September 28, 2013

The Art of Blogging

So you want to have your own a blog, huh? Having blogged for a number of years, I humbly offer the following advice.

1. Have something to offer. In my case, this has meant sharing my interest in—and fascination with—historical vocal pedagogy. The reader wants information. The more useful the better. Don't waste your time opining if you don't have a "go to" thought involved. Otherwise, you risk being like the bad director who can say nothing more than: "No...don't go there." He ultimately fails because his eye is on what not to do, rather than what to do. Wanna be stuck in a room with that guy?  
2. Have a clear understanding of why you want to blog. If you are a private teacher of singing and think blogging is going to bring you students, I have news for you: it ain't gonna happen that way. Students will come to you because you are a good voice teacher, and produce good singers who will talk about your teaching to other people. That's the dominant way in which you will build your studio. Yes, some may arrive at your doorstep after reading your blog, but they are the exception, not the rule.  
3. Keep it up! Don't write a few posts and then drop the ball. Sure, you may take a break from time to time. But once you establish a relationship with your readers, you will need to take care of it. Try to keep a rhythm going for at least a year, even if it you only blog once a week.  
4. If you blog long enough about things your readers care about, you will hear from them. This makes it all worthwhile—at least for me anyway. Case it point: I have an amazing little book in my possession that was offered to me by a reader half-way around the world. Another reader contacts me from South Africa. He lives at the top of a mountain—way out in the middle of nowhere. I love hearing from him. Still another lives in Ohio, and is still singing at the age of 80. Make sure you to respond to your readers!  
5. Create an attractive blog. If the print is too small, the colors jarring, and content lacking, you are wasting your time. The reader won't want to spend time at your site. Blogging is a visual medium first and foremost. Get the packaging right and you are halfway there. 
6. Let your interests guide you. This gives you staying power, and helps you create your "brand." When you have it: don't mess with it too much.  
7. Give the reader information wrapped in a story. Make it compelling. The post I wrote about tinnitus? It went around the world a couple time because it gave the reader information that was presented with a clear narrative "voice." This is what is lacking in journal writing, which is geared towards obtaining tenure and raising one's status among other wizards. That's all very well and good, but it's the wrong approach for a blog. Share something of yourself, and the reader will see themselves reflected in your words. Sure. You might feel vulnerable doing this, but so do singers who are first starting out. 
8. Find your voice by using it. Trying to write like another person is like trying to be a soprano when you sound like a bass. It never works. It's really Ok to have your own style and expression. Embrace it. That said: do watch your tone of voice. If you use your blog to rant about other teachers and all all manner of things, you ultimately risk losing your reader. This goes back to my first point. Negativity is a turn-off, both in the studio and on the page. Like anger (a fire that burns everything in sight), it's use must be strategic rather than habitual. If the latter, your message won't be heard.  
9. Edit and proofread by reading your post out loud! I have to remind myself to do this, of course, since I will click "publish" and then realize—oh boy—I misspelled something or left out a word. Reading your posts out loud will help you catch all your typos and fix your grammar.  
10. Have fun! Blogging is a service to the reader. It can also establish a platform for other projects—my recent book project being a case in point—and give you authority. But your platform won't be established until you have found your voice and have some experience behind you. Make it fun and interesting for both you and your reader. That way, everyone wins. 

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