Learning how to blog

The recent exchanges about "The Laws of Blogging" in recent posts have gotten me thinking about how we learn from different approaches to education.

There are those who teach by telling us first about all of the things we shouldn’t do and the harm that will befall us if we do not learn the dangers in what we are doing.

You might say this is education through fear. It certainly works, because there are millions of people who are frightened of the unknown amd are effectively barred from trying anything that has not succeeded before. They in turn teach their children to be afraid, and so forth.

There is another way to teach, and that is to show the possibilities inherent in a process or technology and let the student work his or her way through the barriers to succcess, without any guidance. This Darwinian strategy has its drawbacks.

I prefer a third system in which the possibilities are outlined in enough detail to be instructive, but not stifling, and examples of successful actions are examined in enough detail to be useful. Warnings are provided in terms of taking responsibility for endangering oneself unnecessarily.

With the plethora of books being written about blogging by people new to the medium, I think I should gather up my posts on blogging and publish a book of my own. I think I should call it:

Your Weblog – The Ultimate Power Tool.
Subtitle: Citizen Publishing Will Change The World

I want people to know why they should blog and why it is important to them and their businesses, not why they should be afraid of blogging.

There is a hierarchy of factors that will lead to a long-term life for a blogger:

1  Understand why you are writing. Have a mission statement, even if you don’t publish it. Revisit it occasionally if production drops.
2 Write about things that interest you
3 Write so you do not have to apologize for your choice of words.
4 Try to make your topic as interesting as possible, without bending the truth too much. Parodies are excepted, of course.
5 When the words don’t come, work on something else.
6 Keep track of what you have written so you will know when you are revisiting subjects.

If you want a warning, I can give you all the warning you need with this:

Blogging is going public. Very few people understand what that means. When you write, just consider that the CIA, FBI, your ex-wives, your creditors and your worst enemies will eventually read what you have written. Don’t include anything that would give one of these people access to you or power over you. When you consider that you can Google someone’s name and get their telephone number and address, that tells you that you may want to write under a pseudonym and provide no other personal information.

Not everyone has the freedom (or temerity) to put their name and photo on their weblog. Those who write under less favorable circumstances can reduce the negative effects of being forced into public view by observing this simple rule:

Blog like you mean it and be prepared to stand behind everything you write.

Here are some of the posts I’ve written about the potential of blogging. Each one can be the basis of a chapter in a forthcoming book:

Why Do I Blog
Blogging is not a Zero-sum game
Your Weblog, Branding, and You 
Professional Blogging
Explaining blogs – lighting candles in the wind 
Blogging is a civilizing process 
Your Weblog – the ultimate power tool
Survival of the fittest
Playing with fire 
Blog like you mean it 
The Future of Blogging – my version… 
Citizen publishing – get your mind around this concept 
We have become those people our mothers warned us about 
Blogging will continue until morale improves…   
Have a slice of life – more about citizen publishing 
Making ripples on the Internet – write with care… 
How do I make a living from my blog? 

If I add the posts on self-publishing as a complete section covering the topic, Publishing Your Weblog Content, I may have a good start on a book for pre-bloggers.

What do you think?

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0 Responses to Learning how to blog

  1. Eric says:

    This content would be a great basis for another book. I hope you decide to go forward with it and I wish you luck.

  2. No matter what “laws” or “guidelines” or “anarchy & spontaneity” govern a blog…

    …only the good ones will rise to the top, as far as popularity and influence are concerned.

    Poor quality, misguided, self-obsessed, boring blogs will not be successful, outside of some friends, family, stray surfers, or newbies who don’t know of the really interesting, factual, helpful, funny, innovative, well-written blogs yet.

    Blogs are evolving. Some are trying to make them into full-blown web sites. Others are trying to turn them into vending machines dispensing e-books, reports, various products, full of hype and hard-sell. Still others are acting as mirrors for narcissists and egomaniacs. Then some are used as diaries of very funny or interesting people. Finally, some are also used as portfolios for writing, art, marketing expertise, advertising commentary, political opinions, journalism, special causes.

    Certain species of blogs will probably fade away and disappear, while others will accumulate imitators.

  3. fletch says:

    A book of this nature has potential I think. With sites like Blogger people can start a blog in minutes and begin posting, without any plan or understanding the possible impact on themselves and others with their words. I think a words of wisdom e-book should be required reading on all sites like Blogger before a blog can be created. Your advice on anonymity should be pondered heavily. I’ve read several blogs recently lamenting that coworkers, family, etc. had discovered their blog which results in a loss of freedom of expression. I also wish I had remained anonymous, but it’s impossible to be that way once your name is published without abandoning all previous work and a loyal audience. It’s a decision along with many others that has to be made before you begin.

  4. Karen says:

    Do it! If other people can do it, then so can you. After all, you have more experience at blogging than a lot of those other ‘expert’ bloggers, plus, you have the added bonus of being a great writer and the experience in publishing your latest book.

    I had no idea that you wrote so many posts on blogging. I’ve been meaning to comment and say Congratulations on your book (it looks great!), but now I have to go back and read all your posts on blogging and the various parts of your self-publishing experience.

    When a friend suggested I started blogging months ago, I, too, was scared about putting my thoughts down where anyone could read them and didn’t realize all the nuances that are involved in blogging. I’m glad I finally did it, but from the title of some of your ‘how-to’ blog posts, there is a lot more to consider.

    I think it would be great to put your blogging posts organized into a book or e-book.

  5. colleen says:

    I keep a handwritten journal for my personal life. As a (new) blogger, sometimes I feel exhilarated. Other times I feel exposed and wonder what have I gotten myself into. Mostly I see blogging as another member in the family tree of my writing life, knowing it’s all related and it all comes down to documentation in the end (so you try to get it accurate). Writing leads to more writing ( a good thing for writers, I think). I’ll come back later to read some of your past posts on blogging.

  6. Sean says:

    i’m with the above commenters who say–go for it! your six factors and one warning written above are all spot-on i think.

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