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General

Blog What You Want To

“What should I write about on my new blog?” is a question I’m asked very often. I always reply with my own question, “What do you want to write about?” which always leads to an interesting conversation, so today I figured I’d take to my blog to blog about blogging, because I want to.

A lot of folks think they need to pick one subject to write about in order to build an audience fast and get rich quick, and they’re not wrong. If you write only about fish, people looking for sites about fish will find you often, and ad revenue and subscriptions can build up quick if your content is good. But, are you willing to write about fish daily or weekly for the next year or more? I’m asking not only do you have the knowledge at hand, but are you ready to put in the work solely about fish? Some people are, the existence of popular single-subject sites is proof of that, but even most of their founders have taken a back seat and hired writers instead.

Burnout is real, and if you find yourself repeatedly doing something you don’t enjoy, you may find yourself giving up or paying someone else to do the work. I know this, not only from watching single-subject sites fail over burnout, but from having personally experienced it too. I kept my Splash Panel and Rewatch reviews going for quite some time, but eventually putting the work into them became tedious. I just didn’t enjoy them anymore, and by extension, I didn’t enjoy blogging anymore.

There’s an alternative to having a single-subject site, and that’s to just write what you want to when you want to. When inspiration strikes, write it down and share it. Don’t hold yourself to a single subject or schedule, just show the world who you are. If you don’t have time to write a post at the moment, jot some notes down really quick and write it up the next day. You won’t build a following as fast as you would with a single-subject, but I can say from experience that audience will hang around a lot longer. They won’t be one-time visitors from a search engine, they’ll be long-time subscribers. That’s what I used to do around here, and I think that’s what I’ll do again.

If you’re burning out over a single subject and don’t know how to get out of that rut, start by sharing small bits of content you enjoy elsewhere. I really have to credit MLTSHP and Tumblr for reminding what it felt like to just share what I want to without being beholden to expectations, and for that reason, I’ll keep sharing things there. Stop by MacManX Aside or signup for MLTSHP any time for some random fun, but do expect more longer form random fun here from now on.

Writing for a single-subject on a schedule will almost certainly grow your site quicker, but it’s nowhere near as fun as sharing yourself with the world by sharing what you like when you’re inspired to. And, if you’ve never blogged before, stop by WordPress.com where we’ll be happy to get you started!

Categories
Technology

On Social Networks – Tumblr

Back in November, I shared some thoughts on social networks. I had just joined Tumblr at the time, so I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it. I think I’m getting the hang of it, so I thought it would only be fair to revisit it separately. Before I continue though, please take a moment today to ask Facebook to stop profiting from hate speech and misinformation.

Back in the old days of this blog, I’d post short content far more frequently. Photos, GIFs, videos, links to articles elsewhere, single-sentence remarks, usually multiple times per day. I didn’t have anywhere else besides my Twitter account to share these things, and Twitter isn’t really built for centralized consumption, so the blog here was a more natural fit. Over time though, this blog has evolved into much longer form content, leaving no room for frequent small shares.

Tumblr is much more centralized than Twitter though, so I have begun to post small frequent shares again at MacManX Aside. Not only is the experience of browsing an individual’s content similar to consuming a stand-alone blog, but the overall community seems perfectly suited for the things I want to share. It even has specific posting styles for text, photos, quotes, links, invitations to discuss, audio, and videos, all of the things I stopped posting here (for the most part). In November, I had no clue what to post there, but the light bulb went off rather quickly, and I’ve begun posting small things I love again quite frequently. Plus, that all auto-shares to Twitter, so that’s handy. Engagement there is still low for now, but to be honest engagement has always been low here too.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a post about social networks without me mentioning my absolute favorite social network, MLTSHP. I post similar things there, far more things actually, and it is quite simply the best, kindest, most supportive, and most diverse social network I have ever been a part of. Think of it as a highly curated selection of things we love. Plus, engagement is off the charts, and everyone feels like a friend from day one. Sure, it costs $3/year to join, but that’s because it’s entirely community funded (no ads or tracking), and that tiny $3 gate seems to keep the bad people out (there is an aggressively enforced Code of Conduct for any who gets through though). Did I mention it’s entirely open source too? Anyway, if you ever decide to join, please feel free to follow me there, or check out the publicly visible Popular page if you’re unsure.

With all that said, while posts like these are somewhat permanent, my views on social network usage are always in flux. Therefore, I am now keeping an up-to-date page listing which social networks I use.

(Photo by Merakist on Unsplash)

Categories
Technology

On Social Networks

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially with the introduction of WT.Social, a new social network from the co-founder of Wikipedia, which boasts about being a better alternative to the mainstream social networks. We all know those mainstream networks, and we’re all probably on them. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, but there’s a lot more out there, and sometimes I wonder if that’s becoming a problem.

Originally, Facebook introduced itself as the only social network you’ll ever need. Almost 14 years later, it doesn’t seem like that has happened. Smaller players have joined and left the field, even big players have. Google’s own Google+ lasted 7 years, and let’s not forget Apple’s own iTunes Ping which lasted for a mere 2 years. But, others are hanging in there, like Tumblr, Reddit, and even WordPress.com has a social network element. They thrive on a loyal user base that prefers their product over others, and as Facebook continues to land on the wrong side of privacy, security, and marketing, no wonder other social networks are still thriving.

In the old days, we’d check probably just 1 social network probably just once a day, but now it’s more like 4 or 5 social networks 4 or 5 times a day (likely more). Is that a problem though? Is there an issue with having access to your friends and family, and a whole world of information, at all times? I believe that social media fatigue is real, so I suppose it all comes down to how you use them.

For me, I consider Twitter to be my primary social network, I’m on there and engaging the most, largely thanks to Twitterrific. I’m also on Instagram for photos, LinkedIn for business-y things, and reluctantly Facebook because that’s where I can connect with the most people I know. WordPress.com is in my life too, but that’s where I work, so I still consider it work. I am also now on Tumblr, but I’m just starting to get a feel for it. (Update: A few months later, I shared some thoughts on Tumblr.)

I have joined and thoroughly enjoy one alternative social network, MLTSHP (pronounced Malt Shop). It’s just a place where folks share fun images, GIFs, or videos they found around the internet. Think of it like a curated Tumblr or Reddit. It’s not free, there’s a small $3/year membership fee to keep all the junk out, and it works! Everyone there is kind and supportive, you’re immediately one of them just by joining, and anyone who joins with ill will is usually within hours of violating MLTSHP’s Code of Conduct anyway. The mainstream social networks are free and powered by advertising, you’re the product. MLTSHP is powered by that membership fee (and a $24/year upgrade for folks who want a few extras) and it’s entirely open source. You’ll never be the product at MLTSHP, and you could always fork it if it ever shut down, which is actually how MLTSHP was born from the ashes of MLKSHK (pronounced Milk Shake). You can follow folks there (like me), but the total membership is only in the hundreds, so you can go through the entire incoming feed once a day easily.

For me, MLTSHP makes up the missing piece of my social network collection. Twitter for engagement, Facebook for connections, LinkedIn for business connections, WordPress.com for work, and MLTSHP for fun. While I long for the unlikely days of 1 altruistic social network to rule them all, I think I’ve struck a good balance with these 5. Social networks will come and go. You should definitely try new things, but the best thing to do is to watch out for fatigue, however you handle that.

Update: I change how I use my social networks often, so rather than continue to update this time-stamped post, I’m keeping an up-to-date page here instead.

(Photo by Merakist on Unsplash)