Blog Rants: Masterpost

Do you want to start a blog about asexuality? Do you already have a blog, but want your posts to hit harder, better, faster, stronger? Are you on tumblr but considering joining WordPress? Or do you just want to critically examine the way that ace community discourse has been shaped? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then this is for you.

I’ve been planning this series ever since I read Siggy’s post on starting your own blog, and parts of it even before that. It seems especially timely now in light of both this month’s Carnival of Aces theme (writing about asexuality), and this discussion at The Ace Theist on discussion bubbles in the ace community. In case you don’t have the time to read almost 90 comments, there’s a continuation and summary of proposed ideas here.

I can write about writing for basically pretty much ever, given that it’s my chosen field. I majored in English with a creative writing focus, although I actually don’t have any degrees yet—I’ve had to withdraw from school because my PTSD was severe enough to prevent me from finishing, but I’ll go back when I’m ready to tackle those last five (problem) classes. I wrote a little about some of the difficulties I had with the program here, and that will surely not be the last post I make on the subject. I’ve decided that I will not pursue any kind of MFA writing program. I find communities of other writers invaluable, but academic writing communities don’t always sit well with me, even though they have their benefits. You don’t need to be part of a university program to find other writers, although it can make it much easier. Blogging can be another important avenue for finding both other writers and an audience, if you want to write professionally. And it’s good practice.

It’s a common saying in the writing communities I’m part of that you should use one hand to reach out to more experienced writers and pull yourself up, and use the other to help the next person along.

So that’s where I’m coming from on writing in general, and the philosophy behind this series of posts. Now, let’s turn our attention to blogging.

What exactly does it take to be a WordPress* ace blogger? Why does this platform seem so intimidating to so many would-be writers? What can we do to make it more accessible, easier to manage? What are common problems that bloggers tend to run into, and what potential solutions are there?

I want to address all of these questions, but let me be clear: I’m not saying you should all just leave tumblr—either now, or later. I understand that many of you are there because it fulfills specific needs. There are things you can find there that you can’t get on WordPress, it’s true. But there are also things that WordPress is better for, and I’d love to see more people start WordPress blogs, too. It’s much more manageable than you might think.

Some topics I plan to cover include:

  • Google Necromancy and its effects on ace discourse
  • Violence in search terms
  • Dealing with critiques and scrutiny
  • Using sarcasm—when it fails, and how it can succeed
  • Choosing post titles
  • Revision
  • Momentum control for personal comfort
  • The impact of design choices (like themes and widgets)

And more. But first, I will provide a little bit of background on my own personal experiences with blogging, situated within the context of asexual community history.

  1. Personal History in Community Context (cross-posted)
  2. The Early Ace Blogosphere (cross-posted)

I will update this masterpost to include links to new posts as they appear. I don’t promise that these posts will be frequent, but I will aim to write at least one per month until I run out of topics.

What topics would you like to see covered? Are there any particular difficulties you’ve had with blogging on WordPress, or with the idea of it?

[1] Please note: Blogger is an option, too, but I find it far less preferable personally mostly because I don’t want to give Google even more access to my personal information, so I have avoided using it. Most of the ace blogosphere seems to have settled on WordPress these days, so I think it’s a bit easier to find community here; the native WordPress reader notifies bloggers you follow about you and can be a good way to passively promote your blog.

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a 30-something asexual woman who is often mistaken for a lesbian, due to the fact that she is partnered to a lady. She is actually bi (but not biromantic) and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum. She is formally trained in creative writing with a focus on non-fiction and poetry, and maintains a blog called Prismatic Entanglements, where she mostly writes long-winded personal essays and social criticism. In her spare time, she enjoys being cat furniture, coming up with new Pokemon strategies and never going to church.
This entry was posted in Articles, Blogging and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Blog Rants: Masterpost

  1. Pingback: Blog Rants: Introduction | Prismatic Entanglements

  2. Pingback: Blog Rants: Personal History in Community Context | The Asexual Agenda

  3. Pingback: Blog Rants: Personal History in Community Context | Prismatic Entanglements

  4. Tristifere says:

    hiya! just a quick note that the link to “personal history in community context” doesn’t seem to work (?!)
    I haven’t gathered my thoughts yet, so I can’t make any indepth comments right now. But I like this series! I’m off to read your first installment.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Well, that’s weird. I don’t know why it didn’t work the first time, but I re-copied and pasted the URLs and now they’re fine.

      Thanks for letting me know!

  5. cinderace says:

    Just a really small question for now–how do you create a link to a footnote (and back up to the text) like you did in this post? I’d love to know how to do that since scrolling up and down from footnotes can be really annoying.

    • Elizabeth says:

      It’s really easy, actually! It just requires a little bit of messing with raw HTML. What you do is go to the place in the text you want to link to and give it an id (let’s say “MyID”), and then when you create a link to it, you put in #MyID at the end of the URL. This is called an anchor link, and WP will put in a tiny anchor image in the wysiwyg editor to tell you where it is.

      This page gives a good overview with examples—scroll to near the end.

      Preview your post and test it out well—sometimes it will want to take you to a place just under the part you actually want to be visible, so you might need to move the anchor up a line or two. You can use a non-breaking space character at the end of the line if you don’t have any specific text you want to use as an anchor.

    • Siggy says:

      The lazier way to do it is to have the note appear at the end of the paragraph rather than the end of the post.

      • cinderace says:

        Oh yeah, I have seen people do that; I guess I’ve just been going with footnotes at the end, even though it’s annoying to read, because that’s what I’m more used to.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Yeah, that’s true too. I tend to dislike breaking up the flow like that, and want to give the reader the choice to either ignore or read the footnote as they prefer. Although really, I wish that making side notes in the margin were an option, as I feel like that would be an even better solution.

  6. Aqua says:

    This is a great start, and I’m looking forward to the rest of this series!

    At first, I was intimidated by there being so many long-running blogs, while I was just starting out. There are so many long, thought-out posts, which is great, but does anyone feel the pressure to compete with that (though this shouldn’t be a competition), and try to come up with the next big topic in the asexual blogosphere?

    One challenge of being an ace blogger is finding an audience, or rather, find something that’ll make the blog stand out from the others. It could a distinctive writing style, a particular niche in mind, or about asexuality intersecting with another identity, or cultural context. In my case, my blog has a particular niche, but I’ve often felt intimidated trying to write about it.

    • Alice says:

      I think the bloggers who write the super-long posts are missing the point a bit – I tend to browse blogs when I’m in-between things, and so if I’m on a short break and a 3,000-word epic appears in my RSS reader I’m likely to skip past it.

      Far better, I think, to split that up into a bunch of shorter posts – for one, it drives repeat traffic to your blog if that’s something you’re interested in; but it also makes it easier for readers to digest your content.

      Some people seem to want to write these incredibly lengthy posts not as an attempt to engage a readership, but in order to demonstrate how intelligent and erudite they must be to regularly churn out thousands of words. It’s almost a way of filibustering the blogosphere…

      • Elizabeth says:

        In some cases, I agree that bloggers who write super-long posts are missing the point. I recently read one that was so long I actually had to copy/paste it into word to check how many words it was: 4,700+

        It was so long and rambly that I pretty much just lost track of what the point being argued even was—and it was trying to argue against a specific kind of rhetoric, I think. In that case? Yeah, that point could’ve been made way better.

        But there are also times when there are good reasons to make a post longer. Sometimes, you don’t actually want the post to be widely read. You might want to bury a point further down in order to protect yourself—in that case, only the most dedicated readers are going to actually become your audience. They’re the ones who are already invested in you and on your side. That’s momentum control in a nutshell, but I’ll write in more detail about that later.

        Or, in the case of a post that’s meant to be a guide to something, you might want to have readers at least scroll past the points so that they might at least have some exposure to them even if the point doesn’t get fully absorbed. It very much depends on what kind of audience you expect, though.

        So there are a few good reasons to make posts longer, but I think it’s one of those things where you should really have a good, well-defined reason for the length. If you don’t, then splitting it up is better.

        • Aqua says:

          4,700+ words?! I’ve had some posts that I ended up splitting into two parts. With one of them, only the first part, which is about 1,200 words was published, while the other post, which is about 2,300 words, remains unfinished, and unpublished.

          Back when it was one post I was working on, it covered two of the most difficult topics I write about on my blog. One of them, I didn’t mention that until about halfway through, because I was still so nervous writing about it. As you said, I wanted to bury that point further down on purpose, but I ended up leaving that part unpublished.

          With really long posts, it can be difficult to keep it right on topic. There may also be a point where it can be difficult to continue. What kept me from publishing that second part when I was almost ready to, was that I ended up getting side-tracked, it branched off a lot, and I forgot the conclusion I intended! I feel like that can happen with really long posts too.

        • Sciatrix says:

          I used to aim for about 1,000 words for all my posts when I was writing regularly. When I got to about 1,000 words, I’d wrap up my thoughts and if the post felt “done” I’d release it. Mind you, I was setting myself a goal of one post per week which turned out not to be sustainable, but I still like the habit of setting myself a given target length to write about every time.

          • Elizabeth says:

            I use target lengths in kinda the opposite way. It’s not really something to keep writing until I hit it, because I will always go way overboard. I have tons of thoughts that all occur to me at roughly the same time, so for me a target length is more like… a rough guideline about where to cut.

            My problem is basically that I have ALL THE THOUGHTS. And nowhere near enough time to say them all in an organized, coherent way. Writing things down is pretty much necessary to make the jumbled mess in my head a little clearer, but it takes a lot more work to get those notes into shape to share.

      • Siggy says:

        As I said in my own post on starting a blog, there are plenty of good reasons to write lengthy blog posts. Maybe you do it for yourself, or you prefer to target the most devoted audience, or you want to make a reference. The one bad reason for verbosity is to get more readers. Longer blog posts do not attract readers.

      • Word count is one of the things that makes my new site a bit of a game to write for. Typically, I’ll write things that are three miles long… But with the new site, everything needs to fit in three columns on an 8.5×11 pamphlet. That works out to about 750 words. I have a fixed size, there’s no space to spare. There have been cases where I’ve had to insert more details or a clarifying sentence, and that meant that some other, less important topic had to be cut down or removed entirely. Quite a bit different than blogging!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yeah, that pressure is certainly a thing to reckon with. I’ve sort of learned to ignore it over time. While I do try to explore new ideas, I don’t try to predict what will become the Next Big Thing, because I’ve learned that’s totally out of my control. It really depends on how many other people are also interested in talking about something… and sometimes it does end up becoming a big topic, but not right away—YEARS after I first posted about it!

      You can put something new out there, but most of the time, it just takes a long time to find others who want to talk about the same thing. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I think finding an audience is the same way. It’s a very gradual build-up, with occasional (and mostly unpredictable) spikes.

      Having pet topics and a particular niche is a good thing, but sometimes it can also hamper you. I went into my blog with the niche of grayness in mind, but when I stopped feeling that way, it sort of turned against me. So I’d advise you to be flexible with it—don’t drop your pet topics completely, but don’t give them too much power over you, either.

    • Sciatrix says:

      I don’t think I felt pressure to compete with anyone when I started blogging; actually, I was just having a lot of thoughts and feeling very ranty and wanted to put those thoughts somewhere off of AVEN. (At the time AVEN was just beginning to irritate me.) I’d never intended for WFFX’s “pet topic” to be “romantic orientation how does it work,” but it kind of ended up that way just coming out of where I was in my life at the time. And I talked about lots of other things, even though that one kept coming up.

      I think that if people find what you have to say interesting, they’ll come and listen even if you’re not talking about things for a defined group. Insofar as you might aim for a “niche,” maybe think about something that it bugs you that no one is talking about and that you want to see more discussion about. I have found that saying “hey have you thought about X? HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS ON X” is a surprisingly effective way to generate more conversation about a given topic.

      • Alice says:

        For me, I didn’t set out with the intention of making my blog an ace blog, or a trans* blog. It’s just my blog. It just so happens that at the time I started it, I was inclined to write about my orientation and my transition and so people interested in those things are the kind of audience it’s started to build up.

        Once you have an audience of sorts, it’s then difficult to veer off onto other topics in case they drift away – for instance, I could write about travel or tech or media or any number of other topics, but it would be a bit of a non sequitur and doom my blog to an eternity in the long tail of personal blogs no-one ever reads. The audience reading about asexuality is likely to be wholly uninterested in developments in open source software-defined radio technologies, for instance, even though I’d quite like to write about both.

        I too am fed up with the forums format, especially AVEN – the same stuff pops up over and over again and it’s really dull. AVEN’s favourite conversation topic is AVEN. The blogging format is a lot more freeform and a lot more democratic – instead of one monolithic space where all discussion of asexuality is kept, it’s great to have all these little independent yet interlinked blogs.

    • cinderace says:

      I do feel pressure to say something new, something that hasn’t already been said (possibly more than once) before. After publishing some of my earlier posts, I read more from various ace blog archives and stumbled on posts saying almost the exact same things, and then felt silly for writing about the subjects like they were new ideas. With so much written already (and more being written every day), it can be hard to feel like I have anything unique to contribute. Which leaves me to choose between not blogging much, or posting things that I’ve enjoyed writing and are interesting to me, but that I feel like aren’t really adding much to the general conversation. Not trying to complain, though, just saying that I know what you mean!

  7. Pingback: March 2015 Carnival of Aces Roundup – cinderace blogs

  8. Pingback: A Blogger’s Guide to Links and Fancy Footnotes | Prismatic Entanglements

  9. Pingback: Blog Rants: The Early Ace Blogosphere | The Asexual Agenda

  10. Pingback: Blog Rants: The Early Ace Blogosphere | Prismatic Entanglements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s