In half an hour time, my task will be to explain how you are supposed to blog properly (I have the pleasure and honor to give a workshop on scholarly blogging with Mareike König at the #DHd2016 pre-conference), which is somewhat weird since I feel like it is precisely what I have not been doing lately. So, in order to contradict those who seem to assume that I blog regularly, profusely and without mistakes or hesitations, I have decided to write about how to blog poorly – I mention the cure to the disease as well, for obvious pedagogical reasons.
- You blog poorly when you are gloomy. Fact is, since you blog much more with your heart than while writing a scholarly article, your mood unavoidably deflects on the content of your blog post. As poor scholarly self-esteem has dominated my life for a while, I was a poor blogger: one who mostly complains and protests. Not all readers enjoy grumpiness. In fact, most of them rather go for positive energy, which I basically recommend.
- It really helps to have new things (and a plan for them) in order to communicate something to the outer world. The research group I had been leading for five years doesn’t have any more funding. Its progress, its hardships and good times, its discoveries, its new ideas and the difficulties to implement them, were at the core of this blog. Once the main topic does not exist anymore, is it the end of a blog? Somehow, research goes on. But a blog that wonders where a research is going is somewhat different from a blog describing research happening after a funding program.
- Your blog is your visit card. Don’t forget to mention your publications there – this is something I have tended to do mostly on twitter lately, which makes little sense considering how low the odds are that someone finds that tweet among my 12,000 in which I mentioned the last paper I uploaded on HAL.
- It is not only your visit card, it is also your living room. Don’t leave it messy (yet again something I have promised myself to improve about one year ago). Order the contents so that your visitor feels taken by the hand and finds orientation – so that they want to try all the chairs and admire all the pictures on the wall. Clean categories, neat structure, matter a lot when it comes to keeping your reader by you.
- Pictures help with the big picture. Text is boring and it is really important to take optics into account while constructing a blog post. Insert images, distance between paragraphs, the fitting headings… (all of which I have been blatantly neglecting, as you can, again, see here).
- Accept the flowers. If someone tells you you are an awesome blogger, you can laugh at the flattery, but mostly you should think about what blogging means to you and why it matters to you to be an awesome blogger. Then you’ll remember the why and how. And you will blog again.