Sunday, 18 December 2011

The spirit that moves the machine


Most books and articles about blogging concentrate on the marketing aspects. Potential bloggers are advised to choose a subject that is not already taken by someone else. At the same time, they are told to avoid themes that do not connect with an already existing group of avid information seekers.

Under this perspective, the whole undertaking is presented as a platform from which the blogger can preach to those who are already convinced. The idea is that a blog should aim at becoming the focal point of a compact community in a specific field, such as practitioners of extreme sports or lovers of horror movies.

This paradigm dominates the internet scene to such an extent that most blogs have become one-idea shows. No wonder that, after a couple of weeks, their texts become short and consist mainly of references to what other people are doing. Under this point of view, producing content is tantamount to filtering reality.

With this approach, is it not surprising that blogs rarely last longer than a year. Popular recommendations about blogging tend to forget the spirit that moves the machine. Text is made of words. Sentences are made of ideas. Without fresh, wide-ranging philosophical subjects, boredom will eventually take over, followed by intellectual starvation.

Marketing virtuosity might quickly attract visitors to a blog during the initial months, but in my view, the critical element in blogging is not the short-term reading, but the long-term writing. If you have nothing to say, if you are not driven to make yourself heard, why on earth do you want to write in the first place?

In contrast to most internet businesses, such as a website selling personalized birthday cakes, a blog is deeply marked by the personality of its author. The bakery that produces birthday cakes wants to achieve its sales target for the week. What a difference with a writer who orchestrates his blog with a time horizon of decades, possibly his whole lifetime.

A hundred million people go daily on-line. In the near future, the number might grow to five hundred million. Many of them would gladly read more blogs if only they found something that appealed to them, something original, sharp, daring perhaps. Write about what you truly like. Given enough time, people with the same interests will find you. Forget about marketing and let your blog speak for itself.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Taras Kalapun under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

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