What a Blog Is [Not] - lmvalle Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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What a Blog Is [Not]

Blogs, to put it concisely, are the ugly ducklings of the writing field. Nobody expected this obsession - making neat electronic journals chronicling our lives or interests for the public to view on the internet - to evolve beyond a passing fancy of hapless nerds and socially inept adolescents and adults. Unfortunately, blogs became a common staple of the internet and now have also evolved into a savvy tool used by a wide spectrum of people, from the average joe to cultural analysts and even major businesses. In fact, businesses with official blogs receive more than half as many visitors than those without blogs on average; hence, more customers. Of course, however, the attention received might not always be as positive.

Blogs can incite controversy in addition to praise and insight, due to their personal nature. They can also entertain, yet they can also misinform. However, I'm not here to argue their philosophical merits so much as outline certain key ideas that I feel encompass the essence of what blogs should not be. Of course however, this isn't a microwavable template you can copy and paste to achieve writing perfection, but some tips and advice which requires much patience, practice, and refinement over time. 

Approach this subject with an open mind and you hopefully will be rewarded; approach it with an entitlement complex and you'll miss out on the finer aspects of what makes writing such an enjoyable experience and fail. Ultimately, I plan to examine a few aspects of successful Blogs and also critique the common mistakes that prevent this. Each of them have varying degrees of importance, depending upon your writing style, so take what you need and leave what you don't.

 

A Blog is not News, but it can be Informative            

 One of the common mistakes of early bloggers involves the habit of posting - or reposting, rather - current events without any input whatsoever. To be frank, if I wanted to read the news I'd visit the respective column of this website. I'm certain countless other readers will agree with that sentiment. Blogs essentially represent the opinions of the author expressed through their particular writing voice; as a result, regurgitated random factoids - no matter how interesting - are the antithesis of blogging.

However, current events can be used as a focus of a blogger's writing, and this technique is used regularly by bloggers to offer their own thoughts on events that may be of interest: take the infamous slew of blogs discussing the ME3 ending controversy, the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney, or more recently, the debate on videogame violence. This can naturally give your blog the edge it needs to entertain as well as engage your readers, as well as excel above other blogs due to the relevance of its subject matter.

It is imperative to note that when your blog focuses on news, it should be reported accurately as well as well-researched. This is key to using news when approaching your blogs effectively, and is naturally a no-brainer that even the best of writers sometimes overlook. Minor mistakes in this case - perhaps the confusion of similar names - will usually be forgiven by your readers, but when the errors are significant - such as claims that have already been discredited but are still being passed on as facts - your credibility will be questioned. Be sure to cite where you've received the information you're offering commentary on.

 

A Blog is not a Forum Post, but it can be a Wealth of Opinion


You've seen this happen several times on the various sites you frequent: someone posts a blog consisting of a scant few sentences asking a general question to the audience. The questions, ranging from asinine to interesting, nonetheless may be intriguing but are ultimately too shallow to constitute a blog. The common symptom of these types of Blog posts is that the subject is incredibly underutilized by the author, who often states an underdeveloped opinion they have and then surrenders the subject to their readers.

I honestly have a love/hate relationship with these kinds of blogs, seeing as they can be a breeding ground for great discussion or a cesspool of flamewars. Nonetheless, most of the time they lack the depth and authorial content to stand alone by themselves. One thing that is important to remember is that blogs can welcome a variety of opinion by addressing a subject that is highly subjective and debatable and offering the audience the chance to offer their own opinions once the writer has expressed theirs. Alternatively, a blog can be collaborative, featuring the opinions of others in addition to that of the writer. Or, a blog can be an assessment of opinion acquired by the author from several participants. Ultimately, blogs are not the questions themselves, but a response to them; blogs can question, but they should in some fashion represent the author's answer to a subject.

 

A Blog is not defined by its Views, but the content therein


Gaining the necessary exposure in the blogging community is an understandably important goal to strive for. If you're promoting something or trying to raise awareness about an important issue, then exposure is often used to measure a blogger's success. From a quantitative approach, the number of views a blogger attains shows that they are in fact reaching an audience, and having a large group of commenters - especially regular visitors to your blog - can instill confidence in a writer and at the very least, assurance that their opinions are appreciated. However, in this discussion on blogging, I aim to view blogging from a qualitative approach, which I think is the best route to take for those who do not blog specifically for a profession or do so primarily as a hobby. That being said, a writer must not base the quality of their writing solely on their hope of a crowd's receptiveness to it.

Nouveau riches in the blogging community will all face a relative drought during the early stages of their craft. There will be blogs of incredibly high quality - including those of some users on this very site - that will receive remarkably few views or few comments, overshadowed by the more popular bloggers of a particular community. Blogging in some communities can become highly competitive as a result. In these environments, it naturally becomes hard for bloggers to distinguish their skill in writing from the attention their writing receives.

However, in a digital community influenced by varying social media, it's important to avoid the mistake of basing their writing's quality on a quantitative rather than qualitative perspective. Successful blogs can be well-written or poorly written (the poorly written ones can in fact attract a lot of attention); well-written blogs, on the other hand, are worthwhile regardless of the attention they receive, and with time, writers will attract a specific audience. Those who blog purely for attention on the other hand, will produce writing that clearly suffers as a result.

The next step to successful blogging then involves honing one's writing to suit the audience they shoot for, as well as being informed of the audience they're marketing to. A blog about Anti-Intellectualism in Fascist regimes might be a fascinating read, but if posted on GIO will appeal to a limited few. Blogs however, with timely - and relevant - subject matter will pique the reader's interest and hopefully grant your writing the attention it deserves.

 

A Blog is NOT above Criticism


Blogging, like most forms of writing -including some forms of journalism -is an inherently personal, as well as public endeavor. We bloggers sometimes invest incredible amounts of time and effort into our blogs, and in other instances, also incorporate significant emotional effort. I'm going to be frank: the blogging community can be surprisingly unpredictable, and in some cases downright cruel. This is especially true for bloggers tackling controversial or polarizing topics.

There will be times where a blog will receive near universal praise and have the usual troll or individual with a dissenting view - often solely for the sake of being a dissenter. Or those infamous moments where blogs will not be received as much as we wished and instead will spark a lot of debate. I'm sure you'll have a couple - nearly every writer does. As I constantly tell those I give advice to: recognize that your audience is not obligated to respond favorably to your blog and that the way you approach varying subjects will present expected and sometimes unexpected consequences. Instead of dismissing them all, take their opinions into consideration and welcome the dialogue. It can only enrich your blogging experience.

However, let's remind ourselves that we each perceive things from a unique perspective, no matter how similar our lives may be. As a result, avoid needless conformity out of a fear of not having an audience that shares your views. Don't be afraid to defend your opinions in your blogs, no matter how unpopular, but do so reasonably and avoid taking the low road - using personal attacks; unfounded and erroneous claims; arrogance; blind fanboyism - when addressing the opinions of those who would disagree with you. After all, one does not have to agree with an opinion to respect it. When taking a position in a blog, be sure to consider opposing views and offer your own response to them. This ultimately won't make your blog completely objective, but it will help to persuade your audience. At best, it informs you and ensures that you are prepared rather than caught off-guard if your blog isn't received as well as you'd like.

 

Conclusion

Thomas Edison is often cited for having worked on hundreds - some say thousands - of prototypes before he and Louis Lattimer created the first U.S. version of the light bulb. Reportedly, in this famous tale, he was interviewed before he succeeded and asked if he felt like a failure for trying so many times. Edison replied rather candidly, that he had simply learned myriad ways not to invent a light bulb. How does this simple anecdote apply to blogging?

The craft of writing is diverse and incredibly complex, especially when individual style, voice, and interest are factored into it. However, all who are acquainted with it can in most cases recognize bad writing through trial and error. In that same fashion, bloggers will learn over time, the habits one should avoid and those we should embrace as we become more successful in developing our craft. These are a mere few opinions of mine, and naturally aren't definitive in any way or form. As you master the trade, I encourage you to allow your own skill and experience to define itself.

 

 

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