I’m by no means the best, most prolific, or most widely read Tarot blogger on the internet, but sometimes I write things and sometimes people read them, and I think that’s pretty damned cool. A little over a year into things, this blog is just about exactly as successful as I had hoped it would be.
So I thought I’d take today and share some thoughts I have about blogging, what makes it work, and what makes for a good blog in my book. Of course, these are not prescriptions dictated on a mountaintop by an omniscient deity, and I’m not sure I’d even go so far as to call them “tips”. Just… Thoughts. If I had a troubled younger sibling who came to me and told me he or she wanted to start a blog, these are the things I would say.
1. Know Your Audience
Is your website going to be a teaching blog where newbies can come looking for advice? Is it promotional material for your professional readings? Is it an online Tarot journal? If you’re building a blog, take some serious time to think about who you’re building it for.
I decided pretty early on that this was going to be a more advanced blog designed for Tarot readers who already had at least a basic understanding of the cards. Some of my posts are certainly friendly to neophytes or even non-Tarot folks, but in general, what I want to talk about is deep Tarot hoobedy-hoobedy. For the subject matter that interested me, it made more sense to assume that my reader (or rather, whatever potential reader eventually ended up straying my way) had already read a Mary K. Greer book or two. Sometimes, I wander off into really complicated, speculative stuff that requires more advanced knowledge. Regardless, most of the time, I assume a certain level of knowledge on the part of my reader and just go from there. Explanations and how-tos are important, but are just not what I’m interested in writing for the blog.
Every blog is different. Each author has his or her own voice, and to go with that voice, they have a target audience. Part of what makes the internet such an amazing place is that those audiences overlap, and somewhere in that overlap, everyone finds the writers that fit them best. So if you want to write for newbies, or Christian Tarot readers, or people who are into spiritual counseling and faith healing, or even four-fingered baseball-playing Tarot readers who juggle fire, then do it! Put out content designed for your ideal readers, and they will find their way to you.
2. Post Regularly
This is an obvious one, but is still something every blogger needs to be told (myself included). If you want to have a good blog, you need to update it regularly. You need to put out content! For myself, I try really hard to put out posts on a weekly basis, because my posts are fairly involved and I put a lot of time into putting them together. Every now and then, I slip a week, but flying pigs will be having a snowball fight in hell before the day comes that I go a full three weeks without putting up something new–even if it’s just something little, like a spread.
Create a posting schedule and stick to it. Blogging is like exercise; it takes hard work, and you need to get yourself into a routine. If you let yourself miss one deadline, and then another, and then another, pretty soon you’re not a blogger at all. And when you finally do come back to it and decide to post something new, that little “Last Post 177 Days Ago” banner is going to make you feel like you’re trying to run ten miles for the first time in, well, 177 days.
3. Mix It Up
I admit, this is more a matter of my personal taste than anything else, and people who have really narrowly themed blogs (“Your Thoth card of the day for June 14, 2016 is Adjustment”) will want to skip over this one. But when I look at my own posting history and I see that I’ve posted three deck reviews in a row, I feel a sharp monotony stabbing through a point somewhere in the left-hand corner of my lower jaw.
I try my damnedest to provide variety on the blog. Obviously, that only goes so far–it is a Tarot blog, after all, so I’m not going to talk about the ancient Japanese art of weaving fish-diapers out of string beans unless I can somehow connect it back to ye olde magicke cardes–but when I scroll down my home page, I don’t want to see fifty different versions of the same post. I want new ideas, new themes, new subjects, insofar as that’s possible with Tarot.
If blogs are like bakeries,* then I want to run the whimsical French pâtisserie with croissants and millefeuilles and macarons** in two dozen different colors. I do not want to be a bagel shop. Bagels are wonderful, but they are bagels. They are not millefeuilles. Even differently flavored bagels (poppy seed, blueberry, onion) are still fundamentally ring-shaped boiled dough. And every now and then, a bagel is a wonderful thing, but I think I would die if I ate them every day for the rest of my life.*** Or posted them every week on my blog. That is, on my internet bakery.
Hrm. This simile is starting to fall apart. Moving on.
4. Forget the Grandeur and Love What You Do
We all do it. We all do it. I say this one more time for emphasis: WE ALL DO IT.
When you start a blog, you have prophetic visions of accolades from the thousands of followers who will flock to your undisputed internet genius. You imagine all the people clicking that little star-shaped “like” button, all the posts on Facebook talking about this amazing new blog that so-and-so found, all the comments of “OMG totally!” and “I agree completely!”
The accolades will not come.
And that’s okay! A blogger is not a despot. You are not meant to have worshipers. But you will come across a few special people who like your ideas and who will share ideas of their own in response. You’ll have people who enjoy the things you have to say and who appreciate all the effort you put into your blog. You’ll also have people who will stand up to you and tell you that what you wrote was wrong, and somehow those are even more fun. But slowly, over the course of running a Tarot blog, you will build a community, and that’s great. Better, perhaps, than being the Dark Lord of Mordor.
The biggest, most important thing I can say about writing a good blog is that you have to love what you write. Write things that interest you, because believe me, it shows when you’re actually interested. If you have a Tarot blog, it shouldn’t be because you want to be a famous or rich or successful Tarot reader. It shouldn’t be because you want people to know what an amazing Tarotist you are. It should be because you love Tarot and want to share that love with everyone else.
The reason I started my blog is that I didn’t have any friends who were interested in Tarot–not even the vague, “Oh, sure, you can talk about those Gypsy cards again as long as you don’t mention that Crowley guy” type of interest. And I wanted to talk about Tarot all the time. I had so many thoughts, so many exciting ideas, and I wanted some place I could let those ideas out. Start from a place of love. Start from being excited about what you’re writing. It’ll make the blogging so much easier if you actually want to write it, I promise, and it will also make people want to read what you produce, because they’ll be able to see your passion in your words.
Looking back over these points, they look pretty generic, and they could apply just as easily to blogs about botany as to blogs about Tarot. But I think they’re sound. Once again, I’m no authority on blogging (is there such a thing as an authority on blogging?), and this is not a SUPER SATISFACTION GAURANTEED 100% SURE GUIDE TO GETTING 10,000 FOLLOWERS ON YOUR BLOG IN THE FIRST TWO MONTHS!!! I don’t think this is necessarily a guide to getting any followers on your blog, but these are the guidelines that I try to stick to in order to keep my own blog at a level of quality that makes me happy. They’re also the sort of thing I look for when I’m reading other people’s blogs, to see if they’re the kind of blog that I would want to read more of.
Anyways. Just some thoughts. Lots and lots and lots of thoughts. That’s what the blog is for. I’m at 1600 words, which is more than most people care to read in one casual go (Tarot blog tip #5: be conscious of and relatively consistent with post length), so I’ll wind it down. I hope you guys didn’t mind my proselytizing.
*”Who ever said blogs are like bakeries?” you ask. “I did,” I reply.
**And oh, God, profiteroles. You notice the footnotes didn’t come out until I started talking about pastry. Mmm, croque-en-bouche.
***Well, I mean, obviously I would die eventually, because we’re talking about the rest of my life. But I would die sooner. And from an unpleasant state of ennui, rather than from old age.