I’ve seen responses to Dr Tanya’s (Salted Caramel) Blogging Insights questions many times, but have never been motivated to join in, until today. I hope you don’t mind my jumping in, Tanya.
She asks this week about tips for noobs. Well, I was once one myself, so have some views. Here goes:
Understand the purpose of your blog. Understand the purpose of each post.
When writing, write as though you had no audience. If people enjoy your posts, they’ll interact.
Understand how you define success. If it is by having lots of followers, I suspect you should write for a magazine instead. The blogging medium is unique.
Before you start, think carefully about anonymity. If your identity is known, some subjects are off the table. Plus, in real life, it could be riskier if someone can look you up in the phone book. And, if you ever “come out”, that’s it. No going back.
Perversely, blogging is 90% reading. To gain followers, make friends. To make friends, take the time to read/comment, on their posts. Sensible comments. I have turned off notifications about follows and likes, so I will never know. If you comment on my post, I will notice and will try to respond (including looking at your blog).
If you respond to a prompt, take the trouble to read other people’s responses. You just published the most interesting post ever, so why do you think they didn’t do likewise?
If you do respond, keep your response short. Prompters will say “any length”, but if you have twenty responses to read, are you going to focus on the 1-minute response or the 60-minute response (yes, they exist. That’s two full episodes of Friends)? It’s less important when you’re not answering prompts but it is still good to be aware of length.
For that last one, next time you write a post, look at the word count. In the Block Editor, that’s in the “i” box on the top of the screen. Now, before you publish, go through your post and halve that count. You might not succeed, but do your best -it’ll take 3 or 4 passes even so. As a rule of thumb, 100 words = 1 minute. Before I edited this post, it was just over 500 words. Just before I publish, it was 350ish. I could still do better.
I was kicking this idea around for an SLS prompt, but then decided not to take part in those prompts any more. So I had a few ideas “up the spout” and decided to give them an airing anyway as they are good tunes in their own right. This one was responsible for changing my view of Elton John. It was organised by Dionne Warwick, and the artists on the actual single were listed just as Dionne and Friends. “Friends” included Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Elton John.
Dionne, Gladys and Stevie were already music legends in my book, but I never cared much for Elton’s music. I still don’t, if I’m honest, but this song sold him to me as a human being, something far bigger than just music. To get on board with something like this is the mark of a good man.
This song was originally written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, and originally recorded by Rod Stewart in 1982. However it got far more attention when it was covered by Dionne and Friends in late 1985. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1986, then subsequently topped the year-end chart for 1986. It also topped the charts in Canada and Australia, although only reached #16 in the UK.
Not finished yet. The song won a Grammy for the artists, was voted Song of the Year for the writers, and came in at #75 on Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time.
This song was released as a one-off charity single to help the American Foundation for AIDS Research, for whom it raised more than $3 million (more than $7 million today). The song is pleasant enough, but the cause was significant. I know this is only a song, and that AIDS research was a cause celebre at the time, just one of many good causes… But to see people rallying round to help other people makes me think somehow that the world is spinning in the right direction. We will say the same about COVID, one day. This is That’s What Friends Are For.