only video blogs have any hope in the age of Tumblr. Hey, I once heard Facebook would die with the advent of Twitter, and that blogs would kill forum life forever. Time has proved wrong all those prophecies.
Undoubtedly, there are more blogs than readers out there, but blogging is still a fairly respectable activity, as long as you abide by certain rules. First rule: never blog about “everything.” The days of blogs that covered every subject under the sun are passé. A blog must always stick to a particular topic, but don´t make it too general or too specific.
My blog Latinas Del Ayer was meant to cover a myriad of issues concerning how women lived in Latin America in the first half of the Twentieth century. The amalgam of subjects, ranging from fashion to entertainment, turned out to be too broad. It confused the readers and I never got faithful devotees.
Around that same time, I began to compose another blog, this time I devoted the place to Fantasy Fiction. Although the posts covered film, books and television series, I soon recognized that “thronies” and “fangbangers” were my audience. I began to pen weekly recaps of “Game of Thrones” and “True Blood.” Even after the seasons were over, I continued increasing my clientele by devoting 80% of my material to A Song of Ice and Fire matters. Since there are several” Game of Thrones” blogs around, I didn’t want to turn mine into a GOT site. My solution was to alternate the ASOIAF entries with posts on fictional vampires, witches and, that ever lasting favorite, Harry Potter.
As a blogger, your most important concern should always be your audience: who do you write for? What do they need? Thanks to Google search terms you may attract tons of visitors, but what matters is to entice them to become permanent guests. I absolutely agree that in order to gather a large following, the blogger has to visit and participate in similar blogs. It´s how I built a nice set of devotees in my first blog, but for some reason it didn’t work with my Fantasy Blog. Either some bloggers were not aware of the “reciprocal visiting card” rule or were not into creating a community.
There are many misconceptions and Murphy´s laws about how to blog properly, but one point that everyone agrees upon is that a blog is nothing without constant visitors. Apparently, there are three steps to achieve traffic and followers: post often, post brief and post new. Hogwash!
Sure, tons of people visit blogs every morning to watch the hottest video. In our audiovisual-oriented, semi-illiterate, attention-deficit afflicted culture, videos are fantastic. They demand less time, less intelligence and less attention to enjoy them. However, if a hundred blogs (plus YouTube) are showing the same video, who could want to visit them to watch the identical thing over and over again? It just doesn’t make sense.
This problem applies to written news as well. With so many places devoted to newscast activity, it´s a waste of time to wander from blog to blog reading similar accounts. Back in the early Twentieth-First Century, blogging revolutionized journalism, because blogs added editorial comments to every scoop. Soon users flocked to blogs just to share or challenge the blogger’s opinions. This is what made blogs so popular and so exceptional. Alas! That art seems to have lost its way in the days of up-to-the-minute, condensed, and frequently blogging.
Joining the race to get the “latest” bit in your blog seems like a futile exercise. I am not an advocate of the “new” especially if your blog is, like mine, a place in search of “unique.” That is a term used in my last job to refer to regular customers who commented regularly on whatever you posted. Those people are rare, precious and difficult to fish. From experience and observation, I can assure you, they don’t care for “the latest.” They crave inventive opinions, a good blogging voice, and shared tastes rather than flashy and bizarre posts. They don´t mind reading a page or more when the content and writing are of quality.
When it comes to length, I have to declare myself guilty. I do tend to get carried away, but I also like to read meaty and comprehensive posts. Although I´m trying to condense my articles, I have come to the conclusion that half-a page posts, regardless of its subject matter, are useless. An effective piece should take you a page and a half to express it, but unless the topic merits a longer exposition, keep it under the four-page limit.
Regular posts are also an issue. Although, the consensus among the Sisters is that we are extremely proud of our blog and its achievements, I think that if time had let us, we could have posted more often. However, work, family obligations, and the fact that some of us are joggling personal blogs as well as this one, prevented us from bringing more frequent contributions.
Nevertheless, beware of the word “frequent." Three juicy weekly posts are more than enough. Daily long entries will exhaust your creativity and drown readers with too much data, thus diminishing your chances of getting useful sensible comments and encouraging the desired debate.
My last advice has to do with “unique voice,” a rather abstract concept that keeps coming to my mind when I ran into a blog so welcoming that makes me want to tarry. I believe that each of this Divine Blog’s founding Sisters owns a personal voice (opinion, writing style, etc), and that is our greatest asset. But if you are running a one wo/man blog then you’ll have to find your own way of making it an outstanding place.
Talented bloggers may enhance their place with their own visuals whether is artwork, personal photographs or home-made videos, and then there are those that are constantly coming up with contests and games.
What happens if you are not artistically gifted or lack the imagination to create contests? Then you have to rely on subtler ways of making your blog unique. Look around at similar blogs. What are they lacking? What it’s missing from them that could attract customers? What demographic group they are not targeting? Fliling a gap can make your blog stand out among others that address analogous subjects.
One last word before leaving this fabulous spot. If I learned something from the company of my Sisters, it’s the importance of courtesy and hospitability in running a blog. I was terribly moved when a dear friend and former boss described the Sisterhood as “a cozy, warm place where ladies could drop for tea.” So I strongly advise those who read me to continue enjoying the welcoming atmosphere of this blog and to recreate it when building a space of your own. G-d bless you all!
Do you blog? Share your experience and tips on how to make a blog a special place.