Saturday, 5 May 2012

How The Bhagpuss Came To Be: NBI




The New(bie) Blogger Initiative requires three things of me: 

  1. An Introduction
  2. Some Advice 
  3. A Conclusion.

I'm good with Number One and Syp is going to provide Number Three. It's Number Two I'm not so sure about.

I first thought of starting a blog back in February 2010. Look here and you can see how far I got! I found a host (Blogger) and came up with a name. Here's my first piece of advice:

The Name of the Blog

Check if someone else thought of the amazingly clever, original blog name you just came up with before you commit to it emotionally or practically. Gosh! Who'd ever have thought it? There's another Inventory Full and they're still above me on a Google search! That said, I've not noticed any confusion or animosity between us since I camped on their lawn so it probably doesn't matter all that much...

I came up with the look and layout for Inventory Full in a couple of hours and then took about a year and a half to come up with my first real post. Why so long? Fear. Second piece of advice:

Don't Be Afraid

It won't be anything like as scary as you think it's going to be. My main concern was harsh feedback. It is to laugh! I got one comment on that first post, and that took ten days. (Thanks, Fluff Factor, now known as CRT Musings). If you end up being Tobold or SynCaine then being abused by complete strangers will become meat and drink to you but it's much more likely the only voices you'll hear will be friendly ones because people who don't like your blog won't waste a nanosecond reading it, far less stop by just to say something snide.

Inventory Full is my first and so far only blog, but I come from a very long background of writing for relatively small, obsessive, responsive audiences. I co-published my first fanzine back in the punk wars in the late '70s, moved to co-publishing a comics fanzine in the early '80s and went on to contribute to many more comiczines in the U.K. and U.S.A. throughout that decade. I was also heavily involved in the APAzine scene right through to the late 1990s.

Then I discovered Everquest and all that stopped, replaced by endless posting on countless forums, primarily EQ's long-gone but never-forgotten original TNZ. I used to post under a different name but sometime in the mid-noughties, for some reason I now forget I needed a new identity. I was sitting at work listening to the radio and two news items came on in quick succession, one about the Oliver Postgate children's TV character Bagpuss and another a report about something terrible going on in Bhagdad. Which brings me to my third piece of advice:

Think About How You Want To Be Known

If your blog gains any traction at all you'll be stuck with whatever you decided to call both it and yourself for the foreseeable future so make sure you can live with it indefinitely. Do you think I imagined I'd be going by the name of Bhagpuss, possibly for the rest of my life? If I'd thought it through, don't you think I'd have come up with something, well, cooler and less demented?

So, I'd named myself and made my blog but I was too nervous to step out into traffic and use it. Yet at the same time I was posting wildly, profligately, and often irrelevantly on a hundred other blogs and forums. Next piece of advice:

Get Your Name Out There Even Before You Start

If you want to give yourself at least a fighting chance of having someone read your first blog, try to build up a subliminal awareness of your existence in your potential audience. Comment on blogs you read and try to comment appositely, relevantly and intelligently. (Do not, however, follow my example and feel that you have to comment on every post because not to do so would be rude. This is a hangover from my apazine days, where to leave anyone's zine uncommented on was tantamount to a direct insult. Blog comment threads don't work that way, as I eventually worked out after Zubon from Kill Ten Rats banned me from commenting on his posts there due to the disruptive effect of my completely irrelevant pontifications. A much needed lesson, thanks Zubon, although one which I can only claim partly to have learned even now...)

In the end I largely embarrassed myself into getting my blog off the ground. Not infrequently my comments on various blogs were longer then the original post. A couple of bloggers pulled my name and/or comment out and used it in the title or body of their own posts. While the attention was great, it was starting to feel unseemly, taking up all that space on other peoples' blogs while not offering any means to reciprocate. Which brings me to my final piece of advice and more importantly encouragement.

Just Do It

Really. Just do it. For the love of all that's holy I do not want to invoke Richard Branson here (or anywhere, unless perhaps there's a large wicker structure standing by) but really, just do it. If you don't like it you can stop but at least then you'll know whether you like it or not. And you probably will, at least for a while. It's fun. Sort of. Sometimes. When it works.

Go on, give it a shot. I've added all the blogs that have outed themselves on the NBI forums
in a Blogroll to the right. If yours isn't on there it's because your URL didn't work - link in the comments and I'll add you. Some of the blogs on there get more traffic than I do and I think calling them "New" might be a stretch but hey, I haven't been doing this for a year yet and here I am handing out advice so if they want to be "New" then they're New. For this month at least.

I haven't had time to visit all of them yet. I will keep the sidebar up for the whole of May and then I plan on merging my current "Places We Go" list into that much superior updating format while winnowing out the places I don't in fact go from both of them. If you've read this far you probably have the time and stamina to go visit some of the links. If you do, tell em who sent you!








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