Over the QuakerQuaker forum, a new blogger asked “I am new at blogging. Do you have any suggestions for my site?” I’ll cross-post my answer here.
I think the success to any kind of writing is to first and foremost write about what interests you. Don’t worry about whether there’s an audience or not: with millions of people on the internet every day there’s bound to be plenty of others who share your interests. Don’t be afraid to be personal, quirky and idiosyncratic, as people come to blogs looking for personality.
The most interesting blogs have an intimacy and honesty to them. My blog posts are the kind of discussions I would have around my dining room table. Friends have a tendency to downplay our opinions in public settings. The Quaker blogs have given us a place to be respectfully honest, open and inquisitive. That openness has led many of us into surprising friendships.
I’d also recommend that you keep your blog open to development. I was four months into my QuakerRanter blog before I had the first post that I would now consider a “typical” QuakerRanter piece. It often takes time to find a voice you’re comfortable in and many people find themselves interested in different topics than they initially imagined. Blogs often end up being very different than the one they thought they were starting! Most blogs last about two months and are abandoned: if you’re blogging because you think you should be, then the motivation won’t be enough to sustain you over the long term.
Finally, blogs are social. They’re conversation. Encourage conversation on your blog. Respond to comments, on the blog and also in direct emails if people have provided them. Sign up to blogs you like using an RSS Reader like Google Reader or Bloglines and read them and comment on thoughtful posts. Get to know people and try to attend the events we’re now listing here on QuakerQuaker. About half of my QuakerQuaker time is actually private emails and IM conversations with Friends and the comments I leave on blogs (some Quaker, some not) are often more involved than my blog posts. It’s a social medium and the public blog is just one piece of that.
I’d love to hear what advice others have, either here on Quaker Ranter or over on the Forum post.