Finding Your Blogging Style

Palimpsest 02
Kirsty Hall: Palimpsest, 2004
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A lot of blogging advice tells you to do things like have a tight focus, develop a recognisable style, keep to a schedule, always use a photograph, make your posts a certain length and do lots of guest posting.

This is probably excellent advice.

I mostly ignore it.

I am not a strategic blogger. I try to blog at least twice a week but I often fail, especially if I'm unwell or busy. I don't blog at the times that'll get me the most readers because it never occurs to me to do so. I don't promote my blog as well as I could. I don’t stick rigidly to one style; I’ll often have a serious post one day followed by a slew of what I call 'eye candy' posts. This is partly deliberate – I think it’s boring to have all my content the same and I like to mix things up a bit. But mostly it’s because I post whatever I feel like posting, whenever I feel like posting it. My posting style is largely dependant on my mood and whatever is bubbling up in my brain at that given moment. Like I said, not very strategic!

However, although they may seem random, my posts do have a common thread. I deliberately focus fairly tightly on art. So I don't talk about lots of personal stuff unless it has a bearing on my art - with the occasional foray into chickens!

I’m also very picky with my posts, which is partly why I don't post more often. I edit rigorously because I like my posts to be highly crafted with correct spelling and hopefully half-way decent grammar. I'll spend hours writing the longer, more serious posts and I repeatedly read them aloud to see if they make sense. The ‘eye candy’ posts are quicker but still involve meticulously selecting the right photos and then moving them around to get the visual flow just so. I've tried to blog in a quicker, less obsessive fashion but I just can't do it.

My blogging style reflects who I am – an anal perfectionist with an undisciplined and impulsive thread running through me.

If your blog feels like a millstone around your neck, you need to ask yourself why. Are you trying to be someone you’re not? Are you spending hours crafting long posts when you’re naturally more of a micro-blogger? Are you feeling scattered and overwhelmed by a daily posting schedule? Maybe a single, more reflective weekly post would suit you better.

It can also be helpful to work out why you’re blogging and who you’re blogging for.

Are you trying to get a larger audience? Are you trying to get a book deal? Are you trying to attract new collectors for your work? Are you trying to network with other artists? Or are you just interested in keeping a record of your own practice?

Personally I’m trying to help and entertain people, whilst giving myself enough freedom that I stay interested in blogging. If I get a higher art profile or make useful new connections, that's absolutely great and it's certainly part of the reason that I blog but it's not my main motivation for writing. My main motivation is almost always a variation on the thought, 'hey, that would make a great blog post'.

I am rubbish at doing things that don't interest me and I know this about myself, so I try to minimise the amount of boring things I have to do. I know that I could probably get ten times the number of readers if I was more strategic about my blogging but I also know that I have to be careful to nourish the pleasure I take in blogging or I'll burn out.

Anyone can start a blog and keep writing for a few weeks or months but blogging for years takes a bit more stamina. Knowing yourself and what you want or need from your blog will help you to maintain your blogging in the long run.

TIPS FOR KEEPING GOING
...and yes, the irony of posting a list of strategic tips in this post is not lost on me!

Think Ahead
Write and save posts for when you can't be bothered - some posts are time critical but many are not.

If I was really organised, I'd have a dozen posts all ready to go for those weeks when I'm too ill or busy to write. But while I think that's a great theory, I've never quite managed it in practice. What I do have is a slew of unfinished posts that I can sometimes complete with less effort than writing a post from scratch. In fact, this post was one that I started last month.

Keep an ideas file
I have blog notes scattered all over the house and in several places in my computer. One day, I may even get round to organising them properly!

Be Yourself
No one is interested in reading a faker; be genuine and your audience will respond. This goes back to the idea of finding and then respecting your own style.

However, it's OK to decide just how much of yourself you're willing to share. It's a blog, not an internal monologue; keeping some things private is not the same as being a faker. There's also nothing wrong with editing - remember, this is a form of publishing not a personal diary.

Know Your Own Rules
In real life I swear like a sailor but I made the deliberate choice when I started not to swear much on this blog. I have other internal rules. It's not happened yet but if I got an abusive comment, I would delete it - I don't mind constructive criticism but I'm not at home to trolls.

Define your own schedule
I saved the most important tip for last.

Work out when you have the most energy for writing and schedule it in. If you don't write, you won't have posts, it's as simple as that. And if you want your blog to be regularly maintained, then it has to be very high up on your to-do list or it just won't happen. Believe me, I know!

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24 thoughts on “Finding Your Blogging Style

  1. I keep all my draft posts on my blog - some are just titles which appealed to me while others have all the basic data which just needs writing up into readable English.

    When I sit down each day, if I'm stuck for something to write I will look through my drafts - and the sheer variety of drafts as well as subject matter often kick starts a post for the day.

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  2. I keep all my draft posts on my blog - some are just titles which appealed to me while others have all the basic data which just needs writing up into readable English.

    When I sit down each day, if I'm stuck for something to write I will look through my drafts - and the sheer variety of drafts as well as subject matter often kick starts a post for the day.

    [Reply]

    Reply
  3. I keep all my draft posts on my blog - some are just titles which appealed to me while others have all the basic data which just needs writing up into readable English.

    When I sit down each day, if I'm stuck for something to write I will look through my drafts - and the sheer variety of drafts as well as subject matter often kick starts a post for the day.

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  4. Donna

    Thanks for the post -- especially "Know Your Own Rules." Constructive criticism and artistic debate can and should be conducted with good manners. "Not home to trolls" is a new phrase for me. I may have to embroider that on a pillow!

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  5. Donna

    Thanks for the post -- especially "Know Your Own Rules." Constructive criticism and artistic debate can and should be conducted with good manners. "Not home to trolls" is a new phrase for me. I may have to embroider that on a pillow!

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  6. Donna

    Thanks for the post -- especially "Know Your Own Rules." Constructive criticism and artistic debate can and should be conducted with good manners. "Not home to trolls" is a new phrase for me. I may have to embroider that on a pillow!

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  7. Valuable info, Kirsty.
    I can relate to your personal tendencies as an "anal perfectionist with an undisciplined and impulsive thread running through me." that's me also, much of the time.
    I suppose we all blog for various reasons but the common thread in all blogs is the desire to share something.

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  8. Valuable info, Kirsty.
    I can relate to your personal tendencies as an "anal perfectionist with an undisciplined and impulsive thread running through me." that's me also, much of the time.
    I suppose we all blog for various reasons but the common thread in all blogs is the desire to share something.

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  9. Great round up of how to 'keep going'. I much prefer your tips to the generic blogging advice that is out there. I am still uncertain about what aspects of myself to share on my blog and finding the right kind of voice for it is also something I'm working out.

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  10. Great round up of how to 'keep going'. I much prefer your tips to the generic blogging advice that is out there. I am still uncertain about what aspects of myself to share on my blog and finding the right kind of voice for it is also something I'm working out.

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  11. Great round up of how to 'keep going'. I much prefer your tips to the generic blogging advice that is out there. I am still uncertain about what aspects of myself to share on my blog and finding the right kind of voice for it is also something I'm working out.

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  12. Kirsty: I printed this and have been carrying it around with me, rereading it. I am guilty of quickly pouring out stream-of-consciousness writing, and only editing for grammar and punctuation. I severely need to learn to edit and rewrite. Thanks for this.

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  13. Kirsty: I printed this and have been carrying it around with me, rereading it. I am guilty of quickly pouring out stream-of-consciousness writing, and only editing for grammar and punctuation. I severely need to learn to edit and rewrite. Thanks for this.

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    Hi Lisa, how flattering to hear that you printed this out. Good luck with your editing, it's definitely a skill - one it took me quite a while to learn.

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    Reply:

    Hi Lisa, how flattering to hear that you printed this out. Good luck with your editing, it's definitely a skill - one it took me quite a while to learn.

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  14. Kirsty: I printed this and have been carrying it around with me, rereading it. I am guilty of quickly pouring out stream-of-consciousness writing, and only editing for grammar and punctuation. I severely need to learn to edit and rewrite. Thanks for this.

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    Hi Lisa, how flattering to hear that you printed this out. Good luck with your editing, it's definitely a skill - one it took me quite a while to learn.

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  15. Hi Kirsty, I was encouraged by some of the points you made in this post. Personally, I also find being strategic quite tiring, it requires too much self-discipline and takes the fun out of blogging - especially if your blog attempts to be a reflection of your true personality. Only problem is, if no-one is interested in the uncontrived, natural, honest version of you - I guess it's only human nature to resort to so-called 'blogging best practice' in an attempt to attract an audience.

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