The word ‘blogging’ has only recently reached tipping point. Everyone has to pretend they know what it is. There will be a brief ‘Emperor’s Clothes’ period, while those know will tell you: ‘you ought to blog’ before vanishing in a puff of e-smoke.
One friend thinks ‘blogging is pictures with long captions, isn’t it? Where you can say a bit more than you do on Twitter or Facebook?’ That’s a pretty good definition of where blogging is now. With every media and social media pundit telling us that ‘posts with great pictures get more shares’, blogging has, in some places, turned into an extended photo-caption.
At the other end of the spectrum, those who prefer nice old-fashioned words – and lots of them – are talking about ‘longform blogging’. This is what you and I used to call ‘articles.’ They are 800 words or longer (gasp). We used to read them on large squares of paper, known as ‘newspapers.’ We used to rustle those pages in bed and keep our partners awake. Isn’t it time Apple came up with a ‘rustling’ app, so we can still enjoy making important noises when we read?
In fact, blog is short for ‘web log’ or online diary. Your trip up a Nepalese mountain. Your life as a wife in a strange town. People got huge book deals for writing down their thoughts. For a while it seemed to be the answer to the publisher’s slush pile. Go straight to the readers, and cut out the middle man.
Now, however, there are so many blogs that you have to know who you are talking to, and why. An untidy jumble of your experiences, thoughts and opinions, varying from the last film you saw to your favourite campaign to save the whale/Swale/mail will get lost in the noise. But if you write consistently and knowledgeably about something you really love – photography, vintage china, riding horses backwards – you’ll attract people who like what you like, whether you blog in pictures or words.
And if you’re running a business linked to your blog, then your blogging will attract readers to your website. Google will spot the activity, and you will come higher up the Google rankings when someone types in ‘riding horses backwards.’ And if people subscribe to the blog, you’ll develop a very useful mailing list. Or if you’re a hobby blogger, you’ll get to hear from lots of other people who love riding horses backwards…..oh, it’s all such fun.
‘I was a complete dinosaur about blogging until I came to Alexandra’s workshop. I really enjoyed the thorough and informative workshop and started blogging the following day!’ Sue Peart, Editor, You Magazine (The Mail on Sunday)
‘A revelatory class, clear, accessible and full of vital information.’ Elizabeth Buchan, novelist