The single most reason why all my previous blogs, including the present in its initial incarnation, failed were because I did not know what tagging was. When you start a blog, it is unlikely you will know what will be your focal point in terms of content, or how you will structure that content. Most of us attempt to do life blogs anyway, even if their focus may be on food, relationships or Anthropology. But, whatever wibbly-wobbly blogs you begin with, ( and they are likely to be awkward, as you don’t know yet what you’re going to do ), proper tagging, or even improper tagging, will at least get your blog seen. Tagging’s relationship with writing a blog is what an audience is to a stand-up comedian. You may be brilliant or extremely dull on your side, but you will never know unless someone is on the other. Even if it is just the one, you have enough affirmation to go on, and hope that there will be more from where that single other came from.
A tag isn’t a name ( though, didn’t Rachel have a boyfriend named Tag in Friends? Maybe it was a cool name in the 90’s. And if your name happens to be Tag and still is, I apologise on behalf of the internet ) but it is a means of identification. It hints at something, promises to take you close to something, something you may have been looking for. But, while formulating suitable tags for your blog post, it almost becomes a separate creative, statistical and business activity, wholly separate from that piece of writing you had so far laboured on. Okay, so you’ve written something. But, for whom? What is in that piece that would be of interest to them? It isn’t simply tagging along the lines of what it is about. If you are exclusively specific in your choice of tags, you’re hardly going to find readers. You have to cast your net wide first, and then get specific.
However, what you usually get is either one or the other. There are many websites out there completely pandering to the commercial, so that their tags often have very little to do with their content. Or, what is worse than even that travesty, the content doesn’t match up to the tags it carries. On the other hand, there are bloggers who like to size it down, as little attention is better towards maintaining quality, than unwanted attention. Thus, great content often goes unseen, while passable to poor content gets viewed by many. And when you think about your own blog in those terms, it is rather depressing.
But, there are two things to remember in order to be practical and yet hopeful about tagging. First, blogging is about communities. Being a democratic platform means anyone can blog. Which means several million do. Therefore, in order to share your ideas, it is not enough to just let them out and wait for them to be discovered. You have to look for people who share the same interests as you do, engage in their ideas, ask them to have a look at your own. It is all very well to see the numbers go up. Increasing views is definitely a great source for motivation and satisfaction. But, it is most gratifying when people are actively engaging in your content, perhaps leaving comments or sharing your post with their friends. The second is to tag intelligently, which you only learn through trial and error. And having your own blog means you can go back and rectify those errors even after your post has gone live. Like with any skill worth learning, blogging also takes a lot of practice until you get it right. I don’t really know what right looks like, and I’m still learning a lot. But, I’m willing to learn. Though all my awkward tagging through these months may not always have brought as many readers as I would have liked, they did bring those who kept me motivated to keep learning.
Do you find tagging difficult? How do you go about it for your own blog?