Why don't I blog?
August 9, 2010 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Everybody's doing it (perhaps by many people who shouldn't?). It would be good for my reputation in a number of my fields to maintain a subject-specific blog (photography, coding, food, etc), but nothing ever occurs to me to be especially "bloggable". This might be due to the fact that I'm acutely aware of how many true experts there are on these topics, and I feel I have nothing original to contribute.

I'm moving to China next year, and many people have asked me to blog so that they can share the experience with me. I'm quite wary of this idea, due to what I view as my lack of blogging instinct, and being out of practice when it comes to writing.

Should I attempt it? How can i structure it to avoid feeling like I'm just another pathetic blogger with 3 readers and nothing original to contribute to the world? What standards should I hold myself to? Or am I better off not subjecting myself to the crisis of self-esteem I know I'll encounter if I try it?
posted by joshwa to Human Relations (17 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
No, you shouldn't do it. Do something you'll enjoy instead.
posted by grouse at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2010

Merlin Mann's classic "How to Blog" might be a useful read.
posted by Zozo at 10:29 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sounds like Twitter might be a good solution if you don't feel you have the chops for full-on blogging and all you really want to do is keep your friends updated on what you're up to.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:30 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Or posting photos to Flickr.
posted by grouse at 10:34 AM on August 9, 2010

You could do a photo blog -- many people I know do "one photo every day" that they upload somewhere (usually Flickr or Picasa), and write a little bit about what's in the photo and/or what they did that day. That could be a great way to share your experience of China with people, without having to commit to a full-on online journal.
posted by shamash at 10:41 AM on August 9, 2010

Think about finding something really outrageous/ridiculous in China to blog about. There's probably already hundreds of people that blog on daily china life, or china as a foreigner, or teaching English in China, or something equally mundane.
posted by soss at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2010

First of all, blogging can and should be fun for you above all; it's not a life or death race.

And I guarantee you that you have something original to contribute, because you are the only you. And just imagine, if even just one other human being gets value out of something you write, then it's all worth it.

Finally, inspiration is the key when it comes to writing. If you have to force it, what the point? It might work, it might be passable, but most likely it will be crap. If you write about something that excites you and you have fun while doing it, that will come across, and other people will enjoy it as well.
posted by Theloupgarou at 10:46 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

many people have asked me to blog

pathetic blogger with 3 readers

??? You lost me. Just put yourself out there, don't agonize about how many readers you have. The ones who are genuinely interested in your China experience will read the blog; the others won't. Let your readers ask questions; that will guide your choice of topics.
posted by desjardins at 11:04 AM on August 9, 2010

If you do start a blog, please make it about your personal experience rather than the 'wacky things one sees in China'. Don't try to be witty or funny just to make your blog more attractive, if that's not who you are.

I have a good friend who started a blog intended to be humorous. She obviously puts a lot of effort into it but the result is just a dull series of cliches, and I cringe each time she posts a new entry.

I second the idea of a photo blog if you aren't comfortable writing.
posted by Dragonness at 11:35 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There are a lot of different things out there that fall under the topic "blog", and the question you're asking and the answers you're receiving are crossing all around that space.

Are the people asking you to start a blog wanting your professional opinion about something? Does the idea of a photo-blog sound stressful because you're a photographer and you'd have to do it right, or fun and easy? Are your friends asking you to start a blog as a "keeping in touch" tool while you're abroad because they know you won't be emailing them? Do you find the idea of a specific daily commitment (photo-a-day, review-a-week, etc) to be a major challenge, a comfortable routine, or a fast-trip to boringville? Do you want to talk about you or about stuff?

Find some aspect of things that are "blog-like" that you like, can relate to, and feel like putting in the effort for.
posted by aimedwander at 11:45 AM on August 9, 2010

I keep a blog as a way to keep track of my thoughts and stay in touch with family. I used to assume that no one read it, until I started getting email (I don't bother with commenting) from people who read about my motorcycle, or my trip to Central America, or one of the local clubs I'd visited, asking for more information.

I doubt that anyone on earth has my blog bookmarked, but apparently some people have found it useful, and in fact the articles (I tend to publish multi-page articles once a month or so, rather than short, Twitter-style posts) that have gotten the most feedback are the ones I would have thought were the least interesting.

So blog if it's something that will be useful/enjoyable to YOU. If others find interest in it, great. If not, you've still created a log of an important and interesting time in your life.

Also, I think the photoblog idea is a great one.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:45 AM on August 9, 2010

Best answer: Should I attempt it? How can i structure it to avoid feeling like I'm just another pathetic blogger with 3 readers and nothing original to contribute to the world?

When I write long email letters to my friends across the country am I a pathetic blogger with ONE reader?

Write or don't as you see fit. If you don't think you'll get something out of it then you shouldn't do it.


You have friends who are excited for your adventure and want to hear about it, or at least claim they do. If you are anxious about sharing with the whole world then maybe just set up an email distribution list. Or if you don't want to share then don't.

But I have to say personally, getting (highly reluctantly) sucked into the blogging world was one of the better choices I have ever made. It's improved my writing by virtue of making me write more and it's introduced me to people and things I wouldn't have otherwise encountered.

Just do what I had to do - get over the silly name. It's communicating, period. It fills a niche that would have at one time been met with pamphleteering or a party line telephone or maybe the soda fountain counter. Like those things and all the other communications mechanisms you can opt to make it as structured or free-form as you like.
posted by phearlez at 11:52 AM on August 9, 2010

Think of it this way: don't try to be a journalist, be a diarist. Talk about your feelings and experiences, not some kind of historical perspective travel guide thing.
posted by amtho at 1:01 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

What seems to excite people when I do it, and is the hallmark of the most useful blogs to me, is synthesis. Eg lay-expertise in this area, lay-expertise in that area, pro experience in this other area, and already you are in a position that few others are, to connect the dots acorss fields and tell us where things are going. You can see things that the true experts can't, because their expertise is focused.

Then break it down so it makes sense to someone with no expertise in any of that. Make it exhilarating :)

Don't feel you must find a topic to do that every week, it's not a newspaper column on a salary, you should pick quality over quantity. Let things percolate until you have something worth your time to write about.
And... keeping an eye out for these things makes you notice things you otherwise wouldn't, you process them with more thought, you become more curious and research aspects of them you don't know enough about. In other words, the process can be helpful and stimulating for your own ends too.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:33 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

You are right in that most people who blog really don't have much to say.

If you want to write about and share your experiences in China with a few friends and familiy members, you can easily use blogging software and set up password protection. No one will see it f you don't give them the password.

But, honestly, the chances that you will embarrass yourself by posting to a publicly accessible blog are infinitesimal. A million blogs exits. Sure, Google will index them all, but it isn't like you're gonna be the only blog on the block.
posted by justcorbly at 4:25 PM on August 9, 2010

Think of your blog as letters to your friends, including some friends you haven't met yet.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:51 PM on August 9, 2010

Then don't "blog". Write articles. Maintain a chronological index of them if you like.

Don't feel bad about having short articles in the mix or those of a niche interest.

Can you talk about specific situations that you see come up in your line of work but abstract it a bit? How about an index of articles and experts that you feel are reputable about a given topic?

For the China trip, maybe that should be chronological, maybe topical. Maybe write a big article summing up your experiences at the end. Regardless, I would write something when something interesting happens, and not worry about it when it doesn't.
posted by vsync at 6:15 PM on August 9, 2010

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