On Blogging

Keeping it simple

When I first built Blogroll.org I went big with a fancy home page, several explainer pages, boxes of links, a message board in lieu of comments and so forth.

Fun and exciting times!

But then…

I noticed over the past few months I was slowly backing off posting new links, posts, etc.

After taking some time off to meditate on why, I realized Blogroll.org became a psychic burden weighting on my shoulders with so many things to update. Ugh.

It was no longer fun.

So recently I simplified things by dumping extraneous pages, shutting off the message board and wiped out the front page by swapping it with the actual blogroll (where it should have been all along).

Blogroll.org went back to the roots of a blogroll without the extra junk.

Ahhhh… I can breathe easier and I don’t feel pressure anymore to keep so many things updated.

It’s easy and fun again.

This can very much apply to your own blogs and such. If you’re struggling to write, try to simplify the mission and bend your blog to where you are in the moment.

(Ways to trim things down: Knock down the number of pages needing to be updated. Change up your posting cadence. Turn it into a micro blog or newsletter. Post your photos instead. Make it an informal journal, etc. Whatever makes it easy for you to share something.)

Most of all, drop whatever preconceived notions you may have of the “right way” to blog. There is only one way — yours.

Enjoy. That’s the key!

A couple things

Quick notes on things at the Blogroll.org HQ:

– I got hungry and added Food/Drink as a new category for personal blogs focusing on those topics. If you have any favorites, feel free to let me know by commenting (or replying to the newsletter).

– In the Blogroll Scroll weekly newsletter I’ve added a little space to share extra thoughts on certain blogs/links I’m sharing. You’ll see those in italics.

– Those newsletters will go out on Sundays rather than Saturdays (when there is stuff to share).

Enjoy, fellow net-wanderers.


“A Gentle Intro to RSS”

I talk about RSS feeds quite a bit — they’ve been around for decades and are one of the easiest (and best) ways to keep up with your favorite blogs. 

However, in the zeal of my love for it, I sometimes forget that not everyone knows what RSS feeds are, much less how to use them in the first place. 

Derek Kedziora (an Ukrainian blogger, no less!) beat me to the punch with his “gentle” missive on RSS and its purpose:

RSS stands for really simple syndication, and that’s precisely what it does. RSS turns content into a feed. An RSS reader then checks feeds to see if there is new content.

Let’s say I subscribe to 100 RSS feeds: a mix of blogs, newspapers, YouTube channels and forums. Each day I open up my RSS reader to see all of the new content from each of these feeds in one place. It’s a morning newspaper for the internet.

He brings up a great point how RSS feeds are a very patient (and quiet) form of keeping up:

There’s no FOMO. If I take a week off from my RSS reader, I don’t get any notifications begging me to come back. All of the content is sitting there waiting.

The solitude of an RSS reader is a fresh relief from the unrelenting firehoses of social media.

And you are free from the yoke of algorithms because *you* get to decide what to read.

For more, including Derek’s recommended RSS readers and such, mosey on over to: A gentle intro to RSS

Beware Chrome’s follow button?

“Beware the awful avalanche.” ~ Longfellow

By now you’ve probably heard Google’s testing an RSS follow button in Chrome that lets readers follow blogs, etc. and read those articles in a new “Following” tab in the browser.

At first glance it’s great news — anything that helps readers follow blogs can only help, right?

The problem is this is Google we’re talking about… The same hegemonic tech company who killed off the extremely popular Google (RSS) Reader in a failed effort to herd us towards their doomed Google+ social network.

This is the same Google that tried to shove their ignoble AMP crap down our throats in the guise of furthering their search engine dominance. It’s also the same Google who is trying to monopolize email delivery through their Gmail service by forcing us to dance around their promotions folder and filters to get in touch with our very own readers.

So while I love the idea of making it as frictionless as possible for readers to follow our blogs, I’m wary of Google’s past of luring people in and then sinking their monopolistic claws into us, forcing sites to do things their way or lose followers (or relevance or SEO juice or what not).

You know the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!”?

Exactly how I feel.

☞ UPDATE: After I finished writing this, I see that Scott Nesbitt opined with his excellent (and more reasoned than mine, for sure) thoughts on Google’s RSS follow button:

Unlike some of the doomsayers, I don’t believe that the Follow button will kill RSS, either. The Follow button in Chrome has little or anything to do with RSS. In some ways, it seems to be an attempt by Google to replace or supplant RSS rather than being a direct existential threat to RSS. 

That’s not to say that the Follow button is innocuous. It has the potential to be very dangerous. [ … ] when you tap the button, an algorithm is also making suggestions. That can quickly build a filter bubble around you, pushing misinformation and the like your way. [ … ] Worse, you don’t have any control over what’s pushed your way unlike the control that you have with RSS.

Read the rest from his delicious newsletter at Weekly Musings (tip ‘o the hat to Kev Quirk).


Free your blog from the tyranny of pace

Dan James at 35hunter.com shares his struggles of maintaining a writing pace on his blog:

Amidst the strangeness of the past 15 months or so, I’ve been struggling to maintain a consistent approach both with publishing new blog posts, and responding to comments.

Despite only setting myself a target of a new post every three days, little has changed since then, and I still feel most of the time I’m scrabbling to have a new post ready in time.

He says he’s responsible for setting a pace:

Now, it’s important to note that the only one who ultimately sets the pace of a personal blog, is its owner.

And ponders thus…

However, then the dilemma is, if I publish less, would readers lose interest and drift away anyway, so there’d be a dwindling amount of comments anyway?

My thoughts for Dan:

You have it in your head that you must maintain some kind of specific balance of pace in order to keep your audience (ala readers). When this happens you’re not writing for yourself; you’re writing for Mr. Pace.

Hence the struggle within.

The secret sauce to a happy blog is to write when you feel like it and throw everything else outta the window. Your readers will figure it out (or you can tell ’em you write with the flow).

In other words, screw pace. Make your blog truly yours in all ways. Otherwise it’s not yours. Think of your blog as your own journal (that you happen to have open to others). True journals are immune from the vagaries of time and pace.

Don’t worry about the number of comments you get, either. If you do then you’re writing for comments. Write only and uniquely for you and be free, whether you get 0 comments or 100.

It is when you are truly free that your best writing flows forth.

Personally, I love your blog and I follow it religiously via my RSS reader. I get your stories whether you blog once a month or thrice a week.

I don’t care how often you do it. I care that you do it when you feel like it so it’s not forced. If it’s forced I’ll know it and that’s when you start to lose me as a reader.

Write for yourself, pace be damned. You’ll be happier and so will we.