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28 April 2017

Flashback Friday | Random Blogging Tips


Today is Michael d’Agostino’s Flashback Friday. The idea is to republish an old post of yours that maybe didn't get enough attention, or that you're really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc. We started this blog three years ago and have lots more followers now then we did back then (thank you all!) so many folks may not have seen some of our earlier blog posts. 

I originally wrote this post on the first anniversary of our blog. It was a good opportunity to pause, reflect on what worked well and what didn't, and think about where I wanted to take the blog next. It's something I do now each year on Mr. Blog's birthday. {You can find links to more of my posts on blogging here.}

{This post was originally published in July 2014. You can find it here.}


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I can't believe that we started this blog a year ago and that this is our 177th post! It all started because of my mom. Bless her cotton socks. Like most moms, I imagine, she wants to know what we're up to and wishes I would email a lot more often. So when we decided to move onto a sailboat and start cruising full-time, I thought starting a blog would be an ideal way to keep her up to date on our little adventures. And as an added bonus, it seemed like a great way to organize our photos and keep a record of our travels. So two birds, one stone. {Random side note: Isn't that just an awful little saying to use to describe an efficient action? Death to birds = efficiency. Do vegetarians use this phrase?}

I'm surprised that I've kept this going for so long - I usually get bored of things much more quickly. But for some reason, I find writing up these random posts to be quite enjoyable and, at times, cathartic. And when we go back and read them, they make us laugh. Oh, the stupid things we've done! 

I really didn't know what I was doing when I started this blog and I still don't. So I've been having a look at various tips about how to write a great blog - such as this one on Blogher, this one from Bumfuzzle and of course this one from Windtraveler. After having a little review, here is how I think our little blog stacks up against some of their criteria:

1. Write about what you love

Tick. I love traveling, I love Scott and most of the time I love sailing. There are definitely days I don't love sailing. But I love writing about those days because it is cathartic. And people feel sorry for you - which I love.

2. Do good, don't bash others & don't be a "misery loves company" blog  

We try to tick this box, but yes, there are times when I write about the miserable days (see point 1 above). But on the whole, I try to keep things fun, not complain too much and bear in mind the golden rule. Because let's face it, we're lucky enough to go cruising, we have way too much to eat and we have a place to sleep every night - so really what is there to complain about? All you have to do is pick up the newspaper on any given day just to realize how darn lucky we are. 

3. Be different

Yeah, we probably don't tick this box. There are exactly 1,357,546,079 sailing blogs out there already. So we're not exactly different. And surprise, surprise - lots of people have sailed in New Zealand already. And pretty much everyone writes about the stupid things they've done on their boat. So, no, we're not different. But my mom likes our blog and has never read another cruising blog in her life - so at least she thinks we're different.

4. Post regularly

Tick. We try to post three times a week - Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays. Except, of course, when we have difficulties getting internet access or charging our computers. But generally, I write a whole bunch of posts at one time and have them all lined up and scheduled to go out. Which explains the alternative timeline and universe that my blog lives in - things often get reported in blogland a month or two after they happen in reality.

5. Keep it short and sweet

Nope, don't always tick this box. I sometimes write long, rambling posts with lots of weird tangents. This probably isn't going to change. However, when I write a day-by-day log type of posts, I try to do a shorter intro section which describes the theme of those few days so that people can just scan that and then move on to someone else who keeps it short and sweet. My mom on the other hand, is retired and has plenty of time so I expect she is reading all the way to the bitter end of each post. You are, aren't you?

6. Use pictures

Tick. One of the main purposes of our blog is a place to store our pictures, along with our stories. Scott is our camera man. He desperately wants a Go Pro and thinks this would take our pictures to the next level. I know that I love looking at the great pictures other people share in their blogs so I think this is a really important criteria. We even have a whole series of "Going for a Walk" posts of the places we've meandered, hiked and tramped in, which are mainly photos. (If you're interested in checking them out, click on "Walk" in the labels section on the right hand side and it will bring them all up. Or click on the New Zealand tab on the top and you'll see a list of all of them there too.)

7. Use social media & make friends

Maybe 37% of a tick on this one. I recently started a Facebook page for our blog - something I never thought I would do. Clearly some sort of demonic spirit possessed me, took over my computer and set it up. And then I got sucked into the world of Pinterest. Who knew how much fun pinning pictures could be? I'm still a little bit unsure about this whole social media thing and a recent experience has kind of put me off a bit. However, one of the best things about blogging and reading other people's blogs is connecting with folks through email, comments and, yes, even Facebook and Pinterest. We love hearing from you - keep it coming! What do you like about this blog? Let us know and we'll try to keep doing it.

8. Write like you talk

Tick, kind of. When I write a blog post, it is basically a brain dump of what all the weird little voices are saying to each other in my head. So yeah, it is kind of how I talk. Except when I'm working. No one at work really wants to hear you talk about demonic spirits or zombie wallabies. Instead, you're expected to use big words like "paradigm", "fungible" and "hegemony" and corporate phrases like "think outside the box", "it needs to be sticky" and "transformational change". No one really wants to hear nonsense like that in a blog. Especially Scott. 

So there you go - another long, rambling post to celebrate Mr. Blog's first birthday. I have no idea why my blog is a boy. But then again I have no idea why boats are girls. Blog just sounds like a boy's name. You wouldn't really name a little girl, Blog, would you? But it would be a great name for a cat. Blog the cat - it has a ring to it doesn't it. We're not getting a cat on our boat, so go ahead, you can name your cat Mr. Blog. Send us a picture though. Maybe I should host a Mr. Blog the Cat competition - best cat wins the opportunity to guest post on our blog. I better go check email now, I imagine the entries are flooding in. Better hurry and get yours in - email to thecynicalsailor (at) gmail (dot) com.

Random tangent now over. We'll see you back here on Tuesday.


What blogging tips and tricks do you have? What things do you look for when you read blogs?

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - we'd love for you to pop by and say hi!  

16 comments:

  1. Blog the cat - if he's a fat cat, like a blob, that would fit.

    Hopefully your mom still enjoys your blog and thinks you're unique.

    This vegetarian would rather no birds were stoned. Unless they are in Colorado and feel like smoking weed.

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    1. I think my mom still enjoys the blog :-)

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  2. Your tips are great, and I really enjoy your posts because of your "talking voice" so you tick that box for me. Have a great weekend!

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  3. I love boating too, but there are times it's time to get off the boat and go somewhere else. I know I couldn't live on our boat as you do. I love going for a couple of weeks and then come home and stretch out.

    Great blogging tips. I don't do most of them, but I'm a rule breaker like you are. That and I'm old enough to do what I want.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. ☺

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    1. There definitely gets to be a point where you've lived long enough that you can do what you want and don't care what others think :-)

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  4. That's a good list. I make an effort to do each of them, but of course, I fall short many times. I, too, have a blog page (rather than a boat page) on FB and I've been amazed at how people find it and 'like' it. Why does that bring a certain level of satisfaction? I will never know the real answer to that question.

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    1. I can't figure out how people find our FB page either. It always surprises me when new people like it.

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  5. This is a timely rerun for me as I started blogging just about a year ago. I still haven't figured out what the purpose of it is. I like writing but I haven't really written anything since high school, so I figured I might as well do it.

    It's hard to be original when there are so many people in the world. I'm not even trying, but I think your writing is original. I don't know what I look for in the blogs I read but I seem to get stuck on the ones that are well written and where beautiful words like "sailboat" and "ocean" are frequently mentioned.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words about our blog :-) I think you've got a great voice in your blog and you definitely are original. We all are in our own way.

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  6. I've been in a blogging slump lately and this post was a great reminder . . . and motivator. Thanks for posting it again!

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

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    1. We all definitely get those blogging slumps from time to time :-(

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  7. I love #2. We all have our miserable days, which is normal to write about, but some bloggers can sure go on and on and create such miserable, venting posts that I'm in agony just reading a post.

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    1. #2 is interesting thinking about it in hindsight. Some cruising blogs never talk about the bad stuff which can seem a bit misleading at times. I think it's probably good to have a mix of the two.

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  8. When writing, like you I want to write what I like. That makes me bring out the best. Add to it, I love pictures and I prefer using my own even when I am not writing my travel posts. Of course being regular is important and equally to engage with community.
    When reading - I need to learn something. Like here, I read about your adventures and that is newness. I do not long very long posts until they are well narrated. :)

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    1. Thanks for popping by Parul. It definitely works better if you write about stuff you love.

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