The Art of Blogging

I want to make a confession first up, which is that I hate the word blog and all its extensions – blogging, blogger, blogged and blogs. Short for ‘web log’ apparently, blog, is an ugly word let’s face it. It sounds to me like a colloquial term fit for acts of defecation. Thus, the art of blogging is akin to a ballerina farting loudly throughout a performance of the Nutcracker Suite. OK got that off my chest. I wonder who came up with the term in the first place? I Googled it and according to a Wikipedia entry ‘weblog’ was so named by one Jom Barger in 1997 and one Peter Merholz reduced the two words to ‘blog’ in 1999 via a phrase posted on his blog. Now you know.

Blogging is an Emerging Genre

Blogging is writing, a form of written communication in the digital age. Blogs are most commonly websites carrying posts containing opinion pieces. This emerging genre of written communication has been influenced by something called search engine optimisation (SEO). Very many blogs are written to improve the ranking and traffic to associated websites. This poses serious credibility questions about many of the blog postings that you may read on the internet. Of course, there are blogs written without recourse to SEO, but they are definitely in the minority.

The 400-Word Blog Post

The 400-word post has become a stand-alone genre in the 21C. This word length can generally satisfy the sampling spiders of search engine algorithms. There are rules that writers of these posts must adhere to if they are to attract the positive attention of search engines. Content on websites, in the form of text primarily and images to a lesser extent, is regularly searched by Google, Bing, Safari etc. The art of blogging must enhance the chances of keyword searches coming up with quality results for those end users seeking specific information.

In my role as a professional blogger I have written 400-word posts on just about every topic under the sun. My mother always said that I had the gift of the gab and I have channelled this talent for bullshitting into the written digital medium. I use the term bullshitting not to mean outright lies but rather the willy nilly casting of authoritative opinions. In fact, my modus operandi is to always tell the truth in my blogging wherever possible. I have described myself as a hack journalist of the digital age – a paid writer churning out endless 400-word posts for the direct benefit of clients I usually never see or hear. To keep my sanity, I focus on the message contained within my penned 400 words (no actual pen is involved). If I can communicate a sage message to the readers of my posts, then, I can walk away with some modicum of satisfaction.

Two topics that have more in common than you might think are subjects I have been commissioned to write on a lot – sex and plumbing. Both practitioners of these ancient occupations, it seems, are either not great with words or are simply too busy to write their own copy. The two areas share concerns with couplings and both charge like wounded bulls. I was once critiqued by a phone sex operator client and censured for writing content that was too dirty. There are degrees of indecency and obscenity, even in the art of blogging. Dentistry is another demanding client of my blogging and I can detail great swathes of dental lore for those who may wish to know of these things. Superannuation and those who deal in such financial products and insurance, also, regularly call upon my skill set. Lawyers have recently come to the party and especially those who dabble in compensation law. Money lenders, whores, electricians and plumbers are all members of my art of blogging SEO family. DJs and wedding singers have joined the club, and now that I think about it, a bouncy castle provedore, vape shops, landscape gardeners, builders, conveyancers, plasterers, carpenters, healers, chiropractors, herbalists, bookies, locksmiths, security specialists, lighting shops, air conditioning contractors, speciality food stores, natural health providers, debt collection agencies, phone sex operators, life coaches, personal development seminars, sound therapy, disability advocates, and my apologies to all those I can no longer remember. I did, however, at the time compose authoritative text upon the concerns of all these agencies. Research is an important factor in the art of blogging. Knowing where to look and knowing how to discern the valuable from the hot air is of paramount importance.

I think about the demise of old-world genres like letter writing and diarising. Emails purport to having replaced the letter but these two written expressions of communication have very different characteristics. Emails in my experience are generally written with an air of haste and target an immediate response from the reader in the main. The instantaneous reality of the medium permeates the content a lot of the time. Personally, I primarily associate emails with work, probably because this was the realm in which the medium was first introduced into my life. To this day, I have difficulty in dealing with very personal emails. Diary entries are a better fit with digital web logs and many owners of blog sites would consider their blogging as public diarising. Diaries were usually private affairs until their publication post-mortem for the celebrated and famous. The digital age, especially via social media, has reduced the realm of the private self, our inner worlds. Thoughts once kept private are splashed out on Facebook, Twitter and in blog posts. More recent generations of us seem compelled to list their lives on social media platforms. Things are more real for them when they can see them on the screens of their ubiquitous phones.

The art of blogging is now a prerequisite for the modern human being. Being able to compose a readable post on a topic, most usually autobiographical, is an essential 21C skill. We are all asked to write our own profiles for an abundance of digital mediums deemed necessary for work and personal activities. Self-promotion is a basic requirement of the modern world. This means that a grasp of your own language in the written form is more important than ever before in the history of humanity. Alas, there is a surfeit of bad copy on the web. There are very many poorly written posts and pages among the trillions online. Whether this is due to incompetent software programs, digital copywriters in the third world, and/or illiterate website owners it is not a great cache of written communication by human beings. The world wide web lacks a good editor.

Our kids, are, and will be, looking to the internet for their written language learning. Let us hope that they quickly learn to become discerning in their perusing of these billions of blogs and web sites. The digital realm is now our global library of text and images. The art of blogging is having its 21st birthday. It is a young entity and, perhaps, should be judged accordingly. In time, like most things, it may well evolve into something worth watching. I will be doing my best to sustain the genre into the 21C. Perhaps, vlogs will replace the blog, with hacked human beings too busy to bother with something as boring as reading. Watching and listening may well be the way forward into the future. The death of writing and reading something worth reading will be an awful shame in this blogger’s opinion. Life may well become so pre-digestible that all information will be masticated prior to consumption by the children of tomorrow. The glazed look in his and her eyes while hovering over their screen was a harbinger of the demise of Homo sapiens. If only the art of blogging could have saved us from our deletion from the main game in time. I will write a 400-word post on this and hold my breath.

©Robert Hamilton