I’ve been thinking recently about some of the challenges inherent to blogging. First and foremost being finding the time to do it. Other challenges include dealing with negative comments, maintaining a steady flow of content, and developing a presence for your blog. These things have been on my mind because I’ve been struggling with motivation and despite having a number of things to talk about simply haven’t made time to get on with it.
These things are topical at the moment because theres been a contraction in the wargaming blogosphere. Some of the best blogs have gone offline, key services like Google’s RSS aggregator service have been taken down and social media sites like Google+, Twitter, and Facebook are doing their utmost to create controlled portals, single points of access where everyone shares their content on a website which belongs to a commercial organisation.
RSS is independence. Its an opportunity for an individual or small group to express themselves and be heard, more importantly to express something of value which will not be subjected to third party filters. Consider Facebook for a moment. Facebook doesn’t show you everything that’s going on among your friends. Instead they use an (admittedly very clever) algorithm to select the best bits. If your updates don’t meet the criteria then very few of your friends will see what you write.
That’s not really acceptable. The only appropriate filtering is that which is controlled and understood by the person receiving the filtered content. With RSS this is primarily through subscribing or not subscribing to a feed. Once subscribed, people can skip articles which don’t interest them and read the ones which do. In this way I was able to follow just under 500 blogs though Google Reader, selecting the content I wanted to read in detail from amongst everything they produced collectively.
This is important because some of the best content was also the most obscure. For example, there’s a small group of painters in Stockholm who post new content infrequently, yet the art they produce is simply phenomenal. I was able to monitor their site and be confident that I would see everything they posted. I simply could not do the same thing through Facebook.
If you’ve not taken a look at Stockholm Warpaint then perhaps now is the time!
So, what can be done?
Writing for an Audience
Knowing who you are writing for is vital. Once you know who you are talking to it becomes much easier to know what to say and how to say it. This article is for people who have blogged and have subsequently faded, or want to blog and just need the push to get started for example. This is a subset of my normal audience, which is anyone interested in miniature wargaming.
Writing something worth reading
It’s very easy to re-post something created by someone else; it takes effort to express yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should see this Guardians of the Galaxy video, but there’s a lot more value in producing and sharing your own content. The trick to this is making sure you produce something that provides a genuine contribution. You don’t need to change the world, but the world is interested in what you have to say if it’s new and relevant. Don’t bow to the pressure of repeating what other people have said or done.