I was asked to offer some of the blogging tips that I’ve learned in my years on the internet to new bloggers. So, I started by making a long title that kind of functions as reverse clickbait, or, as I like to call it, “clickbait for hipsters”.
Joking aside, most of my blogging has basically been an exercise in learning that I don’t blog for many of the same reasons that other people blog. I don’t really want to write lists about my personal life, have never managed to write a book review good enough to justify putting it online, and would greatly prefer to be known for my work rather than my life. I didn’t know any of that when I started blogging at age twelve (yes, it was a separate blog and no, I will not give you the URL).
So, the most honest advice I can give you is to do it for yourself. Be willing to dive deep enough into your head that you start pulling up chunky stuff that smells a lot like word vomit. Be willing to say things, even when those little listicles that tell you how to become Really Frecking Internet Famous In Twelve Easy Steps say that isn’t what you should do.
This is extremely bad advice, mostly because it applies to approximately one person, that person being me. Most of this blog was founded on the principle that I was going to regularly post writing advice (Because people will take writing advice from me merely by nature of me having a writing blog, of course!) and short stories (Because I am able to regularly sit down and write stuff that isn’t total crap, right?). That is not what happened, at all. And it turned out that…I ended up liking the results. Even for a pathological liar, honesty really can be the best policy.
The end of the story is that writing is inherently personal. Radically personal, even. You can take advice from other people, but the second you let it turn into a rule, you’ve lost the point. The only things you can say unfailingly are to practice without ceasing, and read without stopping. Everything else is somewhere between personal differences, sheer luck, and insanity.
Now is the point where my ego got too big and my soap box cracked into a million splinters. Time for some practical advice:
Writing regularly is the only way you’ll get better. Some people like to treat blogs as the place where drafts go to exist, and a posting schedule is just a gun to their head to make sure things get done. You don’t have to have a schedule, though, and you may or may not find one useful. Writing may come naturally to you, writing may come only at force of habit. The same is true for speed of writing: you may be able to write ten thousand words in a day, or you may struggle to get out three paragraphs. Be willing to change as you determine what helps you write best.
In the same vein, you have to read others’ work. Read outside of your comfort zone, read genres you wouldn’t normally, and most of all, read the classics. You’ll stagnate if you don’t read, and you’ll eventually stagnate if you only read one kind of book. You don’t have to abandon your favorite genre wholesale, but you have to be willing to read around. Every person should have an open relationship with their books–read others, and encourage others to read yours (whether this pertains to book lending is entirely your own prerogative).
And if you’re already writing and reading, always be willing to break the rules of blogging. SEO and titles and the perfect word count for your work isn’t really important, unless your end goal is more about your follower count that your writing skills, which is an entirely reasonable goal that I can’t judge you for. If you read a book and want to write something that doesn’t fit your mission statement, go ahead and do it anyway. Nobody cares about your “aesthetic” as much as you do.
For better or for worse, this is what I can offer on the grounds of advice for new bloggers. Experiment, is really what it could be summed up as. Don’t be afraid to do whatever you feel like, even if part of your brain is snickering off to the side saying, “that’s so stupid!”