Om’s lessons

Om Malik is maybe one of the most famous and prolific bloggers out there. I admit I don’t read him that often, but I know who he is. The reason I mention him is because he, one of the most famous and prolific bloggers out there, has been blogging for 10 years and, few days ago, wrote a recap of his decade of blogging and included a list of lessons he’s learned. While our blogs are not comparable in any way (except that they’re both blogs), I thought that his lessons were worth passing along for others. Here they are along with my own comments.

1. Blogging is communal: In 2008, I wrote that “blogging is not just an act of publishing but also a communal activity. It is more than leaving comments; it is about creating connections.” That is the single biggest lesson learned of these past 10 years. Every connection has lead to a new idea, new thought and a new opportunity.

I have enjoyed making connections with the readers of my words more than I would have expected when I started. I also like being in a community of others who write about what I write about. One of my favorite parts of blogging is being able to bounce off something another person wrote (either on their own blog or in my comments).

2. Being authentic in your thoughts and voice is the only way to survive the test of time.

Maybe the best of his tips, and especially applicable in the particular seedy back alley my blog inhabits.

3. Being wrong is as important as being right. What’s more important — when wrong, admit that you are wrong and listen to those who are/were right.

Yes. If I were ever wrong, I’m sure I’d admit it.

4. Be regular. And show up to blog every day. After all you are as fresh as your last blog post.

This one, I suppose, could be somewhat controversial. I think one should only blog when they have something to say, but I also agree that blogging once every three months is not the best way to do it. I know as a reader of blogs that irregularity can be somewhat disappointing.

5. Treat others as you expect yourself to be treated.

That’s just good advice all the way around. It’s especially a problem on the web.

6. (In 2006 I wrote this and it is worth repeating) Doc Searls once told me, and it has been one of the guiding principles for me: blog if you have something to say and respect your reader’s time. If you respect their time, they are going to give you some time of their day.

As a blogger, the line between writing for myself and writing for my readers is not always bright and clear. It’s true that I’ve sometimes thought about hanging it up (or, at least, felt like it), but seeing all those little eyeballs showing up every day has motivated me to keep going. That said, it’s also the case that I’ve started a lot of posts only to kill them before they see the light of day because they’re pointless (chastity blogging in particular can get repetitively dull after a while and blogs on the subject seem to burn brightly yet briefly in general). Blogging, I find, is like working out. The more you do it, the more you want to do it. If you take a break, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. On this blog, if I write, it’s because I wanted to. The challenge is finding something to write about that I think is worthy of your time to read. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Hopefully, when I don’t, I recognize that and you aren’t forced to wade through it.

7. A long time ago, Slate’s Farhaad Manjoo asked me for some tips on blogging and here is what I told him – Wait at least 15 minutes before publishing something you’ve written—this will give you enough distance to edit yourself dispassionately.

Good practical advice. I often let a post sit for a while before publishing it. When I don’t, I invariably wish I had. I also read them several times, both in the editor and in preview. And still there are typos…

8. Write everything as if your mom is reading your work, a good way to maintain civility and keep your work comprehensible.

Well, obviously, I can’t do this, but if we lived in some alternate reality where a mom could read her son’s sex blog, I would hope that I’ve followed the spirit of the statement.

9. Blogging is not about opinion but it is about viewing the world in a certain way and sharing it with others how you look at things.

I love this one. It summarizes how I approach my blogging here perfectly. It’s an attribute of all my favorite blogs I had never realized before.

The tenth lesson comes from Kevin Kelleher when he was writing for us back in 2010. In his post, How the Internet changed writing he noted:

Many bloggers tailor headlines and posts so that they’ll surface at the top of search results, making them at once easier to find and less enjoyable to read. And this decade, a lot of other bloggers mistook a strong writing voice for caustic irreverence. But most eventually learned that writing with snark is like cooking with salt — a little goes a long way.

If anything, avoiding that trap Kevin mentioned is the biggest lesson of them all.

Well…it worked for Bitchy Jones, didn’t it?

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