January 14, 2007

random notes on blogging


Random Notes On Blogging.

1. The First Rule of Blogging: “Blogs don’t write themselves.” It’s the hardest and most frustrating part of professionally helping others to blog.

2. Most bloggers I have met I would describe as smart, decent, passionate people. This includes bloggers that I don't particularly like on a personal level. I have yet to meet a blogger who I would describe as a "Thoroughbred Scumbag".

3. Blogging is an art, same as any other method of self-expression. Some are better at it than others.

4. Stay as honest as you can, for as long as you can. Once you cross the line it’s hard to go back.

5. A lot of serious bloggers became so because frankly, they had a lot of time on their hands. And often there were good reasons for that.

6. Blogging is a great way to make things happen indirectly. I say that all the time, and will KEEP saying it till people finally get it [I’m not holding my breath].

7. Far too much time and energy is spent watching people make money directly off their blogs [e.g. via advertising revenues etc], as opposed to indirectly [e.g. becoming an authority on something, and using said authority to enhance your already-existing business]. I believe the latter [which Doc Searls call The "Because" Effect] is a far more pleasant, effective and likely way to succeed.

8. So you a read lot of A-Listers. Congratulations. You now know a lot of stuff everybody else knows.

9. It’s damn hard not to read a lot of A-Listers. They got to where they are for a reason.

10. I hardly ever leave comments on other people’s blogs any more.

11. If somebody makes a harsh remark about me in the comments or somewhere else, usually my first reaction is to ask, “Yeah, and what is it THAT YOU DO that is so fucking interesting, Asshole?”

12. Cube-dwellers-with-attitude are pathetic.

13. When I first started blogging, I was living the Cumbrian boonies, being a bit of a recluse. When business finally picked up, as I started traveling more often and meeting more people, my “audience” became far less abstract to me. Conclusion: It’s far nicer writing for real people that you know personally, than for demographic “eyeballs”. I think when talking about the former, Doc Searls’ embodies this better than any one I know.

14. I agree with Doc Searls' thought that “Wuffie is earned”.

15. Why aren’t there more women bloggers in the circles I travel in? The answer is a three-letter word, beginning with the letter “M”.

16. The day you can write as compellingly and consistently as say, Kathy Sierra, Jeff Jarvis, Guy Kawasaki or Michael Arrington, will be the day I start taking your complaints of low traffic seriously.

17. Corporate America doesn’t really like blogs. Like I care.

18. If your goal is to have a large, influential online readership, I’d say give yourself five years. That's how long it took Om Malik. Some do it in less, of course, but they seem to be quite exceptional.

19. For us serious blog evangelists, it’s tempting to think “Everybody should have a blog”. About as tempting as the thought, “Everybody should be able to write well.” And about as realistic.

20. Blogging will never be a mainstream activity so long as being able to write [A] well, [B] often and [C] about stuff THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT remain the main barriers to entry.

21. Barely a week goes by without me contemplating permanently turning off the comment section.

22. How to know you’ve arrived: When you suddenly realize that to stop blogging would be tantamount to an act of economic suicide. That moment came for me at Les Blogs 1, in Paris back in early 2005.

23. Another way to know you’ve arrived: When you realize that every business relationship you’ve established in the last twelve months was a direct result of blogging.

24. You think A-Listers are arrogant bastards? You should meet the B-List.

25. There is no A-List. If you think there is, you’ve missed the whole point.

26. There is an A-List. Fuck with us and we’ll have you destroyed like stray dogs.

27. The best way to raise you profile in the blogosphere [besides writing good stuff] is to attend the various conferences; the more, the merrier. I am [at least] fifty times more likely to link to you if I’ve already met you in real life. The other good way is to attend the geek dinners.

28. I wish I were better at linking to other people. The list of people I should have linked to, but haven’t, would fill a phone book.

29. Sixty million blogs. Sixty million business models.

30. Yes, the blogosphere is a great place to get laid. No, I’m not telling you how I found this out.

31. If you ever forget your manners, you will pay, and quickly.

32. You are not carving in stone. You die, the blog dies.

33. It’s tempting to think that people read your blog. Sadly, they don’t. They skim them. So always make your content skim-friendly. Write it with “skimmabilty” baked-in.

34. Anybody who harbors the idea that Madison Avenue EVEN SLIGHTLY understands the internet is a fool. I’ve been looking for YEARS for evidence to the contrary and simply can’t find any.

35. In this internet-enabled world of ours, Madison’s Avenue’s loss is PR’s gain. Which is why, as a former advertising hack, I follow the Edelman story very closely.

36. Getting other people to “blog for you” is a big mistake.

37. Z-Listers are every bit as selfish, self-important and psychologically flawed as A-Listers. Except the former don’t have large armies of people with real and imagined incentives for tripping them up.

38. I like and respect Robert Scoble a lot, but I find his high tolerance for trolls in his comments bordering on the clinically insane.

39. If a blog doesn’t allow comments, then yes, it’s still a blog. People who say otherwise are just getting in touch with their "Inner Idealistic Wanker".

40. When people ask me what the future of media is, I always answer, “RSS”. Thank you, Winer & Co. Seriously.

41. Most of the stuff on this list is wrong.

Posted by hugh macleod at January 14, 2007 2:57 AM | TrackBack

10. I hardly ever leave comments on other people’s blogs any more.

Is this because you no longer see any reason to (for reasons of self interest) or because you feel those leaving comments at your blog are borderline worthless and you don't want to add to the detritus elsewhere?

Or something else entirely?

Posted by: Josh at January 14, 2007 3:33 AM

Mainly because if I see something I feel strongly about, it'll result in either my own blog post about the subject, or an e-mail...

Posted by: hugh macleod at January 14, 2007 3:57 AM

I'm sure you missed something there, or maybe I just nodded off :-)
Oh I remember - what is it about your blog that makes me read 41 points?

Posted by: Colin Henderson at January 14, 2007 4:39 AM

I love the way you don´t love your love for comments in your blog.

Posted by: Joaquín at January 14, 2007 4:46 AM

The answer to 15 is moo, right?

Posted by: jon kudelka at January 14, 2007 6:11 AM

Excellent randominzation of assorted loose thoughts about blogging!

Uhm... I like your two cents on comments. I have, at best, unadulterated ambiguity when it comes to comments. One of my favourite bloggers has them off, and I like that. You don't... but I do not think it would make a difference if you did.

Posted by: Dannie Jost at January 14, 2007 6:17 AM

Wow, cartoon feedback. In color.

Posted by: John at January 14, 2007 7:33 AM

I agree entirely with point 41 and refer you to my seminal post entitled the rules of blog club! But point 7 is undeniable and a looming problem I think.

Posted by: John Dodds at January 14, 2007 11:47 AM

Hugh, you should have started with a random note #0: Start reading at random note #41.

Posted by: Markus Pirchner at January 14, 2007 12:53 PM

So, I ran across this blog a little while back, but I keep coming back because it's interesting and I really like the business card art. I have tried to take my blog seriously for a while, but I keep coming and going with it, so I will have to decide what to do. Otherwise, I only blog because I love to write, and I only read them because I love good writing.


Posted by: simply scott at January 14, 2007 5:11 PM

"Otherwise, I only blog because I love to write, and I only read them because I love good writing."

Scott, methinks those are the only real reasons you need, frankly ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at January 14, 2007 5:53 PM

You get my vote for virtual blog mentor.

Posted by: John at January 14, 2007 6:10 PM

#32 - except you live in the hearts and minds of the people you touched while doing it. That is the legacy anyway; it starts on the inside.

Posted by: Valeria Maltoni at January 14, 2007 6:39 PM

I like the feedback of my readers because I can't meet them all and sometimes one wouldn't want too; comments is a way for me to stay in touch. Although I do agree, blogging has led to a lot of indirect growth.

Posted by: chantel at January 14, 2007 7:49 PM

> 41. Most of the stuff on this list is wrong.

But 34 and 35 are not. Madison Avenue knows how to shout, which is no longer the only, nor even the most effective, means of getting your message spread through the market.

Posted by: Hans at January 14, 2007 8:14 PM

The First Rule of Blogging: “Blogs don’t write themselves.” This seems obvious, but how this is true !!! As for 41, I would add : and find out which are true.

Posted by: Hervé at January 14, 2007 9:11 PM

Girls just wanna have fun.

Posted by: Sissy Willis at January 15, 2007 6:17 PM

Hey, Just found the site... Love the drawings. Thanks...


Posted by: Aircraft Guy at January 15, 2007 8:40 PM


Posted by: Marti at January 15, 2007 8:46 PM

Unfortunately BILF.com is taken ;)

Posted by: kosso at January 15, 2007 8:53 PM

point 24 - so true.

Posted by: New York Punk at January 15, 2007 9:09 PM

> 41. Most of the stuff on this list is wrong.

Thank GOD I read to the end... here I was almost ready to sleep with you after #16.

; )

Posted by: Kathy Sierra at January 16, 2007 2:15 AM

Great post Hugh, you make some excellent points.

One of my favorites is #33. So very true.

Posted by: Tony Chung at January 16, 2007 3:43 AM

Bloody wonderful, as (almost) always.

Reminds me a little of Chris Pirillo's (or even John Dodd's) "Rules of Blog Club"

Posted by: Michael O'Connor Clarke at January 16, 2007 4:31 AM

I'm a Middle East Blogger. I leave comments with the faint hope that someone new will discover my blog.
That doesn't make a shallow blogger, does it?

Posted by: UAE Students at January 16, 2007 5:37 AM

I think Point #42 is that, no matter how far you think you've gotten from your nerdy roots, #42 will always hold significance, even if only meaningless significance.

Posted by: raincoaster at January 16, 2007 7:21 AM

* you are not as witty as you'd like to be.
* it is VERY unlikely you will ever make money from blogging.
* polish your writing!
* polish your writing again!
* polish your writing again again!
* tell me something NEW.

Posted by: dizzy at January 16, 2007 8:13 AM

Regarding #38 - it may be the very fact that Robert has met & gotten to know so very many people; THAT is why he allows the comments. As he recently commented, even those who are his so called haters can actually be charming and like him in person.

Posted by: Deanna at January 16, 2007 1:12 PM

I write a small niche blog about life in New York's famed Hotel Chelsea. I totally agree that the indirect benefits are worth far more than the ad revenues.

Posted by: AHCB at January 16, 2007 5:50 PM

I am looking forward to attending my first blog conference in February, Northern Voice. Which conferences (#27) can you recommend?

Posted by: Jeffrey Keefer at January 17, 2007 7:52 AM

Enjoyed the rest of the list but the "there are no female bloggers out there" myth is getting old. And no, we aren't all mommy bloggers.

Posted by: K at January 17, 2007 3:58 PM

I am not a geek , nor is my blog filled with desperate musings of my angst-filled life. In fact, my blog is but giggles and nonsense, with nothing more than perhaps twice yearly "personal" content from me.
Today,for example, I posted valuable information on how to become your own grandfather, happily sponsored by the Redneck Trailer Park Inbreeders Assoc. I think society needs to know this.
Does this mean I need to stop referring to myself as a blogger and perhaps call myself a noggin-bloggin wannabe?
Does a blog on Yahoo actually COUNT as a blog? Or am I simply deluding myself?
One point of interest tho... it doesn't count as "getting laid" if you are sitting at your computer screen typing with one hand.
And yes, the reason I am at Yahoo, is that it is so appropriatly titled. ;o)

Posted by: Lacey at January 17, 2007 5:19 PM

Good points all, except for the one on comments (No. 39). You noted:

"39. If a blog doesn’t allow comments, then yes, it’s still a blog. People who say otherwise are just getting in touch with their "Inner Idealistic Wanker".

Nope, I think its getting in touch with your readers ;)

To me the point of blogging is interactivity rather than mo' megaphone media. Not quite certain what the effective difference between an old fashioned website and a blog with no comments is.?

I think having a blog *without* comments is like wanking - you have no partner in your social intercourse.

Posted by: alan patrick at January 20, 2007 11:37 AM

"I think having a blog *without* comments is like wanking - you have no partner in your social intercourse."

Ooh... I have to go wash my mouth out with soap just for READING that sentence ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at January 20, 2007 3:50 PM

Wash it out with Pinotage instead ;)

Posted by: alan patrick at January 20, 2007 10:26 PM

The answer to the meaning of life is 42.

Posted by: Jim Turner at January 29, 2007 4:45 AM

Insisting on comments has always struck me as weird. The web was interactive before comments. If somebody really wants to join the conversation, she can start her own blog.

Posted by: Sarah at February 6, 2007 10:57 PM

Thanks for the insights from your experience

Posted by: charlie at April 6, 2007 2:59 PM