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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lessons Learned - Blog Jog Day

You may have seen the Blog Jog links I had posted the last couple days.  First, I gotta apologize for not spreading the word earlier so more of you could have signed up.  I was still pretty new to blogging when I heard about it (it's only been a MONTH, can you believe it?) and I didn't want to talk a bunch of people into signing up only to find out it bombed.  How embarrassing that would have been.

ANYWAY, now that it's over and I have some real numbers to prove the success of it, I feel really bad for not sharing. I'm sure there will be another one, and when there is I will shout from the rooftops so none of you miss it.  Or, if you have lost all faith in me you can monitor for more information.

There were about 150 blogs networked together.  I found dozens of cool new blogs to follow.  My number of visitors doubled during the jog and my followers increased by about 25%.  So it was a success as far as I'm concerned. 

Visiting all those blogs over the last couple days I have a new found respect for anyone who reads slush.  Whew! 

I think most of us started blogging because we'd heard the advice that we needed to have a web presence and needed to start building our platforms.  This will help us when (notice I said when not if) we get published.  This may be why we started, but I think most of us will also agree that it grew to be more than that.  I love learning more about writing, publishing, and the personal connections.  These are the best parts of blogging--the people.

That said, visiting 150 blogs in a few hours is a lot like sitting down to read the slush pile.  I started out fresh and looking forward to each site I visited.  I WANTED to add them to my blog roll.  After the first couple dozen, I began to skim over the entries, and I became a little choosier about who I followed.  By the end, there was probably a 30 second window to capture my attention before I moved to the next site.  

So, here are my top suggestions for blogging:
  1. Use a hook.  Give your reader a reason to keep reading your blog.  For all you know that reader has 200 other options waiting in Google Reader.  Hook them so you have them looking for new posts.  You want them to see you've posted and head to your blog first.
  2. Don't forget first-time visitors.  It's okay if you want to continue a conversation or theme, but bear in mind how a first time reader will perceive your post. Does he/she need to read Part I in order to grasp what you're saying in Part II or III?
  3. Use your own voice.  Don't try to hard to be cutesy or educational. Let your own voice shine through because that's what readers respond to.  
  4. Write what you know.  If you're big into history or astronomy or grammar, go ahead and let your knowledge shine through.  But don't even think about trying to fake it.
  5. Beware of politics and religion.  You will gain devoted followers if they happen to agree with you, but more than likely you will alienate a lot of potential readers.  A LOT.
  6. Go light on the sales.  Some of the sites I visited were just fronts for consulting businesses.  That's fine, but I don't want to feel like I'm being sold something.  Educate me, make me think, but don't push the sales thing.  If I'm interested, I'll search it out.  I don't want to feel like you're only interested in my wallet.
  7. Watch your formatting.  No glaring color schemes.  Keep the print a normal size and a normal (readable) font.
  8. PARAGRAPHS!  White space!  If everything is scrunched together, it seems longer than it really is.  Break it up and the reader won't be as overwhelmed.
  9. Pictures are nice, but use them sparingly and make them relevant.  There were a few blogs that were nothing but pictures.  They were nice, but  I was thinking, "So?"  I had no context for what these pictures were.  No text to tell me why I should care.
  10. Ask a question, or find some way to invite the reader in.  Like this:  What are your biggest pet peeves?  (Thanks Theresa!)
REMINDER:  Mother's Day Give Away open until Sunday, May 16th.  
Whatcha gotta do:
  1. Be a follower.  Easy enough, a couple clicks and you're done.
  2. Email me your favorite Mom memory.  Maybe it's about your mom.  Maybe it's when you became a mom.  Maybe it's someone who was a mom-like role model.  I'm not looking for exceptional writing, I'm looking for touching memories.  Keep it under 500 words if you can.  I may just post my favorite entries.
  3. It'd be nice to have you mention the give away on your own blog, but I'm not going to require it.  I want to keep this simple, so we'll just make this an optional thing.  
  4. Have items 1 & 2 complete by midnight central time on SUNDAY MAY 16th.  Winners will be selected somehow...either the one that makes my cry/laugh longest or I'll pick numbers at random.

SEND EMAIL ENTRIES TO:  MissVSpeaks (at) gmail (dot) com
Questions?  Leave them in the comments below.


Theresa Milstein said...

I'm dying to think of a tenth item on your list. What a good idea to have a reflection. All of your advice is spot-on. I don't like blogs that are all about selling something and too many pictures or too thick paragraphs and my eyes glaze over.

How about for the tenth, ask a question. Invite the readers to comment. I don't always do this on my own blog, but I appreciate when other bloggers do it because it gives me something specific to comment about.

Matthew Rush said...

Great advice MissV, thanks for sharing.

And I know it's the same photo from your earlier post but I have to say that is one of the cutest dogs ever!

JustineDell said...

That poor puppy looks like he's in trouble! So cute!

It's great you got more traffic in the blog jog! Neat idea. Did you follow all those blogs? How on earth are you going to keep up?

I'm totally entering your contest! I LOVE contests! Plus, this one is mom oriented and that's very sweet of you. Now...I just need to think of a good mom memory. Oh, I've got it. You'll have my email soon enough!

And great advice!


Wendy Ramer said...

Great advice.

Jen said...

Great advice! I'm addicted to blogging and I'm shocked at the number of followers I've received since I started about five months ago! The first blog I started was well over a year or two ago but I never looked at it and didn't even know what I was doing. This time I was serious and it shows that it paid off!

Candyland said...

Oh yeah this is great! Blogging is like a full time gig and one must give in order to receive.

KarenG said...

I'd like to be in one of those blog jogs once. It sounds fun! And I like your list-- excellent points!

Creepy Query Girl said...

These are all REALL good tips. I didn't know about the blog job until I noticed it on another blogger's post today too! Sounds fun! I'll try to get in on it next time around.

Chelle Cordero said...

Excellent summary & lessons learned from Blog Day.

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Love your insight. Thanks for sharing - and thanks for a great blog!!

Carolyn V. said...

Excellent suggestions! I missed the jog but you'll have to let us know when there is another one! =)

MissV said...

Thanks for all the comments! I'm running way behind tonight so (sigh) I've gotta do a blanket message and head off to my manuscript for a couple hours.

Shannon said...

I can't think of another thing to add. You hit them all. :)