Saturday, July 12, 2008

So You Think You Can Write a Theatre Blog?

An abridged version of this article appeared in today's Fringe Harold.


In the last couple of years there has been a movement in the theatre community to write blogs. A well written blog can bring attention to your work. You can be Kelly Nestruck, who parleyed his blog Off The Fence into his current job as theatre reviewer in the Globe and Mail, which in turn recently spawned its own blog, Nestruck on Theatre. You may not have his level of success, but if you’re thinking blogging might be something you want to pursue, here are some handy tips.

Know why you are writing.
The Wrecking Ball writes to highlight political work from around the world. Daniel MacIvor writes to keep people updated on his various projects and to provide insight into his process. Theatre is Territory (Praxis Theatre) write to initiate dialogue within the independent theatre community and to highlight those who work in it. I do a little bit of all of the above. You don’t usually find fame and fortune through blogging and it is a huge time commitment, so it helps to be clear on what you consider being on topic. Your ideas will evolve as you blog and that’s ok. But being clear really helps generate blog entries.

Be frequent.
A new entry every day is ideal but really isn’t feasible unless you have copious free time (and who does?), or multiple contributors like Praxis. Your goal is to have regular readers. A week is probably the maximum before you start losing readership. More than a month between entries is the warning sign for a dying blog. I try to go no more than 4 days between entries.

Use hyperlinks.
One of the great things about writing online is that you can easily direct your readers to additional information using hyperlinks. Yes, they add more time to your writing but it greatly increases the value of your blog.

Let people know about it.
Once you post your blog entry, your blog software (I use Blogger but Wordpress is also popular) converts your text to RSS feed which allows it to picked up by online sites like Bloglines that consolidates feeds in one place for people to read. You’ll want to encourage people to subscribe to your blog. If you run your feed through something like Feedburner, you can set it up to allow people to post it on various places. I always post my feed to my profile in Facebook. (And if you’re not on Facebook,, you need to be.) Commenting on other people’s blogs are the best way to get your blog out there. They don’t even need to be theatre blogs – I do a lot of my commenting on Blue Jays blogs. Your potential reading audience is everywhere, so the more you put yourself out there, the greater chance of potential reach.

If you’re willing to put in the time, blogging is a great way to not only reach out to audiences but to help you clarify your own thoughts and ideas. And it’s amazing what you discover once you’re out there. Praxis has recently compiled a list of Canadian theatre blogs here, so check it out.

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