Erik Kuntz-One Bad Mouse

Today, Erik Kuntz comes over for a visit to talk about why he blogs. Erik is a designer, illustrator, comics artist,  teacher and, if you buy him lunch, he’ll tell the secret workings of the world wide web.

You can find Erik at several different sites on the Web: His professional design life is at 2 Bad Mice; His web comic is at Hex Libris and his 2008 art project is at A Dog A Day

Erik has been around the cyber block, so to speak, and I value his thoughts and comments so please join us for a wee visit. 

Why do you blog?

Sometimes it’s just to give something in my head a public airing. But I also blog to show off new art that I’m creating and to present tutorials on computer graphics and related subjects. And I think most bloggers would agree that there’s at least some vanity in posting your thoughts to the world.

What do you blog about?

I blog about my art, I create tutorial blogs for computer graphics and web issues, and I sometimes write about pop culture. I also post a regular webcomic, which is sort of a blog. My big experiment was creating a new dog every day (creative, mostly drawings but also poems, games, animations and the like) for the whole of 2008. I chose this in order to improve my drawing and keep my creativity sharp: it worked. I blog tutorials and information about computer graphics and web issues because it connects me to that community and sometimes brings work my way. When it comes to pop culture, sometimes I just have something I want to say.

Do you respond to comments?

If they have something in them that I can respond to. But I also reject comments from strangers when they say nothing at all but “i liked it” or “I enjoyed your blog and it has given me much to think about the subject”, as they are often spam just to create links back to a site in an attempt to improve Google rankings (you can often spot problems with the domain, because the have words such as “poker” and “cialis” in them).

What makes a good blog post?

An engaging writing style and information that will either help, inform, or entertain an audience. If it’s meant to help, then the information needs to be accurate, well presented and clear. If it’s meant to teach, then it’s successful if people can follow along and learn. If it’s meant to entertain, then you would judge success in the same way you would judge any sort of writing. Many people would say that a good blog will encourage discussion on the site… I’m not always sure, as being able to post on the Web often brings out the nasty lizard-brains in otherwise reasonable people.

What make a not so good blog post?

Political screeds that merely preach to the choir. Posts full of in-jokes only funny to the three people you were drinking with last night (and possibly not funny to them). Posts filled with whining and complaining about something without actually saying anything meaningful on the subject (dare I call those Andy Rooney blogs?). Blogs full of spelling, grammatical and factual errors.

What have you learned?

There are millions of people doing this, and you only gather an audience by posting consistently and often. And not just material that repeats itself, but fresh content. Promote yourself, but only in appropriate venues. Visit others who are doing similar work and comment on their work, but only if you actually have something to say (and often this creates a link back to you).

Are there any absolute no-no’s?

Don’t just go and comment on related sites if you don’t have something to say, and don’t try to promote when a site isn’t at all related (people will tell you that the more links you get, the higher you’re rated in Google, but they don’t tell you that Google can judge whether a link is junk or not). Don’t post without spell-checking and proofreading. Spell check won’t catch their, there, they’re, it’s, its, to, too, two type errors, or little things such as it instead of at or other wrong words spelled correctly. I fondly remember a piece about a wildflower destroying a house. I’m sure the author meant to type wildfire but the other word jumped from his subconscious. And proofreading helps you tighten up your work: make sure you pare down the number of words you use to keep the writing clear. And don’t write novels, people won’t read as much information on a computer screen as they would on paper.

What made you decide to do more than one blog?

I kept my dogs separate, as it was a focussed project. But I also write about computer graphics and web issues on my business site. I want to keep that focussed, so when I want to write about pop culture, I have a (somewhat neglected) blog for those. The different blogs don’t meld well.

Any tips about time management?

I would say that if you’re serious that you want to limit your number of blogs so that you can focus on the thing that is most important to you. You can often find little open times in your schedule, and if you can write a paragraph and come back later, you’re a paragraph ahead. If you’re working on a blog, don’t check your email every five minutes, stay focussed. Look at time you spend just surfing the web and replace it with productive blogging. And only do it if you actually care.