May 19, 2012: Amateur Blogging Made Difficult: My Top Ten Tips For The Online Personal Journalerer.  Er.

So, despite having done this for over five years now, I apparently break all the fundamental rules of successful blogging.  I don’t market my blog, make money off it through advertising, stick to a single niche or dedicated theme, and, perhaps worst of all, do not limit myself to the recommended weekly entry.  Instead, my daily ramblings cover everything from Tokyo maid cafes to my hatred of ceviche and kiwis (not to be confused with Newsies, the people of New Zealand).  Sure, I could make it easier on myself by not being so prolific, but I’m on a roll here – five years’ worth of continuous daily blogging! – and just can’t bring myself to stop now.

Daily blogging is not without its challenges.  Yes, I’m a writer, but you’re sorely mistaken if you believe (like my ex sister-in-law) that I “just sit around all day, making stuff up”.  I can’t just turn it on and off like my friend, Martin Gero, does comedy (P.S. If you ever run into him on the street, ask him to say or do something funny.  You won’t be disappointed.).  I need to be inspired.  Or, if not inspired, then at least have a somewhat interesting topic to discuss.  Every day I wake up wondering “What am I going to blog about today?” and, eventually, it hits me – sometimes right that moment, sometimes late in the evening when I’m in a half lucid state from eating too much chocolate and ice cream.  Sooner or later, something comes.

Like today, for instance, when I received the following question from KevininNS: “Was wondering if you could comment sometime on your blog preparation/planning process? Do you have a set schedule/routine for it? Since you’ve written every single day, with a wide variety of content, i’m thinking you probably do.  Although since you’re also a writer by occupation, maybe you don’t.”

And that’s when it hit me, today’s blog topic: I would write about having nothing to write about.

Well, that’s not exactly true.  Although it seems like a lead a glamorous and exciting life filled with eroticism and high-adventure, the fact is my life is not all that different from yours (minus your funny hats but plus my awesome collection of supervillain statues).  I do have an edge however.  Being a writer, I can make the most mundane experiences sound interesting and inviting, like traveling to Tokyo and visiting 29 restaurants (totaling 34 Michelin stars) in two weeks or, say, working in television. It aint easy, but it can be done.

So to answer your questions, Kevin, little if any preparation goes into this blog.  I blog at all hours of the day, covering a variety of topics, with no schedule or routine because I am in a perenially panicked state. When will I have time to update my blog?  Is this topic interesting enough?  Will my failure to comment on her comment for two successive mailbags offend blog regular Das?

The reality is that coming up with a constant source of material for daily blogging can be tough.  Fortunately, I have some tips to make the daunting and drudgerous task of writing for others a simple and relatively pleasant experience:

1. Try to do at least one interesting thing a day (ie. making your own oatmeal or watching old episodes of Vampire Diaries out of order) and write about it.  In the event what you do isn’t interesting, then take a picture of it and post that.

2. Upload embarrassing and potentially incriminating photos and videos of yourself.  Don’t worry.  The internet is a place where nameless individuals come together in love, respect, and mutual support.  That’s why it was invented, after all.

3. When blogging, always try to write something you know nothing about.  Take the reader along with you on your journey of discovery.

4. Drink while blogging.  Booze makes you more charming.  Not most people, but you.

5. Schedule one epic rant every 7-8 months to bring in new readers. Choose an easy target most people can line up against (ie. Polygamous Walruses or Buddhists Who Don’t Tip).

6. Set your blog apart from all the others by adopting a unique writing style.  Old English would be ideal but, if you’re not fluent, then try peppering your articles with random words in Welsh or Tagalog. Alternately, you might want to consider writing in another accent. British for instance: “I say, that was a positively smashing entry, wot?”.

7. Come up with catchy titles for your entries (ie. “White-faced Saki Monkey Wins Parcheesi Championship!” or “Five Easy Steps to Wealth, Weight Loss, and Marriage to that Celebrity You’re Obsessed With!”). Don’t forget the exclamation marks!!!

8. Leave comments on other high-traffic sites and don’t forget to include backlinks to your blog.  Make sure your comment is succinct and engaging (“I think we may hooked up the last time I was in town!).

9. Readers today have the attention spans of caffeinated meerkats so make sure your blog stands out.  Grab their attention and keep it by festooning your home page with hyper-kinetic multi-colored visual elements: emoticons, funny gifs, flashing borders and multiple frames and sub-frames.  Take a page out of MySpace’s success story.

10. This goes without saying, but there’s nothing more frustrating than reading a sloppy article.  Before you hit publish, make sure you’ve prfread your work!

44 thoughts on “May 19, 2012: Amateur Blogging Made Difficult: My Top Ten Tips for the Online Personal Journalerer. Er.

  1. And posts like that, my friend, are exactly why we will continue to come back every. single. day.

    “I apparently break all the fundamental rules of successful blogging. I don’t market my blog, make money off it through advertising, stick to a single niche or dedicated theme, and, perhaps worst of all, do not limit myself to the recommended weekly entry.”

    And may you never do so! We like it just the way it is.

  2. I second gforce’s remarks… this blog is unique Joe and thankfully so, because of you and the wide ranging topics you offer up, blended with your, oh let’s say, incomparable perspective, naturally. Of course, those of us who have been here a while will also share the credit. There have been some epic comments here. Keep up the dailies — my day wouldn’t be the same without ’em!

    By the way, I notice that most people who type a lot often have several words that NEVER come out right on the first attempt. My oft missed word is becasue. Anyone else?

    See, I’ve made my contribution to beginning a fun dialog.
    Thank me later. 😀

    2 cats

  3. 😆 I love you, Joe, I really do. And that may, or may not, be in a non-creepy kinda way, depending on your perspective, which may, or may not, include a distant memory when I asked you about your underpants. (And yes, lately I’m obsessed with drawers. Should I blog about that, or just get therapy?)

    das

  4. The comment about Das was hysterical.

    I’m so glad you feel like you need to continue because we”d 1) miss you terribly if you left and 2) need some other place to have group psychotherapy sessions….for free.

  5. @blog The daily blogging helps. That means people who are in the habit of reading the blog might do that if for no other reason than for the fear of change.

    —–

    @das Our boy Steven Moffat (Sherlock, Doctor Who) is getting a special BAFTA award. I don’t know what all that means, but it sounds special.

    —–

    @Joe – I need to borrow some supervillain statues. I might have to put wings and fangs on some of them since I won’t have enough Weeping Angels statues. Then we’ll talk about who doesn’t live a life of high adventure.

  6. “I don’t market my blog, make money off it through advertising….”

    Yep, by now you could have had enough money to bribe MGM to do another season of Universe. 🙂

  7. Yep… what gforce said…. (I don’t think I will ever be a prolific or otherwise blogger)

    The problem is… (and I think that some Vangroovyites might have found themselves in this situation) that I know you and Akemi so well through your stories that if I bumped into you on the street, recognized…and tried having a friendly conversation with you, you’d probably think of me as a stalker. I’m not in Vancouver but do find myself in Ottawa and Montreal on occasion. So have you ever had total strangers speaking to you as if you were a long lost relative?

  8. Joe, I’ve wondered about your blog prep myself so I am glad you took the time to be so forthright. And like the pps, my day wouldn’t be the same without reading your blog entry even if I might not comment on every single one.

    And so, I leave you with these words from the movie we saw today…bonus props for getting the movie from this quote correct….”May the odds be ever in your favor”…..for continuous blogging.

    Have a great night!!!!!

  9. I particularly like the epic rants. Feel free to raise your yearly quota of those… While on that topic, when are you going to share the nitty-gritty about your exit from the Transporter Series? Not that it needs to be a rant, but I’m betting it is an interesting story.

  10. Wow….this is so cool to get a post that was inspired by me!

    Thank you Joe for writing this. It’s very helpful.

    I’ve been a bit hesitant about expressing myself online, with all the horror stories one reads about on how it can affect your employment prospects. I tend to speak my mind sometimes, and I also have a slightly dark sense of humour, so between the two I’m always afraid I might write something that might offend someone (which is not my intent) who may be already a little sensitive to begin with…and then have that come back to haunt me in some unusual way.

    However, now that I am working for myself, I see it as a useful tool in order to market myself, and to show to potential clients how I am knowledgeable about subjects in my field, but that I am also fun to have around as well. Some of my work involves writing proposals, and I think it is harder for an organization to award a tender to someone that they know nothing about. I try where possible to get to know people in those cases, but typically they have barriers in place to prevent that, in order to ensure a bias free process.

    I’ve thought about writing maybe three times a week on a set schedule versus every day, but then I’ll likely miss a day, and then two, and so on. So I do believe that every day blogging is the way to go. I also think that having content that touches on the personal and includes some humour is really important, as it tends to keep readers coming back. (see josephmallozzi.wordpress.com for examples).

    I hope my past suggestions on your blog regarding renting a bus or private jet for your trip to T.O with the dogs, or my simple yet complex method of creating an easy to remember password that covers those pesky requirements that it have upper/lower case, numbers, and symbols….was as helpful to you as your post today was as helpful for me.

    Cheers,

    Kevin

  11. If you’re blogging daily and the “bloggy” people say you should only blog once a week, you’re actually working toward a world record. Plus, I think a lot of us are entertained from your adventures, trials, and tribulations. It’s probably a good escape from your marathon writing sessions.

  12. @ PBMom – It’s rather satisfying to know that I am partially responsible for Joey’s perenially panicked state. 😀

    @ DP – The BAFTAs are, I believe, like our Oscars, only they include film and tv, as well as other entertainment categories. ‘Special’ awards always seem to be given out when someone goes, “Wow, this guy is really great! How did we not give him an award before? Better do it while he’s hot! Hmmmm…but he’s not up for anything this year. No problem! Let’s just make a ‘special’ award to cover our oversight, and call it even!”

    das

  13. gforce pretty much covered it, well til you get to Das who, well I don’t know what to say to that. Except it’s funny since a friend today said WHY do people insist on posting everything on facebook, including they are wearing red panties today. I then told her I like boxers at home, now she knows. I think she has quit speaking to me. Oh well, I could do a blog on why I have ceased talking to people or them me. 🙂

  14. I’m just past the 670 days straight mark on My Blog… which, despite really “..having NO Life!!”, I *still* spend way too many hours on IT! I’m usually UP until 3am doing IT! – Luckily, a majority of my Readers are Overseas… [I seem to have a this huge “Following” in Russia..??]

    Anyway, I find that Pictures help greatly!! That “a 1000 words” thing, *DOES* Help!! — As does my online-dictionary! Oh. And I’m “Commercial-free” too!

    Whatever, kudos to anyone else here that puts out a DAILY blog as well! IT *IS* a “commitment”! — BTW Joe, YOU were my Inspiration for going DAILY. Still don’t know WHEN you find the Time!

  15. In spite of leading a life ‘just like’ mine, and for having nothing to say, your blogs are
    1. interesting (So THAT’s the difference between a macaron and a macaroon.!)
    2. usually funny (hahahaha your house is haunted! Or someone put a hit out on you! you’re a hypochondriac just like me! hahahaha)
    3. Thought provoking – especially when it comes to defending a movie or reading about a restaurant review (Meat and Bread! Bread and Meat!
    and sometimes…
    4. Inspiring (29 restaurants? In 14 days? In Tokyo? Man, I need to try that!)

    Thanks Joe.
    Katydid

  16. You are a very clever writer. I come here for everything you have to offer and especially like your tongue and cheek. No, not your body parts or what you had for dinner last night, but your wonderful humor. Without this blog, I’d have more free time. And I love you too.

  17. #5 – Ha! I thought so! I still can’t figure out how you find the time to write. And it’s almost painful not being able to read it everyday, it’s addictive, and I feel like I’m missing my fix. You’re a writer raconteur extraordinaire, and this little part of the world would be horribly boring without you.

    @Deni: I’m so sorry to hear about Elway. The struggles you had with him were heartbreaking, and a measure of the deep love you shared. My sincerest sympathy to you and your family.

    @JeffW: If you ever write a book, I’ll buy it 🙂

  18. Hey, Joey…what happened to all the site links on the side (to the various authors, etc.)? You don’t have to answer that. 😉

    das

  19. I have really no idea how you keep up daily blogging! 🙂
    And by the way I have always had killing intentions with number 9.

  20. I agree with everything gforce & PbMom said! Plus, I love the picture, it makes you look presidential 😉 . I’d had to disagree with your ex S.I.L., it takes skill to make something out of nothing. Ex-in laws are fun right?

  21. Hi everyone!!

    First off I think you forgot one tip: tag the shit out of your post so people will find it.

    Anyhoo i don’t think I have your kind of stamina Joe but I’ll see if i can maintain your interest with one comment.

    Hmmmm…..OK….

    This past week I’ve been struggling….not with finances or health issues but with the most hated thing ever invented – the Childproof Cap!!!! Have you ever wondered how that pitch meeting went? Let’s prevent accidental poisonings by making it so difficult to open a bottle a child could never open it….The bottles are then handed around the table and every adult struggles to contort the cap and turn, finally resorting to smashing the bottles in frustration…..but hey no-one got accidentally poisoned so yay let’s market it.

    Off and on during the week I pressed the lid on the nail polish remover down and twisted to no avail. Each day I watched more and more of my bright red nailpolish peel off leaving my nails looking like they’d been manicured by a two year old.

    I still don’t know how i managed to open the bloody thing last night, but I can tell you one thing. That cap is never going back on again!!!

    What do you think? Is the Childproof Cap the worst invention ever or do you have something worse?

    Cheers, Chev

    p.s. Joe if you’re ever short of something to say you could do an entire post of photos of Ivon and I’d be happy 😀

    p.p.s Sending a massive hug to Deni – ((((((((Deni))))))))

    1. @Chevron7 — I know you are in a different country, but here in the US, you can ask the pharmacist to give you a regular cap when you get your prescription filled. Otherwise, they will just use the childproof one. A lot of elderly people with arthritis can’t use them either, so there is a choice, but you have to ask for it to get that choice.

  22. As a recovering editor, I have often thought of offering to edit yours. Typos drive me crazy. But then I slap myself and go through those 12 steps again.

  23. My poor blog(s) goes in fits and starts … mostly I blog to vent, a form of therapy. I have maybe two readers. Quite the organ recital lately.

  24. @das ~~~~ Join Sherlock co-creator and BAFTA-winning writer Steven Moffat for a live chat on Monday, May 21, 2012, at 1pm ET. not sure if u r interested or were aware of it. Got it in a Masteriece email. Steven Moffat Online Chat — Live!

  25. Surprised you go through all that effort Joe, if anything you probably realise that 99.9 percent of people who comment here either know you in real life, or have known of you from your Stargate work. With that in mind I don’t think people mind what you write.

  26. @ noellam – 😆 I know what you mean! You’ve got to learn to ignore it. Just take a deep breath and keep on reading. Then you won’t feel so bad wen you do it.

  27. Joe, love the blog. Nice pic but the bottle of jäger? I would have thought a bottle a scotch would have been more appropriate.

  28. Freestyle blogging… I like it! Today’s blog kind of felt like a Seinfeld episode.
    Just keep doing what you’re doing… you’re always so engaging.

  29. I really 👎dislike proof 👀reading my own work. My many mistakes 👉here👈 will attest to that. I enjoy your daily 👽👿😲😡😨ramblings to planned text…but most of all I 💜LOVE💜 that you share a little bit of Joe with us.

    🌺Thank You🌺 Joe. I 💚LOVE💚 your blog.

  30. Post photos or videos of Ivon or dogs. Bonus if it’s Ivon with dogs.
    Make your reader want more. You want them to ask when is the next Weird Food Purchase or Lottery video, what cat t-shirt you’re wearing or whiskey you’re consuming. Then you know they are engaged!

    Cheers Joe! Hope you’re well.

    Cheers, Chev

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