Hulda Pelligrini posted a comment on our About Us page. I could respond to that comment there, but would rather create a new post in response to that comment. Why? Because in my mind, it raises some interesting questions. Hulda, "an aspiring blog writer" asks "Do you have any points for first-time blog writers?"
Hulda, I don't believe there is any one rule that needs to be followed when writing Blogs. What works for one will not work for another. This is perhaps my biggest criticism of writing today. Everyone seems to want a formula to follow. It's easier to copy what others do than it is to be the real article, true. But what do we gain? Great writers don't copy. The writers we enjoy and respect most are the ones who take us by the hand and take us on a journey into their worlds.
I do definitely have some personal observations and beliefs that I strive to follow. I'll share my own personal theories and expectations for this Blog here. Take what you will, discard the rest. And, if you would like to add anything, please feel free to comment here.
A Reason for Being
Every Blog should be clear about the the writer's purpose and expectation. If the purpose and expectations match the expectations and needs of the reader, the Blog will be successful. Some Blogs will be totally focused on one single topic. These will strive to develop a comprehensive, in-depth discussion of that one topic to the exclusion of all others. Other Blogs, like this one, will strive to open dialog on many different topics so that individual posts will appeal to various audiences. In this case, for example, I choose to explore topics that I know from my own experience will probably interest senior citizens, writers, small businesses and professionals, people who live in the Chicago metropolitan area. Every post will not appeal to every audience always. The topics may overlap and appeal to more than one audience…they may not. And that's as I expect. I don't expect necessarily that everyone is going to wait with baited breath for every single post.
I also, don't write, as a guru. I don't have all the answers. Nor to I wish to promote a hidden agenda or convince anyone of anything. This Blog is set up for the sole purpose of sharing information among people of similar interests. If my reader enjoys my writing and gains something from what I have said in any post, I've accomplished my goal. And, I welcome those who are willing to share other viewpoints.
Other Blogs are designed to sell products or company agendas. Others are written by gurus and offer in-depth analysis and resources. There is nothing wrong with that.
Why I Write (this Blog)
Writing a Blog is no different than than writing a novel, or a newspaper article or a letter. Writing, in all its forms, is communication. It's me sharing my thoughts and observations with you about whatever topic interests the both of us. Blogs can be a whole lot less structured than other writing…more like a letter written between friends and family. Blogs can include personal interpretation and editorial comments, but they can include reporting news and story-telling. I write this Blog to share what I see and think about topics that I find interesting and that I think will have some interest to others.I write in hopes of using this tool to create a bridge between myself and others who share similar interests.
Understanding The Tool
Blogs are tools – nothing more and nothing less. If you can think of a Blog the same way you think of a pen and paper, or a paint brush and canvas, or a camera, the entire concept of Blogging falls into place. There are things you can do with Blogs that you can't do with a newspaper article, or with an advertisement.. And the more you work with your Blog, the better skilled you will become at using it. Your first attempts will not be perfect. That's ok. The more you use the tool and study it's strengths and weaknesses, the better you'll become as a Blogger.
Finding Your Voice
This is where I think most Blogs fail. Finding your voice requires that you know yourself – who you are, what you believe, and why you're doing it. You have to be genuine. You can't copy others. Beyond that, Blogging requires that you be willing to stand up and be counted. Understand that when you write you expose yourself to criticism. For every person that agrees with you, there will be another ready to criticize what you have said. If there's any hint of manipulation or phoniness, you're going to lose your readers.
Blogging requires that you develop your own style. Speak through your Blog the same way you would talk to me if I were sitting across the kitchen table having a cup of tea with me. And I'll read every word you write. If you're Blog is intended to cram information down my throat or sell me your products, I have better things to do with my time.
Finding your Audience
You're not going to please everyone with your writing. I believe that attempting to write to the masses is a a guarantee to failure. No one likes to be talked at. Readers are looking for information that satisfies a need in their lives. Some look for affirmation of their own experiences, others to learn, others to discover new worlds. A single mother raising two pre-schoolers isn't necessarily going to be interested in the same things that a retired army officer is going to be interested in. Then again, they may if they both live in the Chicago area. A senior citizen may well be interested in business topics or in condo living. You want to identify with the people you have something in common with. Note, I didn't say you're writing for people who are carbon copies of yourself. But, you do want to be clear that what you have to say in your Blog has some meaning for the person you want to read your blog.
Choosing the Topics
My advice is as old as writing itself: Write what you know…write about your passion…and, write with an open mind, honoring your reader and respecting the views of others.