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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Laser vs Blunderbuss: Blogging on One Theme or Many

Well, that was interesting.

When last week's blog on Fortunately the Milk was retweeted Neil Gaiman, that led to a gigantic storm of page views that took a couple of days to subside. From a distance, my graph of page views looks like I haven't been doing anything since last Sunday (which I haven't, of course, as I write this blog only weekly), whereas if last week had had the normal amount of hits the graph would look a little more respectable now.

But, you say, isn't it good that a whole bunch of people came to read my post? Sure, but it'd be nice if they'd come back this week, too. Which I don't think they will. Although I think that's okay, too.

When I started this blog in 2012, it was all part of my social media/online strategy to promote my writing, and was designed to work in tandem with my Twitter account to drive a perfect storm of potential fans to hang upon my every word, and hopefully make anything I created a massive success.

However, as I've continued writing it - generally once a week, but sometimes more frequently than that - I've had a look at what other bloggers are up to, and tried to determine what makes them so successful (to the point where they make money off their blogs and don't have to work full-time). What I've come up with so far is focus.

Taking a look at what I've written on here, there's no focus. I write about politics, sports, writing and that one time I met Chris Hardwick. I've tried my hand at book and movie reviews, but that didn't feel right, to be honest (and it means I have to avoid getting into any conversations with Alan K Baker when I'm at World Fantasy Con next week, because I don't want him to ask how I liked The Feaster from the Stars). If there's an overarching theme to what I write about, it's something I've come up with after the fact to try and tie the various types of posts together.

On the other hand, you've got blogs like Doctor Nerdlove, or the Wertzone, or Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, or Killer HipHop. Pat and Adam, at the Wertzone, have built up their sites by focusing on fantasy and science fiction news and reviews; Adam, in particular, has turned into a good clearing house of SFF news, reporting on things like the progress of the new Star Wars movie (not great, apparently). Doctor Nerdlove, by the same token, writes on a lot of topics centering around the same theme: helping geeks get the girl (or guy, because he has a lot of female readers).

And it's the same with Seb at Killer HipHop. I met him once, because he's a friend of a friend, and I hear about his progress all the time. Seb exemplifies the other key factor in these guys making successful blogs, which is hard work: when he still worked 9-5 he'd get home and work on the blog for five or six hours and then go to bed.

Not to say that I don't work hard - but because I don't have the single theme to focus on here there's not much point in working on the blog every day. And besides, I'd never get any fiction done, which is what I'm really interested in getting off the ground.

On the other hand, there's SFF writer John Scalzi's blog, Whatever. As the title implies, he writes about whatever he's thinking about. There's naturally a big slant toward SFF books and what's going on with his own projects, but there also seems to be a lot of talk about whatever he's interested in at the moment. While I don't read Whatever regularly, I'll admit that I use the concept as a template, rather than casting about for an overarching theme that wouldn't really fit me that well.

That's the point, in the end - if I haven't settled on one thing to write about here, it's because there are too many things bouncing around in my brain. I could blog about Serie A or fantasy novels I've read, but I don't want to limit myself to either of those topics (at least, not yet).

So for the moment, I'll continue jumping from thought to thought until I settle on something, even if it means sticking with 20-30 hits per blog. It'd be nice to get retweeted by Neil Gaiman all the time, but he's a busy guy, and frankly, I'm happy to have earned my 20-30 hits myself.