Blaugust: Free Ideas Lockbox!

Here we go, fashionably late to Blaugust Reborn 2018.

  • August 1st – August 7th – Topic Brainstorming Week – posts about ideas for topics that the participants can then mine for the rest of the month.

So a fun tip for all the WordPress blogs out there:

You can pull up a random post from way back when, simply by adding /?random to the blog link.

For example, https://whyigame.wordpress.com/?random will likely link you back to one of my rants written during my more prolific days.

This discovery has quite thrown me down the reading rabbit hole as now I’m starting to reread all my old posts (boy, I sure had a lot more ideas in those days) and then running around to someone else’s WordPress blog and sampling some ?random posts of theirs too.

Now there is no excuse for not being able to riff off someone’s else blog posts, because you can rummage in their back bin of history to vehemently disagree with their opinion of seven years ago.

treasurechest

Much like a lockbox, you may end up clicking and opening a bunch of crap first, but persist and you might get lucky and discover an ideas treasure trove that inspires a blog post of your own.

What is old is new once again.

And hey, it’s free and kinda addictive.

Blogger users are, sadly, out of luck on this one. It appears to take a lot more arcane coding beyond my comprehension to do the same thing on Blogspot. But hey, y’all have the best blogroll out there.

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NBI: To Blog or Not to Blog – That is the Question

Breaking News: Grumpy old fart pandering for relinking and pageviews takes controversial stance on starting a new blog in 2014.

He advises: “Don’t. There’s more modern means to start a discussion. And you won’t become famous.”

Sure.

If you want a lively, quick firing, discussion comprising of short sentences – there’s Twitter, Reddit and various forums.

If you want to be famous, try Youtube videos, assuming you have the face, voice and personality for it.

However:

If you want a personal platform to pen your thoughts, express your opinions and practice writing…

… AND produce content that people at work can sneakily read so they aren’t bored out of their minds…

Then

BLOG.

This post was brought to you by the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2014: Decreasing Work Productivity by 8% Annually.

NBI: Figure Out Your Blogging Goal

So you wanna start a blog

…now what?

There’s an intimidating blank white page that could be filled with anything… anything at all.

That, my friends, is a screamingly delicious recipe for writer’s block.

Before you know it, you’ve put the blog post aside for another day, which stretches into another, and then a week goes by, a month… Whoops.

Just as poetry benefits from some constraints on one’s writing, so too can your blog benefit from some restrictions on what or how you write.

The only caveat is not to make it too restrictive either. If you decide you will only post in three verse haiku about one specific game with screenshots to match, well, that’s up to you, but I strongly suspect you’ll get tired of either the format or the game eventually.

Some things I would suggest thinking about:

Blog Focus

The subjects you’d like to write about – one game, a few, many games. Will you be sharing other interests, or primarily just one?

I’ve seen blogs cover things like games and psychology, games and cooking (yum), games and gender issues, etc. and it’s not a bad way to give a unique concept to your blog.

Or you may just want to have the blog be about your unique take on games – in which case, a memorable name and viewpoint may be of some importance. Rest assured that we are all very different, if united in our love of game, and the moment you put words on the page, your voice will be trying to come through.

Post Length

This is just a rough guideline for yourself – how do you know when you’re done? 250 words? 500 words? A lot longer?

A general rule of thumb is that short posts are more frequently read by more people, whereas their eyes will tend to glaze over and scroll past 5000 words of squished together wall-of-text.

A short post also takes less time to write, and you’ll thank yourself later on slow days.

However, too short a post may also end up restrictive in that you may find yourself editing too heavily. Once you turn on the editor, it tends to kill off the creative freewriting portion of your brain that produces all the freaky ideas, so you don’t necessarily have to take a word limit to heart too literally.

If you’re like me and love walls of text, producing 2-3k words every time you have something burning deep down that you want to say – just bear in mind the tradeoffs. Personally, I welcome turning off the readers who can’t concentrate beyond a paragraph or two, I think it spares my comments bar a great deal.

It’s also good to break your wall of text up into short, easily readable chunks. Pictures are a very good formatting cheat that I use all the time. Or consider a two-parter post.

Post Format

Conversational first-person?

Letter style “Dear Reader” like Stubborn?

More formal third-person?

Picture and text caption?

Whatever else you can dream of?

Again, bear in mind trade-offs. An informal conversational style tends to be the easiest to write on those dark dry blogging days, but may not match the image you want your blog to project.

If you intend on putting pictures in every post, it’s going to be a barrier to posting one day when you don’t have any pictures or can’t muster the energy or time to find, take or edit any.

Post Frequency

Fact: If you want more eyes on your blog, a very regular and frequent posting schedule will have the most effect in getting more readers accustomed to you being out there and making your blog part of their daily or weekly reading. Especially when they’re bored at work and are looking for -any- reading material.

But not everybody has as much time as Syp to post twice or three times a day. 🙂

Trying to keep to a daily posting schedule may already drive you insane.

Personally, my advice is to try for 1-3 days. It works for me, with some flex slippage of up to 5 days or so.

You may note that I keep a calendar on my blog’s sidebar. That calendar is mostly for me. At a glance I can tell when my last post was, and I try not to leave too large a gap of white numbers in between the numbers with hyperlinks on them.

The idea is just to get in a habit of writing. This has a net positive for yourself as you’ll find it easier to get in touch with your inner voice and ideas over time.

It does mean that some posts you produce may be rougher and less well-formed than others. If your blog format/standards allow you to post those, go right ahead. If not, just keep them as drafts – they can be worked on and improved over time, or just kept as a record for yourself.

Your Motivation For Blogging

Why you even thought this was a good idea in the first place…

The suggestion many bloggers will give you is to try and find some internal motivations for why you’d want to sit arse to chair and type stuff into the ether.

Fixating too much on garnering views, readers, attention or feedback will automatically depress you on the days the Internet doesn’t give a fuck.

You may also end up adulterating your blog too much in the attempt for ever-growing numbers. (Little tip: If you do want to do that, one of the best ways is to post informational guides. Lots of short, timely informational guides. You can try being a Dulfy for your game of poison. It may end up being more work than play, but hey, if that’s your blogging goal, work towards that.)

But ultimately, relying on external motivations that are out of your control can shake your self-esteem, affecting how frequently you post.

Maybe you’d like to practice writing more consistently. Or practice the use of English if it’s not your mother tongue.

Maybe you just need a personal soapbox. Or a space to share your screenshots or stories.

Maybe you want to be a community hub of some kind, or just part of some community or another.

Keeping this in mind helps to direct what you’d want to do as well. Being a hub requires lots more socializing and networking and marketing than someone who just wants their own personal hermit space online.

If you want to be part of a community, then you have to participate in it somehow – read and link other blogs, make comments, engage in friendly banter and interaction, etc.

If a writing habit is your goal, then that is your prime directive that should be prioritized.

None of this has to be formalized or official.

A goal is not a set of chains binding you to a writ-in-blood commitment.

If your initial set of goals isn’t working out, feel free to change them on the fly and adjust and iterate as needed.

The idea is mainly for them to provide some needed guidelines so that you have a clue whether you’re headed in the right direction that works for you.