Friday, March 1, 2013

Blogging 101

I was both surprised and more than a bit nonplussed to receive in the past few weeks more than a few e-mails from readers of this blog asking for some advice and pointers on how to start their own blogs or improve the blogs they have already started.  These requests while flattering to say the least have also forced me to reexamine and reflect once more on the reason or reasons why I continue to blog after more than six years and almost 360 published posts.

If someone wants to start a blog and has dreams of finding the right mix of design, subject matter and content that would boost readership and page views, a magic combination that would make that blog immensely popular online for the ultimate purpose, say, of eventually monetizing it then I am probably the last person to seek advice from.  There are plenty of examples of such well known and commercially successful blogs to be found in the blogosphere that a neophyte blogger can seek and get guidance and inspiration from.

The truth is I blog for the plain and selfish reason that I find personal fulfillment in doing it.  My blog posts all trace their origins from events and situations in my daily life that provoke in me a great emotional response or some degree of intellectual interest and fascination. The motivation for this particular blog remains the same as when I started it in 2006 - to chronicle to the best of my abilities the unique qualities, peculiarities and eccentricities of life here in Lianga and what life, at least in my own personal view, is really like in this little corner of the world.

As a blog, "A Lianga Diary" is really a throwback to the days of the classic weblogs when the internet was young, essentially online diaries or journals that attempt to record the life experiences, thoughts and impressions of an individual writing from his or her own unique perspective and personal circumstances.  That is how it came to be and that is what it will always remain.

The blog posts I write are born out of personal experiences that have drawn from me strong negative emotions like anger, irritation, disgust or exasperation or triggered by the more sublime, more positive and softer emotions of joy, admiration, exhilaration and awe. They are admittedly  in one sense, a selfish exercise, an attempt to help me clarify, crystallize and organize my thoughts and feelings on the many events I have gone through in the course of my day to day life here in Lianga.

The readership by others and the fact that many of these same readers have interacted with the blog are unexpected bonuses that are flattering to the ego and immensely gratifying to me.  But, in truth, I still write primarily for myself, to publish posts that I would have like to read myself if only someone else had started a blog about Lianga and I had not the presumptuousness and audacity, six years ago, to think that I could do it myself and get away with it without being ignored or worse laughed at.

It is obvious  that it helps new bloggers if their blogs are about subjects that they have unique and intimate knowledge about or are about things they have an acute personal or intellectual interest in. Thus they can write and publish posts and articles about these things with authority and passion.  Only when you have a blog about something that you are obsessed about can you do it justice.  The emotion and the commitment will clearly show and be felt in the material you will publish.

If therefore one has the inclination and the will to start a blog and is willing to work hard to keep on writing, updating and maintaining it for the long term then, by God, he or she should go ahead.  A blog, whatever its type or content, for the majority of us who are amateur writers is essentially an act of faith, a trusting leap into the unknown.

Whether in the future it will survive and gain popularity and wide readership is something that can never be known for sure.  The trick is just stick to it and grow with the blog as you strive to make it the best you that you can make it.

Worry not that nobody is reading or even skimming through your site. If you have something to say online then say it the best way you can with all the passion and skill you have at your disposal. It takes time for a well made blog to gain interest and readership.

Write and publish regularly.  The rewards for your hard work and perseverance may take some time to become apparent but when they do, the personal satisfaction they will bring will definitely be sweeter because of all the hard effort and sacrifice you have invested in what will eventually become a sweet obsession and a labor of untiring love. 


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