Your Blog, Your Way: Post 8

Tips on blogging by Seth Apter

Your Blog, Your Way is all about helping bloggers create a successful blog, where success is defined both as maintaining an authentic, individual voice and attracting a loyal, returning readership. The posts in this series have focused on the 10 Cs of blogging—a concept to help guide you through the sometimes-complicated world of blogs. So far, we have explored Consistency, Continuity, Community, Content, Comments, and Composition. Today the topic will be Censoring.

On the one hand, it almost seems counterintuitive to focus on censoring when the thrust of this series is all about being true to yourself. However, if you are putting your blog into the world in the hopes that people will visit and come back for more, the issue of censoring is most definitely relevant.

In my survey of a large group of art bloggers, 80% of the respondents said that they edit and censor their posts with the reader in mind. 24% do this with every post that they write. Only 4% of those participating in the survey said they never censor and always “let it all hang out!” Clearly the concept of censoring is on the minds of many bloggers.

To be clear, when I speak of the concept of censoring I am not referring to avoiding personal opinions, staying away from controversial issues, avoiding images of art that are provocative in nature, or staying away from ‘salty’ topics. For the purposes of this post, the idea of censoring instead refers to being aware of your audience and steering clear of a tone in your posts that is likely to alienate them. Posting frequent negative rants, for example, does not seem to be the way to gain a following.

For me, the best blogs echo the structure of a satisfying conversation. In this regard, communication consists of both speaking and listening. Each is equally important. In the blog world this refers to writing (akin to speaking) and reading (akin to listening) posts and comments. Just like with real-life conversations, sometimes there is a need on our blogs to censor what we say and how we say it.

Recognize that while your blog is “your blog” and should be a reflection of you, the readers are equally important. Without them, there is no conversation to be had. A repetitive flavor of negativity, too many self-absorbed diatribes, critical posts towards others, or angry rants—these are the things to consider censoring. 93% of survey respondents have seen posts like these. Only 4% stated that they always read them and 37% said they would stop visiting the blog if these types of posts were too frequent. Successful speakers ‘speak to the listening.’ Successful bloggers do the same.

Political and social issues are often addressed by and expressed through artwork and can certainly make for interesting conversations. However 53% of respondents said that they would only read these types of posts if they were connected to a piece of art. 19% said that this is not the type of post they want to see on an art blog and 9% completely avoid art blogs where political/social posts are too frequent.

What these survey findings speak to is the idea that the thread holding together an art blog ought to be the art and the artist. While any topic is fair game for any blog, you can actively choose to censor some posts with the aim of keeping your site cohesive and inviting. In other words, allow your negative rants to be fuel for your creativity and let your art do the talking!

Homework: Rethink each new post on your blog and decide if it serves your blogging goals and also speaks to your audience. If not . . . censor.

Next month: Creativity

 

Seth Apter is a regular contributor to CreateMixedMedia.com, the voice behind, The Altered Page and the author of the forthcoming book, The Pulse of Mixed Media. (North Light Books, Spring 2012)

You can listen to a podcast with Seth right here.


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