So you want to write a blog.
Perhaps you feel a burning passion to express your views about important topics. Or, perhaps Facebook posts and 140-character-long tweets just aren’t cutting it for you. Whatever your reasons, you’ve made the decision to start chronicling your thoughts, ideas, and feelings.
Here’s what to keep in mind when blogging:
Firstly, have something of substance to say. It’s wonderful that you want to express yourself, but, like listening to that annoying person who keeps talking without actually saying anything, nobody wants to read a blog that doesn’t contribute to the conversation – any conversation. If you feel that David Tennant was the best Doctor, at least explain yourself, and try to give a new perspective that makes others see the situation in a new light. Just internet-yelling “OMG! David Tennant was the best Doctor because he’s hot” makes your reader want to leave a scathing comment about yourprofound mastery of debate and your true talent for typing while holding down the Shift key, instead of wanting to continue the conversation or read any of your other blog posts ever again.
Secondly, do your research. Can you honestly take a person seriously when they can’t get their facts straight in a conversation? Probably not. Why do you think professors hate it when you use non-peer reviewed references for your papers? How could you think your readers will take you seriously when you get the facts in your blog posts wrong? Wikipedia, while not a good site to academically reference, is a great starting point. If you’re wanting to build up your blog’s reputation as a credible source of information, fact-checking is a must. In most blogging platforms (such as WordPress), you can actually reference your facts directly; when setting up your blog post, you can make a word or phrase a link to another webpage. Using page-linking, instead of making a reference list, is both visually appealing and user-friendly.
Thirdly, for the love of all that you consider holy, write clearly, concisely, and correctly! I cannot stress this enough. Think of that drunk person who’s attempting to tell a convoluted story that just doesn’t make sense, slurring and yelling at you all the while. Again, are you going to take them seriously? No dice – you’d probably rather want to record their shenanigans, prank, and laugh at them mercilessly, or get them to bother some other poor soul. You can’t understand them, the whole shouting thing makes you want to cover your ears, and it feels like they’re harassing you. Well guess what: it’s possible to do this in blog form too – if you’re not careful. Keep your paragraphs short and organized, your sentences concise and straight to the point, your characters all in the correct case (As OpPoSeD tO wRiTiNg LiKe ThIs), and your spelling accurate. There is a difference between definitely and defiantly, affect and effect, are and our, and so on. Just like you hate when people get your name wrong (“It’s Jillian, not Julian!” is basically my life story), people also hate reading words used incorrectly.
Fourthly, and probably most importantly, have some tact, respect, and empathy. The world is rife with craptacular things: war, injustice, narrow-mindedness, death, terrible drivers, the cancellation of Freaks and Geeks – you name it. How about this: rather than being a cynical sassypants, you could put a positive spin on what you have to say instead! Try to be tactful in expressing your views; you can express yourself without attacking others. Express your frustrations, but instead of just whining about them, come up with a solution instead. Even directing your readers to organizations and movements that are working to help improve the situation is better than whining about problems but not actually doing anything about them.
And, of course, make sure to tell others about your blog! One of the biggest mistakes in blogging is forgetting to let others know about your blog. Social media is a wonderful tool, and it’s just a miracle that you, an 18+ year-old member of our generation, are proficient in tweeting, posting on Facebook, and/or Tumblring (Le gasp! You, a social media witch or wizard? Imagine that!). Start using those mad skills, and get the word out!
So go on, social butterfly that you are! Let the whole world know you’re loud and proud of your opinions! Let the world know that you will forever be a Majora’s Mask diehard fan, or that you do keep up with the Kardashians (for philosophical reasons, of course), or that we are being gouged by Big Telecom companies!
Oh, and if you could just do me a little favour, that would be great: please learn the difference between there, they’re, andtheir. It’s really not that hard!
Originally published through The Ontarion, January 2015