A post emerged on Lesley's Blog earlier today which has precipitated another post by me about this fool's art of ours - blogging. In hers she bewailed the lack of space and time in her life, that among the other needs of her existence, her blogging was suffering. It is a common problem (well, it isn't at all, only nutters like me and her blog so fortunately it is a very rare problem indeed, but anyway ...)
If you are thinking about starting a blog, I shall now pour my wisdom down into this post so that ye may see and learn ye the arte of ye blogger.
1. What to call your blog. Now, you can be canny or dull. They will have forgive me for so saying but 'RevXXXs Blog' is pants (no comment about BpXXXs Blog, of course) - be creative, and for my part, be honest - be you. You will work over this issue for hours, trust me.
2. Your first post - you won't know what or why you are writing. You have no audience, no readers, no followers (you will learn that there is a distinction to be made between the two). So you will write some inane apologetic drivel (I can speak only for myself, not you dear reader) and either delete it immediately and get back to Coronation Street, or press 'Publish' and wince as you realise that you might have done something really silly.
3. Your first feedback - one day (and it will happen, however good or pants you are) someone will confess that they have read your blog. Loverly! They will not be the person you had expected and if you are like me and write some dodgy stuff, having such a reader who is a nice respectable old lady is alarming. You will learn to cope with that. Eventually, you will earn a follower - a member of that Confraternity Of Blog Followers who many years ago were denied the right to vote or eat with sharp objects. They live in the dark hours and feed on Blog material. I am also given to understand that they glow in the dark, but attract them you will.
4. Your first Comment - more often than not from some anonymous sort who wants to offer advise! You learn quickly to moderate comments not not let them emerge freely. We love comments, good or ill - it tells us that what we are writing is being read and has engaged someone somewhere - QED the blog is justified.
5. Counters and Rankings - eventually, in most cases, the blogger succumbs to the inner itch of wanting to know how many people read the thing at all. Google Analytics, Feedjit, Wikio, Technorati - all become sites you hastily join and add their widgets (toys, just toys) to your site. I guarantee you, before you have fed the kids, emptied your bladder or even turned on the kettle the next morning, you are looking at your Stats screen, and will probably be delighted by the numbers. Wow - eight people read me. You are now a Delinquent Blogger.
6. Frequency - oh yes, Delinquent Blogger, you will soon become addicted. Charts will show upward trends and you will soon learn that if you post a dozen times a day (you will even resort to banging out the odd You Tube clip to make up numbers) you get lots more hits. In an effort to resist the urge to dribble like a fool, you will take to caffiene and murmer gently to yourselves.
7. Holidays - the time will come when you will need to prize yourself away from your hard-won audience. Quelle domage! Resist the urge to feel like you are letting people down by not blogging. The Glowing Followers have sixty or seventy Blogs apiece upon which to feed, and will be there when you get back. Take a break, you have not let them down. Never ever ever be tempted to take wireless GPRS enabled gismos away on holiday - you will blog your holiday and that just isn't cool (unless it is a working trip to Jerusalem, in which case it is an act of charity and kindness - of course).
The thing is this - for anyone other than a paid professional blogging journalist, this is just a hobby. We all fall into the trap of thinking that our thoughts and words are needed, that we have a duty to blog, a right even. After God, family, work/ministry, prayer, self, sleep, coffee, toilets stops, oven cleaning, drain unblocking, nose picking, bum scratching and belching the alphabet - only then is blogging on the list of things we must do in a day. Dear friend, the minute it rises up that list is the moment to stop and take a break.
I will be soon opening the world's first Clinic for Blogging Addiction - don't let me see you in there, as the prognosis is poor, and you will find yourself surrounded by grey-skinned, stooping bulge-eyed Gollom lookalikes - all of whom have assumed the physical appearance of The Delinquent daylight starved Blogger!
...perhaps it's just me then