What with the Christmas/New Year hiatus, our three-month blog anniversary seems to have crept up on us rather quickly. My blog insights are different to those of Rose and Rachel in that they’re mostly about the writing process – it’s what I do for a day job and it’s the aspect of blogging that excites me most. With most of our other (equally important) blogging duties, I’m a little at sea – luckily we’re a team. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the art of blogging:
1. Sub-editors go unnoticed – and that’s the idea.
Because I’m a stickler for clear copy and am used to working in a team with a sub-editor, it seemed natural for me to offer my services to our blog. As such, I proof all the posts before they go online. It’s a journalistic joke that sub-editors have a thankless task because their work is only noticed when they slip up. But the fact is that no writer would sound half as good as they do without the secret support of a good sub – I’ve often seen subs rewrite entire features. When it comes to blog posts, there’s a lot to be said for re-reading your own copy, but a totally fresh pair of eyes is invaluable. A sub-editor’s raison d’etre isn’t just to hunch over copy and award marks for spelling and grammar (although they do pick up a lot of typos). They also untangle tricky sentences, check facts, put things in a logical order, and ask questions on behalf of would-be readers – all to make it as easy as possible for you to digest whatever you happen to be reading. In an ideal world, every blog would have one, and I think ours works all the better for it.
2. Blogging isn’t a day job.
A reminder for myself, this one, as I’m liable to take everything I do – even hobbies – a bit too seriously. Since blogs are personal by their nature, writing posts involves a lot more freedom of expression than the day-to-day journalism I’m used to, where an (often sociopathic) editor lays down the law on how the final version of your piece will read. I’m used to delivering work and turning the other cheek when some of my lovingly – and lengthily – crafted sentences are mercilessly culled (unlike some people – mentioning no names, Giles Coren). I’m trying to recalibrate my hard-wired tendencies and throw caution to my in-built style guide to try to keep my own tone as honest and personal as possible.
3. Blogging is hard work.
When we started this blog, one of our aims was for it to look and feel professional. I like what we’ve achieved so far, and it seems you do too. However, approaching a blog in a professional way is a double-edged sword, because after a few weeks it can start to feel less like a hobby and more like another chore on my to-do list. Team meetings, deadlines, and an overflowing in-tray can all get on top of you. Friendly get-togethers have a habit of turning into informal blog meetings (meanwhile, our actual meetings tend to veer alarmingly off-topic…) Still, it’s worth it for the thrill of posting something I’m really proud of.
4. Organisation is still key.
Do you notice a pattern forming with these posts? With so much goodwill from all three of us, it’s a wonder we struggle with this one as much as we sometimes do. My spare time is so scant that I’m writing this on the bus to and from work, so random passengers – not all from our target demographic – are getting a sneak preview of what you’re reading! As my dad says, the important thing is for the blog to remain swan-like: only the bits that can be seen need to appear serene and in control; no one has to know that we’re actually paddling furiously, out of sight…
5. Patience is a virtue.
It’s important not to lose sight of the big picture, but I’m conscious that we can’t conquer the blogosphere in three months flat, however hard we push. It’s difficult to know whether to pace ourselves and let time create its own momentum or whether to ‘lean in’ firmly from the get-go. Tips for building an audience is definitely something we’d love to hear about from other bloggers out there.
How was the third month of blogging for you? What tips do you have for developing your blog?