It’s so easy to start a blog these days; it’s even easier to start one with no direction, or to lose your direction a few months in. This makes continuing the journey infinitely harder, because you have no idea where you’re headed. If you don’t know where you’re going, why would anyone want to join you?
As a newbie blogger, I really wanted to be featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page; in the absence of any other marker of achievement in the Wild Wild Web, that became my goal. If only I were freshly pressed, that would mean I’m good at this writing thing and I have a right to be here on the internet writing it out.
As it happens, I was freshly pressed on Sunday, after almost 2 years, 170ish posts and around 100,000 words of writing on the internet. I gave up wanting to be freshly pressed about this time last year, so to receive the email from the WordPress editors was a surprise, to say the least. It’s kind of like being invited to the high school dance when you’re in second year uni. Nice, but unexpected. I could have done with the encouragement earlier in the piece, thanks guys!
For the 48 hours my post was up on the Freshly Pressed page, blog traffic surged like a massive wave. Watching the ‘like’ counter tick over felt a lot like being a 9 year old who had just finished the last level of Super Mario Brothers. I’d never been to that level before, and while it felt good, afterwards it felt a little anticlimactic. What now? Are we finished the blog game now? Is this my top score?
For the record, I don’t consider myself a good blogger. Good bloggers collect bits and pieces from around the net (whether it be ideas or thoughts or pictures) and build little hot spots of interest that draw people in. A good blogger will cut through the clutter and buzz of the internet and share with you something interesting and unique, and in doing so will capture and hold your attention. A good blogger is not even necessarily a good writer; often writing is just one of many ways to get their message across.
Does good writing even have a place on the internet? Do people read on the internet, or are they just looking for funny cat pictures? And if you are writing on the internet, why write for free when you could possibly a) gain a publishing credit with a reputable publication and b) be paid for your work?
There are limitations to what blogging can do for an emerging writer. It can:
- keep you accountable to write regularly
- enable connections with like-minded people who may share your goal
- enable information sharing within your online community
- allow networking opportunities within your niche industry
- after a period of time, it can showcase your writing folio for prospective editors
- it can also be fun
The pace and size of the internet doesn’t do much to encourage quality writing. In order to be read, we’re told we must post regularly and often in order to build a critical mass. And while this is part of it, I’d say from a writer’s perspective, this is a low priority. Your first priority as an emerging writer must always be in crafting your work. Be better. Don’t show up wearing anything less than your Sunday Best.
The Freshly Pressed post is my writing on its best behaviour. The piece has since been picked up by a major online publication here in Australia, which is what I was hoping for when I wrote it. I’m super proud of it. But the real, lasting win is that this has clarified the muddy waters of blogging for me.
The internet needs good writing and good blogging. The trick is in knowing which you want to be, and aiming for that yardstick from the beginning.
What are your ‘must reads’ on the internet? And what do you think makes them so good?