05 Apr

Blog content, a brief look at the new direction this blog is going

You can blame Cory Doctorow.

Back in 2008, at Tools of Change, I was wondering whether a personal blog with a high rate of fire was even feasible anymore. Whether slow, deep content was not better. I felt the window of opportunity had passed, and that people had fetched up in the readership piles for the existing high speed blogs that pointed out links of interest.

I was also burning out, at that point, from dealing with commenters and drama. My own health had me pulling back.

I was living less in public, putting less of myself out there, and hardening my shell and hunkering down.

It was in part self protection. I didn’t perceive talking about my health issues in public to be a good thing (some can do it, I get negative, mopey, and I didn’t want to just bring people down). I was angry, frustrated, losing the momentum of my career. People were treating me differently. It was a tough road all around.

I also had less energy.

Cory pushed back at me, pointing out that it’s a big world. There’s room for all sort of interesting stuff. Both occasional blogs that are long and thoughtful, or high output snippet styled ones. There’s no one way.

He was right, I think.

One thing that happened was that a lot of short link-oriented blogging moved to twitter and tumblr and Facebook. The formal blog began to be a place reserved for longer pieces.

But as I mentioned as I redesigned this site, I think keeping my blog as the center of my social spiderweb is something I needed to return to. For control, for one.

You’ve probably already noticed the result these last few weeks. Short snippets and quotes, all tagged and then sorted into a series of categories.

While the tags I use are to help me find stories later, or to let readers run down other related stories, the categories help me figure out what the different things I was doing with this blog were, and helped me visualize the various streams that made up the potential torrent.

They are:

Brain Salad. Previously links to things I would have previously linked on twitter, but now with a nice quote of meat of the article that I found interesting. This is the core of what I used to think wasn’t useful on blogs, but five of my favorite blogs are set up to mostly be Brain Salad. I’ve come around to enjoying posting and linking these quickly as I spot them, not worrying about trying to dive deep into them but share them, tag them, and put them out there.

Writing. I’d slowed down on pointing out writing related stuff, as I was trying to focus on the futurist-related stuff I found interesting. But I am a writer, and the industry and craft still interest me. Why should I hold back? There is something of a narrowing of your audience if you only talk about writing (you start to reach mainly people who want to be writers and other writers, limiting potential), but as one stream in the big thing, I can certainly roll with it.

Life Log. Again, I was relying on Facebook and Twitter for too much of this, and am moving it back to the blog. Pictures of life as I experience it, random anecdotes of things that happened to me. Daddy blogging. I realized that I was struggling to easily find some of the things I was tweeting about my kids and life, that they were getting lost to social media.

Dig Deeper. Longer form blog posts, more along the lines of what I had been trying to focus on doing for the blog. Dig deeper now tends to be a secondary category added to the above.

Announcements. Telling you all about my works of fiction and big deals. Tagging this as a category lets me display it on a sidebar, and let me display it as needed.

The blog had previously been moving toward just Dig Deeper and Announcements, and certainly withering. Turning off comments helped me jump off into writing whatever I wanted, and increased my blogging.

Thinking about the blog in terms of its core components, and categorizing them as such, let me figure out how to turn it into something much more dynamic. I’d been using categories more like I needed to use tags, but breaking it down into these five core concepts help me understand what it was I really wanted to do.

I’m not sure where it will lead, but I’ve certainly been having a lot of fun. Early indications are that traffic is certainly picking up (one way to see if it is going well) and the other is that people who told me increased blogging on my part would probably turn them away have emailed to say that, actually, hey, they’re enjoying the Brain Salad pieces a ton after all!

Cory talks about putting being dandelions and tossing seeds out into the wind, and I think doing it here via the blog, then feeding that out to wherever, lets me do that more effectively.