So, does the Mad Biologist follow the advice given by big-time bloggers? Like Farhad Manjoo, I’ve actually read (ok, skimmed) The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, but Manjoo gives an electronic version of the guide, upgraded to include advice from other bloggers. Onto the advice:
- Set a schedule. Blog often. Yep. Daily.
- Don’t worry if your posts suck a little. I’ve got this one covered: most of my posts suck a lot.
- Write casually but clearly. Mixed bag. My lede isn’t always good, although hopefully, the post titles and the excerpt blurb make up for that. On the other hand, keeping posts below 800 words usually isn’t a problem–I lack the patience and the time to write more than that.
- Add something new. I’m not entirelhy convinced by this piece of advice–nobody links to (or reads) my posts about antibiotic resistance, even though it kills tens of thousands of people annually (that doesn’t mean I won’t write them of course). When I do add something new, it’s often because I challenge (sometimes even correctly) the assumptions underlying an ongoing debate.
- Join the bloggy conversation. And link! I do link, for the little or no good that it does me. On a tangential note, I’ll probably bring back lists of links (I stopped because I hated putting it together, but I think I’ve figured out how to do it with less pain on my part).
- Don’t expect instant fame. Not a problem. If I wanted fame, I would use my real name…
- Wait at least 15 minutes before publishing something you’ve written. Yup (and I’m still an idiot).
- Write everything as if your mom is reading your work, a good way to maintain civility and keep your work comprehensible. Civility? Who do you think taught me some of my best curse words? Definitely bad advice here….
On a slightly less snarky note, Ezra Klein writes:
Find something specific to follow and follow it deeply. That “something” could be health policy, as it has been for me, or urban policy, or telecom, or congressional procedure, or media structure, or a thousand things I can’t name. That’s not to say you have to create a niche blog. The specialized posts mix with the generalized posts — in my case, health wonkery rubs elbows with garden variety political punditry — and the two cross-subsidize each other. The rigor of the more technical work gives you credibility in the reader’s mind and adds weight to the generalist posts. The generalist posts broaden the blog’s potential audience and create access points that new readers wouldn’t have if you let the blog become a repository of technical commentary.
Just out of curiosity, what do readers think I specialize in?