2,000+ posts and ten years later, what have I learned from blogging?
Typepad says that I have 2,000 posts in this weblog. Some of them, to be sure, are drafts that were abandoned, and some are scheduled in the future, but that's as good a round number as I need to reflect on blogging (the practice and the habit).
"New weblog from Ed Vielmetti, who's been on the Net forever."
Ten years later I'm still at it. I suppose that I might have just enough experience in blogging that even I would think of myself as an expert at it, for what that's worth. (As Forbes once said about my bright ideas, "Too bad everyone else had the same idea.") And like any good blogger, I have a nice pat seven item list to share with you - because people who read blogs love pointless numbered lists.
1. Repetition is the soul of the net. If I've told you this once, I've said it a thousand times. Every year, regular as clockwork, there is an audience for people reading about where to pick blueberries, how to get election returns, who makes the best paczki, what to do on your birthday or your kids birthday. You get a free pass to repeat your good content over and over again annually, do it.
2. Don't think too much. Think more, perhaps, than you would in writing a 140 character twitter message; think twice before saying something that you'd regret before a judge or in print. But don't think more than twice, and be prepared to post something before it's absolutely polished and done. Sometimes the people who read what you are writing will fill in the blanks for you.
3. Omit needless words. Your screen is small, and the day is short. Don't ramble on and on - fill the text input box until it's full, and hit post.
4. Leave comments. Comments on other people's blogs will remind them of stuff that you have collected that's relevant; comments on your own blog will let you update things that are changing without going back and re-editing. Every once in a while, you'll unearth someone who is a bona fide expert who reads the news clippings you pasted together and gets an insight.
5. Don't feed the trolls. (And there are so many of them.) Squash idiot comments, commercial spam comments, irritating comments, stray trackbacks, and any other crud out of your blog as soon as you see it.
6. Did I mention pointless numbered lists? Use them. Everyone's attention span is short, and lists let people know just how far along they are before they can be done. They let you jump from idea to idea without pesky transitions, and make it easy for someone else to cut and paste that one good idea hiding in your pile of dreck and take it for their own.
7. Quote liberally (and credit liberally). Half the battle in blogging is figuring out who knows more than you do about something; the other half the battle is figuring out who is uselessly ignorant but still writes a lot. If you are good and thorough and relentless in clipping out good paragraphs from other people's work, and you are good and thorough and relentless in doing the searches that end up in results that aren't on everyone else's front page of Google, you can learn a lot and share a lot.
I've been averaging a post a day for a long time. Some days more, some days less, and some blogs are mercifully left for dead from ideas that didn't pan out. I wish I knew what it all meant. In some ways it reminds me a lot of my short lived but illustrious high school forensics career of impromptu speaking - all it really shows is that you can be coherent on short notice about pretty much anything, and that you have enough diligence to keep being coherent for a long time.
If someone can tell me what career that qualifies me for, please let me know - I'm looking.