Sometimes I will have discussions with people I know about blogging. And they will tell me that they like the idea of having a blog but don’t really know what they would do with it. Finding a subject to blog about on an ongoing basis can be a challenge. I know it was for me. Because I really didn’t have anything that I was passionate about except my wife. And she didn’t want me to blog about her for some strange reason.
And then one day I bought a camera and started taking some photos. That was a step in the right direction. I started an account on Webshots and put the photos there. Soon I had nine or ten albums. But what to do next?
Well along came Jordin Sparks and she solved that problem. I enjoyed watching American Idol a great deal and noticed they had a message board and a simple opportunity to start a blog on the web. That was where I learned to paste a photo into a blog. But not my photos. They were mainly photos of Jordin found on the AI website as she worked her way up through the competition and finally won it all! She was and is the youngest competitor ever to win the AI title. So after awhile I figured out how to put some of my own photos on the AI blog and write about them. That was really the turning point of this whole adventure. Because I enjoyed doing this a great deal and got some very good feedback from other members.
But then the AI season ended and this left me with an issue to resolve. I wanted to continue blogging but had no earthly idea about what to blog. And I had rudimentary blogging skills at best. Reading various posts more or less like this one led me to believe that WordPress.com was a good place to start building a blog. But I was also reading that it was important to have your own domain such as this one, Virginia Breeze, and a WordPress.org blog. But this leaves you in the awkward situation of having to fix things if something breaks. It’s a lot like a renting vs. owning a home kind of situation. I was having trouble making up my mind at that point about what to do. So I decided to do both.
WordPress.com started out well and WordPress.org was pretty shaky for a long time. They were both personal journals and I would write in one and then use the Admin panel to save everything and transfer it all to the other blog. I had duplicate blogs and felt that if one of them sank at least I could find shelter in the other one. And WordPress.org did stop being able to post for several weeks. Nobody could fix it. And so I had WordPress.com to fall back on and directed my readers there. Eventually WP.org healed and has been the focus of my blogging activities ever since.
Do I recommend this approach in hindsight? Not exactly. It’s a lot of work. Plus I found out along the way that Google is highly suspicious of this type of activity. WP.com eventually achieved a Page Rank of 5 from Google. And that was surprising considering that six months ago I didn’t know a weblog from a cranberry bog. But WP.org continues to suffer from Google suspicions and has never achieved a page rank over 3. At least this is my assumption. They don’t call you up or send you a registered letter about your blog(s).
My suggestion would be to start out with a community type blog at WP.com for the first month or two. And then buy a domain and start a WP.org blog. Take what you have learned and just start over. But don’t duplicate material. And if your new blog sinks you can always go back to the security of the WP.com world for awhile until you are ready to try again. Because having your own domain is probably going to be very important some day. And you get to try out all kinds of cool plugins that WP.com does not allow. It’s your home and you get to tear out walls or put a huge garden in the back yard if you feel like it .
But all of this leads back to the original question about the focus of the blog. What is it going to be about? I have wrestled with that thought for awhile now and tried out a lot of different things. Basically it is a question of just discovering what you enjoy doing. And then somehow figuring out how that can be a blog. I don’t believe you can happily blog about something you don’t really enjoy doing. There are too many distractions and misadventures along the way. Why would you even want to try?
In my case I know that I enjoy taking photos and writing. I don’t enjoy researching topics. I like trying to be spontaneous. Lately I have discovered that I enjoy writing poetry. And I enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of other bloggers. So if you take great photos and live somewhere that’s very different from Virginia I want you on my blogroll.
I put all these things together and came up with a blog that attempts to reflect what it’s like living in Virginia and show people the many beautiful things in this state including mountains, the ocean and everything in between. Maybe I can be someone else’s eyes. And I am also trying to write about things that will help others in some way I write about medical stuff that I know about like migraine headaches and restless legs syndrome. I may start writing about depression in the future. And in a more lighthearted vein I try to encourage folks to slow down on the highway or take time to smell the roses. All of this has nothing to do with life in Virginia. But then my wife and I took a trip to Cape Cod last summer to see my dad and I blogged about that. Virginia is the main theme but there are related themes as well. And I am still learning how to integrate them into the main theme like garlands on a Christmas tree.
This would be a good place to start discussing keywords. But that would take us too far afield. Lets just say that there are ways for you to make your blog a coherent whole using your rational and imaginative faculties. Just remember that all the parts that make up the whole should be things that you love to do.
Mine is still an eclectic mix but it becomes more coherent over time. And it’s a wonderful challenge and hobby for someone who is drawn to this type of activity. You meet interesting people. And you never know when you will produce something that will make you almost instantly famous! At that point there may be income opportunities that await. But that’s a whole different topic and not one that interests me now. I remain a lowly blogger who is hoping to crack the top 100,000 blogs at Technorati in the near future and get down into five figures. Making five dollars a month now would remind me too much of my youth and we don’t need to go way back there.
Except that blogging does remind me of one type of youthful activity . I can remember what it was like to sit on the bank of a river and cast a fishing pole into the water. Sometimes hours or days would go by without much happening. But you always knew that there was something out there with a big reputation and when it decided to give your line a tug all the hours spent sitting there were worth it.
And I’m not saying those hours were a waste of time if you didn’t land the big one either. Because they were time spent thinking and dreaming about life. They were an ongoing reverie that kept the “real world” at bay. Somehow blogging has reawakened some of those moments for me. And so I share my experience with you and hope you will look around you and find something that is beautiful in your beautiful state. And then share it with us.
Yes I did. But I thought I wrote dessert. When my eyes water my hands sometime shake too That’s why I think I said it sounded good. I love dessert.
Update: That probably doesn’t make a lot of sense either. All I can tell you is there was definitely a picture of a delicious chocolate cake with icing in my mind when I read your comment. Honest.
Very cool. I will study “create a structure…”. I am pretty happy right now because these keywords are growing exponentially and google analytics is starting to make more sense to me.
But the really good part is that before now I would capture something in a photo and it would lead to a creative process and a poem or some other writing. Now there is a third element in the mix. Photo plus Keyword equals Writing. The keywords are actually stimulating creativity as much or more than the photo! Way cool.
> “Does this seem alright to you? I want to have legitimate links to my stuff.”
I think your example and question is related to a pretty advanced article scheme: Switching subject. You start an article with some catchy content (fishing analogy: bait, lure) to switch to some loosely related content later on. If you take care of the keyword density then you will have the advantage to also draw the right ads and you will be ranked higher on the related search engine result pages.
From the paragraph ‘Content elements’ in Create a structure for your blog posts
I like the fishing analogy for blogging. I think bloggers have to be patient and persevering to give themselves time to succeed.
Hey maybe somebody here can tell me what a “bounce rate” is over at Google Analytics? I have been spending a lot of time lately trying to build up a keyword list using Wordtracker. And it is most remarkable how it has energized my blogging situation at Virginia Breeze.
The funny part for me right now is how finding keywords that seem to have little to do with a picture can make a creative process happen that ends up making a connection. Because I am not selling anything I believe I have more space to do this. For example my most recent post headline is Reflective Trail Markers or Outdoor Xmas Decorations? The first part just came up tonight when I was looking for something to put with these space balls or whatever they are. Does this seem alright to you? I want to have legitimate links to my stuff.
Hey, you wrote yourself: “And I clicked on text desert but still am not sure what it is. But it sounds good.”
That’s pretty funny. My eyes must have been watering from reading his comment because I was sure it said “dessert”.
> “Text desert is “a desert of text” – meaning, lots and lots of text without breaks.”
Nice. Couldn’t have said it much better 🙂
“With classic tact, Markus introduced new Performancing member David Lind to the concept of the text desert (not “dessert”, like cake…”desert” like sand and camels).”
Can’t write about the noise around me right now. Giggling would fit best. Hey, I am German. We are known for our ‘classic tact’ the hun style. That makes my day/evening 🙂
I posted a somewhat sarcastic bit to help make sense of these 5 elements.
That’s very cool. And it doesn’t look too difficult to do. Thanks
Text desert is “a desert of text” – meaning, lots and lots of text without breaks.
It helps, due to human psychology, to introduce things like:
1. Scannable headlines
2. Bullet points
3. Shorter paragraphs
4. Bold and italicized text
Your post would have been that much better had it used those 5 elements.
Oh thanks for the feedback. This is the first time I posted here. It takes me awhile to figure things out sometimes. And I clicked on text desert but still am not sure what it is. But it sounds good.
I have been blogging a lot about Christmas and hope a lot of folks will have a look as the get in the holiday spirit. That is a blogging lesson that has started to sink in. Pay attention to upcoming holidays!!
Markus the cynic;-)
David…great post. Very inspirational and chock full of real-world guidance.
Your article is an incredible text desert but worth reading. I love the reflection about the very early start of your blogging career.
Beginning to blog has a lot to do with a mental switch from consuming input to producing output. I am training two guys (one painter, one record studio owner (both German)) to start their personal kind of mini company blog and it is really hard to get that ‘produce blog output’ into their minds.