Questions Bloggers Ask Themselves

In Paragraph City, everybody wants to be a blogger. Paparazzi stalk them. Joan Rivers interviews them on a red carpet before the Hot Spot Coffee Shop. And the best seller in the Borders’ window is Blogging for Idiots, which raises ten essential questions all wannabe bloggers should ask themselves. Here is the list (and for $29.95 you can get the list autographed by a Paragraph City blogger, if you know the right people):

  1. Why am I writing it, anyway? Fame? A soapbox that strokes my ego? Because I can? Fun? Getting even? Trying to join a community? Born to write?

  2. Should my blog to be anonymous (or pseudonymous) or signed? Anonymous: I can say anything about anyone, vent, wax extreme, or trash talk and suffer few consequences. No one knows if anything I say is true and all posts are at face value. My employer can’t fire me and my angry public can’t send me hate mail. Signed: My identity and credentials can add polish to what I say and I can (must) take credit for what I write. I’m more credible and my words weigh more. The blog exists in the real world. By the way, a July 2006 Pew Trust survey found over half of all bloggers post under a pseudonym (see http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/186/report_display.asp )

  3. Who am I writing for? Just myself is one possibility, and whoever else I write for, the essential “I” is always present. But who do I imagine reading my blog? Friends who know me? Strangers like me in age, gender, profession, interests? People who want to know what I know? Believers who rant my rant? Decide this and write to them.

  4. Regardless of who I want to write for, realistically, who will be reading my blog and do I have any control over that? I can try to keep it secret from group A (say, my in-laws) and promote it to group B (say, the cool young gents in my dorm), but promoting to a particular group can be tough and eventually those people who aren’t supposed to read it will.

  5. How much personal information do I include? If the blog is anonymous, anything goes – anything that is except something that would identify me. If I have my name on the blog, I’m more responsible. I don’t write anything I wouldn’t say in the coffee shop, and for civility’s sake, I like that guideline either way.

  6. Do I want to encourage comments back at me? If so, I write opinions or problems and ask for feedback, suggestions, solutions. I create situations that provoke reactions. Of course, this only works if I know who my audience is.

  7. How much do I promote my blog and where? What groups do I join and what discussions do I comment on and where do I leave links to my blog in order to wind up with the readers I want to write to?

  8. How often do I update it? According to that Pew Trust survey, the typical blogger spend one to two hours a week blogging, and 25% post once or twice a week. Post too often and you bury your reader (and burn out yourself). Not often enough and the reader never establishes the habit of reading you.

  9. What do I write about? Turning again to Pew, the typical blogger writes about personal experiences or writes creatively.

Have any questions to add? I’ve been designing a course that studies journals, diaries and blogs. The course will discuss their differences and that first-person, creative non-fiction thing that connects them. I will write more on this later; any suggestions are gratefully received.

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