25 September 2010

Vegan Blogging

- Food
- Personal Life
- Politics

Regardless of which of those categories you choose, there's bound to be overlap between the three, because so much of what we do is so interconnected with so much else. When you get into the political aspects, we get questions about "Well, then what do you eat?" Enter food. When we chat about food, people want to know how you manage to make "such elaborate" things on a busy schedule. Enter personal life stuff. When you talk about your personal life, the other two /always/ come up, because they're part of your personal life.

However, the preponderance of the blogs I've read have been about a general category, and occasionally have little sprinklings of the other two. Why? Because unlike TV, the Internet is sorted neatly into those special niche markets that people go seek out. If you don't care about something or someone, you merely ignore it, and find someone who is catering to your whims. Why? Because there's a /lot/ of stuff out there, and adding to the cacophony without some kind of focus leaves the blog lacking in something.

It's like those cookery books that try to be everything for everyone. People end up getting overwhelmed by all the stuff on there, and promptly ignore it. Instead, those books that make a strong statement (::cough::, like mine), and continue with that message all the time end up attracting their audiences, and flourish.

So what's the reason behind my writings and the rest? To show that being vegan is easy, enjoyable, and can be done by anyone, regardless of whether they're not huge fans of soy, living in a place where convenience ingredients (tofu, soymilk, bla bla) aren't readily available, or those who simply can't afford those things. All the entries (ok, not all, but most) are gathered around that central tenet: regardless of where in the world you are, and what your budget, if you can afford to buy enough calories for your needs, you can make it tasty and interesting, while keeping strong hold of your moral convictions. There are no excuses that apply to a majority of people.

Underneath it all, I do enjoy writing. I like putting my thoughts to paper, and I like letting the piece go where it will. Why? Sometimes I find myself writing something that I would have never said aloud.

How do I get started?
First, set up the thing. Because I'm not technically savvy, and because I'm not too fussed about the look (as much as I am about the content), I chose blogger. You may or may not have the same situation, so work out what is best for you.

Then, before launching, have a few entries planned in advance. There's nothing as disappointing as seeing someone get started on a blogging journey, and see the first few entries be utter crap. Any accidental readers who stumbled across your blog will ignore you from that point on, and you've lost a potential audience.

Then, once you have a few entries sorted out, space them out on a regular interval. The web comics and blogs I regularly visit are updated on a specific schedule, and I know I can expect there to be content there when I come back to view it. Yes, there are RSS feeds and the like, but for someone like me, who likes a small, uncluttered RSS list, inactivity means deletion. And deletion means I won't likely be coming back.

Then, as the days and weeks go by, keep ahead of yourself by at least five entries. That way, if life happens, you can still throw out a good solid entry in the interim.

Also, don't be afraid of posting extras in between your regular schedule. Sometimes stuff comes up that needs immediate attention. Be flexible enough to give your readers bonus content.

Avoid adverts at all costs. Unless you're reaching hundreds of thousands of readers, avoid any stuff that distracts from the main content. Even worse is that you can't exactly control what ads show up on your page, for the most part. What happens when the entry you wrote for mock beef has an ad next to it with a bleeding, dismembered dead thing in it? Yeah. Avoid that.

That's what worked for me when I was dedicatedly blogging. Now, I just keep the blog going for when I have major reports of my life, or plenty of pictures to share. Since mine is a food blog, pictures are priceless. Unfortunately, I have neither the attention span nor equipment to upload very many of them on a regular basis. I'll leave that to those more talented than I.

But there's a key to attracting a huge audience. Frequently update your blog with high quality images of delicious food. You'll have 'em eating out of your blog.

03 September 2010

"Excuse me," she said to the whole train. "I don't want to bother anyone, so I'll be fast. I don't need money, but I'm really hungry. If anyone has any leftover food or pieces you're not going to eat, please let me know. Thank you and God bless."

She spoke in a soft voice, just barely above a whisper, so that those who didn't want to listen didn't have to. She looked to be all of 100 lbs, and was wearing a full sweatsuit, which hung off her body like loose drapes. My stomach lurched with the thought that here I was, bemoaning the lack of cigarettes, and there she was, wasting away because nobody wants to help her find food.

There was some leftover chocolate cake that my boss wanted me to take home for Steve.

Steve agreed that she probably enjoyed it more.