John’s Email on Blog Etiquette

Background: My brother-in-law John was responsible for getting BeerCat Brewing it’s own website, without the annoying wordpress behind it, and is my go to for advice on how best to do things on this blog.

Me being me, I wrote him an email and asked: “Just a quick question on blog etiquette- if there are a few things I want to post on a given day that fall into different categories (i.e. one on brewing, one on LB), do I post multiple posts? Or should I just do one long one? Not that it matters – I don’t really know that I have any followers, nor do I know how to get them – but if I ever make it big, I would like to not be totally gauche.

And this was John’s (totally characteristic) reply:

This is the last email? That would be sad, then I’d never hear from you.

Blogging etiquette. Hrm. Worries about being gauche? Hrm.

This is one place where I don’t think etiquette is well placed. Perhaps there are some “best practices,” but even that you can’t really get into– at least not yet. I’ve been through this fire before. I actually used to have only one blog, and broke it up into two because I was worried that people who read my personal stuff wouldn’t want to read my programming stuff. Turns out I was wrong- but I kept them as two because it actually fit ME better.

Anyway, I’ve learned some things from blogging for so long though, and the most important of them– in fact, the only important one– is this:

This is your house.

There is really no “should I write shorter” or “should I write longer” or “should I make this another post” if all of the should is really should I do it for someone else. You are in your house, and if people don’t like the way you put your dishes away, they can damn well leave.

I don’t say this because you want people to leave, but because if you don’t do it this way, people will leave. Why? Because you are not writing for yourself, and if you only write for me then you’re writing is going to become a weird and boring reflection of what you think I want to read.

And you will be wrong, because you’ll never guess what I want to read.

If I’ve come there, then what I want to read is not your perception of what you think I want to read. I’ve come to your house, I want to read you.

So, if you do nothing else, do this: Be true to yourself.

If you do that, then all the questions about “is it okay to switch topics in one post” go away, because you will switch topics when it is true to what you want to write, and write two different topics when that is true.

I mean, come on. You’re not famous, Kristen. You may not even be particularly interesting, or particularly funny. No-one is going to go to your blog because “it’s the place to be.” They’re not going for the “standard mix of writing on the juxtaposition of raising a baby and home brewing,” because there isn’t one.

They are coming there for a better reason: Because it’s you. That’s a remarkably powerful reason. Do not de-value that. If you write as you, I’ll read it. If you write as you trying to be me, it’ll bore me to tears.

So, blog etiquette? It’s your house.

That said, it might be easier for people to read things in smaller chunks. I know people who limit themselves to 400 words or so. I think that’s crazy myself… can’t do that. I tend to write these ridiculous 1200-1500 word epic sagas and even still need to break it up into parts. I could pare those down. But you don’t really know what people want, and you can’t guess. I write 1200 words because I like reading 1200 words (well, that, and because I’m a loquacious son of a bitch. Shit, look at this email!) and so like it when others do. Many people don’t. They might skim, or not read. Who knows?

You certainly can’t. All you can do is write. But I’ll tell you, the more you write, the more you figure out what your flow is, the better you become as a writer. And that’s all that matters. The rest follows.

That’s probably more than you ever wanted from “should I use categories,” but it’s a subject I’ve thought long on. Find what’s write for you [pun] and flow.

Love you. Glad to have you in my RSS reader 🙂

-J

One thought on “John’s Email on Blog Etiquette

  1. Geez Louise! You posted that entire freakin thing! People don’t want to read stupidly long, ridiculously pedantic diatribes on what some wannabe thinks he knows about life!! Write more stuff about fat babies!!

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