Ok, so I apparently my success (perhaps perceived success is more accurate) has gone to my head. I have only been blogging for a few months, but I have learned a few things along the way and I have been busy (see #4)
#1 Blog because you want to blog
The odds of starting a wildly popular blog are low, so to avoid disappointment I recommend only blogging if you have some personal motivation. The major reason I blog is to help improve my writing and thinking for my research. I also find any other (hopefully) positive things on the Internet about me will one day be helpful, though a public twitter account can provide similar benefits. While any feedback I get is always enjoyable, I can still achieve my internal goals without anyone reading what I write.
#2 Publicize, Post, and Tweet
Even though I just said I do not need anyone to read my blog, I still want people to read what I write. The main thing about blogging is no one will read your blog if they cannot find it. While search engines may bring a few people to your blog posts, the vast majority of people will only read your blog, if you tell show them the link. While this can feel like you are trying to guilt your family and friends into reading your blog (I have no problem with this), I have been surprised how widely some of my blog posts have been spread through simply tweeting my posts.
#3 Do good work, but don’t obsess
My thoughts on what I actually write on my blog are rather simple. I want something written well enough that I would not be embarrassed to have my name attached to it later in life (My apologies future Brian). When I write posts I make sure to proofread, but blogging is not the main focus in my life. In terms of my writing, I would say I pay more attention to my writing on my blog than when sending an email, but less than when writing a paper for class. I aim for coherent and mature writing, but also try to have some fun. Otherwise, blogging would become a chore.
#4 Blog often
To make sure I stuck with blogging I set up a goal of one short blog post a week. Shorter, but relatively frequent fit my goals as a blogger, but I have found simply having some sort of schedule has really made sure I actually keep putting up blog posts. If I simply said I would blog whenever I had an idea, I would have stopped blogging pretty quickly. Most of my blog topics have only come about because I set a goal to post once a week. While sometimes having a flexible due date has made me resort to simply making lists for lack of other ideas (see this post), many of my better blog posts were made only because I sat down and said I need to write today. Certainly, your individual goals should shape your schedule, but having some sort of deadline will ultimately help you stick to blogging.
#5 Have a theme, but keep it broad
Having a focus will help attract an audience. If they know what to expect from your posts, they might be inclined return. However, if you make your focus too specific, you might get sick of it and stop writing. I try to keep my blog about academia and academic topics, but I initially had thoughts about just a digital history or digital humanities blog. From a few months experience, I do not think I would have kept up the regularity of my posts if I had made it that narrow. Like picking a schedule, though, a theme should be tailored to your individual goals (If I wanted to do a narrower topic, I would probably only write posts monthly or every couple of weeks, but that’s me).
#6 Don’t be afraid to ruffle feathers
The vast majority of the comments left on my blog are from one blog post. I am not convinced everyone who commented or tweeted me actually read my blog post, but nevertheless the publicity brought in more readers (well at least twitter followers).