Blogevity: Saturday Morning Blogroll Thoughts

What keeps a blog going? That's what I wonder when I come across the abandoned carcasses of once-loved blogs, sites that simply left off in December 2005 or some other long-ago date, without even so much as a goodbye, as though the writer had been jerked out of his or her chair, with only her jacket left to tell you someone had once been there. You see a lot of blogs like this when you click on the "next blog" button on WordPress.

And so as I've been preparing my Saturday Morning Blogroll post for Best Blog, I've been paying attention to blogs with staying power. I've noticed that the blogs that keep going are the ones that have a few things in common:

  • The writer doesn't have to do a lot of searching around for something to say. Single topic blogs are a good example of this. If you are fascinated by, say, tee-shirts, then it's not going to be that hard to post the tee-shirt you're currently coveting.
  • Blogs that rely on pictures also seem to last longer. Could be because it's just more fun to break up text with a photo. Could be that any anxiety about writing is diminished somewhat by being able to express your thoughts visually.
  • Blogs that are part of a web of contacts — whether the writer is speaking to friends, or is part of a community of like-minded obsessives — seem to stick around longer.

The blog I found today, Beatles Blog, shares all these qualities. He's chosen a single subject, and it's one he loves: one of the greatest bands ever. There are plenty of pictures. Videos. And he sounds like he wants to podcast too. So, he's finding a lot of other mediums in which to express himself beyond words. And he's linked to a lot of other good sites, which indicates he's part of a community of obsessives. He's just starting out, but my bet is that he'll keep going for a good long time.

If you've got some thoughts on how you've achieved longevity — not just in blogging, but in any project you've taken on that requires daily, or at least regular, attention — why don't you say something about how you did that? I, for one, would love to hear about it.

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5 thoughts on “Blogevity: Saturday Morning Blogroll Thoughts

  1. Thanks for the kind words…and yes I have become a little obsessive about all-things Beatles, one of my many hobbies. I it being one of many hobbies is the key. It would so easy to get blog burn out, either for the sake of having to update is all the time, and for the subject matter.

    This type of blog is nice, because there is a built-in audience. I am a member of several bootleg trading forums, and groups that all we talk about is The Beatles. So naturally, it’s nice to develop a one-stop shopping place where people can get their quick fix. It’s nice to know that you kind of have a built in audience with such a specialized topical blog, but you have to remember, that especially when dealing with The Beatles, everyone is an expert, and no one is an expert. Be careful to be inclusive of all readers, or you won’t keep them. I mean, there are thousands of other sites, that deal with the same subject, but are more specialized, and intense than my small blog.

    Mine is kind of all inclusive, anything that deals with the subject is fair game, and pretty relaxed. I have been encouraging readers to contribute and e-mail me stuff that they’s like to see, but so far there aren’t any takers. I hope that will change. I know what I like to see there, but you want to satisfy them too. I haven’t been around too too long, just shy of two months, and already I have some regular readers, and I love it. You feel that someone actually cares and has an interest in what you have to say. To keep things going means using the variety that is available to you. I saw the largest spike in my readers when I posted a link to a bootleg that someone else was offering, and I posted a link to my blog in some of the forums that I am members in. Those people came to my site to check out the link, and now they are regular readers. People like variety, and they like interaction. Post questions, post pictures, post videos. Youtube is my new best friend. People will find this stuff. Just tell the right groups and they will flock (i.e. join particular myspace interest groups and post links to your blog).

    I also included lots and lots of links and fellow subject specific blogs. I did all of that for very selfish reasons. It’s a way for me to easily check my links, and keep all of them in one place. WordPress is great in that you can create pages, and easily maintain blog rolls. I forget that everyone else can use those links too. You see, now, your blog acts like a portal where people can start to go to all of these other wonderful places that you’ve put together for your readers.

    Anyway, I’ve become long winded, and I hope that this my first experiment in the blogging world, and I do have some other larger ideas, but for now I am just a happy blogger learning as I go. Here’s to longevity!

  2. Hi BL,
    On longevity of writing, I’m not sure if this counts, but your essay made me think about why I’ve been able to stick with writing poetry for 12 years. Sticking means that I have stayed with and supported two regular writing workshops, a weekly with a teacher and a monthly with just a handfull of friends; and I’m not sure if this is evidence of the stickyness or a reason for it, but I have also been sending poems off to journals regularly for about five years, without being totally disappointed.

    I think there are two components to sticking to this writing. One is the impetus to write that is imposed by regular workshops and regular deadlines for submitting poems (through a service, Writer’s Relief, that keeps track of submissions and helps with the packaging and sending and choosing journals). You have written about the usefulness of regular workshops. So motivation through deadlines, either self- or externally-imposed helps me a lot.

    The other reason I have stuck to it is that I like to do it. When I sit down to write and find myself writing, making something up, or discovering something I didn’t know before I started writing it, I find myself in a state of extreme joy and happiness. Like nothing else.

    Another thing I just realized is that in order to sustain the joy of discovery by writing, I read a lot (satisfy my curiosity) in areas that I have always liked– mainly, consciousness, how the mind works, science, evolution, physics, etc. I also read other poets, although not as much as most poets do. Reading these things greatly reduces my fear of a mostly unknown world. I got extremely re-excited recently by hearing Billy Collins talk about poetry at a workshop. And I am reading a book, Poet’s Choice, by Edward Hirsch (author of several poetry books, including How To Read a Poem). His new book has articles on poems that he wrote for the Washington Post. It is wonderful.

    So for me, longevity in writing is sustainability, which seems to thrive on deadlines to get me to write, my joy in the process of writing, and reading to keep my neurons firing.
    Thanks for the opportunity.
    Smokey

  3. I think I’ve managed to keep going with the blogging for quite a long time (3 years) in part because I try very hard to not allow it to feel like a chore. So I only do it when I have time and feel like it otherwise I’d end up resenting it. I’ve ended up on the fringes of a number of on-line communities and I think in a way that does feed it and keep it going- but on the other hand sometimes knowing people are reading it (especially people who write very well themselves) is quite intimidating and I become hesitant about posting anything less than perfect and I also can start to feel obligated to write on the subjects I imagine people reading might find of interest- which is when I remind myself that it is just for fun and mainly for me and somehow I’ve kept going…

  4. I think it’s so true that we do most what we most enjoy doing. It’s the not so secret ingredient to a lot of happy lives. I just didn’t know how much I’d enjoy making a daily record like this one — and once I figured out how to actually take pictures of things, well, that just added another dimension to how much fun it is. All of you have accomplished such impressive things by doing what you enjoy doing — the entertaining Beatles site, your wonderful poetry Mr. S, and MTNW, three years of posting interesting, insightful pieces.

  5. Taking a picture a day is similar to writing a blog post a day. When you combine the two, you get a way to communicate with words and images. Some days it's just easier to do the photo. :)

    On the other hand, I took 125 pictures today. Trying to pick just one is hard to do.

    Some days you just photograph the inside of your lens cap.

    I've enjoyed reading and replying to your entries. For so long I had lost interest in posting.

    Oh, and we expect pictures when you visit brother #2. :)

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