Wednesday, January 18, 2006

How to Write Blog Posts with Authenticity


How to write blog posts with authenticity

... is not a simple as it may seem.

You really need to know what you're doing, and what you want to accomplish, *long before* you write that first post.

I think it's acceptable to start a new blog with a placeholder post, a welcome message, or a brief introductory remark, then let the blog just sit there while you ponder, think deeply and clearly, about it. Why? Because we often have to actually see something before we get a sense of direction for it. Prototypes, mock-ups, etc.

Never start a blog just to "have my own blog!"

That's like buying a bulldozer, helicopter, or chain saw, just for the bragging rights, just so you can boast about the mere possession of it, like some consumer zombie. Have some plan, some goal for your blog first.

Now, after deciding what the purpose of your blog is, you may now proceed to writing the First Post.

In your First Blog Post, like I said, you may wish to greet your potential, currently non-existing audience, and explain a tiny bit about who you are (though the whole spiel should be in an About Me/Us page linked to from main index home page.).

Or...you may be so passionate (Blog Core Value #2) about something, you want to jump right in and start blabbering about your Golden Pre-Destined Topic.

Good. Then let's go. Let's start writing some killer, kick-ass blog posts that will make you the next Jason Calacanis, who recently sold his Weblogsinc. empire to Time-Warner was it? for $25 million?

Financial details bore me. My wife's an accountant, I let her bother her head about monetary details whilst I dream up Blogosphere 4.0 filled with New Super Multi-Media Multi-Functional Multi-phonic Blogs of the Future.


How to Write Blog Posts
with Authenticity


(1) Write with your blog's purpose in mind, almost obsessively.

Always ask yourself first, "Why am I going to write this? To help my readers do or understand something." If you answer in this way, your blog will be a fine addition to the blogosphere.

Be sure to write your blog posts from a focused point of view, your aggressive stance that defines who you and your blog are. You will merge with your blog and become one digital flesh with it, until you ARE your blog, and your blog IS you. I used to proclaim the opposite, and advise some distance. No longer.

(2) Write with a Single Overall Message in mind.

You ARE your blog, and your blog IS you. You have not stupidly, lazily hired a ghost to write your blog for you. You really are the you who is presented, with your real name, within your blog. (Anonymous bloggers are primarily legit only in political repression environments.)

Therefore...

Your blog posts should be written to keep reinforcing one major aspect of Who You Are.

A unitary communication, spiced up with some interesting side paths, to add variety and eccentricity to your blog, making it more memorable, as many fine blogologists like to advise, is the best way to blog.

Your single unified message might be, "I'm funny and smart" or "gardening is an astonishing hobby when you intimately understand the interactions of plants, birds, and insects" if you have a personal or hobby blog.

Your mono-maniacal message might be, "You can learn tons from my blogology expertise and experience" or "you could make really cool music if you had our brand softsynth " if you're a blog consultant or manufacturer of music synthesizer software.

Vaspers the Grate, for example, always presents Me, Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate (a nickname, "also known as") as a stern, strict, eagle-eyed, self-lionizing, easily offended blogologist who rants against problems that many bloggers Aren't Even Aware Of....yet.

Vaspers the Grate focuses on Web Site Usability Analysis-in-Action...and...in particular--What's Wrong in the Blogosphere and How to Fix It or Get Rid Of It.

My secondary focus is on music, philosophy, metaphysics, humor, art, rebellion, democracy, freedom of speech and association, etc.

Use a mono-visual clarity by which, like the MSM, you honor the MSM by emulating the one thing they do right: hammer home a single message.

This is not brainwashing or submission, it is ferocious vision! Passion! You force yourself, as a blogger, to be freaked out flipped out dead serious and super mega enthusiastic about whatever it is that drives your innermost dreams and your every waking thought.

(3) Introduce side topics sometimes.

I daydream often about my blog's progress in spurring on the bettering of the blogosphere.

Thus, this is what I blog about. I also like music, electronic violent noise and soft punk folk music, so I write a few posts about that just to delight my musical readers.

Notice how Oprah switches from silly make-over skits to deep universal human problems, back and forth, in sensitive rhythm that is beautiful to behold. Oh, and highly lucrative, too, for all you money-grubbers out there.

Side topics increase your readers' understanding of you as an infinitized entity: you are many yous, and the biggest you within you is what does the blogging, or should.

Once in a while that Biggest You Within You, the One Who Actually is Your Blog "Voice", that personality cluster inside your Stable Self, that Biggest You sometimes feels sorry for the other, miniscule Yous, and will allow one of them to speak up and out, on the blog.

But the "blogger" in you must be your deepest, most authentic "you". Authenticity is Blog Core Value #1 in the hallowed list of the Great 9 Core Values of Blogging. Yes, this is a "Blog Like Me Manifesto" for all the hostile whining underachievers out there to sneer at and run away from, and they will.

(4) Keep best practices of blogological insight in mind as you write.

Hostile whining underachievers who balk at and mock all blogological values and principles are simply hateful of all authority, including such guides as Sanity, Ethics, Reason, Logic, Rhetoric, Semiotics, Psychoanalysis, Metaphysics, and Philosophy.

Why would anyone ever oppose any of these noble iconoclastic guides and left-leaning ladders to truth?

Like spoiled, pampered, tantrum-throwing brats, they don't want any rules or guidelines for anything. Unlike intellectual anarchists, these are simply wild brutes, untame animals, wallowing in chaos and unvarnished instinct.

(5) Be generous in giving away free advice.

Be liberal, not conservative.

I mean: spill it forth, sister. Empty the bag o' beans, mister.

Reveal your deepest truths, the most helpful insights you've had, the most instructive experiences, what drives your dreams and triumphs over your nightmares, the Real You and the best thoughts and opinions you can possibly generate.

Write what you know and freely share it all. Lavishly display all your good advice, funniest anecdotes, sharp observations, theoretical systems, new discoveries, and pure talent.

I'm thinking of either selling my Secrets of the Blogging Pros book as a paid download PDF file, or offering it entirely without charge as a free download PDF file. I haven't decided yet. I have had some talk about my book with a few major publishers, but electronic self-publishing is a viable option too, as my friend and mentor Debbie Weil recently pointed out to me.

Keep learning, keep reading good books and blogs, stop wasting so horribly freaking much time on computer games or television, get serious about your quality of blogging.

Become an expert, one insight at a time. You'd be shocked at how quickly one can master certain aspects of any profession. Take something farther than anyone else has even dreamed of or considered possible.

[I myself have enthusiastically chosen Deep Blogology and Web User Observation Testing as my specific expertise, with a minor in Computer Music and Digital Audio Recording.]

Write often, write authoritatively, write excitedly, plainly and plentifully...

(6) Write in your own unique style and manner.

...but don't write it like anybody else would.

Learn from role models, but twist and distort their good points into your own mutated individualized thing.

Spend some time reading other blogs, especially high-traffic blogs, or highly respected blogs, to discover the various styles of blog writing.

You may like the rich, timely content of a Boing Boing, but prefer the writing style of a Doc Searls. Or you may be fond of the personality of one blogger, but prefer the abundant practical information and topic choices of another blogger.

Seth Godin's blog is different from Robot Wisdom, which is more a link log, a diary of web discoveries recommended by Jorn Barger.

Instapundit is different from Dean's World or Scrappleface or Tech Central Station.

Micropersuasion is quite different from Gaping Void, while Tinbasher is distinctly other than Finslippy. Ensight is not Crossroads Dispatches which is dissimilar to Lipsticking. While blogs may share certain characteristics, each one should strive to be Unique, offering something Special and Rare.

You might visit some blogs for the writing style, while other blogs hook you because of the fantastic information. Combine awesome writing style with reliable, hard-to-find, problem-solving information...and you'll have a killer blog.

Write like you talk, with a little more finesse, due to your ability to edit. Talk about what? What your readers want to hear...and what you're crazy in love with...but try to correct typos, and always test your hyper-text links embedded in the text, make sure you typed the URLs correctly by clicking on them after publishing the new post. Check each link.

I even edit *after* I publish a post. My readers point out logic errors, typos, and inconsistencies in my posts. I respond and make corrections or offer explanations. I want each post to be a perfect little essay.

Why? I'm a perfectionist, as are most bloggers. The label "blogger" is a badge of honor, and a high percentage of new blogs, over 25% by some reports, are soon abandoned. So, being a seasoned blog veteran is an accomplishment.

(7) Secret Blog Writing Tip:
read classic literature diaries!


Now, a secret of blogging shall be revealed:

Read a Prehistoric Blog, I mean an old autobiography, or book of collected letters, memoirs, or axioms by a famous genius of the past. Even better, a journal or diary by some artist, author, actress, philosopher, poet, CEO, inventor, scientist, revolutionary, or working person.

I'm reading Naked Conversations, some Freud ("New Introductory Lectures"), and Hugo Ball's Dada Diary, entitled Flight Out of Time, edited by John Elderfield (University of California Press, 1996).

Hugo Ball is a metaphysician artist who invented or spearheaded the Dada art movement, along with Tristan Tzara and others.

Their agenda was to overthrow [Western-biased] Reason and [political, aesthetic] Conformity, and return to [artistic] Mysticism and Bizarre Subconscious Art, representing life in new and sometimes hideously strange forms. Juxtaposition was king in their topsy turvy universe of Dada. The word itself is taken to mean "non-sense".

But the "blog" entries, the paragraphs in this "pre-blog diary" are remarkably cogent and clear, and would make very interesting blog posts.

Other Issues regarding Authenticity

I know of some who have transformed actual books, like Dracula by Bram Stoker, into a blog, making each chapter, or dated entry, a separate post.

Is it ethical to take a long gone author's diary and reformat it into a series of blog posts? I love the idea, I champion it, but I do question the legalities involved, so I cheer it with reservations, so to speak.

Ghost blogging is not authentic, thus is pseudo-bloggery. Fictional character blogs and team blogs are also of dubious credibility. While group blogs persist and sometimes succeed, be careful with whom you associate. Make sure you have a fairly good consensus on core values and best practices of blogging and your field of work.

You will not find any post anywhere that is quite like this one.

This text in this post is pretty similar to how I would ad lib during a podcast interview, or a television interview. Unlike a church preacher, I would have no notes, aside from URLs to posts or blogs, that I might want to specify accurately.

A good blogger should feel at ease in any communication situation. You should be fully accustomed to fast thinking, fast joking, fast blogocombat, fast writing, fast reacting.

This post you're in right now is also a feeble, but clear demonstration of Individualism (Blog Core Value #5) and Creativity (Blog Core Value #6) and Relevance (Blog Core Value #8). See my BCV blog for more details.

Now, with these tips in mind, go write one monster of a blog post. Then post a comment here, so we can all read it and be astonished.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate

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