How to write a blog. Or not.
As you might imagine, there is lots of advice on the web about "how to write a blog." The most important suggestions to create a readable blog that people will come back to is to stick with one topic, post once every day or on a very regular basis, and make it interesting.
That all seems to be common sense. As for me, I have been able to write almost every day, and based on the discussions it seems to have been interesting. But I haven't been able to stick with just one topic; there is just so much fun to write about and to tell you about.
I guess I've used this blog the same way you'd talk to friends. You don't talk about just one thing, but all kinds of stuff that you find interesting.
So I've mixed posts about my fight to survive, my book launch, political comments, and lifted the veil on some unsavory practices in the drug industry and related areas. I've also used no pictures, lots of pictures, videos and audio of stuff I found interesting.
This is, of course, entirely wrong, and as a marketing person I know that. I was suppose to do just one thing, like the more political commentary I started out doing for the Huffington Post. But, honestly, after having spent an entire life in the corporate world, I'm a bit tired of doing "the right thing." It is pretty liberating to do whatever I feel like. And the fact that all kinds of lawyers and PR firms, hired by Pfizer, come here simply create some additional spice.
But deep inside I know that what I'm doing is wrong. The fact that I vacillate between heavy-duty posts and very superficial posts means that half my readers are always upset. Which isn't really a bad thing, since violence and conflict sells.
I mean, if I get bored I throw in a lightly clad girl, and a number of more feminist readers get mad. Then I write about the Dooce blogger and a number of more politically interested readers get mad. Then I write about . . . well you get it. And, of course, common wisdom is that you shouldn't make your readers mad. But I'm not so sure that doesn't work quite well. Some people like a good fight. I won't name any names.
In fact, out of over a million blogs measured by Technorati, this blog is number 30,917. Not bad considering the eclectic content and the fact that it has only been around for 6 months. Of course, getting kicked off the Huffington Post kind of helped getting this blog going.
But, like any competitive individual, I'd much rather have this blog be in the top 1,000 or top 10,000, than top 30,000. And that makes me think.
So, I'm looking around at other successful blogs. And . . . they do stick with one topic, they write one post every day or every second day. In fact, some of the once I've talked about, like Dooce and Petite Anglaise, are very simple.
No political commentary, not a lot of videos and audio, just a simple story or anecdote about their lives, two or three times a week.
And by the way, Petite Anglaise ranks 1,591 on Technorati and Dooce ranks 44(!).
Of course, not everyone likes those blogs. So when the Salt Lake Tribune recently wrote a front page article about Dooce, the Mormons in Salt Lake city reacted with outrage.
This is what some of them had to say to the newspaper:
"I have subscribed to The Tribune for nearly 40 years. Until recently, I have looked forward to reading the paper each morning. The content and appearance becomes more unsettling every week. I will be canceling my subscription soon if the ridiculous content of the front page continues."
"The huge picture and accompanying article 'According to Dooce' is totally inappropriate for the front page of a major newspaper. The continuation of the story took up far too much space. I applaud Heather Armstrong for battling her debilitating depression, but this article should have been less extensive and published in a local section or even banished to the Friday community pages - which are nothing but fluff articles anyway."
"I felt that Saturday's article about a blogging mother was interesting. However, the erotic story it opened with was totally inappropriate. Please be cleaner in the future."
"May I tell you how horrible the story 'According to Dooce' was. How could such a bunch of garbage talk show up on the front page? I am an avid reader of the Trib and have been for 30 years or more. I have never had such a negative reaction to something in all my reading history of the paper. The opening story on the front page had no business being there."
And of course, some of my readers reacted in a similar way when I covered this story and felt I'm getting into far too much fluff.
But as you can tell, even on this blog, the Dooce story was the most read, according to my post Most Popular Posts on This Blog.
Which led one reader to write to me today and state "You'll just morph from 'whistleblower' to 'sell out'... just like all your mainstream press buddies."
And the answer to this dilemma is that the fact that I've been writing about so many different things, means that my range of readers go from 17 to 70, in a perfect bell-shaped curve, and ratio men to women is about 2:1, which is a great audience.
So, all in all, I'm not so sure that what I'm doing doesn't work. I'm quite frankly just having fun with the whole blogging thing. Most fun, of course, is when very serious lawyers go to Court and pretend to be upset about what I write. Can't beat that.
After all, I get bored pretty easily and when it gets too boring I simply write something provocative and the lawyers hit the roof, just like Pavlov's dogs.
Can't be more fun than that. Oh, and when the Covington lawyers discovered I could even tell who they were, and started coming here with brown paper bags (anonymizers) over their heads, that was hilarious. Now they have resorted to using AOL. I guess some IT type told them AOL uses dynamic IP addresses, which switch all the time, so I won't know who they are. Wrong.
At least Pfizer's other lawyers, like Epstein Becker & Green, and the PR people Pfizer has hired to monitor me, kept their cool and didn't go gabonkas like Covington. That, I have to respect them for. But the Covington lawyers, well, they look like sissies when they're trying to hide their visits. (I guess at least one of the non-sissy lawyers will mail this post to one of the sissies.) Wish I could be a fly on the wall . . .
All in all, I haven't made up my mind about how to do this blog.
Except, I need to keep myself entertained, and I guess that means you might be too.
But maybe I should post a little bit less . . . keep you waiting for the good stuff and cut out some of the gossip from other blogs. Then again, gossip can be really fun.
Decisions, decisions. It's a tough world and someone has to blog about it. And someone has to use all those amazing pictures.