Monday, March 19, 2007

How To Blog

When writing a blog you have three choices of topics, as I see it. The first option is to write a blog about something specific. This might be the option if you're a respected professional or talented writer. For example, if you're an engineer who designs cars you might blog about new car designs and features, etc. You'd be a professional, writing on your expertise. Or you may just be a very good writer who's works people like to read for the pure aesthetic pleasure of it.

If you do this then the number of readers will be important. You don't want to take time out everyday to write for seven readers. You want lots of readers. You want to be an A-List blogger.

The other option you have is to not write on a specific topic. This could be a personal blog, telling the world that your fish died today, and how you feel about that. You may write about a variety of light topics that interest you, like books you read and music you listen to. In this case, the number of readers aren't as important. You're probably writing so your friends and family all over the world can keep up with your life. In fact, you probably don't want millions of people all over the world reading your blog.

The third option is a combination of the first two options. This is if you're not a particularly talented writer, nor are you an expert in any field. You write about things in which you have an interest, but are essentially a lay person, mixed in with a few notes about your fish's untimely death. (Speaking of dead, Edgar still is.) If this is your blog you would probably like to have millions of people read your opinions, but you won't loose any sleep over it if only your friends and family read it.

This blog is mostly the third option with a small dose of the first option. At first it was about Life with the McQueens, but those stories ran short. Then I found I really enjoyed writing the blog. After reading over some of my old posts I have found writing the blog to be very therapeutic.

The problem I face is that, besides showcasing some of my "art work", I like to write about things that interest me. This is a problem on two counts. Firstly, one of the things that interests me is also my profession. I am a computer guy. I am a computer guy because it interests me. After two diplomas, a degree, and six years of industry experience I partially fit into the "expert professional" definition. (Professional: yes. Expert: not really. Long ways to go.) If I wrote solely about it I may actually gain readership (probably not), but I'd loose all but one or two of my current readers. This is pointed out by a certain commenter who recently suggested I find a girl and pretend we're married (and apparently write about that. I somehow doubt finding a girl would mitigate my interest in computer stuff, or cause a career change, so I'm not sure why I would stop writing about it.) Of course, if I went the route of making this just another technology blog then I'm competing with countless other blogs doing the exact same thing. And, besides Coffee Cup Art, I don't know what I could offer that the other blogs don't offer.

Secondly, if I write about something that interests me that I don't come close to being an expert in I risk coming off looking like a know-nothing-know-it-all. For example, one of my interests is psychology. I read Psychology Today almost every day. I've read a number of books in this area. I took Intro to Psychology 1 and 2 in university, and am currently subscribed to Berkeley's Social Psychology class. (The class is recorded and posted on iTunes as a podcast.) I also read a few psychology blogs. Okay, so I probably know more than the average person, right? Probably, but one of my readers has an Hon. B.Sc. degree in Psychology. So if I write a blog about Cognitive Dissonance, for example, he's liable to write a comment telling the world how full of baloney I am and that I should stick to writing about web browsers. Or worse, he could read my blog, think that, and not post the comment saying as much, thus allowing me to continue on in my ignorance.

(BTW: That will not deter me from writing about it. I'm just saying that I'm not a really credible source on that topic. At least not compared to someone with a degree in that area.)

The second option isn't a great one, because typically my life isn't too exciting. I go to work, I go home, I go to church, and I write my blog. Not much to write about, except when the McQueen's car breaks down. Even if my life was more exciting, I doubt too many people would be that interested anyway.

The third option would leave the blog interesting to a wider audience. That's sort of what I do now. Scott Adams has a philosophy when it comes to creating his Dilbert cartoons. He says that there are different types of senses of humor that he appeals to. Some people find things funny just because they are funny. Others need familiar things. (These people like Baby Blues. I can't for the life of me find that comic funny. My parents tell me when I become a parent I'll find it funny.) Some Dilbert readers like the office scenes. Others like the Dogbert ones, or Wally, or Ratbert. Scott Adams figures as long as he reaches each group that finds Dilbert funny at least 20% of the time then he can hold onto a wide audience. And it's hard to argue
with his success.

So, this blog will probably continue as it is for the foreseeable future.

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