Far be it from me to convince myself that 350+ consecutive daily MCC entries and fourteen years of Internet participation experience (dating to the era when Usenet was ebbing but not dying, and “social media” wasn’t a labeled thing) are sufficient credentials to hoist myself upon an ornate pedestal and begin dispensing wisdom from above to fellow WordPress users about The Correct Way to Do Blogging. For reasons that would require a separate entry altogether, I don’t even like dispensing constructive criticism to other online writers, let alone have the ego to declare myself in the sensei business. One glance at MCC’s minimal visual design should provide evidence enough that I have a multitude of lessons yet to learn for myself.
Regardless, longtime bloggers can agree on a few of the most basic of basics. Today’s message is about one of those super-basic basics.
I’ve noticed Midlife Crisis Crossover has recently added more than a few new subscribers who happen to have opened new WordPress.com accounts within the last few weeks. First of all, I bid you a hearty welcome to WordPress in particular and writing in general, both of which are splendid in their own, frequently intersecting ways. I trust your experience will be enjoyable, educational, or some hybrid of the two. For the record, I knowingly and willfully browse through the blogs run by at least 80% of my new subscribers (ballpark figures, subject to change on a whim) and 99% of those who Like any MCC entries (subject to change if traffic ever becomes overwhelming). Because of numerous mortal limitations that would require yet another separate entry, I’m not in a position to consider “I’ll follow you if you follow me” an automatic principle. If I’m following you in return, I want it known unambiguously that it’s not because I thought you were an onerous obligation. If I’m not following you, it does not mean I hate you and your Internet access should be revoked, but the odds are in your favor that I may have taken a look at what you’re doing. Possibly more than once, probably in silent lurker mode.
Today I offer one tidbit of constructive advice for WordPress newcomers out there who might be reading this: it’s extremely likely that your blog template was designed with a pre-installed “About” page for your use. Once you’re registered and placed in the driver’s seat, the default text reads as follows:
I shall now bless you with useful science that was not imparted upon me when MCC was launched: your blog may indeed already have an “About” page. If you’re not sure, go check.
If results come back positive, please be aware you’re allowed to edit it.
In fact, you really, truly should. Now would be a good time, if you have a minute.
As subscribers keep increasing, I’ve been doing more clicking and sampling — even on some non-English blogs that look much prettier than MCC but are otherwise inscrutable to me — and I’ve caught that same default text staring back at me from so many blogs, I thought perhaps a kind word might be in order.
This may sound silly to the wizened readers in the room, but I’m also speaking from embarrassing example. As I admitted here last May, MCC had been up and running for nearly a month before I realized I had an About page. I had no idea. No one told me. There was no automatic assumption of one on my part. Once I stumbled across it in the control panel (see: “Pages”), I was horrified to realize what I hadn’t done all that time. I immediately rectified that with the cumbersome, exhausting “About” Page version 1.0 preserved at the link earlier in this paragraph. The standing version has been refined and hacked at over time, and remains subject to change as time and fussiness permit. (The mental note “Add photo!” has been pinned in my head for days. I should probably tend to that.)
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be in paragraph form. Some people write only a line or two and make it count. Some people introduce themselves with poetry. Some people write their life’s story, complete with chapters and bibliography. Some people tell you upfront that they have product to move. Some people post a single photo and claim the thousand-words defense. Some people reveal nothing about themselves because they want to be widely read and anonymous at the same time. Some people live “TMI” as their life’s credo. Results vary by user.
I could provide great examples from any number of blogs I follow, but I don’t think I should. The search is yours to conduct or skip as you see fit. You can imitate what others are doing; you can use the space for something exotic and heretofore unseen in the annals of online community; or you can act normally. The choice is yours.
Seriously, though: do something with that page. Default text can send any number of wrong messages to your readers, from “Tech support needed” to “Caution: Spammer!” Unless one of those really is your blog’s focus, in which case forget I said anything, and I’ll just show myself out.