Blogging is “a dangerous medium for personal exposure.”
So says Andrew Robulack, a Whitehorse technophile, columnist and long-time blogger.
He’s nailed the definition. Broadcasting your opinions, memories, successes, and frustrations, in the most public forum yet devised, is everything Andrew asserts.
So you wouldn’t expect many people to write a “web log,” the name once given to these online journals. Yet our triangular territory publishes scores of active blogs.
The writers of these blogs, ordinary Yukoners in every respect, have decided they have something to say that is worth the risk.
I’ll wager that you do too. What is holding you back is that you’re uncertain of how to begin, afraid that you have nothing interesting to say, worried that you’ll embarrass yourself, and convinced that you don’t write real good.
Starting a new blog is easy and cheap. All you need is occasional access to a computer with an internet connection. Everything you do with your blog will be through the Web, so you don’t need to download any software programs.
If Bryan and Vikki of The Happy Trappers blog can post from an off-grid, fly-in cabin in northern BC, you have no excuse.
Your only major decision is to choose a blogging service. Two of the most popular are Blogger (www.blogger.com) and WordPress (www.wordpress.com). Since they’re free, experiment with both to see which you prefer.
You’ll then register an account and choose a name for your blog. Now you’re ready to tweak its appearance, or you can dive in and start writing.
That brings us to your second imagined hurdle. What will you write about?
For ideas, visit other blogs, from the Yukon or elsewhere, to sample what people find interesting. They’re writing about family, vacations, hobbies, careers, politics, education, business, faith, technology, and, perhaps inevitably, writing itself.
Write about that very specific topic that fascinates you. The lesson the internet teaches us is that no matter how narrow your interests, a minimum of a dozen other humans share your infatuation.
Some of what you write will be personal, and therefore, as Andrew put it, a little dangerous. You must decide how much of yourself to expose through your blog.
Do keep in mind the harsh rule of the internet: if you don’t want it published on the front page of The Globe and Mail, don’t write it down, in any electronic medium.
Don’t write about your place of work. And for heaven sakes, don’t write from your place of work. Your employment contract may forbid it.
Don’t write something about someone that you wouldn’t say directly to his or her face. Blog writing is a drug that makes you brave and truthful. Civil society depends on discretion.
I suspect that if you ask established bloggers what it is that they most dread, it won’t be the worry of over-exposure or libel damages. Instead, it’s the dejected thought that The Globe will never publish their blog post above the fold.
It turns out that it is tremendously difficult to encourage others to read your personal disclosures. To truly embarrass yourself, you must work at it.
The absolute best, can’t fail, guaranteed way to attract attention to your blog is simply to write, and write frequently.
Short posts are fine, even preferred, but you have to keep at it without letup. Witty, informed, and passionate writing has its place, but frequency wins the blogging wars.
Join a blogging group like Urban Yukon for advice, encouragement, and self-promotion.
Comment on your fellow bloggers’ posts. Each mention will promote your own blog.
Finally, let us tackle your fear that you don’t write well, that you misuse grammar, that your arguments are disjointed, and that you spell atrociously.
All true, I’m afraid.
Take comfort in the fact that it’s the same for everyone. The only difference is that some of us have had more practice at writing.
And what is a blog? Why, it’s a purpose-built practise-your-writing machine.
The maxim states the obvious, “a writer writes.” So too does a blogger, and that constant practice will do more to improve your writing than spending hours leafing through the pages of a grammar book.
I won’t suggest that blogging is a gateway to professional writing, but the two complement each other. Just ask Amanda McDonald, Celia McBride, and Jerome Stueart, three professional Yukon writers and bloggers.
Now that I’ve dispensed with all of the reasons for not blogging, it’s time for you to start one. Your own personal, exposed, dangerous, and yet exhilarating, online manifesto.