Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Secret of Blog Longevity


I’ve been making a point, lately, about my blog (my main blog) being ten years old.  It’s all part of a self-promotional scheme that you don’t need to concern yourself with.  But I think the fact that I have the longest running blog I know of (I have been asking, but so far no one has come up with one as old or older) might be something of interest to writers.
How, exactly, is that done?
Actually, I think a better question is: Why should it be done?  The answer to that, of course, is: It shouldn’t.
Blogs are ephemeral by nature.  They are of a season, an interest, a point of view, designed to cover a certain period in our lives and then fade away as we move on.  Maintaining the same blog on the same topic for so long merely points to a person who can’t let go.
And having attained this milestone, I can’t say as I feel like a sage sitting on a mountain top dispensing advice to pilgrims.  I’m more like the annoying dad who’s every sentence to his kids begins, “When I was your age…”  (…we wrote in HTML, we had to start our computers with a hand-crank, and it took two weeks to upload a 3k file…)
Anyway, if you want to have a blog that has lasted as long as mine, my advice—even though you didn’t ask for it—is write about something you will never get tired of writing about.
The only blog author I can point to who was around when I was first blogging is Rob Rummel-Hudson.  His blog followed his life’s arc from one adventure to another.  He wrote well and managed to make his life sound interesting and amusing.  Then his daughter was diagnosed with a rare disorder and he started a new blog about that.  He is still keeping that one up.  He chronicles their triumphs and failures, the progress and setbacks, he’s become an expert on bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria and has, in fact, written a book about his experiences.  We go where life takes us; sometimes we blog about it.
Another long-standing blog is Joe Knorath’s “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing” (20 March 2005).  In retrospect, I’m sure Joe wishes he had picked a different title; his blog has not been for or about newbies in a long, long time.  But he has discovered the other secret of longevity: diversity.  Joe was an enthusiastic newbie and more than ready to share all his hard-won knowledge.  This earned him a devoted following.  Then he became the poster boy for self-promotion, he became an early proponent for e-books and now he’s the poster boy for self-publishing.  He has gone on a journey and brought us along for the ride.
In fact the only reason Joe’s blog has not been around as long as mine is that he made the mistake of starting it in 2005 instead of 2001.
There are a lot of good blogs out there (and an unlimited number of really crap ones) but most of them, to my way of thinking, were created with a sell-by date.  Two of my current favorites are The Passive Voice and Catherine, Caffeinated, but I can see both of them running their course.  The Passive Voice is about self-publishing and author contracts, but even now I feel he is preaching to the choir (though, as a member of that choir, I am still an enthusiastic reader).  Catherine’s blog is also about self-publishing, but the title allows her a lot more leeway and she is already using the self-publishing podium as a means of self promotion.  There is nothing wrong with that, of course; that is what blogs are for.
And this is what makes mine different; it was never about self promotion.  Okay, I have ads for my books on the site and, currently, at the end of my posts, but I don’t tuck sales ads into my posts.  My post are what they have always been, humorous, personal essays.  I do write about being an expat a lot, but I have also written about throwing up, encounters with spiders, sitting in a café in a train station and simply riding the bus.
In short, I write about my life; and that’s not something I don’t plan on getting tired of anytime soon.

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