If a gobby barmaid from Yorkshire can do it, anyone can

Welcome to part ten of our “Introduction to blogging” guide for Liberal Democrat bloggers or would-be bloggers. It’s appearing each Saturday between now and Christmas, with all the posts available via this page. The series will then be revised and collated into an e-book, so please do post up your comments as the series progresses. Today it’s the turn of Jennie Rigg.

So you’ve read all the foregoing articles, and you’re still doubtful as to whether this blogging thing is for you? This is where I come in. I am by no means a typical Lib Dem Blogger, as you can see from my blog, and I’m going to try to convince everyone who reads this post that if they have the slightest inclination to blog, they can and should do so.

The single most important thing to remember about blogging is that it is an extremely Liberal medium. You can do whatever you want with it. To be successful, I would suggest that it’s imperative to do what you want with it. Not what the party wants, or what you think your friends and family might want, or what you think people want to read. Say what you want to say.

To that end, in this post I aim to cover and counter what I consider to be myths about blogging which prevent more people from picking up mouse and keyboard and getting their views out there.

Myth: Bloggers are all white geeky boys and nobody will pay attention to me if I don’t fit this demographic

While the white geeky boy blogosphere (which I affectionately term the blokosphere) is excessively insular and self-promoting, that doesn’t mean that it’s the whole, or even the majority of the blogosphere. More women blog than men – in fact, I maintain a list of recommended female bloggers. Lots of people who are not white write hugely successful blogs too (although I am less expert on BME bloggers, I fully recommend the Angry Black Woman among others).

The same can be said for any minority you might fit into. Maybe you’re disAbled, or a goth, or bi or gay or a cat owner. None of these things means that your views are not valuable. Don’t be put off by a perception that you won’t fit in.

Myth: Blogs have to focus on one subject

I flatter myself that several of you will already have seen my blog, but even for those of you I count as friends, it might surprise you to know that less than a third of my readership is people who read for the politics content. This is the important point: You don’t need to blog about politics to be a successful politics blogger*. So if you’re reading this and thinking Well, yes, I’m a Lib Dem, but I don’t think there’s much to be achieved by blogging about Focus Deliveries and Land Value Tax, don’t for one moment think that means you can’t blog. Blog about sport, or cookery, or sci-fi, or science, or mechanics, or even Strictly Come Dancing. Some of my favourite blogs are on a hugely eclectic combination of subjects. Blog about whatever you have views on; if your views are sincerely held and passionately put forward, and you go and interact with other bloggers, people will read them, value them, and link to them. Remember what Skunk Anansie said: everything is political.

Also, don’t forget that Ryan will not look at your content before adding you to the Lib Dem Blogs aggregator. The aggregator is for bloggers who are Lib Dems, not people who blog about Lib Demmery.

Myth: Blogs have to be formatted like print media

People read online content differently from the way they read print media. Don’t think you have to be inclined to write like Unity to blog. Short, snappy posts are often of greater value than enormous essays in terms of getting a point across. If that were not the case, twitter – essentially microblogging – would not have taken off the way it has.

Myth: Blogs need the patronage of famous bloggers to be successful

You don’t need to be linked to by Mrs Dale (or even to read his pap – I don’t) to find an audience. I’m not going to say it doesn’t help to have the spotlight shone on you by someone more successful, but the best way to build an audience is far simpler than that. Say something interesting, and then let people know you’ve said it. Find other bloggers who are posting on related subjects and comment on their posts. Talk to other bloggers, interact with them, and they will interact with you.

Myth: You need to post several times a day to be successful

Don’t worry if you don’t have the time or inclination to post incessantly. Posting incessantly can actually be a detriment. Some of the best bloggers post once a week – or even less. Look at our own beloved Orwell-prize-nominated Mortimer.

Myth: you need to find a niche and fill it

Many of the foregoing posts have talked about finding your niche. With respect to the writers of those posts, I don’t think it’s necessary to do market research and identify a niche before you start: this idea comes from a particular view of blogging-as-opinion column to which I, personally, don’t subscribe. Blogs don’t have to be opinion columns, they can be a way of keeping in touch with friends and family, or of sharing art or photos, or of sharing expertise on a particular subject, or of starting a campaign, or any and all of the foregoing at once. Blogs can be a content-rich social network – in fact, I would argue that Lib Dem Voice itself fulfils this function. The point is that everyone has things they want to share, and everyone has their own particular way of communicating. Niches don’t just exist; you can carve out your own.

Myth: you need to have thousands of readers and to be paid attention to by the Mainstream Media for your blog to have value

If your blog only counts its readers in the tens, and you’ve never been featured by the BBC, this does not mean that your blog does not have value. One, just one, dedicated reader who then becomes a friend is more valuable than thousands of anonymous eyeballs skipping past your blog. One of my readers is in bed beside me as I type. I wouldn’t have met him were it not for the fact that we both blog.

Fact: Blogging is about changing the world

Blogging is about changing the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to change the world totally, and it doesn’t mean you have to do it all in one go. Blogging changes the world by getting more of us communicating. This is a valuable thing in and of itself, adding richness and democracy to the world just by sitting behind a keyboard and tapping out your thoughts. It doesn’t matter if your thoughts are not deep and philosophical; it just matters that you have them and want to share them.

Blogging has changed my life. Through my blog, I met my fiancé. I joined the party. I made friends with one of my favourite Doctor Who writers. I influenced party policy. I have made lots and lots of true and valuable friends, and met people like Vince Cable, Ros Scott, Our Glorious Leader and even the great Millennium Elephant. Although it is possible to do all of those things without blogging, I don’t think I would have done them myself if it were not for my blog.

Blogging changed my life, and by doing so, I have had more of an impact on the world than I would otherwise have done. And you can do the same. Really. If a gobby barmaid from Yorkshire can do it, anyone can.

So what are you waiting for? Whoever you are, whatever you are thinking, get out there, and get blogging.


* To this end, not a single one of the blogs I link to in this post is a Lib Dem blog, aside from my own. They are, however, all blogs on my regular reading list.

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This entry was posted in Blogging guide.
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10 Comments

  • Andrew Suffield 13th Dec '09 - 12:48am

    The myth/fact format is not a good idea. People remember the big bold headings and forget the text.

  • Jennie, please tell me how you managed the leafletting trick. For me, leafletting is the kind of thing I’d like to happen to other people, however it always eventually finds its way to me!

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