restart I started the OfficeRocker blog to share our news as we built up to the launch of Office 2007.  I’ve tried to add perspective to any news I relay and stay true to this theme on the whole.  It has been amazing how well it took off too.  Last summer I did kind of just suddenly run out of steam though, as if I’d said everything I wanted to say about the subject.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still very engaged in my job and in how amazing Office 2007 is but I believe if you don’t have much to say then don’t.  Life got busy, we have a gorgeous little girl now and suddenly my blogging time was under indomitable competition for my attention.  It raises the question that few people really think about – when is it right to stop a blog and how do you do it?

I think it is a key factor in any successful blog to have a clear idea of your topic.  The really successful bloggers around me are those who pick a subject and stick to it – I think of Mark Harrison’s blog on SharePoint, Jason’s blog on mobile, Steve’s on security, Steve Clayton’s marvellously varied but wonderfully opinioned Geek in Disguise and outside of IT, Matthew Stibbe’s badlanguage.net all about how to write well.  I have huge respect for these bloggers because they are speaking from a position of passion and vast experience.  I’m not a fan of very vague blogs or those that just aggregate news without opinion.  Some of these have their place but they can descend into the “what I had for breakfast” scenario or the other pitfall where it looks like an email inbox on the web. 

So how should you stop?  When should your restart? Here are my tips:

Keep the faith

Stay true to the purpose of your blog.  Know what it is and stay largely on topic.  It’s ok to take detours but remember your core theme.  Your readers value your experience and perspectives.  If you have nothing more to say about that topic, perhaps it is time to call it a day.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Was it something we said?

When you do stop, don’t just peter out painfully, declare that you will be stopping and why so your readers aren’t left hanging.  I didn’t do this – I did stop fairly suddenly last summer but I never took the time to explain why.  Looking back on it that was poor.

Be motivated by passion not guilt

Don’t declare “I’m BAAAAaaaak! :)” if you aren’t sure you are going to keep it up.  You see that a lot where people apologise for not blogging, write a couple of posts and then revert to rss silence.  Blogging is a discipline and it does take time.  You stopped because life got busy or different.  If you are restarting, take it one step at a time.  I probably won’t blog as much as I used to but I will try to do it fairly consistently (we shall see).  The point is to be realistic about what energy and time you have to devote to it. Restarting a blog is just like going back to the gym.  When you are doing regular exercise, you are pretty fit and it’s just what you do, it’s easy.  Once you stop though, it is hard to restart it.  Classic mistake is to go running every day and blitz it – this only ends up getting you injured and fed up of it.  So a sensible pace, get back into the discipline, don’t beat yourself up that you aren’t immediately back to peak performance on day 1.  Don’t feel bad about it, just rediscover your love of the subject again.

Set some triggers

Instead of going on a blogging guilt trip, I said to myself that when my daughter slept through the night every night for a week, I would restart the blog.  Might sound silly but I know that the fatigue of all those 3am checks drained me of the energy I need to take on blogging again.  It was a way for me to sensibly keep a balance. 

Just do it

It’s tempting to feel that the first resume post needs to be a stormer but I found that just ended up being a procrastination technique.  There’s no magic, you just have to start.  So get that golden resume post over with and get back to the rhythm of blogging as soon as you can.

Refocus

Restarting provides a good moment to think again about the point of the blog. Refine the theme or maybe start a whole new blog.  With OfficeRocker, the theme will increasingly be about Office 14 as we get nearer to it. Similar to 2007 but a little adjustment.  I’ll also be aiming to include more customer evidence and topics on deployment and adoption.

Tell your friends

OK so my technorati rating is in the toilet but maybe my blogging friends would be kind enough to give me a link back to help get me going again? Go on - how about a friendly leg up? :) If I still have any friends on the blogosphere any more that is..