Well, I've been at this blog now for over a year and it's taken me that long to work out what makes a blog successful. By successful I mean read by more than three people (my brother, my wife and my milkman).
At first I thought it was all about marketing. All those tricks they tell you about. Getting people to link to you. Leaving comments on other blogs. Writing stuff with popular tags. Writing lots of short posts. Writing lots of long posts. Put in some photographs. Make it humorous. Make it serious. Make it topical. Develop a theme. Write about yourself. Don't write about yourself. Write about what interests your readers (if you have any).
Make it spontaneous. Polish every sentence until it's perfect. Find a niche. Make it universal. Make it controversial. Don't upset your readers (if you have any).
And so on, and so on.
But it isn't any of those things. Or rather it is all of those things. And more.
The secret to producing a successful blog is simple. So simple in fact that there isn't any secret to it. All you have to do is produce interesting, original, high quality content every day. That's all. Do that and people will return in increasing numbers every day to hear what you've got to say.
Unfortunately, the secret - which I've now revealed to the world - is the problem. Have you any idea how hard it is to produce interesting, original posts every day? It's bloody near impossible. At the very least it's a full time job. And that's ignoring the inspiration and talent you also need. So, unless you're unemployed or retired or a person of independent means you might as well park those dreams about becoming an A-lister in the blogosphere. It isn't going to happen. Which, paradoxically, may be no bad thing in the end. Success can become something of a burden. I spoke to the Grumpy Old Bookman the other day - one of the real literary A-listers who consistently puts out high quality content on a daily basis - and this is what he had to say on the subject:
"To tell the truth, the blog is getting out of hand. I enjoy it, and wisely or otherwise I feel obliged to keep it going, but it consumes an unholy amount of time. Much gets neglected."
As far as my own blogging goes, it seems to come in spurts. Sorry, I know, I know. The image that phrase conjures up is just as distressing for me as it is for you. What I mean is, I often run out of things to say, my batteries run dry. The sperm bank is empty. Oops, sorry. I don't mean that at all. The well runs dry. That's better. But even when inspiration returns it still takes a lot of time, and effort, to produce all these trite sounding apercus I churn out.
So I guess the moral is: a blog is like a sewer. What you get out of it largely depends upon what you put into it. Hm. I wish I could have thought of a less fragrant analogy but I don't have time. I've got to go off and earn a living, sod it.