The Ancient Art Of Blogging

Blogging Is Not Dead.

Every time I read a post or news story about the death of blogging I roll my eyes and shake my head. Those headlines and stories are written by those who don’t understand and or those who like using linkbait to drive traffic.

That is because the ancient art of blogging began when man first drew pictures of animals inside caves. Humans are communal creatures and storytelling is a big part of how we build those communities.

The best bloggers understand that storytelling is the way to connect with the readers and to begin building a community. They don’t spend all of their time asking and answering questions about how long it takes to build a successful blog, how to generate comments or how long it takes to build a community.

They share stories and invite their readers to share their own as well.  When used effectively social media brings people together in both unique and traditional ways. It is a useful tool for helping to capture and share a moment in time.

It is a sunny day in Los Angeles and I am with a group of the boys. It is the late nineties and our crew is a mix of newlyweds and grad students. We’re sitting outside watching girls on roller blades and swapping stories about life.

The singles guys are regaling us married folk with tales of their conquests and smart ass remarks about how our lives are over now.

“I went on an interview today. It was for a position selling cemetery plots.”

There is a short pause and then I receive a barrage of remarks about how it will be great to work with stiff and don’t catch a case of necrophilia. I have a witty response to every comment that I would share but sadly can no longer remember.

Or maybe I can remember but choose not to share those memories here.  Selective memory is one of the benefits of the ancient days in which we didn’t record every thought in tweets, Facebook status updates and blog posts.

Blog Posts Don’t Always Have To Follow “The Rules”

If you want to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack you need to be willing to mix things up a little bit. You need to show your voice and your style and you need to do so without looking like your are trying to be different.

That is what I am trying to do here. I am trying to be different without working real hard. I am trying to share a few moments in time you can connect to and trying to make a couple of points.

I don’t expect everyone to get it or like it. I hope you do but you can’t please everyone. If you try to do that you will create a boring, sterile blog that no one besides your family will want to read.

I love my family and I know they will read whatever I write, but they aren’t the target audience here. Everyone else is. The goal is create something special. The goal is to build a community that will stand together and sing a song.

Watch the video below and you will see what I am talking about.

You just watched fans of the Liverpool Football Club sing You’ll Never Walk Alone. I don’t want to get into UK politics here because its inclusion in this post isn’t related to Hillsborough, not to mention it was used before the release of the report.

The point and purpose is to say this is the sort of communal experience and support that every brand/business wants and something that anyone who is trying to build a community wants to build.

Consider what it must be like to be in a stadium where more than 45,000 people are singing together. I have seen it happen sometimes at baseball or football games here in the states.

One my most vivid memories is from 1996 Olympics. I remember watching Michael Johnson win a gold medal and how so many of us sang along with Star Spangled Banner. It was awesome, but the Olympics aren’t a weekly event.

What I am talking about is building something more, something special and doing much of it with the tools that are provided by the ancient art of blogging.

This is the sort of community I want to build. The way to do it is to find things that people can relate to. It is by talking about homework never ends for parents and asking people to share their favorite movies.

What do you think? I would love to talk about it with you in the comments.

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  2. Jon Buscall October 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Hey Josh,
    Any blog post with YNWA in is perfect as far as I’m concerned :=)

    But seriously, community is central to what we do online. Even where we don’t see it, there is community. The skill is bringing it together and working with it, enjoying it and most of all tending to it with care.

    Great stuff.

    • Josh October 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Jon,

      Community is the secret sauce and the engine that powers social media. If we can figure out how to make our communities sing with us, well then we have something special now don’t we.

  3. Tim Bonner October 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Hey Josh

    Not getting political or anything but I’m a Manchester Utd fan and we’re arch rivals of Liverpool. 😉

    Anyway, I totally agree with you about those blog posts talking about the impending demise of blogging. What do those people know anyway?

    Each and every person can make their blog unique and not follow the pack. I was guilty of following at the beginning but I’m moving more towards story telling.

    I sometimes think, well who would want to know about me and read my stories but it’s surprising how many people who do connect with what I’m saying.

    I really enjoy reading the stories you have to tell Josh, even if you did mention Liverpool!

    • Josh October 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Tim,

      They just showed a recent match between the two clubs here. It was fun to watch. My kids play, so I spend a chunk of time out at the park practicing with them.

      I think it takes some time to find your sea legs and to develop your voice, but if you work at it you find it happens sooner than later.

      When we look at our lives I think many of us see them as being mundane, but to others they are exotic and interesting. I am a big fan of writing and building our communities around us.

      And I am glad you are a part of this community. Hope you have a good weekend.

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  5. Mary Stephenson October 4, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Josh

    Great take on what we have really being doing for generations. It is just now we are doing it on a computer. Lucky you, at least your family reads your posts! I wish mine took an interest in doing so, they might just learn who I really am. But since I moved a 1000 plus miles away from most of them, I guess I can’t blame them.

    My aunt used to write some pretty fabulous letters. She didn’t try to be funny, but she would be hilarious. It was just her ability to tell something that happened and engage you in the story. I am hoping some of it rubbed off on me. Even my mother’s letters were far more interesting than when you actually talked to her. She didn’t try to be funny either but they used to give us a chuckle.

    We all have our own history and no one else sees it the same way us. Even 2 people having the exact same experience would have 2 versions of the same event. Very enlightening.


    • Josh October 5, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Hi Mary,

      Some of my relatives might say the same thing about my writing. Truth is you are probably more likely to get more out of me if I write a letter than if you speak with me.

      Your point about the difference in how people see events is spot on. It reminds me of one of my times on jury duty. All of the jurors heard the same story but we all interpreted it slightly differently.

  6. Adrienne October 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Hey Josh,

    I can relate to what you’re saying. I know a lot of people, including myself, may think that what they share would be boring or that they wouldn’t be able to stand out from the crowd, I now know that’s bull.

    We are all unique in our own way and what we see in ourselves, other may find a rare gem. So let your hair down, tell your own stories your way and share with the blogging community what you’re all about. Trust me, you’ll have people connecting with you right and left.

    That’s how it all happens.


    • Josh October 4, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      Hi Adrienne,

      I couldn’t agree more. So many of our stories end up being more interesting to other people than we ever imagine they would be.

      Those tales help create that personal connection and build the relationships we work on. I see no reason not to use the material I know best to try to make that happen.

  7. Hajra October 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

    We all have stories to tell – all kinds of stories. I am just glad people come by and read it. It has to be about community and reaching out. I always hope the newbies know that – not just about comments and counts!

    It should be about interactions!

  8. Judy Dunn October 4, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Hey Josh,

    Recovering from the Week from Hell here. iMac exploded (thankfully my book manuscript and other important stuff were backed up). Just getting back to my normal commenting. MacBookPro is okay but, man, can laptops get hot. And now a new computer is on my list. : (

    As I make the move over to FeedBlitz, the community part has given me a lot to think about. Hoping that all my RSS reader subscribers re-subscribe, but it has made me realize that the real community will be the people who have decided that the content and interactions warrant sticking around. And I’m totally with you on the stories. That’s the powerful part.

    • Josh October 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Judy,

      Sorry to hear about your tech issues. I have been there and it is not any fun. Amazing how dependent we have become on these ‘puters.

      I think the most important members of the community are those that show don’t absentmindedly add your feed to a list they may or may not get to.

      The diehards are the core group and they are the people that help keep things going. That is not to say the others aren’t important because it would be great to convert them, but…

  9. Carolyn October 4, 2012 at 5:05 am

    Hi Josh, I like your analogy to cave drawings as the origin of blogging. It’s comforting to think of our craft as being older than, well, the Internet.

    The blogging community has been such an amazing source of support and guidance. Blogging itself can be rewarding, but when coupled with the community of fellow bloggers who are kindly commenting, sharing and advising, the fulfillment is even more profound.

    We may not be lifting our voices in song, but bloggers are certainly lifting each other up in many other ways.

    • Josh October 4, 2012 at 10:16 am

      Hi Carolyn,

      It is how I see it. We have this long standing history of connecting via storytelling. There have been a multitude of ways in which those stories have been told and those drawings are where I look first.

      And I can’t agree more with your comments about bloggers and the communities we build together. It is a wonderful experience.

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