I began blogging in July 2009, and only because my agent told me I had to start building an audience on-line if I hoped to sell my next book(s.)
In a stroke of fantastic luck, I was offered the following month a paid opportunity to blog for a community site called True/Slant.
And starting out with a built-in community made the whole thing a lot more fun than — as most of us do — pinging into the ether with high hopes and crossed fingers. I’m still friends with several of my fellow T/S bloggers and even had a great reunion with about 10 of them when I visited Chicago.
I migrated here in July 2010 when — oh, the greed! oh, the betrayal! — True/Slant was sold to Forbes and almost all of us were summarily canned after building the very value that made it worth selling.
I know that most bloggers do it for love, not money.
When your primary income, like mine (and some of yours) also comes from writing, it’s tough to spend even more time at the computer that cuts into paid hours. I blog because I enjoy it and because, as my agent warned me, I need to prove a large and growing audience for my work.
As a professional writer exploring many topics, it’s sometimes a chance to test out an idea before I sell it as an essay or longer article.
I enjoy, most of all, your thoughtful comments and the global conversation we have here. Very cool!
How do I know what you’d like to read?
I have no idea! One of the things about Broadside (which is unusual, in my experience of blogs) is that it’s not niche at all. I don’t focus narrowly on anything. Today, Broadside has 1,502 followers, (3 to 5 joining every day now.) You are one seriously heterogeneous group!
When I write for The New York Times, I have a pretty clear idea who my readers are. Same for Marie Claire, a women’s magazine.
But the challenge of this blog — and it’s a big one — is not being fussed about the fact that readers here range from high school age to senior citizens, men and women. Two recent followers are a technical school in Mexico (!?) and a political organization in Mississippi.
The commonality is….?
So I just write what I find interesting, spin it globally whenever possible, and hope you like it.
(Feel free, any time, to email me here or directly and suggest a subject you’d like to hear about. Or more of, or less of.)
Do I know who Broadside’s readers are?
Every time a new follower signs up, I make the time to check out their profile and/or blog. Often, as you’ve seen, I’ll leave a comment or “like” there, to let you know I appreciate your attention.
I’m amazed, and challenged, by the wide differences in your interests, careers, nationalities and ages. If we threw a party, we’d need a very big room!
How much time does it take to write each post?
It depends. Some I bang out within minutes. Others I polish for days, even weeks. Some, (rarely) I never post at all.
How do I choose what to write about?
It depends, again. If there’s something big in the news, (the Queen’s Jubilee, Etan Patz’ killer confessing), I’ll jump on it, but only if I have something of a personal link to it. I try to post only on subjects I feel passionate about. But because I have so many interests — design, work, ideas, relationships — I rarely feel stumped for a topic.
Anything you don’t post on?
Religion and politics. Readers of Broadside live all over the world, so how much interest do you really have in American political battles or the endless toxicity of the religious right? I may occasionally touch on spirituality.
Although my first book is about guns, I rarely blog about it as I have no time or interest in getting into heated on-line battles.
How far ahead do I write posts?
I usually have 5 to 10 posts pre-written and ready to go, at all times. But I revise and edit them many times and will update them minutes before I post.
The only way I’ve been able to enjoy a true vacation away from the computer is to stockpile some evergreen issues and post them when it feels right. While I admire the dedication of those who blog daily, it’s not for me. I’m not that interesting and I’m just too tired!
Which blogs do you follow?
I read only about 5 or 6 blogs, most related to my work or my passions, which include France and design. One, Design Milk, offers a terrific variety of daily stories, all visual, from around the world. Another, One Quality, the Finest, (written by a fellow Canadian ex-pat in the U.S.), offers a French idiom (and some history to go with it) every day. I find this one, Freelance Folder (aimed not just at writers) consistently helpful. I also like Seth Godin’s blog, which was recommended to me by a CEO I interviewed for my retail book; he’s an American business guru/author I find smart, provocative and insightful.
How often are you blogging?
Are you meeting your own goals? How’s it going?