I recently undertook a study of blogging and how to do it better (i.e. I accidentally surfed onto a "How To Blog Better" blog). Much of it was common sense—though it never hurts to remind oneself of the obvious—but there were a few new tidbits in the list that I could benefit from.
The primary, and most glaringly ignored, rule was: "Don't have more than one blog." Um, guilty, but with mitigating circumstances, Your Honor.
This blog, which I used to consider my back-up blog, was started as an auxiliary to my erstwhile website that, against my will, morphed into a blog. This blog was also largely ignored and I never expected it to amount to much. In fact, I fully anticipated it would be so universally ignored that I would be free to cavort naked here (metaphorically speaking) without fear of being seen. I guess this supports the theory that, if you write it, they will read.
But I digress, which goes against the grain of another rule, and the subject of this post: “Focus.”
This may fall into the category of common sense, but a blog needs to be about something, or, more precisely, some "thing." And it should be the same thing every time.
This is a writing blog, and every post should, in some way, reflect some aspect of writing. I like to think I've followed this rule; even the rare "twofer" posts that I put up here and on my other blog, are so treated because they fit the criteria for both locations, not simply because I'm lazy.
Surprisingly, I find it easier to maintain focus here than there. Here, I'm a writer, there I'm an expat, and while I actually do wake up every morning with the thought, "I am a writer" going through my head (it's what prompted me to set my alarm for 5AM, after all) I can often go through an entire day without thinking, "I am an expat."
The other consideration is, not only am I an expat on my other blog, I am a funny expat, so I need to write about being an expat while avoiding weighty subjects and controversial issues. Maintaining this sort of focus is limiting but crucial to retaining and expanding my readership. It also keeps me out of trouble: much as I might like to be a serious journalist, I know I am woefully under-informed and allow knee-jerk reactions to dictate my politics. In short, my views on weighty subjects are about as deeply researched and valid as those found in The Daily Mail, and airing them will not give my readers what they came for. I forget this at my peril.
(Incidentally, I am not writing this post because of anything I recently wrote over there, so don't go looking for an ill-advised post on abortion or immigration where I make a pillock out of myself. I'm just acknowledging that I am occasionally tempted to.)
So the point of this post is simply to remind myself, and anyone else who cares to come along, to "dance with the one that brung ya." If you pause here, expect to read my views on publishing, technology, train travel, sheep farming, income tax or the best way to arrange your sock drawer, but all of it will, in some small way, be related to writing. Visit my other blog, and expect to be mirthfully reminded that I am an American, out of my depth in a strange land. And if you find me doing anything else, post a comment reminding me to focus.
One last rule of note that the article mentioned: “Don't expect to make money with your blog.”
Well, no problem there, at least.