I had an email from Jack Bennett this morning. Jack has just started his own quiz blog. It’s called Quiz Musings, and you can check it out here: -
Hopefully he will include a link to LAM soon! Jack asked if I had any advice to pass on with regards to making a blog. Silly question! I love giving advice, even when I haven’t got a clue about the subject I’m giving it on. So, for what it’s worth, here’s what I told Jack.
• Jack’s first proper post is a set of questions. That's not a bad idea at all. It is something which will keep people coming back.
* If you're going to run a blog, then be consistent. Don't start with a great glut of posts for the first three months, and then do nothing for a few weeks after that. If you've only got time to post once a week, let's say, then make sure that you do post once a week, every week.
* In the first instance, write for yourself. When I started LAM I honestly didn't think that anyone was going to read it, and it didn't matter. I was writing to get some things out of my system. Then when people started commenting on posts and I knew that it was being read, well, that gave the whole thing momentum.
* Write about what you know. Write about your own quiz experiences, and your own understanding of quizzes. You will have your own unique perspective, and if this comes across then it will be worth reading about. Don't feel that you have to try to come across as someone who's been at the game for decades if you’re not. Don't just copy the same kind of features you'll find in other people's blogs. Your niche will be out there - so find it.
* Don't be rude about anyone, and always try to be fair. If you're not sure whether you ought to say something, then don't until you're sure. For example, whatever you might say about a TV contestant's performance while you're watching them at home, keep the perspective that it is only a game, and nobody deliberately does badly. If you can’t say anything positive about someone’s performance, then state the facts briefly and move on.
* Keep an eye on feedback, and use it to help you improve the blog. For example, if you read my first few months' posts in 2008, you'll notice that the TV reviews are incredibly short. When I noticed that I was getting far more comments posted about the reviews, especially University Challenge, then I started writing more full and detailed reviews, and made sure that I didn't miss a show. Likewise with the 'in the news' questions. I just made an offhand comment about them in one post, and included a few, and it was obvious from the response that this would be a popular regular feature.
* If people take the time and trouble to comment on a post, then make a real effort to comment back promptly. If people feel that their contributions are 1) read - and -2) valued then they are likely to come back and comment again, and other people are more likely to want to comment as well.
*Make yourself available - that is - give readers a way to contact you. Either use your own personal email, like I do, or even set up a new email account just for the blog. TV production companies often want to connect with grass roots quizdom, and they love the blogosphere for this reason. You may find people contacting you, and telling you interesting things which you can use.
* Find your own personal style. For example, I love really good sports writing, so I made the decision when I started writing the lengthy TV reviews that I would try to write as if I was reporting on a sporting contest. I can only go on the feedback that I get, but this feedback seems to suggest that people like this.
So there it is. Common sense really, I would have said, certainly not rocket science and no magic formula. Good luck with your blog, Jack, and I will certainly be keeping an eye on it for the next few months to see how you get on.