Everyone has a blog these days. Seriously, you can’t go five feet along the virtual highway without tripping over someone’s list of badly-written poetry, a really bitchin’ series of personal essays and articles about gaming or literature (or travel or cooking or eight billion other hobbies and activities), weblits and blogfics, or journalling communities established so people can come together as a group to bitch about shit and share porn.
Since I was a teenager, I’ve been hearing that the world has become a global village. Zimbabwe might as well be next door, with the communicative, informative, connective qualities of the Internet. Australia is down the street hosting a barbecue (Must have barbecues on the brain. Jesus, what is my neighbour cooking out there? I smell herbs and spices and roasting bread… God I’m hungry now…) in the middle of a snowstorm. Did you see the kangaroo being chased by the lion in the community park? Watch out for those reindeer herders — they owe the Bushmen some money, and they’re getting shirty about it. Also, France is having all sorts of questionable types over til all hours of the night, we’ll need to keep an eye on them.
Alright, so maybe it isn’t quite as ridiculous as that, and maybe my idea of a village is a little skewed.
Where was I again?
No, wait. That wasn’t it.
Ahh, right. Blogs.
Blogs cover literally everything under the sun — and some stuff that is beyond the sun, in the case of space exploration and aeronautics journals. Want to find like-minded people to complain about politics? There’s a blog for that, left OR right. Want to read recaps of your favorite TV shows? There’s a blog for that, no matter if it’s House MD or The Price is Right. Got a favorite game designer or book writer you want to worship from afar? If they’re smart — or atttention whores — they have blogs.
Blogs feed into that whole “global village” motif the Internet’s been kicking off since its usage became as widespread as it has. A lot of people I know, a lot of people I consider friends, I met online through bloggery. I’m not an incredibly social person when it comes to face-to-face interactions — some undiagnosed disorder professionals inform me I probably have that I couldn’t really be arsed to do anything about at this point in my life — but online, I’m less self-restricted. Less inhibited. Less dwarfed and intimidated by that whole social contract people, even strangers, are expected to have with each other.
John Gabriel of Penny Arcade has a Theory. (That it’s a demon, a dancing demon…)
A Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. It goes like this:
On the internet, in the blogging community, you will find a huge community of self-flagellating, malfunctioning piles of what passes for humanity, pathetic wretches who can only get their kicks from trolling, flaming and CAPSLOCKING their way to fame and fortune. Sometimes it seems these people, and their vitriolic venomous blogs, are the only people shitting up the internet.
But the reverse is also true. There are just as many helpful, funny, friendly and wonderful people on the internet. They even have just as many blogs as the Fuckwad Brigade. You just might have to dig a little deeper to find them.
Maybe get yourself a blog, pick a topic (or range of topics, or lack of topics, as the case may be) and join them? What, you want advice now on blogging? Jesus, do I have to do everything?
Self-Interest Is Best
The only promotion you can count on is that you do yourself. No pimp is going to be out selling your sweet, Lycra-hugged endtable ass to potential customers. At the most, you might get a buddy or two to nudge their neighbours with knowing smirks and tell them, “Yeah, you should tap that. Bitch is freaky, if you know what I mean.”
The easiest way for you to promote your blog is to get a Twitter account and familiarize yourself with the appropriate hashtags for your chosen field of bloggery. For example, if you’re posting a serial story on a regular/semi-regular basis #writing and #weblit (and probably a few more genre-specific) are probably best. There’s the ubiquitous #blogging tag, travel tags, gaming tags, tags for games (like #wow or #warcraft)… Hundreds of thousands, probably. I’m pretty sure that popular hashtags are what people are referring to when they talk about something “trending”, butI barely pay attention to that sort of thing.
I’m not “down” with the “trilogy”, yo.
Also. Hashtags.org can give you the lowdown on tags you’re considering using.
And while you’re at it, you may as well do some research online about webrings and listing communities your blog would fit into. Email the webmasters of these sites and/or fill out the forms to get your site listed. No one’s going to give you a free ride on the promotion train. You need to get out there and advertise yourself, or no one’s going to find you.
I never know what to tag my posts. Hell, half the time I don’t know what Twitter hashtags I’m using either. I’ve had this problem longer than I’ve had an online presence; three words to describe a school project? Uhh… dull… umm… dumb… err…. done? Does that count?
To tell you the truth, most of the time I have to go back and edit my posts to put in the tags. They slip my mind and it’s only after I’ve hit the “Publish” button and am looking the post over again that I realize it is tagless. I also have problems knowing how many tags are enough, and how many versions of them I should be using.
But tags are going to be part of how your peeps find you, so you should at least put a couple in there. Writing about getting away to Bogota this weekend? “Columbia”, “vacation”, “Bogota” and “cocaine” might do you. Did you write a post like this one and include something widely known and very specific (like John Gabriel’s GIFWT)? Then you should probably use that phrase as a tag.
Fuck You, Blog Stats
Forget these things exist. That dashboard WordPress is telling me I have? Yeah, I’m doing my best to ignore it, like I’m trying to ignore the smell of barbecuing ribs drifting in through my open living room window. (Damn, it smells good. Why didn’t I get an apartment with a balcony?) It’s not easy to do. But I don’t really need to know that something I wrote has 34 views, or only 2. I don’t need to obsessively be refreshing my stats page, wondering if there’s going to be another view by the time it reloads. Sometimes, they’re downright depressing. If you want to be a blogger, you need to pay very little attention to your stats, because they’ll swing between impressive and depressing with little warning. And nobody wants to continue to do something that depresses them.
And that pretty much constitutes my entire experience with the bloggery. A lot of the time, I don’t bother self-promoting as much as I should be; my lassitude, it is mighty. Plus I’m easily distracted. And I’m addicted to online gaming (another blogpost for another time). And I like to avoid anything that might constitute actual work — I want to be a writer, after all. I’ve got that whole stay-at-home-mom dealie to fill up all my “work” “needs”.
And speaking of Lassitude… I really should get back to her. She gets angry if I’m away for too long.
Semi-coherent rambling over.
What’s that, you want more? Well, go get your own blog. And get off my lawn.